The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Clark, determined the debt was accelerated when the automatic bankruptcy stay was lifted. Therefore the foreclosure action was untimely and the mortgage was properly cancelled pursuant to RPAP 1501:
… [T]he mortgage was accelerated on December 8, 2011, the date on which the bankruptcy court issued the order lifting the automatic bankruptcy stay as to plaintiff’s predecessor in interest and its assignees and/or successors in interest … . By filing a proof of claim in the bankruptcy proceeding and shortly thereafter seeking affirmative relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay, plaintiff’s predecessor in interest communicated a clear and unequivocal intent to accelerate the entire mortgage debt … . …
Supreme Court did not err in discharging and canceling the mortgage. RPAPL 1501 (4) states, as relevant here, that, where the statute of limitations period for the commencement of a mortgage foreclosure action has expired, “any person having an estate or interest in the real property subject to such encumbrance may maintain an action . . . to secure the cancellation and discharge of record of such encumbrance, and to adjudge the estate or interest of the plaintiff in such real property to be free therefrom” … . Contrary to the Second Department, we do not read RPAPL 1501 (4) as stating that the cancellation and discharge of a mortgage can only be obtained by commencing an action or interposing a counterclaim for such relief … .
… [D]efendants did not interpose a counterclaim seeking to discharge and cancel the mortgage. However, defendants requested, in their answer, dismissal of the complaint and such “other and further relief as [Supreme Court] deem[ed] just and equitable” and thereafter specifically requested in their cross motion that the mortgage be discharged and canceled. MTGLQ Invs., L.P. v Wentworth, 2021 NY Slip Op 00064, Third Dept 1-7-21