BETTY C. THOMAS
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A. et al.
Assigned on Briefs April 3, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Williamson County No. 41802
Michael Binkley, Judge
appeals the trial court's decision to grant summary
judgment to Defendants related to the foreclosure of
Plaintiff's home. She contends the trial court erred in
summarily dismissing her complaint. She also contends the
trial court abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff's
motion to alter or amend. Defendants insist the trial court
should be affirmed in all respects. They also contend the
appeal should be dismissed due to Plaintiff's failure to
comply with Rule 27 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate
Procedure and Rule 6 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of
Appeals. As Defendants contend, Plaintiff's brief fails
to comply with our appellate rules of advocacy and for this
reason alone we would be justified in affirming the trial
court. Nevertheless, we reviewed the record and the trial
court's actions and affirm the trial court in all
respects. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment is
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
C. Thomas, Franklin, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Scott Sauer, Brian Robert Epling, and Harold Frederick
Humbracht, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bank
of America of North Carolina.
Marie Telfeyan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II, and Brandon O.
Gibson, JJ., joined.
G. CLEMENT JR., P.J., M.S.
Betty C. Thomas ("Thomas") appeals the grant of
summary judgment and the trial court's order denying
Thomas's motion to alter or amend. Thomas timely
appealed. Because Thomas failed to comply with Tenn. R. App.
Proc. 27 and Rule 6 of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and
because we find that the trial court properly granted summary
judgment, we dismiss the appeal.
August 30, 2007, Plaintiff Betty C. Thomas
("Thomas") executed a promissory note in the amount
of $124, 500.00 to purchase the residence located at 796
Edwards Circle, Franklin, Tennessee 37064. That same day,
Thomas executed a deed of trust to secure the note against
the property. Section 3 of Thomas's deed of trust
specifically provided that each month, Thomas shall pay an
escrow charge that covered, among other things, her property
2012, Bank of America, N.A. ("Bank of America"),
Thomas's then-current mortgage servicer, notified Thomas
that she failed to timely pay her property taxes. Bank of
America informed Thomas that, if she did not pay her property
taxes within thirty days, Bank of America had the right to
establish an escrow account to advance the funds necessary to
pay the property taxes, and that "[t]he escrow w[ould]
remain in effect for the life of the loan." Due to
Thomas's inaction, Bank of America advanced the funds
necessary to pay Thomas's property taxes and established
an escrow account. This was done in compliance with Section 3
of Thomas's deed of trust. The escrow account increased
Thomas's monthly loan payment by $326.44, making her
monthly amount owed $1, 113.36. Thomas, however, refused to
pay the additional amount allocated to escrowed property
taxes. Instead, she continued to make monthly payments of
$786.92, which covered only the principal and interest
portions of the loan.
October 2012, Bank of America informed Thomas that it would
refuse to accept payments for less than the full amount, so
Thomas stopped making her mortgage payments altogether. Bank
of America declared Thomas's loan in default and
accelerated the balance due on the loan. At this point, Bank
of America transferred the servicing of Thomas's mortgage
to Seterus, Inc. ("Seterus"), which began servicing
Thomas's mortgage on or about December 1, 2012. That same
day, Seterus initiated non-judicial foreclosure proceedings
February 2013, Thomas filed a lawsuit against Bank of America
and Seterus (together, "Defendants"). The parties
agreed to halt the foreclosure proceedings until the
resolution of the instant matter. In her Complaint, Thomas
alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices
Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Tennessee
Consumer Protection Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity
Act. The crux of Thomas's claim was that Defendants
lacked the authority to establish an escrow account for her
filed separate motions for summary judgment arguing that
Thomas's deed of trust expressly allowed them to create
an escrow account in the event that Thomas failed to pay her
property taxes. Defendants further argued that the creation
of an escrow account did not violate state or federal law.
Thomas did not file responses to either of Defendants'
motions for summary judgment, nor did she appear at the
hearing for these motions. Thomas's absence from the
hearing was notable because the trial court reset the hearing
date sua sponte, solely as a courtesy to
Thomas. In its order resetting the summary
judgment hearing, the trial court emphasized that under no
circumstances would the hearing be postponed again. The
hearing took place on its rescheduled date, and finding no
genuine issue of material fact, the trial court granted
Defendants' motions for summary judgment.
then moved to alter or amend the trial court's judgment
under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59.04, primarily citing her inability
to appear at the summary judgment hearing. The trial court
denied Thomas's motion, concluding that Thomas failed to
respond to either party's motion for summary judgment and
that the evidence presented in her motion to alter or amend
"d[id] not meet the threshold criteria" under Tenn.
R. Civ. P. 59.04.
September 18, 2015, Thomas filed a notice of appeal
contesting the trial court's dismissal of her claims
against Defendants related to the foreclosure on her home. On
January 4, 2017, noting "extraordinary delays" due
primarily to Thomas's failure to comply with the
appellate rules, this court informed Thomas that she had one
final opportunity to file her appellate brief by February 3,
2017, or else risked having her appeal summarily dismissed.
On February 3, Thomas filed a two-page brief, with several
documents attached to the brief. Although Thomas fails to
identify any issues and fails to provide an appropriate
argument to address an issue, it appears she contends that
the trial court erred in granting Defendants' motions for
summary judgment and in denying her motion to alter or amend.
Each Defendant timely filed an appellee's brief and both
contend the appeal ...