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Hunter v. U.S. Bank

March 22, 2010

ROBERT TODD HUNTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE STRUCTURED ASSET INVESTMENT LOAN TRUST 2005-8, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pro se Plaintiff Robert Todd Hunter brings this action against Defendants U.S. Bank, National Association ("U.S. Bank") and The Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust 2005-8 to quiet title to property he owned in Pennsylvania that was foreclosed upon by U.S. Bank. Hunter claims that he is entitled to a judgment of quiet title because the foreclosure was invalid, for a variety of reasons. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendants contend that Hunter is improperly seeking to appeal a Pennsylvania court judgment and that this Court lacks jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; alternatively, Defendants argue that Hunter's claims are barred by res judicata and also fail to state a claim for relief. Hunter has filed a [7] Motion to Deny Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Complaint, which the Court construes as an opposition to Defendants' motion.*fn1 Defendants have filed a reply, and the motion is ripe for adjudication. Having considered the parties' filings and the applicable legal authorities, the Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction over Hunter's Complaint under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because Hunter is effectively seeking to appeal an adverse state court judgment. Accordingly, the Court shall GRANT Defendants' [5] Motion to Dismiss and DENY Hunter's [7] Motion to Deny.

I. BACKGROUND

This action concerns property that Hunter owned at 1215 Green Ridge Road, Orrtanna, Pennsylvania (the "Property").Compl. ¶ 3. On June 30, 2005, Plaintiff executed a mortgage note (the "Note") with non-party BNC Mortgage, Inc., secured by the Property, in exchange for a $153,000 loan. Id. ¶¶ 3, 67. In 2007, the mortgage was sold and assigned to U.S. Bank as trustee for the mortgage-backed security in which the mortgage was pooled, a trust identified as Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust 2005-8 (the "Trust"). Id. ¶¶ 4, 30.

On August 3, 2007, U.S. Bank, as trustee for the Trust, filed a Complaint in Mortgage Foreclosure against Hunter in the Adams County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. See Compl., Ex. F (Complaint in Mortgage Foreclosure). The Complaint in Mortgage Foreclosure alleged that U.S. Bank was the legal owner of the mortgage and was in the process of formalizing an assignment, and that the mortgage and any assignments were matters of public record. Id. ¶ 3. The Complaint alleged that Hunter stopped making monthly payments of principal and interest in April 2007 and therefore the mortgage was in default. Id. ¶ 5. U.S. Bank sought an in rem judgment against Hunter for $158,603.53 plus interest and other costs and the foreclosure and sale of the Property. Id. at 6. A default judgment was entered against Hunter for $163,200 on December 6, 2007. See U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Hunter, Civ. No. 2007-SU-0000931 (Adams Cty. Ct. Com. Pl. Dec. 6, 2007) (default judgment).*fn2 The Property was subsequently sold at a Sheriff's sale.

On June 10, 2008, U.S. Bank filed a civil complaint for ejectment against Hunter in the Adams County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. See U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Hunter, Civ. No. 2008-SU-0000822 (Adams Cty. Ct. Com. Pl. filed June 10, 2008).*fn3 Hunter sought an enlargement of time to respond to the complaint, but the court denied his request. A default judgment was entered against Hunter and a writ of possession was issued on July 21, 2008. Hunter filed a motion to set aside the default judgment, which was denied by the Court on October 30, 2008. The writ of possession was reissued on December 3, 2008. Hunter later filed a civil action in Pennsylvania court to challenge the foreclosure but subsequently withdrew his complaint. See Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 2; Defs.' Mem. at 3-4.

In his Complaint in this action, filed June 30, 2009, Hunter challenges the actions taken by the Adams County Court of Common Pleas. Hunter claims that the state court's judgment of foreclosure violated his due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments as well as his right to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment. See Compl. ¶¶ 11, 22, 43-44, 49-55, 63-64, 79-80. Thus, Hunter claims that the foreclosure was improper and that Defendants have engaged in "fraudulent conversion" of the Property. See id. ¶ 6.

More specifically, Hunter alleges that the foreclosure was improper for a variety of reasons. For example, Hunter claims that Defendants lacked standing to foreclose on the Property because they did not adequately prove their ownership of the Note. See Compl. ¶ 5 ("Neither [U.S. Bank] nor [the Trust] have supplied any material evidence that they are the holder in due course of the note and deed of trust."); id. ¶¶ 93-95, 101. Hunter also claims that Defendants failed to properly establish in state court that Hunter owed a debt. See id. ¶ 96. Hunter also claims that Defendants had no right to enforce the Note because they were not co-signers or sureties of the original Note and have no right of subrogation. See id. ¶ 6, 9, 13, 48, 61-62. Hunter also appears to claim that the Note was invalid because Hunter received the loan proceeds in the form of an account credit rather than as U.S. currency, and thus there was no valuable consideration. See id. ¶¶ 7-8, 22-25, 29, 46, 67-69, 97. Moreover, Hunter claims that only gold and silver coin are legal tender in the United States. Id. ¶ 68. Hunter claims that Defendants violated banking regulations by improperly lending their credit. See id. ¶¶ 82-92. Hunter also claims that his interest in the Property traces back to the original land grant from the British government, and therefore he has superior title and interest in the Property to anyone, including Defendants. See id. ¶¶ 34-35, 56-60.

Hunter claims that Defendants did not "validate" the debt by responding to Hunter's request for proof of debt ownership. See Compl. ¶¶ 31, 70, 77, 81 & Ex. C (6/10/2009 Letter from Hunter to Defendants requesting proof of ownership). Hunter claims that validation was required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and that the debt could not have been validated because there was no consideration for the loan. See id. ¶¶ 70, 81. Hunter claims to have made an "offer of performance" to pay the debt, which was rejected by Defendants, therefore extinguishing the debt under the Uniform Commercial Code. See id. ¶¶ 32-33, 71, 74, 76. Hunter also claims that the foreclosure action was invalid because it was not preceded by a separate action to quiet title. See Compl. ¶ 64 ("The unlawful [foreclosure] action taken by the Defendant was not preceded by a final judgment in an Action to Quiet Title, and is therefore violative of my due process rights."); id. ¶ 65 (claiming that failure to bring quiet title action violates Pennsylvania common law and constitutional due process).

Hunter's first stated cause of action is for quiet title and seeks a declaration that Hunter has exclusive ownership rights in the Property and injunctive relief prohibiting Defendants and others from challenging his rights in the Property. See Compl. ¶ 98. Hunter's second cause of action is for "Slander of Title, fraudulent conversion" based on Defendants' actions. See id.

¶¶ 99-102. Hunter seeks a revocation of the foreclosure, abatement of all claims against him and the Property, an award of costs, and punitive damages in the amount of $80,000. See id. ¶¶ 104-08.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A court must dismiss a case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. In determining whether there is jurisdiction, the Court may "consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts." Coalition for Underground Expansion, 333 F.3d at 198 (citations omitted); see also Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v. Food & Drug Admin., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005) ("[T]he district court may consider materials outside the pleadings in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.").

"At the motion to dismiss stage, counseled complaints, as well as pro se complaints, are to be construed with sufficient liberality to afford all possible inferences favorable to the pleader on allegations of fact." Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n,429 F.3d 1098, 1106 (D.C. Cir. 2005). In spite of the favorable inferences that a plaintiff receives on a motion to dismiss, it remains the plaintiff's burden to prove subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Am. Farm Bureau v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 121 F. Supp. 2d 84, 90 (D.D.C. 2000). "Although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), [a] plaintiff['s] factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a ...


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