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Murphy v. Financial Development Corp.

(1985)

New Hampshire Supreme Court - 495 A.2d 1245, 126 N.H. 536

tl;dr:

A mortgagee owes a fiduciary duty to the mortgagor in foreclosure to obtain a fair and reasonable price.

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Facts & HoldingMurphy v. Financial Development Corp. case brief facts & holding

Facts:The Murphys had defaulted on their loan payments. The mortgagee...

Holding:The court held that a mortgagee does owe a fiduciary...

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Murphy v. Financial Development Corp. | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Douglas, J.
Level 1
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The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a foreclosure sale case against lenders who failed to obtain a fair price for the property. The court found that the lenders did not act in bad faith but failed to exercise due diligence in obtaining a fair price. The court ordered the lenders to pay monetary damages equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property on the date of the foreclosure and the sale price. The court also found that a mortgagee's duty of good faith and due diligence is essentially that of a fiduciary when acting as a seller. The conflicting interests of the mortgagee as both seller and potential buyer at the foreclosure sale may contribute to the inconsistency of past decisions. The lower court erred in awarding the plaintiffs $27,000 against the defendants without requiring them to pay the associated costs and legal fees.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Brock, J.
Level 1
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Brock J. agrees with the majority that a mortgagee has a fiduciary duty to the mortgagor when selling at a foreclosure sale. However, Brock J. disagrees with the master's finding that the lenders failed to exercise due diligence. The master did not provide evidence that the lenders did not do what an owner conducting a voluntary sale would have done to obtain a fair price. Brock J. suggests that the case should be remanded to the superior court for further findings of fact. The mortgagee's fiduciary responsibility only pertains to its function as a seller, and once it has made every reasonable effort to secure a fair price, it has no further obligation as a potential buyer.

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