Foreclosures and What on Earth does “In Personam” Mean Anyway?

I get to sue a mortgage company.  That always makes for a good Monday.  Here are the facts.  Woman files for Bankruptcy.  She gives her house back to the lender in the Bankruptcy.  She moves out and moves on.  Lender has to obtain clean title to the house, so the Lender files a foreclosure action.  Lender screws up.  Lender is getting sued. 

The rest of the details.  Yes, at least in Oklahoma, the lender is supposed to foreclose on the house; but the lender is only supposed to seek a judgment against the house — or, to use the fancy, Latin, legal phrase — in rem (against the property).  Instead, this lender filed its foreclosure action and sought a judgment in rem (against the property), but also sought a judgment against my client, or in personam (against the person).  So, this foreclosure petition is asking for the property AND the right to pursue my client for money if the house doesn’t sell for enough to pay the total amount due.  That is the problem.

You see, when my client filed for Bankruptcy, she got a discharge.  A discharge is the reason you file for Bankruptcy.  It is what gets you out of all that debt that caused you to file in the first place.  A discharge is a Court Order that means that none of the people that the Debtor owed money to at the time that the Debtor filed for Bankruptcy can ever try to make the Debtor pay them again.  That means no collection calls, no bills in the mail, no nasty letters, no lawsuits and NO in personam liability in a foreclosure. 

Sure, the foreclosure needed to be filed.  In the Petition it should have mentioned the Bankruptcy filing and then said that the lender was seeking the property only, and not seeking a personal judgment against my client.  This one didn’t do that.  Some weeks I really like Mondays. 




1 thought on “Foreclosures and What on Earth does “In Personam” Mean Anyway?

  1. William

    My brother had a Maryland state automobile judgement put on him I believe in the 1990’s. The amount is $20,000. If he files bankruptcy, will this erase the debt?


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