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Martha A. v. Beal Bank et al

February 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No.: 55



This matter comes before the court on the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The pro se plaintiff brings claims for breach of contract in connection with a residential property in the District of Columbia. She asserts these claims against her former mortgage service providers, who now move for summary judgment. Because the defendants have demonstrated that there is a dearth of evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that the defendants breached the contract at issue, the court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment.


The plaintiff owned a residential property located in Northwest Washington, D.C. Am. Compl. ¶ 2. In association with that property, she obtained a mortgage loan from a bank, and executed a Note and a Deed of Trust. See id., Ex. A ("Deed of Trust") at 1; Def.'s Mot., Parra Decl., Ex. A ("Note"). Under the terms of the Deed of Trust, the plaintiff was required to pay the mortgage service providers an amount in escrow to cover the payments of her annual taX assessments and insurance in connection with the property. Deed of Trust at 2. In turn, the mortgage service providers were responsible for paying her annual tax assessments and insurance payments. Id. In 2003, the mortgage service provider at the time, Countrywide Home Loans ("Countrywide") requested that the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue mail all future notices to Countrywide. Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 5-6.

In April 2009, the plaintiff commenced this breach of contract suit against the mortgage service providers, Beal Bank and Countrywide,*fn1 asserting that they breached the Deed of Trust. Am. Compl. ¶ 4. As the court understands the complaint, the plaintiff specifically alleges that the defendants failed to timely pay her property tax bill, resulting in late fees, penalties and interest. Id. Further, she claims that the defendant misapplied certain payments to her escrow account that should have been applied to pay her principal and interest, and charged inappropriately large late fees. Id. at 9. In addition, she claims that the defendants failed to provide her with timely notices from the District's Office of Tax and Revenue regarding tax assessments on the property and, as a result, deprived her of opportunities to appeal the assessments from 2004 through 2009. See id. ¶¶ 6-8.

The defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment. With the defendant's motion now ripe for consideration, the court turns to the parties' arguments and the applicable legal standards.


A. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings and evidence show "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine dispute" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Id.

The nonmoving party may defeat summary judgment through factual representations made in a sworn affidavit if he "support[s] his allegations . . . with facts in the record," Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (quoting Harding v. Gray, 9 F.3d 150, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1993)), or provides "direct testimonial evidence," Arrington v. United States, 473 F.3d 329, 338 (D.C. Cir. 2006). Indeed, for the court to accept anything less "would defeat the central purpose of the summary judgment ...

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