In a ruling likely to have nationwide impact, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled against Wells Fargo and US Bancorp, saying that the banks could not prove they held the mortgages to two homes they were attempting to foreclose on.

Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp lacked authority to foreclose after having "failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure," Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the Massachusetts court.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Robert Cordy lambasted "the utter carelessness" that the banks demonstrated in documenting their right to own the properties.

The decision applies retroactively, so others in Massachusetts may be able to recoup money from banks that foreclosed without proper documentation.

The problem seems to be that the loans had been securitized, and the paperwork was either lost or not handled properly. Your best bet is to read the full story.