Thursday, August 06, 2015

MERS - recorder of deeds v. MERS - 3d Cir.

Montgomery Co. Record of Deeds v. MERSCORP – 3d Cir. – August 3, 2015



In 2011, Appellee Nancy J. Becker, the Recorder of Deeds for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania , brought this action on behalf of herself and other similarly situated county recorders of deeds in Pennsylvania against MERSCORP, Inc. and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., entities associated with the MERS System (“MERS”), a national electronic registry system for mortgage loans.  The Recorder sought to recover millions of dollars in unpaid recording fees, contending that the MERS entities have unlawfully failed to pay such fees in violation of Pennsylvania law, 21 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 351. Because we conclude that § 351 does not create a duty to record all land conveyances, a key premise on which the Recorder’s claims were and are based, we will reverse.


We will also deny the Recorder’s motion for certification of two issues to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The answer to the issue of state law that decides this case, at least before us, is so clear that we would be abdicating our responsibilities by punting. We recognize, of course, that were the Supreme Court at some point to answer the question differently, that decision would control. Cf. County of Ramsey v. MERSCORP Holdings, Inc., 776 F.3d 947, 951 (8th Cir. 2014) (declining to certify issue to the state’s highest court); Union County, Ill. v. MERSCORP, Inc., 735 F.3d 730, 735 (7th Cir. 2013) (same).