ATLANTA (CN) - Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems claims William Davidson deceptively incorporated his Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems in Georgia, causing people to believe they had properly served the real MERS by sending notice to Davidson.
MERS seeks punitive damages on six counts, including bad faith, theft by deception, trespass/conversion, deceptive trade and trademark violations.
MERS claims Davidson incorporated his own MERS with a principal place of business at his home address in Lawrenceville, Ga.
The true MERS is a Delaware corporation developed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which "serves as the mortgagee or beneficiary on more than 70 million mortgages, deeds of trust, and security deeds for properties across the country, more than 2.3 million of which are located in Georgia," according to the federal complaint.
MERS says Davidson incorporated his copycat business on March 10, 2011 in Georgia.
"Davidson is not the registered agent for MERS, and MERS has never implicitly or explicitly authorized defendant to accept service of process or delivery of any documents on its behalf," the complaint states.
"Nonetheless, instead of rejecting all such deliveries as not belonging to him and informing the senders of the truth, defendant Davidson has been receiving legal documents meant for MERS, without then delivering such documents to MERS or even informing MERS of his receipt of them in a timely manner.
"Defendants have expressed the intention of obtaining agents for service of process for their business in all fifty states, conduct which would have the natural effect of spreading increasing confusion nationwide."
MERS says it sent Davidson a cease and desist letter on May 12, 2011.
"Defendants responded with an undated letter, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit D, in which defendants stated that they would 'be happy to forward any lawsuits' that were served on them. However, defendants still refused to change their business name or take any other steps to prevent or reduce confusion. Some documents were included with that response.
"More than two months later, on July 27, 2011, MERS received from defendants a second package containing miscellaneous documents related to legal actions involving MERS, referred to by defendants in the transmittal note, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit E, as 'your documents.'
"Review of the documents received from defendants indicated that MERS was in danger of, or was already in, default in several lawsuits currently pending in
Georgia's State and Superior courts and in this Court if the courts involved believed that MERS had been properly served, and that MERS had missed at least one in-person conference in the Bankruptcy Court for this District.
"After the passage of another three months, without receiving any more documents from defendants, MERS again contacted defendants in writing, through counsel, to ask whether defendants' silence meant that they had not received any more documents intended for MERS. ...
"A full month later, on November 30, 2011, defendants delivered a box full of documents, some of which were dated more than three months earlier. A copy of the note enclosed in that box is attached as Exhibit G. On December 12, 2011, another batch of documents was delivered. This batch included several bearing dates before the previous delivery.
"As of the filing of this complaint, defendants continue to hold themselves out as Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., despite having full knowledge that the use of that name by defendants confuses, deceives and misleads the public to the detriment of MERS and those who have legal business to conduct with MERS in
Georgia. MERS has been and will continue to be irreparably damaged for so long as
Defendants are allowed to continue using the trade name Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. in Georgia."
MERS wants the court to order Davidson to knock it off, and punitive damages.
It is represented by Joshua Tropper with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.
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