Lewis v. U.S. Bank Trust N.A., 040220 UTCA, 20190276-CA

Docket Nº:20190276-CA
Opinion Judge:HAGEN, JUDGE.
Party Name:Brian K. Lewis, Appellant, v. U.S. Bank Trust NA and LSF9 Master Participation Trust, Appellees.
Attorney:Brian K. Lewis, Appellant Pro Se Heidi G. Goebel and Keith S. Anderson, Attorneys for Appellees
Judge Panel:Judge Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Case Date:April 02, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of Utah
 
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2020 UT App 55

Brian K. Lewis, Appellant,

v.

U.S. Bank Trust NA and LSF9 Master Participation Trust, Appellees.

No. 20190276-CA

Court of Appeals of Utah

April 2, 2020

Fourth District Court, Nephi Department The Honorable Anthony L. Howell No. 180600022

Brian K. Lewis, Appellant Pro Se

Heidi G. Goebel and Keith S. Anderson, Attorneys for Appellees

Judge Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.

OPINION

HAGEN, JUDGE.

¶1 Brian K. Lewis filed suit against U.S. Bank Trust NA (U.S. Bank) to quiet title and for unjust enrichment. U.S. Bank filed a motion to dismiss on res judicata grounds, which the district court granted. Lewis appeals, arguing that the district court erred in concluding that res judicata bars his claims. Because the district court could not decide this issue without considering materials outside the pleadings, the motion to dismiss should have been converted to one for summary judgment. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND1

¶2 This case arises from a dispute over ownership of a piece of property. In 2008, the owner of the property (the prior owner) executed a promissory note in favor of a mortgage company and conveyed a trust deed to that same company to secure the note. In 2009, the prior owner defaulted on the promissory note, filed for bankruptcy, and abandoned the property.

¶3 In late 2009, a notice of default was issued against the property, but it was rescinded in April 2014. On the same day that the original notice of default was rescinded, however, a second notice of default was issued.

¶4 Then, in late 2014 and with permission from the prior owner, Lewis began to occupy the property. In early 2015, Lewis purchased the property from the prior owner, who conveyed the property to Lewis via warranty deed. Lewis has made substantial improvements to the property since he began living there.

¶5 No further action was taken against the property following the second notice of default until January 2016, when a new successor trustee was appointed. In May 2016, Lewis received a notice informing him that the prior owner's mortgage loan had been sold to another company, LSF9 Master Participation Trust (LSF9). Although Lewis knew that the prior owner had filed for bankruptcy prior to receiving the notice of the mortgage sale, he had thought that any other parties with an interest in the property had forfeited their interest by not taking any action against the property between 2009 and 2014.

¶6 In 2018, Lewis instigated the present action against U.S. Bank-which had since been made the trustee of LSF9-bringing claims to quiet title and for unjust enrichment.2 In response, U.S. Bank filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under rule 12(b)(6) of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that Lewis's claims were barred by res judicata.3 U.S. Bank pointed to a prior quiet title action brought by Lewis that had been removed to federal court and then involuntarily dismissed, arguing that resolution of that claim precluded Lewis's current claims from being litigated.4 In support of this motion, U.S. Bank attached a variety of documents including: the promissory note, the deed of trust, bank records, the first notice of default, multiple assignments of the deed of trust, the notice of rescission of the first notice of default, the second notice of default, the warranty deed, a document showing the substitution of...

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