United States District Court, D. Columbia.
Document No.: 5.
Roland, Plaintiff, Pro se, Fort Washington, MD USA.
Branch Banking & Trust Corporation, Samuel I. White,
Defendants: Daniel Jay Pesachowitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, SAMUEL I.
WHITE PC, Rockville, MD USA.
CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.
January 12, 2015, pro se Plaintiff Bernard Roland
filed this action against Defendant Branch Banking & Trust
Corporation (" BB& T" ) and Defendant
Samuel I. White P.C. (" White P.C." ) alleging
various violations of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 1601 et seq., and common law arising out of a
foreclosure action concerning real property in Maryland.
See Compl., ECF No. 1. Defendants have filed a
motion to dismiss the Complaint on various grounds.
See Defs.' Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 5. For the
reasons explained below, the Court will deny Defendants'
motion to dismiss the Complaint for insufficient service of
process and improper venue and will transfer venue to the
District of Maryland pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
February 2008, Mr. Roland executed a mortgage loan agreement
with Liberty Mortgage Corporation (" Liberty" )
against property located Fort Washington, Maryland.
See Compl. ¶ 5; Note, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. C,
ECF No. 5-4. Mr. Roland alleges that Liberty
dissolved in 2011 and that BB& T subsequently " appeared
claiming to be a note holder." Compl. ¶ 5. On November
5, 2013, substitute trustees commenced a foreclosure
proceeding against Mr. Roland in Maryland state court
relating to the property. See Driscoll v. Roland,
Case No. CAEF13-3386 (Md. Cir. Ct. Prince George's
Cnty.). Defendant White P.C. appears to have represented the
substitute trustees in that action. See id. After
the commencement of the foreclosure proceeding, Mr. Roland
filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court
for the District of Maryland. See In re Roland, Case
(Bankr. D. Md.); Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. D, ECF No. 5-5
Roland commenced this action against Defendants on January
12, 2015, seeking to represent a class of similarly situated
plaintiffs, and claiming various violations of the
Truth in Lending Act, breach of fiduciary duty, and common
law fraud primarily arising from the foreclosure proceeding
in Maryland state court. See Compl. On the same day,
a process server hired by Mr. Roland served a summons on
Valena Metcalfe, a legal assistant employed by White P.C., at
White P.C.'s offices in Rockville, Maryland. See
Return of Service Aff. at 2, ECF No. 4. According to the
process server's affidavit, Ms. Metcalfe was also an
" authorized agent" of White P.C. for purposes of
accepting service of process. Id. The next day, a
different process server served a summons on Pam Adam-Motley,
who, according to the process server's affidavit, was
designated by law to accept service of process on behalf of
BB& T. See id. at 1.
filed a joint motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to
Rules 12(b)(1), (3), (5), and (6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. See Defs.' Mot. Dismiss.
move to dismiss Mr. Roland's complaint on multiple
grounds, including insufficient service of process, improper
venue, res judicata, and various jurisdictional
reasons. The Court first addresses the issue of service of
process and finds that, on the record before the Court, it
appears that service of process on both Defendants was valid.
The Court then turns to the issue of venue. For the reasons
explained below, though the Court finds that venue in this
District is improper, the Court will deny Defendants'
motion to dismiss the Complaint on that ground and instead,
in the interest of justice, transfer venue of this case to
the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, where
it is proper, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). In light
of this ruling, the Court does not reach the remainder of
Defendants' arguments in its motion to dismiss.
Service of Process
argue that the Complaint should be dismissed or, in the
alternative, service should be quashed, for insufficient
service of process pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See Defs.' Mem. Supp.
Before a federal court may exercise personal jurisdiction
over a defendant, the procedural requirement of service of
summons must be satisfied." Omni Capital Int'l,
Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., 484 U.S. 97, 104, 108 S.Ct.
404, 98 L.Ed.2d 415 (1987).
plaintiff has the burden of establishing the validity of
service of process. " [T]o do so, he must demonstrate
that the procedure employed satisfied ...