By Larry R Rothenberg, Esq.
Ohio foreclosure procedures are covered by the pertinent state statutes and the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure. In addition, individual courts often adopt local rules, which must be followed in cases filed in the particular county. Furthermore, individual judges generally have discretion in the administration of their cases, and some impose standing orders that apply to all cases in their courtrooms. Judge Nancy Margaret Russo of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas has such a standing order for foreclosures.
Mortgage servicers should take particular note, as Judge Russo’s standing order contains some unique requirements that are not found elsewhere. For example, within 20 days of filing the Complaint, the plaintiff’s attorney must file a Property Status Report on a form prescribed by the Court, and include the submission of a photograph of the subject property taken within 10 days of filing the complaint. The failure to do so may be grounds for dismissal.
In an apparent effort to prevent bank walkaways, the order further requires that once a judgment for foreclosure is granted in favor of the plaintiff, the plaintiff must file within 30 days thereafter, all necessary documents to cause a Sheriff’s sale to be scheduled, or be subject to a possible finding of contempt of court. Any request to withdraw an Order of Sale must be filed at least seven days prior to the date of the sale (even though this provision can frustrate last-minute loss mitigation negotiations).
The standing order mandates that in the event the parties enter into a forbearance agreement, loan modification, payment plan or other similar arrangement, a copy of the agreement must be filed with the court. An updated version of the standing order now requires that within three days of the date of the agreement, a copy of the agreement must be filed with the court. The failure to do so may also result in a possible finding of contempt of court.
We will advise when a case we have filed has been assigned to Judge Nancy Margaret Russo, so that you can flag your file accordingly. In the event of a forbearance agreement, loan modification, payment plan, or any other similar settlement in one of Judge Russo’s cases, you should provide us with a copy of the signed agreement immediately, so that we can file it with the court prior to the three-day deadline.
For a complete copy of Judge Nancy Margaret Russo’s Standing Order for foreclosure cases, go here: http://www.realestatedefaultgroup.com/uploads/Client%20Advisory-%20LRR%20Judge%20Russo%20Standing%20Order-%20order.pdf
If you have any questions on this matter, please contact Mr. Larry R. Rothenberg, Esq. Larry is the partner in charge of WWR’s Real Estate Default Group in the Cleveland office who focuses on complex foreclosures, evictions and title insurance issues. He is the author of the Ohio Jurisdictional Section within the treatise, “The Law of Distressed Real Estate”, and was a contributing author to “Ohio Foreclosures, What You Need To Know Now”, published by The West Group. He can be reached at 216.685.1135 or email@example.com.