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Dickinson v. Suntrust Nat'l Mortg. Inc.

Supreme Court of Arkansas

December 11, 2014

ROBERT DICKINSON AND PAMELA DICKINSON, FOR THEMSELVES AND ALL RESIDENTS OF ARKANSAS WHO ARE SIMILARLY SITUATED, PETITIONERS
v.
SUNTRUST NATIONAL MORTGAGE INC. AND FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION, RESPONDENTS

Page 577

CERTIFIED QUESTION FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS. NO. 3:12-cv-00112-BSM. HONORABLE BRIAN S. MILLER, JUDGE.

CERTIFIED QUESTION ANSWERED.

Emerson Poynter LLP, by Scott E. Poynter and Corey D. McGaha; The Cruz Law Firm, by: Kathy A. Cruz; Arnold, Batson, Turner & Turner, by: Todd M. Turner; Joel Hargis; and Annabelle Lee Patterson, PLC, by: Annabelle Lee Patterson, for petitioners.

Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, by: Judy Simmons Henry; and Winston & Strawn LLP, by: Linda T. Coberly, for respondents.

Kutak Rock LLP, by: David L. Williams; and Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, by: Daniel S. Connolly, Rachel B. Goldman, and David J. Ball, for amicus curiae JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

King & Spalding LLP, by: Michael J. Ciatti, Karen Schoen and Merritt E. McAlister; and Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow PLLC, by: E. B. Chiles IV, for amicus curiae Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice. JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, Justice, dissenting.

OPINION

Page 578

COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice

This case presents the following certified question from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Judge Brian Miller:

Whether the Federal National Mortgage Association satisfies the Statutory Foreclosure Act's authorized-to-do-business requirement, Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117, under 12 U.S.C. § 1716 et seq., or other federal laws, or must the Federal National Mortgage Association satisfy Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 by obtaining a certificate of authority in Arkansas prior to statutorily foreclosing on property in Arkansas?

Petitioners, Robert and Pamela Dickinson, (" the Dickinsons" ) contend that respondent, the Federal National Mortgage Association (" Fannie Mae" ), may not institute foreclosure proceedings under the Statutory Foreclosure Act, codified at Ark. Code Ann. § § 18-50-101 et seq., unless it is " authorized to do business in this state," which the Dickinsons claim requires Fannie Mae to obtain a certificate of authority from the Arkansas Secretary of State. Respondents argue that the statute allows any authorization, including authorization under federal law. We hold that the statute does contemplate authorization under federal law and that Fannie Mae's federal charter is sufficient to allow it to proceed under the Statutory Foreclosure Act.

This case stems from a statutory foreclosure proceeding instituted against the Dickinsons by respondent, SunTrust National Mortgage Inc. (" SunTrust" ). According to the Dickinsons' complaint in this case, they have a note and a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae that is serviced by SunTrust. In early 2010, the Dickinsons fell behind on their payments, and in November 2010, SunTrust initiated a foreclosure action pursuant to the Statutory Foreclosure Act. In January 2011, shortly before the scheduled auction of their home, the Dickinsons filed suit against Fannie Mae and SunTrust in the circuit court of Green County, asserting causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, and violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, codified at Ark. Code Ann. § § 4-88-101 et seq. The circuit court granted the Dickinsons a temporary restraining order halting the statutory foreclosure sale of their home.

Thereafter, the Dickinsons filed an amended class-action complaint against Fannie Mae and SunTrust. Specifically, the complaint claimed that Fannie Mae, as the owner of the mortgage and the note, was not " authorized to do business" in Arkansas, as required by the Statutory Foreclosure Act, because it had failed to ...


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