United States District Court, District of Columbia
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff,
LUIS IVAN POBLETE, et al., Defendants.
BERYL A. HOWELL United States District Judge
The parties have been in litigation involving no fewer than five lawsuits, including the instant lawsuit, for almost six years over the ownership of real property located in the northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., and, consequently, this dispute has been the subject of thorough judicial review. As discussed below, this litigation history points to the resolution of the pending motions before the Court.
The plaintiff, U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”), as trustee for Terwin Mortgage Trust 2005-4HE, Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 205-4HE, Without Recourse (“Terwin Mortgage Trust”), initiated this action against Luis Ivan Poblete, a former mortgagor on a piece of commercial property, which U.S. Bank foreclosed in 2010, and two trusts, to which Poblete transferred his interest in the foreclosed property, and the “unknown occupants” of the foreclosed commercial property. Compl. at 2 (Overview), ECF No. 1. The plaintiff alleges that after the defendants lost several prior lawsuits disputing the legality of the foreclosure and the rightful owner of the foreclosed commercial property, the defendants unlawfully trespassed upon the foreclosed property, unlawfully converted the property, and interfered with the legal title of the foreclosed property. Id. ¶¶ 6, 11, 12, 24, 26, 27, 28. The plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction enjoining “Defendants from filing or pursuing any legal action in any court against U.S. Bank” for purposes of reopening previous litigation regarding the validity of the foreclosure, id. ¶ 39; a declaratory judgment that “US Bank is the fee simple owner of the Property, ” id. ¶ 44; ejectment of defendants from the foreclosed property, id. ¶ 48; quiet title to the foreclosed property, id. ¶ 57; and compensatory damages for the defendants’ conversion of the foreclosed property, id. ¶ 52, the “Defendants’ false, malicious communications, ” which prevented U.S. Bank from selling the foreclosed property to a third-party, id. ¶ 60, and the defendants’ trespass, id. ¶ 65. Pending before the Court are the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment and motion to dismiss Poblete’s counterclaims against U.S. Bank and nine additional third-party defendants. See SLS and U.S. Bank’s Mot. Dismiss and/or for Summ. J. as to Poblete’s “Counterclaims, ” and Mot. for Partial Summ. J. against All Defendants as to Counts Two, Three and Five of the Complaint (“Pl.’s Mot.”), ECF No. 17. For the reasons described below, the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the defendants’ counterclaims and motion for partial summary judgment are granted.
On December 30, 2004, Poblete purchased a piece of commercial real estate located at 1921 Rosedale Street N.E., Washington, D.C. (the “Property”). Pl.’s Statement of Material Facts (“Pl.’s SMF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 17-16; Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 2 (Deed Transferring 1921 Rosedale Street Property to Poblete, dated Dec. 30, 2004), ECF No. 17-2. He financed this purchase with a mortgage from First American Mortgage Inc., negotiated by Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC and American Title, LLC (collectively “Loan Entities”). Pl.’s SMF ¶ 2; Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 3 (Compl., Poblete v. First American Mortgage, Inc., 2008-CA-4190 (D.C. Sup. Ct. June 7, 2008) (“Pl.’s Compl. in First Case”)) at 4–5, ECF No. 17-3; Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 15 (Pl.’s Mortgage Deed, dated Dec. 30, 2004) at 1, ECF No. 17-15.
In or around 2007, Poblete apparently fell behind his mortgage payments, and, on June 22, 2007, a first notice of foreclosure was recorded against him for the Property. Pl.’s SMF ¶ 3; Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 1 (1921 Rosedale Street Trust v. Terwin Mortgage Trust, No. 13-CV-386, (D.C. Ct. App. Mar. 20, 2014) (“DCCA Opinion”)) at 2, ECF No. 17-1. A second notice of foreclosure followed on November 21, 2007. Pl.’s SMF ¶ 3; DCCA Opinion at 2.
A. First Lawsuit in 2008
In an effort to stop the foreclosure sale, on June 7, 2008, Poblete filed, in the District of Columbia Superior Court, the first lawsuit pertaining to the Property against the Loan Entities, alleging “fraud and dishonest trade transactions and falsification of loan documents.” Pl.’s Compl. in First Case at 1; Pl.’s SMF ¶ 4. During the pendency of the first lawsuit, Poblete, on December 25, 2009, signed a deed transferring the Property from himself to Warmoesstraat Trust, as Trustee for 1927 Rosedale Street Trust. Pl.’s SMF ¶ 5; Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 4 (Deed Transferring the Property from Poblete to Rosedale Street Trust) at 1, ECF No. 17-4. No consideration was exchanged for the transfer and the deed was not recorded at the time. Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 4 at 1–2.
Unaware that Poblete had transferred the deed to a separate trust, U.S. Bank, as Trustee for Terwin Mortgage Trust, which became the holder of the mortgage, sent Poblete, who remained owner of record for the Property, a third and final notice of foreclosure on January 29, 2010, advising Poblete that “in order to satisfy the debt secured by the . . . mortgage . . . the real property . . . will be sold at a foreclosure sale . . . on March 4, 2010.” Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 12 (Third Notice of Foreclosure, dated Jan. 29, 2010) at 1, ECF No. 17-12; Pl.’s SMF ¶ 6. A month after this final notice of foreclosure, on February 26, 2010, the deed transferring the Property from Poblete to Warmoesstraat Trust, as trustee for 1921 Rosedale Street Trust was finally recorded. Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 4 at 2. Notwithstanding this purported transfer of ownership, on March 4, 2010, the Property was foreclosed by U.S. Bank, as trustee for Terwin Mortgage Trust. Pl.’s SMF ¶ 8; Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 14 (Substitute Trustees’ Deed, dated April 6, 2010), ECF No. 17-14.
