Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Shades of "House of Sand and Fog".

Life imitating art imitating life.

Those familiar with the novel or movie, "House of Sand and Fog", will recognize this case.

Michael and Ruth Selesia carved out their share of the American dream in Fresno, California. Unfortunately, they got behind on some payments. Consequently, their bank directed the trustee to sell the property, which secured their loan of $15,000.

Four days before the trustee's sale, the Selesias tendered a payment, and the bank reinstated the loan. However, the bank did not notify the trustee that the loan had been reinstated.

So, the sale proceeded. A partnership named La Jolla Group II ("LJG") submitted the high bid of $15,500, for a property estimated to be worth $115,000.

LJG received and recorded the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale. Five days after the recordation, the trustee informed LJG that a mistake had been made and the sale should not have happened. Nevertheless, LJG filed an unlawful detainer action against the Selesias to evict them from their home.

The trustee recorded a Notice of Rescission of Trustee’s Deed and tendered a refund check to LJG. LJG rejected it. The bank sued to cancel the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale. LJG cross-complained for slander of title, and requested that the Notice of Rescission of Trustee’s Deed be cancelled. The Selesias also joined the legal fray; they sued all of the above parties.

Following consolidation, the trial court essentially ruled that LJG acquired no interest in the property. LJG appealed.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that since the overdue payments had been paid and the loan reinstated, the bank could not properly proceed with the sale and LJG acquired nothing.

The Selesias' American dream continues.