Mather v. First Hawaiian Bank, Corp.

Decision Date22 August 2014
Docket NumberCIVIL NO. 14-00091 SOM/RLP
PartiesDIANE E. MATHER, individually and as trustee of the HANA2008 LIVING TRUST and the VIOLET BLACK TRUST, Plaintiffs, v. FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK, a Hawaii corporation, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Hawaii
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT; ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY
I. INTRODUCTION.

Defendant First Hawaiian Bank lent Plaintiff Diane E. Mather $686,000 and extended to her a line of credit of up to $20,000. These loans were secured by mortgages on property located on Dole Street, in Honolulu, Hawaii. When Mather defaulted on these loans, First Hawaiian Bank filed a state-court foreclosure action. The state court granted summary judgment in favor of First Hawaiian Bank, issued a decree of foreclosure, and certified its ruling pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure. A court-appointed commissioner sold the Dole Street property at public auction, and the state court issued a deficiency judgment against Mather. Mather did not appeal any of the state court's rulings or judgments.

Mather now seeks leave to file a First Amended Complaint in which she attempts to undo and unwind the state-court orders and judgments. She also attempts to add claims against the attorneys representing First Hawaiian Bank for actions taken in the foreclosure proceedings. Because the proposed First Amended Complaint seeks to assert claims that are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and the principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel, and because the proposed First Amended Complaint clearly violates Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Mather's motion seeking leave to file the proposed complaint is denied.

Because there is no operative complaint in this case, Mather may not seek discovery from Defendant(s) at this time. Her motion of July 15, 2014, which seeks to compel such discovery, is therefore denied.

II. STANDARD.

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that leave to amend a complaint should be freely given "when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). In determining whether to allow amendment of a complaint, courts consider factors such as: whether the amendment will cause undue delay; whether the movant has demonstrated bad faith or a dilatory motive; whether the amendment will unduly prejudice the opposing party; whether amendment is futile; and whether themovant has repeatedly failed to cure deficiencies. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). The Ninth Circuit has noted that, of these factors, "prejudice to the opposing party carries the greatest weight." Sonoma County Ass'n of Retired Employees v. Sonoma County, 708 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003)).

III. BACKGROUND FACTS.

Proceeding pro se, Mather proposes a First Amended Complaint that is prolix. Its many irrelevant allegations cause it to cover 69 pages.

The factual background for this case is set forth in this court's order of June 24, 2014, and is incorporated here by reference. In summary, on or about September 25, 2008, First Hawaiian Bank lent Mather $686,000. On or about November 5, 2008, First Hawaiian Bank extended a line of credit to Mather of up to $20,000. Both loans were secured by mortgages on property located on Dole Street in Honolulu.

Instead of making payments in accordance with her obligations, Mather sought to escape those obligations by recording a Satisfaction of Mortgage and a Release and Discharge of Mortgage Lien in the State of Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances. This followed Mather's recording of a Notice of Dishonor and Non-Response in the Bureau of Conveyances in January 2012 thatclaimed that, if First Hawaiian Bank failed to respond to the Notice within three days, the $686,000 note (along with another note for a separate $224,000 loan) would be null and void and that First Hawaiian Bank would instead owe Mather $1,459,703.35. First Hawaiian Bank filed a special proceeding in state court to expunge those documents. Mather eventually stipulated to the expunging of the instruments she had recorded. See Stipulated Order to Expunge Various Instruments, S.P. No. 12-1-0240 KKS (Haw. Cir. Ct. Aug. 30, 2012), ECF No. 9-9, PageID # 392.

Mather says that, on or about November 15, 2012, she sent an "Affidavit of Diane Mather Affidavit of Specific Negative Treatment" to First Hawaiian Bank's attorney, David Y. Nakashima of the Watanabe Ing, LLP, law firm. See ECF No. 33-9, PageID # 1111. In this document, Mather "denies" that Nakashima is First Hawaiian Bank's attorney, denies having obtained a loan from First Hawaiian Bank, denies having mortgages on the Dole Street property, and denies being in default. Id., PageId #s 1111-12. The document further claims that First Hawaiian Bank owes Mather $3,948 for her fees and states that, if First Hawaiian Bank does not respond to it within 10 days, those fees will be due and payable to Mather. Id., PageID # 1113.