On March 5, 2010, Poblete and the Loan Entities filed a stipulation dismissing the first lawsuit because Poblete “transferred his fee simple interest in the subject property to ‘1921 Rosedale Street Trust’[, ] the underlying claims in this cause of action are now moot.” Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 5 (Stipulation of Dismissal in First Lawsuit, dated Mar. 5, 2010) at 1, ECF No. 17-5. The plaintiff alleges that Poblete and the Trusts apparently believed that “transferring the Property to a trust would somehow prohibit U.S. Bank from ever foreclosing” and, as a result, Poblete, through the Trusts, continued to claim ownership of the Property. Compl. ¶ 12.
B. Second Lawsuit in 2010
On October 21, 2010, U.S. Bank, as trustee for Terwin Mortgage Trust, filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against Poblete and the two Trusts to “enjoin Mr. Poblete from continuing to trespass on the Property.” Id. ¶ 17. After an ex parte hearing on the matter, on March 18, 2011, the Superior Court entered a judgment “in favor of U.S. Bank and against Mr. Poblete in the amount of $49, 428.” Id.; Docket, US Bank National Association as Trustee for Terwin v. Poblete, Ivan Luis, et al, 2010-CA-007952B (D.C. Sup. Ct.).
C. Third Lawsuit in 2011
The plaintiff alleges that Poblete promptly filed another lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court, through an unincorporated entity called Citycom, to evict the tenants residing in the Property and renting from the plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 18, Pl.’s SMF ¶ 10. On September 23, 2011, U.S. Bank, as trustee for Terwin Mortgage Trust, once again asserted its rightful ownership of the Property, and intervened in Poblete’s eviction action. Docket, Citycom Mgt, LLC v. Celestino Mendez, et al, 2011-LTB-12792 (D.C. Sup. Ct.). On the same day, the attorney for Citycom filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, which was granted. Id. On March 20, 2012, the D.C. Superior Court issued an order dismissing Citycom’s case with prejudice, holding that U.S. Bank, as trustee for Terwin Mortgage Trust, “is the true and sole owner of the property located at 1921 Rosedale St.” Pl’s Mot., Ex. 6 (Order Dismissing with Prejudice, Citycom v. Celestino Mendez, 2011-LTB-12792 (D.C. Sup. Ct. Mar. 20, 2012)), ECF No. 17-6.
D. Fourth Lawsuit in 2012
Even after this second judgment in favor of Terwin Mortgage Trust, Poblete and the Trusts continued to contest the ownership of the Property. In the month following the dismissal of the third lawsuit, on April 24, 2012, 1921 Rosedale Street Trust filed a lawsuit against Terwin Mortgage Trust claiming “that the foreclosure of [the Property] deprived it of its right to the property because it purchased the property prior to the foreclosure, even though it failed to record the deed prior to foreclosure, ” and seeking ejectment, mesne profits and other damages. DCCA Opinion at 1. On March 20, 2014, the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the D.C. Superior Court’s dismissal of the case because the complaint “fail[ed] to provide pertinent facts showing that it is entitled to possession, and thus has superior title to the property in question.” Id. at 5. Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that because the “foreclosure was commenced prior to [1921 Rosedale Street Trust’s] recordation of its deed, and after all notices of foreclosure were recorded and sent to the record owner at the time, i.e., Poblete, ” and “‘[a] deed conveying an interest in real property is not effective . . . unless it is recorded, ’” “thus [Terwin Mortgage Trust] neither ‘wrongfully entered into possession, ’ nor ‘wrongfully exercise[ed] acts of ownership.’” Id. at 6 (quoting Clay Props., Inc. v. Wash. Post Co., 604 A.2d 890, 894 n.13 (D.C. 1992) and D.C. Code § 42-401). The Court of Appeals explained that D.C. Code §42-401 provides that deeds of transfer “‘shall be held to take effect from the date of the delivery thereof, except that as to creditors and subsequent bona fide purchasers and mortgagees without notice of said deed . . ., it shall only take effect from the time of its delivery to the Recorder of Deeds for record.” Id. (quoting D.C. Code §42-401) (emphasis in the original).
This third judgment in favor of Terwin Mortgage Trust still did not deter Poblete and the Trusts from continuing to assert ownership over the Property. On September 10, 2014, Poblete, as trustee for 1921 Rosedale Street Trust, removed Warmoesstraat Trust, represented by Poblete as agent and attorney in fact, as a trustee of the 1921 Rosedale Street Trust, and granted “legal title to the trust property, ” described as the property located at 1921 Rosedale Street, N.E. Washington, to Poblete himself, “as sole Trustee for the 1921 Rosedale Street Trust.” Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 9 (Deed of Removal of Trustee, dated Sept. 10, 2014) at 1–2, ECF No. 17-9. This deed caused the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue to reflect Poblete, as trustee for 1921 Rosedale Street Trust, as the owner of the Property. See Pl.’s Mot. Ex. 10 (DC Tax Records on the Property, retrieved in 2016), ECF No. 17-10.
On December 19, 2014, Poblete, as trustee, filed with the Recorder of Deed for the District of Columbia a “Notice of Lis Pendens Motion for Relief to Recall Mandate Denying En Banc Review, or in the Alternative, for Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law and or in the Alternative the Continuance of the Complaint for Ejectment and Recovery of Mesne Profits and Damages” on the Property. See Pl.’s Mot., Ex. 11 (Notice of Lis Pendens, dated Dec. 19, 2014) at 1, ECF No. 17-11. On January 7, 2015, “a real estate agent working with U.S. Bank” was checking on the Property when “an unidentified man . . . advised that he owned the Property and that he would not allow the real ...