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U.S. Bank N.A. v. CitiMortgage, Inc.

Supreme Court of Idaho

October 29, 2014

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION N.D., Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross Respondent,
v.
CITIMORTGAGE, INC., a savings bank organized and existing under the laws of New York, Defendant-Respondent-Cross Appellant, and HERBERT G. THOMAS; JULIE A. THOMAS; and DOES I-XX, Defendants

2014 Opinion No. 110.

Page 606

Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Blaine County. Hon. Robert J. Elgee, District Judge.

The judgment of the district court is vacated and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davison, Copple, Copple & Copple, Boise, for appellant. Michael E. Band argued.

Pickens Law, P.A., Boise, for respondent. Terri R. Pickens argued.

HORTON, Justice. Chief Justice BURDICK and Justices EISMANN, J. JONES and W. JONES CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 607

[157 Idaho 448] HORTON, Justice.

This appeal arises from a lien priority dispute between U.S. Bank National Association (U.S. Bank) and CitiMortgage, Inc. (CitiMortgage) who each hold a deed of trust to real property owned by Herbert and Julie Thomas. The district court concluded that U.S. Bank lost its first priority position on the Thomas property after finding that CitiMortgage delivered a demand for reconveyance and U.S. Bank failed to release its deed of trust as required by Idaho Code section 45-1514. U.S. Bank appeals, contending that the district court misallocated the burden of proof, that testimony offered by CitiMortgage was inadmissible, and that CitiMortgage

Page 608

[157 Idaho 449] failed to prove delivery of the demand for reconveyance. CitiMortgage cross-appeals from the district court's decision that CitiMortgage was not entitled to attorney fees and costs. We vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On August 30, 2005, the Thomases opened a $2,000,000.00 home equity line of credit (the HELOC) with U.S. Bank. To secure the obligation, the Thomases executed a deed of trust in favor of U.S. Bank (the U.S. Bank Deed of Trust) to real property located at 104 Grey Eagle Road in Sun Valley (the Thomas Property). The U.S. Bank Deed of Trust was recorded in Blaine County on September 9, 2005. Under the terms of the HELOC, the debt secured by the Thomas Property was a revolving line of credit, thus, even if the debt was reduced to a zero balance, the U.S. Bank Deed of Trust would " remain in effect until released."

In November of 2005, the Thomases approached CitiMortgage seeking refinancing. As part of this transaction, CitiMortgage sought a title commitment for the Thomas Property from Blaine County Title Associates (BCT). BCT issued a Commitment for Title Insurance under which Stewart Title Guarantee Company agreed to issue a policy to CitiMortgage so long as all prior deeds of trust, including the U.S. Bank Deed of Trust, were released so that CitiMortgage would be in first lien position with regard to the Thomas Property.

To that end, BCT contacted the local branch of U.S. Bank in Ketchum to determine the HELOC payoff amount. In response, U.S. Bank faxed BCT a screen shot of an account inquiry reflecting the balance owed on the HELOC with an interest calculation as of November 22, 2005. The payoff amount was ...


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