The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided the case of CitiMortgage, Inc. v. Roznowski, 2014-Ohio-1984 (decision issued on May 15, 2014). This decision resolved a split in the appellate districts concerning whether a judgment obtained in a foreclosure action could be considered a final, appealable order if the foreclosure decree contained an award for amounts advanced by the mortgagee for inspections, appraisals, property protection and maintenance, but did not include specific, itemized amounts for these advances. The Court, in a 6 to 1 decision, held that a judgment decree in foreclosure was a final, appealable order even if it contained these categories of damages without specified amounts.
The Court took a practical approach to this issue, as amounts required to be advanced by a mortgagee on collateral property do not stop upon the entry of a foreclosure decree. These advances are generally necessary all the way through the sale process. To balance the need for mortgagees to advance sums post-judgment and have these sums be considered as part of the judgment, the Court held that mortgagors can contest any sums advanced by the mortgagee during the proceedings at the confirmation of sale stage. This creates multiple, appealable judgments in the foreclosure process.
While this holding preserves the ability of the mortgagee to securely advance funds during the period between judgment and sale, the practical impact may be to open the door to contested litigation during the confirmation process that, to this point, has not been litigation intensive. This was the concern voiced by the lone dissenting Justice. Conversely, a large number of foreclosure judgments on the books that contained the challenged language can now proceed with a level of certainty that has been lacking pending the resolution of this appeal. This uncertainty impacted the ability of a mortgagee to execute on its judgment as well as uncertainty as to whether those judgments were final, appealable orders, often necessitating additional time and expense to quantify those categories to move a case forward.