Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, Case No. PWG–14–813.

CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland
Writing for the CourtPAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.
PartiesAdrienne TUCKER, et ux., Plaintiffs, v. SPECIALIZED LOAN SERVICING, LLC, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date03 February 2015
Docket NumberCase No. PWG–14–813.

83 F.Supp.3d 635

Adrienne TUCKER, et ux., Plaintiffs
v.
SPECIALIZED LOAN SERVICING, LLC, et al., Defendants.

Case No. PWG–14–813.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division.

Signed Feb. 3, 2015.


83 F.Supp.3d 639

Robert B. Clayton, Law Offices of Robert B. Clayton, Rockville, MD, for Plaintiffs.

Aaron Drew Neal, McNamee Hosea, Greenbelt, MD, Kevin Bryan Bedell, Greenberg Traurig LLP, McLean, VA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Adrienne Tucker and Maurice Holmes are facing foreclosure on their home. They failed to make payments under their original mortgage loan after they began making payments under what they believed to be a valid loan modification agreement. They filed suit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County against their current loan servicer, Defendant Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC (“SLS”); their previous loan servicer, Defendant Saxon Mortgage Services, Inc. (“Saxon”); and the owner of their current mortgage loan, Defendant FV–I, Inc., in trust for Morgan Stanley Capital Holdings LLC (“FVI”). ECF No. 2. Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief and damages under various theories of liability, all based on their assertion that Defendants proceeded as if the original terms of the loan, and not the purported modification agreement, controlled. See id.; Am. Compl., ECF No. 22. Defendants removed the case to this Court, ECF No. 1, and have moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. ECF Nos. 23 & 25. Also, Plaintiffs, having amended once in response to Defendants' earlier motions to dismiss, now seek leave to file a second amended complaint, ECF No. 32. The parties have briefed these motions fully. See ECF Nos. 23–1, 25, 29–31, 33–37. Yet, prior to ruling on them, I must determine whether this Court has jurisdiction over any or all of Plaintiffs' claims, given the pending foreclosure proceeding in state court.1 Because this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' declaratory judgment count, it must be dismissed. I also will dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq. (“FCRA”) and their breach of contract claim against Saxon, as Plaintiffs have abandoned these claims. For the reasons that follow, the remainder of Plaintiffs' claims will proceed.

I. BACKGROUND2

Adrienne Tucker purchased 13901 Edsall Street, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

83 F.Supp.3d 640

(the “Property”) through a mortgage loan and then jointly executed a Deed of Trust with her husband, Maurice Holmes, as co-owner of the Property. Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 19, ECF No. 32–2. The Deed of Trust provided that the lender and Ms. Tucker could modify the mortgage loan without Mr. Holmes's approval. Id. ¶ 21. Ms. Tucker applied to GMAC Mortgage (“GMAC”),3 which serviced the mortgage at the time, for a permanent loan modification, and she received a signed copy of the modification agreement from GMAC, stating that the modification agreement was effective as of February 1, 2010. Id. ¶¶ 10, 22–26. Ms. Tucker made, and GMAC accepted, payments under the modification agreement. Id. ¶ 28. Thereafter, the loan was assigned to Defendant Saxon and then Defendant SLS for servicing, and although Ms. Tucker continued making payments under the purported modification agreement, neither servicer acknowledged the agreement or accepted her payments. Id. ¶¶ 31–36. The new servicers insisted that the modification agreement did not supplant the original terms of the loan. Id. ¶¶ 33, 36. Consequently, Carrie M. Ward, Howard Bierman, and Jacob Geesing, who “were appointed by SLS to serve as Substitute Trustees under the deed of trust dated November 22, 2005 to initiate foreclosure proceedings against Ms. Tucker and Mr. Holmes,” filed a foreclosure action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County with regard to the Property.Id. ¶¶ 13, 40–41; State Ct. Docket.

