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Haynes v. Navy Federal Credit Union

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

October 22, 2014

JAMES R. HAYNES, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, Defendant

JAMES R. HAYNES, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

For NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, Defendant: Amy Sanborn Owen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Richard D. Holzheimer, Jr., COCHRAN & OWEN, LLC, Vienna, VA.

Page 14

MEMORANDUM ORDER

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff James R. Haynes (" Haynes" or " Plaintiff" ) brings this action pro se [1] against Defendant Navy Federal Credit Union (" NFCU" or " Defendant" ), asserting a variety of claims arising out of a home mortgage loan extended to him by NFCU. Presently before the Court is the portion of Defendant's [85] Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment that was held in abeyance, first, by this Court's June 10, 2014 [96] Order and [97] Memorandum Opinion and then held in continued abeyance by this Court's August 27, 2014 [101] Memorandum Order. By its June Order, the Court granted Defendant's motion in part and dismissed Plaintiff's claims for (1) Breach of Contract and (2) Accounting and Mandatory Injunctive Relief. The Court held in abeyance the portion of Defendant's motion seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for (1) Intentional Damage to Credit and (2) Defamation, pending supplemental briefing from the parties. Upon consideration of Defendant's [100] Supplemental Memorandum in Support of its Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (" Def.'s Suppl. Brief" ), the Court concluded in its August 27, 2014, Memorandum Order that further supplemental briefing from Defendant was necessary to understand why Defendant reported the amount past due on Plaintiff's loan on September 21, 2010, as $13,522. Upon consideration of Defendant's [102] Second Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Its Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (" Def.'s Second Suppl. Mem." ), the Court concludes that Defendant has adequately addressed all of the questions previously raised by the Court regarding the accuracy of Defendant's reporting on the status of the loan. Accordingly, the remaining portion of Defendant's [85] Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for (1) Intentional Damage to Credit and (2) Defamation, is now GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

On or about May 16, 2003, Plaintiff obtained a home mortgage loan (the " Loan" ) from Defendant, secured by property located at 5601 16th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20011 (the " Property" ). Def.'s

Page 15

Stmt. of Undisp. Facts, ECF No. [85-4] (" Def.'s Stmt." ) ¶ 1. The Loan was governed by a Note dated May 16, 2003 (the " Note" ) and Deed of Trust dated May 16, 2003 and recorded in the District of Columbia land records at Document No. 2003088532 (the " Deed of Trust" ). Id. ¶ 2. The Deed of Trust provides that Plaintiff shall pay to NFCU funds necessary to pay " Escrow Items" which includes, among other costs, taxes and insurance premiums for the Property. Id. ¶ 3. The Deed of Trust also provides that NFCU may waive the borrower's obligation to pay costs for Escrow Items at any time and that the waiver must be provided in writing. Id. ¶ 4. The Deed of Trust does not set out the criteria which NFCU must use when determining whether to waive the escrow requirement. Id. ¶ 5. At closing, Plaintiff signed a " District of Columbia Escrow Disclosure and Agreement Authorization" permitting the payment of taxes to the D.C. Government by NFCU. Id. ¶ 6.

In 2009, the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue erroneously determined that Plaintiff claimed two homestead exemptions for the years 2007 and 2008. The D.C. Government assessed $20,451.13 in back taxes for the Property and increased the amount of tax owed in the future for the property. Id. ¶ 8. NFCU was not responsible for the tax exemption error and made no representations to the District of Columbia regarding Plaintiff's homestead exemption. Id. ¶ 9. NFCU received notice of the D.C. Government Assessment from the District of Columbia Office of Taxation. Id. ¶ 10. NFCU was authorized to pay, and did pay, the D.C. Government Assessment of $20,451.14. Id. ¶ ¶ 11-12.

After NFCU paid the D.C. Government Assessment, Plaintiff's escrow account was in arrears and the required amount due to maintain the escrow account was $21,252.82. Id. ¶ 13. NFCU sent Plaintiff a notice that the D.C. Government Assessment had been paid and gave Plaintiff the option of paying the entire increase of $21,252.82 within 30 days, or spreading the payments over the next 12 months, increasing his total monthly payments by $1,771.07 to $6,761.07 for 12 months. Id. ¶ 14. Subsequently, apparently having been alerted to its error by Plaintiff, the District of Columbia refunded the tax over-payments to NFCU, which totaled $22,247.97, on August 26, 2010. Id. ¶ 15. The refunded payments were applied to Plaintiff's escrow account and he was issued two checks due to the excess funds in his escrow account as a result of the tax refund. Id. ¶ 16.

Beginning in September 2010, Plaintiff stopped making escrow payments as required under the Deed of Trust and instead attempted to pay taxes and insurance directly to the D.C. Government and insurance company. Id. ¶ 17. On September 10, 2010, Plaintiff sent Defendant a fax stating " [t]he purpose of this memorandum is to inform you that I will pay directly the escrow payments for the referenced property." Def.'s MSJ, Ex. J (Haynes Fax). He cited as reasons for this decision, " (a) under DC law I have a legal right to pay my own real estate taxes; and (b) NFCU has continually miscalculated the amount the [sic] escrow taxes to be paid." Id. Plaintiff tendered monthly payments to NFCU of $3,930.24 for each month after August 2010. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 19. That amount is equal to the principal and interest he owed monthly, but does not include any escrow payments. Id.

The Deed of Trust includes the following language regarding partial payments:

Lender may return any payment or partial payment if the payment or partial payments are insufficient to bring the Loan current. Lender may accept any

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payment or partial payment insufficient to bring the Loan current, without waiver of any rights hereunder or prejudice to its rights to refuse such payment or partial payments in the future, but Lender is not obligated to apply such payments at the time such payments are accepted. If each Periodic Payment is applied as of its scheduled due date, then Lender need not pay interest on unapplied funds. Lender may hold such unapplied funds until Borrower makes payment to bring the Loan current. ...

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