The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the bank in this foreclosure action did not demonstrate standing to bring the action and Supreme Court should have granted defendant’s motion to amend the answer to assert lack of standing as a defense:
… [I]n support of its motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff submitted … a lost note affidavit of a representative of the plaintiff’s loan servicer, to which was annexed a copy of the consolidated note. However, the affidavit was insufficient to establish the facts preventing the production of the note … . …
… Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the defendant’s cross motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3025(b) for leave to amend her answer to assert the affirmative defense of lack of standing … . Leave to amend a pleading should be freely granted (see CPLR 3025[b]). In the absence of prejudice or surprise to the opposing party, a motion to amend should be granted unless the proposed amendment is palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit … .. “Mere lateness is not a barrier to the amendment. It must be lateness coupled with significant prejudice to the other side, the very elements of the laches doctrine” … …. [T]he defendant did not waive the affirmative defense of lack of standing (see RPAPL 1302-a). Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v Kreitzer. 2022 NY Slip Op 01441, Second Dept 3-9-22
Practice Point: The bank was unable to demonstrate standing to bring the foreclosure action because the lost note affidavit was insufficient. Even a late motion to amend an answer should be granted if there is no prejudice to the plaintiff. Here the motion to add the lack of standing defense to the answer should have been granted.