In response, Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendants SLS and Saxon, as well as FVI, in state court. Compl., ECF No. 2. Their Amended Complaint includes eight causes of action. Plaintiffs claim that Defendants SLS and FVI violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, Md.Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 14–201 et seq. (“MCDCA”); the FDCPA; and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md.Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 13–101 et seq. (“MCPA”). They allege that all Defendants violated the FCRA and are liable for defamation, injurious falsehood, and breach of contract. In addition, they seek declaratory relief as to all Defendants. Specifically, they request that the Court declare that the modification agreement “modified and supplanted” the original mortgage loan and that the original mortgage loan “is of no force or effect”; that GMAC “by its actions, conduct and/or silence waived any provision or requirement in the Modification Agreement that both Plaintiffs execute the agreement as a prerequisite to its being effective; that Defendants “have unclean hands” in reporting Plaintiffs “delinquent and/or in default in the payment of the Original Note” and in moving forward with foreclosure proceedings; that Defendants “have no rights, legal or otherwise, to foreclose on [Plaintiffs'] property based on any alleged delinquency or default under the terms of the Original Note”; and that Plaintiffs' property is not subject to foreclosure sale. Id. at 32–33. They also seek an injunction to stop Defendants from reporting to credit reporting agencies that they are in default on their original loan, as well as an injunction to prevent Defendants from enforcing the original loan. Id. at 33.

83 F.Supp.3d 641

II. JURISDICTION4

Under the Anti–Injunction Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2283, this Court may not grant “an injunction to stay the proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments.” 28 U.S.C. § 2283. Significantly, “where the Anti–Injunction Act bars an injunction it ‘also bars the issuance of a declaratory judgment that would have the same effect as an injunction.’ ” Lovett v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co., No. 12–1816–MBS–SVH, 2013 WL 841679, at *6 (D.S.C. Feb. 12, 2013) (quoting Denny's, Inc. v. Cake, 364 F.3d 521, 528 (4th Cir.2004) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)), report & recommendation adopted, 2013 WL 841675 (D.S.C. Mar. 6, 2013). This is because “ ‘even if a declaratory judgment is not used as a basis for actually issuing an injunction, declaratory relief alone has virtually the same practical impact as a formal injunction would.’ ” Id. (quoting Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 73, 91 S.Ct. 764, 27 L.Ed.2d 688 (1971) ). For example, if a plaintiff requests “a declaration that the [plaintiff's] mortgage and note are unenforceable,” the request “preempts the foreclosure and has ‘the same effect’ as [a] request for an injunction to prevent foreclosure; both ‘result in precisely the same interference with and disruption of state proceedings that the long-standing policy limiting injunctions was designed to avoid.’ ” Id. (quoting Samuels, 401 U.S. at 72, 91 S.Ct. 764 ). Because this is precisely the relief that Plaintiffs seek in their last count, in which they request a declaration that their “property is not subject to foreclosure sale because of any alleged default by Plaintiffs in the payment of the Original Note,” and an injunction to prevent Defendants from enforcing the original loan, Second Am. Compl. 33, this Court cannot grant their request for a declaratory judgment.See Lovett, 2013 WL 841679, at *6 ; Hayes v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, No. 13–1884–JFA, 2014 WL 4198897, at *5 (D.S.C. Aug.20, 2014) (recognizing that Anti–Injunction Act prohibited federal court from staying state court foreclosure action or declaring mortgage unenforceable, which would have the same effect); Graves v. One West Bank, FSB, No. DKC–13–3343, 2014 WL 994366, at *1 (D.Md. Mar. 13, 2014) (noting previous dismissal of claim for injunctive relief under the Anti–Injunction Act); Glasgow, Inc. v. Noetzel, 556 F.Supp. 595 (D.W.Va.1983) (dismissing claim for declaratory relief, relying in part on Anti–Injunction Act).

