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Brud Rossmann v. Chase Home Finance LLC

March 25, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge


Plaintiff Brud Rossmann brings this action pro se*fn1 against defendants Chase Home Finance, LLC, Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation, and Chase Manhattan Bank, USA N.A. ("defendants"), alleging that during the course of the parties' mortgage servicing relationship, defendants allegedly misapplied his property tax payments, thereby causing the foreclosure of his property. Before the Court is defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss, which the Court will grant for the reasons explained herein.


Despite the fact that plaintiff is a 1989 graduate of Harvard Law School, his Amended Complaint is complex, garbled, and accompanied by hundreds of "exhibits," which appear to have been assembled in no particular order. *fn2 The Court has waded through these documents (hereafter "Amend. Compl.") and has gleaned the following pertinent facts.

Plaintiff Brud Rossmann, who currently resides in the District of Columbia and the State of New York, purchased property at 2321 Sawtooth Oak Court, Vienna, Virginia 22182 (also referred to as "Lot 8, Cedar Lane") on or about September 8, 2000. (Amend. Compl. Glossary ¶¶ 1, 10; Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 14) Defendants allegedly serviced the mortgage for this property from approximately 2000 until the property was sold in May 2003. (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 8.1-8.5.) Plaintiff alleges that defendants "violated various [unspecified] Deed of Trust provisions" and "leveraged" an estimated $170,000 of plaintiff's cash "as de facto real estate development financing without plaintiff's consent." (Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) In addition, plaintiff alleges that his tax payments made to Chase over several years "were not used for payment against Plaintiff's property or properties, including critical property tax payments that slipped into delinquency or foreclosure without notice" (Id. ¶ 21.) Consequently, "this failure to apply such funds" allegedly "forced one or more such properties into foreclosure, beginning in 2002" (Id.) In addition, plaintiff charges that defendants "refused to account or provide related documentation" regarding the "cash balances paid by Plaintiff that extended into mid-2004 and beyond." (Id. ¶ 26.) Finally, plaintiff accuses defendant of engaging "in litigation and third-party transactions in Plaintiff's name . . . without due or any authorization to the direct prejudice of Plaintiff." (Id. ¶28.)



Among its many meritorious arguments, defendants argue that the case should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a factual basis for personal jurisdiction over the defendants.*fn3 See Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Society, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990). The Court need not treat all of the plaintiff's allegations as true when determining whether personal jurisdiction exists over the defendant. Instead, the Court "may receive and weigh affidavits and any other relevant matter to assist it in determining the jurisdictional facts." United States v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 116, 120 n.4 (D.D.C. 2000) (citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1351 (1990)). However, the Court should resolve any factual discrepancies with regard to the existence of personal jurisdiction in favor of the plaintiff. See Crane, 894 F.2d at 456.

The D.C. Court of Appeals has set forth a two-part inquiry for establishing personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. First, a court must "examine whether jurisdiction is applicable under the state's long-arm statute," and second, "determine whether a finding of jurisdiction satisfies the constitutional requirements of due process." GTE New Media Servs. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1347 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

In the District of Columbia, there are three statutory bases for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a corporation. The plaintiff may establish "general" personal jurisdiction against resident corporations under D.C. Code Section 13-422,*fn4 or against foreign corporations under D.C. Code Section 13-334(a).*fn5 The plaintiff may establish "specific" personal jurisdiction under D.C. Code Section 13-423, the District of Columbia's long-arm statute.

Defendants argue that this Court lacks general jurisdiction over them, as none of them are residents of D.C. and plaintiff has made no allegation to the contrary. (Joint Motion to Dismiss ["Mot."] at 9; Amend. Compl. at p.1 (caption) and ¶ 8.) Defendants are citizens of Delaware and/or New Jersey, and while plaintiff claims that certain defendants were at times "based" in Ohio and Arizona (Amend. Compl. ¶ 8), at no time does he allege, let alone establish, that any defendant is "domiciled in, organized under the laws of, or maintain[s] . . . its principal place of business in, the District of Columbia." D.C. Code § 13-422. As such, personal jurisdiction cannot be based on Section 13-422.

Nor may plaintiff look to Section 13-334(a) for general personal jurisdiction. Regardless of whether defendants were "doing business in the District," plaintiff may not invoke Section 13-334(a) as the basis for personal jurisdiction against a foreign corporation unless the corporation has been served within the District of Columbia. Everett v. Nissan Motor Corp., 628 A.2d 106, 108 (D.C. 1993) ("specific jurisdictional requirement of D.C. Code § 13-334(a) that service be made in the District of Columbia"); Gorman v. Ameritrade Holding Corp., 293 F.3d 506, 514 (D.C. Cir. 2002) ("Where the basis for obtaining jurisdiction over a foreign corporation is § 13-334(a), . . . a plaintiff who serves the corporation by mail outside the District is 'foreclosed from benefitting from [the statute's] jurisdictional protection.'" (quoting Everett, 628 A.2d at 108)).

It is also clear that plaintiff has not met his burden of showing specific personal jurisdiction over defendants under the long-arm ...

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