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In 1990, William Hurt purchased property at 2106 Jackson Place in Ann Arbor. Hurt obtained a mortgage from Sterling Mortgage and Investment Company. In 1991, the balance on the mortgage was $9,000, but no further payments were made after that date. After Hurt’s death in 2000, his wife sold the property to Dan-Kai Tus and Nu Chen Yen Tus. The mortgage was not paid off at the closing of the sale, but Sterling Mortgage, which had misplaced its file, made no collection efforts until 2005. Sterling Mortgage then foreclosed by advertisement and obtained a sheriff’s deed. Under MCL 600.3240(8), the Tuses had six months from foreclosure to redeem the property by paying the amount owed to Sterling Mortgage. Just before the six months expired, the Tuses filed a quiet title action. At the outset of the case, the trial court granted the Tuses’ motion to extend the statutory redemption period, ruling that it would be extended until 30 days after the entry of the final order in this case. After a bench trial, the trial court ruled that, although Sterling Mortgage was authorized to foreclose on the property, it was unjustly enriched as a result of its undue delay in bringing foreclosure proceedings. Accordingly, the court granted the Tuses’ claim to quiet title in their favor, but awarded Sterling Mortgage a money judgment in the amount of $27,351.54. The Tuses sought to tender payment to Sterling Mortgage, but the company refused to accept the payment and appealed to the Court of Appeals.
In an unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that the trial court had no authority to extend the statutory redemption period and that Sterling Mortgage was entitled to judgment in its favor. The foreclosure was lawful, the appeals court held, because it occurred within the 15-year statute of limitations; therefore, the Tuses’ interest in the property was extinguished, the panel said. “The trial court’s decision to quiet title in the Tuses’ names, despite the determination that Sterling [Mortgage] was lawfully entitled to foreclose on the mortgage, constituted an impermissible attempt to act in equity to avoid the application of a statute,” the court explained. The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by the Tuses’ claim that Sterling Mortgage would be unjustly enriched, because the Tuses could have prevented the alleged windfall to Sterling Mortgage by redeeming the property within the statutory redemption period. The Tuses appeal.