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Jones v. Deutsch Bank National Trust Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 16, 2017

YVONNE JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Yvonne Jones, a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action against Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, alleging that the Defendant wrongfully foreclosed on her property in violation of federal and state law. (Compl., Doc. No. 1.) The plaintiff appears to appeal a Writ of Restitution entered by the Sixth Circuit Court for Davidson County, Tennessee. She seeks damages as well as injunctive and declaratory relief.

         I. Required Screening of the Complaint

         Because Plaintiff proceeds as a pauper in this action, the Court must conduct an initial review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and dismiss it, or any portion of it, that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. In assessing whether the Complaint in this case states a claim for which relief may be granted, the Court applies the standards under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as construed by Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that “the dismissal standard articulated in Iqbal and Twombly governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6)”). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions[] are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “Pro se complaints are to be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[A] court cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 F. App'x 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of a complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne's claim for her”); cf. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004) (“District judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.”); Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[W]e decline to affirmatively require courts to ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf of pro se litigants. Not only would that duty be overly burdensome, it would transform the courts from neutral arbiters of disputes into advocates for a particular party. While courts are properly charged with protecting the rights of all who come before it, that responsibility does not encompass advising litigants as to what legal theories they should pursue.”).

         II. Background and Factual Allegations in Complaint

         This is at least the fourth action filed by Plaintiff challenging the foreclosure of real property located at 3013 Chateau Valley Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37207 (“the Property). Plaintiff identifies 3013 Chateau Valley Drive as her current address in her present Complaint. (Compl. at 1.)

         Her first lawsuit challenging the foreclosure was filed in this Court in December 2014. Jones v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, Inc.., No. 3:14-cv-2328 (M.D. Tenn. Dec. 4, 2014) (Compl., Doc. No. 1). The plaintiff did not proceed in forma pauperis, and the matter was referred to a magistrate judge. In January 2015, the plaintiff amended her Complaint to name additional defendants, [1] but she omitted from the Amended Complaint allegations establishing federal jurisdiction. The action was dismissed without prejudice in July 2015 based on the plaintiff's failure to plead a federal question or to plead facts establishing diversity jurisdiction.

         Several months later, in November 2015, Plaintiff filed a second action in this Court, again challenging the same foreclosure and naming only Ocwen Financial Corporation and Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC as defendants. Jones v. Ocwen Fin'l Corp., No. 3:15-cv-01272 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 18, 2015). Plaintiff paid the filing fee, and the matter was referred to the magistrate judge, who filed a Report and Recommendation on September 29, 2017, recommending that the defendants' Motion to Dismiss be granted based on the failure of the Complaint to assert sufficient factual material to state a claim for which relief may be granted. The magistrate judge observed that Plaintiff alleged

‘misconduct related to the servicing of [her] single family residential mortgages' by Ocwen, based upon the acts of Homeward Residential, Inc., and Litton Loan Servicing, LP before they were acquired by Ocwen. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 1, ¶¶ 1-2.) Jones states that this misconduct “resulted in premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of [her] homeowners' rights and protections, and the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents.” (Id. at ¶ 2.) Jones's complaint is a near-verbatim recitation of a complaint filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Attorneys General of all states except Oklahoma in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the same defendants. (Compare Doc. No. 1 with Doc. No. 1, Complaint, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, et al., v. Ocwen Financial Corp. and Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Case No. 1:13-cv-02025-RMC (D.D.C. Dec. 19, 2013).) That lawsuit resulted in a consent decree under which Ocwen agreed to provide, among other relief, $2 billion to consumers who had been harmed by its loan servicing practices. (Doc. No. 12, Consent Decree, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, et al., v. Ocwen Financial Corp. and Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Case No. 1:13-cv-02025-RMC (D.D.C. Feb. 26, 2014).) Jones does not state whether she was eligible for or received relief as part of that action.
Repeating the allegations of the CFPB action in her own complaint, Jones states that Ocwen engaged in a number of unfair lending practices . . . . Jones's complaint does not include any specific allegations regarding her own loan or misconduct by Ocwen in its servicing.

Jones v. Ocwen Fin'l Corp., No. 3:15-cv-01272 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 29, 2017) (Doc. No. 30, at 2-3).

         In December 2015, the plaintiff filed her third Complaint challenging foreclosure on the same Property, this time in the Circuit Court for Davidson County, Tennessee. The defendants in that case, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Homeward Residential, Inc. (formerly known as American Home Mortgage Services, Inc.), and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Ameriquest Mortgage Securities Inc., Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-R4, removed the case to federal court on February 22, 2016. That action asserted claims for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). Other than alleging that she had executed a mortgage with a different mortgage company and that the defendants therefore lacked standing to foreclose on the Property, the complaint in that action did not contain any specific factual allegations pertaining to Plaintiff's own mortgage or the circumstances that supported her own claims against the defendants. The Complaint was dismissed in June 2016 for failure to plead sufficient factual content to support the claims for relief. Jones v. Ameriquest Mortg., No. 3:16-cv-00361 (M.D. Tenn. June 21, 2016) (Order, Doc. No. 21).

         Plaintiff characterizes her most recent lawsuit, filed in this Court on September 28, 2017, as an “Appeal from Sixth Circuit Court Doc. 16C56, A new case.” (Doc. No. 1, at 1.) The only named defendant is “Deutsche Bank c/o of Machie Wole Zientz 5217 Maryland Way, Ste 404, Brentwood, Williamson County, TN 37027.” (Doc. No. 1, at 2.) The body of the form Complaint contains no factual allegations; instead, Plaintiff states only “see attachment” in the space reserved for the Statement of Claim. (Id. at 2.) The referenced attachment is titled “Plaintiff Appeal the Writ of Restitution: Motion for Plaintiff Relief.” (Doc. No. 1, at 4.) Attached to this document is an Order issued on August 30, 2017 by the Sixth Circuit Court for Davidson County, Tennessee in Case No. 16C56, approving plaintiff ...


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