750 Fed.Appx. 301 (5th Cir. 2018), 18-10365, Johnson-Williams v. Citimortgage, Inc.

Docket Nº:18-10365
Citation:750 Fed.Appx. 301
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:Cheryl JOHNSON-WILLIAMS, also known as Cheryl Angrum, Plaintiff-Appellant v. CITIMORTGAGE, INCORPORATED, Defendant-Appellee
Attorney:Cheryl Johnson-Williams, Pro Se Walter McInnis, Bryan Timothy Brown, C. Charles Townsend, Esq., Akerman, L.L.P., Dallas, TX, for Defendant-Appellee
Judge Panel:Before KING, SOUTHWICK, and ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 20, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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750 Fed.Appx. 301 (5th Cir. 2018)

Cheryl JOHNSON-WILLIAMS, also known as Cheryl Angrum, Plaintiff-Appellant



No. 18-10365

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

September 20, 2018


Editorial Note:

Please Refer Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 5th Cir. Rules 28.7 and 47.5.

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, USDC No. 3:17-CV-2072

Cheryl Johnson-Williams, Pro Se

Walter McInnis, Bryan Timothy Brown, C. Charles Townsend, Esq., Akerman, L.L.P., Dallas, TX, for Defendant-Appellee

Before KING, SOUTHWICK, and ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judges.



In 2006, Cheryl Johnson-Williams bought a house in Grand Prairie, Texas. She funded the purchase by executing a note in favor of Everett Financial, Inc., in the amount of $169,078. A deed of trust secured the note. The original beneficiary of the mortgage assigned the deed to CitiMortgage, Inc. When Johnson-Williams defaulted on the note, CitiMortgage noticed a non-judicial foreclosure sale for August 5, 2014. CitiMortgage then bought the property and received a substitute trustee’s deed.

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Then began a troika of lawsuits, culminating in the one at hand. Johnson-Williams1 sued CitiMortgage (among others) in Texas state court, alleging fraud, violations of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 12.002, and slander of title. See Johnson-Williams v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 675 Fed.Appx. 396, 397 (5th Cir. 2017) (per curiam). The case was removed to federal court and ultimately dismissed. See id. at 397-99. The district court determined that her challenges to the validity of the loan documents rested on theories rejected in the Texas courts and that she lacked standing to challenge the assignment of the deed to CitiMortgage. See

Johnson-Williams v. CitiMortgage, Inc., No. 3:14-CV-3927, 2015 WL 4997811, at *4-11 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 19, 2015). We affirmed. See Johnson-Williams, 675 Fed.Appx. at 402.

CitiMortgage then filed a forcible detainer action in a Texas justice of the peace court. Johnson v. CitiMortgage, Inc., No. 05-16-00931-CV, 2017 WL 2871453, at *1 (Tex.App.— Dallas July 5, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for publication). A forcible detainer action determines the right to immediate possession of a property, but not the merits of title. See Williams v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon, 315 S.W.3d 925, 926 (Tex.App.— Dallas 2010, no pet.).2 The justice court entered judgment in favor of CitiMortgage, which the county court and court of appeals affirmed. See Johnson, 2017 WL 2871453, at *1.

The Texas court of appeals issued its judgment on July 5, 2017. Id. The very next day, Johnson-Williams filed this lawsuit in state court. Johnson-Williams asserts claims for breach of contract and to quiet title. She requests a declaratory judgment, specific performance, an accounting, and various forms of damages. The crux of her claims is that CitiMortgage breached the note and deed of trust by violating various state and federal laws and regulations. CitiMortgage moved for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). The magistrate judge recommended dismissal on res judicata grounds, and the district court agreed. The district court entered final judgment, and Johnson-Williams timely appealed.

We review a Rule 12(c) dismissal de novo. See Great Plains Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2002). The same standard applies to our review of its conclusion that res judicata bars this action. See Test Masters Educ. Servs., Inc. v. Singh, 428 F.3d 559, 571 (5th Cir. 2005). Res judicata is an affirmative defense generally not suited to resolution on the pleadings. See id. at 570 n.2. Dismissal is nonetheless appropriate when the res judicata bar is apparent on the face of the pleadings and judicially noticed facts. See Kansa Reins. Co. v. Cong. Mortg. Corp. of Tex., 20 F.3d 1362, 1366 (5th Cir. 1994); see also Hall v. Hodgkins, 305 Fed.Appx. 224, 227-28 (5th Cir. 2008) (per curiam). The pleadings in this case include the note, deed of trust, notice of trustee’s sale, and substitute trustee’s deed, all referenced in and attached to either the complaint or motion to dismiss. See Vanderbrook v. Unitrin Preferred Ins. Co. (In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig.), 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). And the district court properly took judicial notice

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of the previous court judgments and opinions— all publicly available documents. See Cinel v. Connick, 15 F.3d 1338, 1343 n.6 (5th Cir. 1994).

Our task in this appeal is to determine the preclusive effect (if any) of two judgments, one from a state court and one from a federal court. To determine the preclusive effect of a state court judgment, we apply the preclusion law of the state that rendered the judgment. Pirani v. Baharia (In re of Pirani), 824 F.3d 483, 491 (5th Cir. 2...

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