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By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Lawyers for Montgomery County’s recorder of deeds are reaching out to Pennsylvania’s other sixty-six counties to find out if they want to be part of a class action lawsuit surrounding how mortgages are recorded.

A federal court judge’s ruling clears the way for the case to go to trial.  The judge ruled that a national registry that records mortgages was doing so privately instead of recording those assignments publicly with county recorders, as required by state law.

Montgomery County recorder of deeds Nancy Becker says that was creating confusion for some county residents who didn’t know who held their loan.

“They might have gone to closing with PNC Bank, and then it was sold and then it was sold and then it was sold, so they didn’t know,” she said.  “Part of the job of recorder of deeds is to protect the chain of title.”

The judge ruled that the private system for tracking transfers of mortgages known as “MERS” (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) violated Pennsylvania law.

Becker believes Montgomery County lost more than $15 million in fees to MERS, and will try to recover that money.  Taxpayer money is not being spent on the case.  Becker says the lawyers are working on contingency.

No date has been set for the trial.

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