St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot on Dec. 3 set deadlines for parties in a lawsuit filed against MERS (Mortgage Electronic Recording System) to disclose a ruling expected in a similar case pending in Union County.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly’s office sued MERS and several major banks in May, alleging they created a shadow mortgage recording system that effectively eliminates the ability to track the purchase and sale of properties through the traditional public records system.

Lopinot’s scheduling order states the defendants’ joint motion to dismiss is due 30 days after a ruling is issued on a motion to dismiss County of Union Illinois, et al. v. MERSCORP, Inc., et al.

He also ordered the plaintiff’s response is due 30 days after the defendants file their joint motion. The defendants’ reply is due 21 days after the plaintiff responds.

In addition, Lopinot ordered the defendants’ memorandum in support of the joint motion and the plaintiff’s response to be 40 pages or less. The defendants' reply shall not exceed 25 pages.

If a ruling has not been issued on the Union County motion by Jan. 15, attorneys in the St. Clair County case are to confer and submit a revised schedule by Jan. 22, according to Lopinot’s order.

MERS had sought to stay proceedings due to an ongoing case in federal court which it claims is “substantially similar.”

Lopinot denied that motion Nov. 20.

The St. Clair County suit, in addition to MERS, names as defendants: Bank of America, CCO Mortgage Corp., CITI Mortgage, Corinthian Mortgage Corp., Everhome Mortgage Co., GMAC Residential Funding Corp., Guaranty Bank, HSBC Finance Corp., Suntrust Mortgage, Wells Fargo Bank, WMC Mortgage Corp., Bank of O’Fallon, Compass Mortgage, First Collinsville Bank, FirstCo Mortgage Corp., First County Bank, Mid America Mortgage Services of Illinois, Mortgage Services III, Midland States Bank, Peoples National Bank, Commerce Bank, Regions Bank and UMB Bank.

The County claims the defendants’ method of recording – kept in a private database maintained by MERS – is “unreliable and inaccurate.”

The suit claims the system set up by MERS allows financial institutions to avoid transparency in transfer of property and to evade county recording fees which every other citizen has to pay.

St. Clair County Case Number 12-L-267.

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