Moreover, when a party seeks equitable relief concerning property that already is the res (the subject) of an ongoing

83 F.Supp.3d 642

in rem action in another court, it is well-settled that the court controlling the property for purposes of the earlier-filed suit has jurisdiction over the property, and the court in which the later equity action was filed lacks jurisdiction. See Princess Lida of Thurn & Taxis v. Thompson, 305 U.S. 456, 466, 59 S.Ct. 275, 83 L.Ed. 285 (1939) ; United States v. Bank of N.Y. & Trust Co., 296 U.S. 463, 477, 56 S.Ct. 343, 80 L.Ed. 331 (1936) ; Penn Gen. Cas. Co. v. Pennsylvania ex rel. Schnader, 294 U.S. 189, 55 S.Ct. 386, 79 L.Ed. 850 (1935) ; Palmer v. Texas, 212 U.S. 118, 129, 29 S.Ct. 230, 53 L.Ed. 435 (1909) ; Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. v. Lake Street Elevated R.R., 177 U.S. 51, 61, 20 S.Ct. 564, 44 L.Ed. 667 (1900) ; see also Sexton v. NDEX West, LLC, 713 F.3d 533, 537 (9th Cir.2013) (“The doctrine of prior exclusive jurisdiction applies to a federal court's jurisdiction over...

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  • Neal v. Pentagon Fed. Credit Union, Civil Action No. ELH-18-451
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • November 5, 2018
    ...of a claim for breach of contract are "'contractual obligation, breach, and damages.'" Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 655 (Bankr. D. Md. 2015) (quoting Kumar v. Dhanda, 198 Md. App. 337, 17 A.3d 744, 749 (2011)). To "prevail in an action for breach of contrac......
  • Faddis Concrete, Inc. v. Brawner Builders, Inc., Civil Action No. ELH-15-3975
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
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    ...of a claim for breach of contract are "'contractual obligation, breach, and damages.'" Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 655 (D. Md. 2015) (quoting Kumar v. Dhanda, 198 Md. App. 337, 17 A.3d 744, 749 (2011)). To "prevail in an action for breach of contract, a pl......
  • Johnson v. Byrd, 1:16cv1052
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • November 21, 2016
    ...causes of action for damages, which may be stayed but not dismissed on abstention grounds." Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 647 (D. Md. 2015) (citing Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 721 (1996)). 6. According to Plaintiff's filings, the State Co......
  • Griaznov v. J-K Techs., LLC, Civil Action No. ELH-16-2522
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 11, 2018
    ...of a claim for breach of contract are "'contractual obligation, breach, and damages.'" Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 655 (D. Md. 2015) (quoting Kumar v. Dhanda, 198 Md. App. 337, 345, 17 A.3d 744, 749 (2011)). To "prevail in anPage 30 action for breach of co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
91 cases
  • Neal v. Pentagon Fed. Credit Union, Civil Action No. ELH-18-451
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • November 5, 2018
    ...of a claim for breach of contract are "'contractual obligation, breach, and damages.'" Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 655 (Bankr. D. Md. 2015) (quoting Kumar v. Dhanda, 198 Md. App. 337, 17 A.3d 744, 749 (2011)). To "prevail in an action for breach of contrac......
  • Faddis Concrete, Inc. v. Brawner Builders, Inc., Civil Action No. ELH-15-3975
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 15, 2017
    ...of a claim for breach of contract are "'contractual obligation, breach, and damages.'" Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 655 (D. Md. 2015) (quoting Kumar v. Dhanda, 198 Md. App. 337, 17 A.3d 744, 749 (2011)). To "prevail in an action for breach of contract, a pl......
  • Johnson v. Byrd, 1:16cv1052
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • November 21, 2016
    ...causes of action for damages, which may be stayed but not dismissed on abstention grounds." Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 647 (D. Md. 2015) (citing Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 721 (1996)). 6. According to Plaintiff's filings, the State Co......
  • Griaznov v. J-K Techs., LLC, Civil Action No. ELH-16-2522
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 11, 2018
    ...of a claim for breach of contract are "'contractual obligation, breach, and damages.'" Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F. Supp. 3d 635, 655 (D. Md. 2015) (quoting Kumar v. Dhanda, 198 Md. App. 337, 345, 17 A.3d 744, 749 (2011)). To "prevail in anPage 30 action for breach of co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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