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Russell v. Household Financial Services, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 28, 2019

DEBORAH RUSSELL
v.
HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., ET AL.

          Assigned on Briefs August 19, 2019

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 18-669-II Anne C. Martin, Chancellor

         This is an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, filed by Deborah Russell ("Plaintiff"), seeking to recuse the trial judge in this case which involves a foreclosure action. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal filed by Plaintiff, and finding no error in the Trial Court's order denying recusal, we affirm.

         Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B Interlocutory Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed

          Deborah Chandler Russell, Madison, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

          Jonathan Cole, John Spaulding Hicks, and Joy Longnecker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Household Financial Services, Ben Adams, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz (Nashville), Jonathan Cole, Joy Longnecker, and Dana St. Clair-Hougham.

          D. Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Kenny W. Armstrong, J., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff filed a petition for recusal appeal in this Court on August 16, 2019, seeking review of the July 26, 2019 order of the Chancery Court for Davidson County ("the Chancery Court") denying Plaintiff's Motion for Immediate Disqualification and/or Recusal filed in the proceedings below on July 18, 2019.

         This case arose from an agreement between Plaintiff and the defendant HSBC, Inc. d/b/a Household Financial Services, Inc. ("HSBC") with regard to the refinancing of Plaintiff's mortgage. The litigation originated in September of 2004, when Plaintiff filed an adversarial proceeding in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. That case was dismissed without prejudice in March of 2006.

         Subsequently, a detainer action was filed in the General Sessions Court and a ruling issued, which Plaintiff then appealed to Circuit Court. Plaintiff then filed a complaint in Chancery Court, Part I seeking an injunction preventing HSBC from foreclosing on Plaintiff's home. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at that time, and her complaint alleged claims for intentional and negligent misrepresentation, violations of the Truth in Lending Act, violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, and fraud. An initial temporary restraining order was entered by the Chancery Court, and the case was transferred to Circuit Court, where the appeal from the General Sessions Court was pending. The appeal of the General Sessions Court case was subsequently dismissed for being dormant.

         In October of 2007, Plaintiff, now proceeding pro se, filed another complaint in Chancery Court, which was assigned to Part II. The new complaint addressed the foreclosure and also contained new allegations with regard to HSBC and its handling of litigation and discovery matters. This case was transferred to Circuit Court where the other cases still were pending. In October of 2013, the two Circuit Court cases were consolidated and were assigned to Sixth Circuit Court, with Judge Thomas W. Brothers presiding.

         Plaintiff alleged that HSBC had induced her to refinance her mortgage in July of 2000 by promising her terms that were not included in the actual loan agreement. Plaintiff complained that her monthly loan payments were different from the amounts that had been represented by HSBC, and she claimed that many of the loan documents that she had signed were blank when she signed the documents and that HSBC representatives had told her not to worry about the blanks. HSBC filed a counterclaim against Plaintiff based upon a claimed post-foreclosure deficiency on her loan.

         In June of 2008, the Circuit Court granted summary judgment to HSBC with regard to all of Plaintiff's claims and HSBC's counterclaim. The case was appealed to this Court, and we affirmed the grant of summary judgment as to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claims, but reversed as to Plaintiff's Truth in Lending Act claims and Plaintiff's intentional and negligent misrepresentation claims. Russell v. Household Mortgage Servs., No. ...


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