On or about December 6, 2012, First Hawaiian Bank filed a complaint in state court to foreclose on the mortgages, alleging that Mather was in default on her loans. On August 23,2013, the state court issued its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment as to All Claims and All Parties, Interlocutory Decree of Foreclosure and Order of Sale. See Civ. No. 12-1-3080 (Haw. Cir. Ct. Aug. 23, 2013), ECF No. 9-11, PageID # 400 ("Interlocutory Decree of Foreclosure"). The state court determined that Mather had defaulted on the loans and that First Hawaiian Bank was entitled to foreclose on its security interest. Id., PageID # 408. The state court ordered the Dole Street property sold via a public auction by a court-appointed commissioner. Id., PageID # 410. The state court further ruled that, pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure, the Interlocutory Decree of Foreclosure "shall be considered as a final order and judgment and there shall be no just reason for delay." Id., PageID # 413; see also Judgment re: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment as to All Claims and All Parties, Interlocutory Decree of Foreclosure and Order of Sale, Civ. No. 12-1-3080 (Haw. Cir. Ct. Aug. 23, 2013), ECF No. 9-12. Mather did not appeal the order or judgment, both of which were entered before she filed the Complaint in this action on February 25, 2014.

Mather filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. On December 2, 2013, the Bankruptcy Court dismissed that petition because Mather had not filed required documents. See OrderDismissing Case with 180-Day Bar to Refiling for Failure to File Required Documents, ECF No. 9-13, PageID # 420.

The Dole Street property was sold at public auction to First Hawaiian Bank, and the state court confirmed the sale. See Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Confirmation of Sale, Directing Distribution of Proceeds, for Deficiency Judgment, Writ of Possession and Disposal or Personal Property, Civ. No. 12-1-3080 (Haw. Cir. Ct. Mar. 21, 2014), ECF No. 21-3, and Judgment re: Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Confirmation of Sale, Directing Distribution of Proceeds, for Deficiency Judgment, Writ of Possession and Disposal or Personal Property, Civ. No. 12-1-3080 (Haw. Cir. Ct. Mar. 21, 2014), ECF No. 21-4.

A deficiency judgment in the amounts of $279,693.96 and $26,414.29 plus interest was entered against Mather on May 19, 2014. ECF No. 33-15, PageID #s 1240-42.

Mather did not appeal any of the state court foreclosure proceeding orders and/or judgments.

IV. ANALYSIS.
A. The Proposed First Amended Complaint Violates Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Mather's proposed First Amended Complaint violates Rule 8(a)(2), as it is neither a short nor a plain statement of her claims.Instead, it is 69 pages of irrelevant statements and improper challenges to the state-court foreclosure proceeding. For that reason alone, the court denies Mather's request for leave to file the proposed complaint. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178-80 (9th Cir. 1996) (affirming dismissal of complaint that violated Rule 8).

In McHenry, the Ninth Circuit discussed several reasons for dismissing complaints that violate Rule 8:

If the pleading contains prolix evidentiary averments, largely irrelevant or of slight relevance, rather than clear and concise averments stating which defendants are liable to plaintiffs for which wrongs, based on the evidence, then this purpose is defeated. Only by months or years of discovery and motions can each defendant find out what he is being sued for. The expense and burden of such litigation promotes settlements based on the anticipated litigation expense rather than protecting immunity from suit.

84 F.3d at 1178. Of additional concern is the effect that a prolix complaint has on the court and the parties:

Prolix, confusing complaints such as the ones plaintiffs filed in this case impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges. As a practical matter, the judge and opposing counsel, in order to perform their responsibilities, cannot use a complaint such as the one plaintiffs filed, and must prepare outlines to determine who is being sued for what. Defendants are then put at risk that their outline differs from the judge's, that plaintiffs will surprise them with something new at trial which they reasonably did not understand to be in the case at all, and that res judicata effects of settlement or judgment will be different from what theyreasonably expected. "[T]he rights of the defendants to be free from costly and harassing litigation must be considered."

Id. at 1179-80 (quoting Von Poppenheim v. Portland Boxing & Wrestling Comm'n, 442...

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