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Residential Credit Opportunities Trust v. Poblete

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 29, 2017

RESIDENTIAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITIES TRUST, Plaintiff,
v.
LUIS IVAN POBLETE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BERYL A. HOWELL CHIEF JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Residential Credit Opportunities Trust, initiated this lawsuit against Luis Ivan Poblete, who proceeds pro se, to obtain judicial foreclosure of real property located in Washington, D.C. (the “Property”), pursuant to D.C. Code § 42-816 and common law. Pending before the Court is the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and the defendant's motion to cancel a non-judicial foreclosure sale. See Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 6; Def.'s Pet. Cancel Sale, ECF No. 26. For the reasons set forth below, the parties' motions are denied, and the case is dismissed as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The defendant was the owner of residential real property at 4130 16th Street N.W. in Washington, D.C. (the “Property”) and held a title deed, recorded with the Recorder of Deeds as Document Number 2006014131. Pl.'s Restated & Suppl. SMF (“Pl.'s SMF”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 13. On January 29, 2007, the defendant executed a Deed of Trust and Note with a lender in the original principal amount of $898, 400.00, see generally Pl.'s Reply Def.'s Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Reply”), Ex. B, Deed of Trust, ECF No 13-2; id., Ex. C, Note, ECF No. 13-3, but the lender assigned its rights to a third-party, eventually leading to assignment to the plaintiff, see id., Ex. D, Assignment of Deed of Trust, ECF No. 13-4. See Pl.'s SMF ¶¶ 3-4. Less than two months later, on March 1, 2007, the defendant failed to make his required payments under the Note and thus defaulted on the Note. Id. ¶ 5. On May 9, 2013, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Deed of Trust, the plaintiff caused a demand letter, stating the amount needed to cure the default, to be mailed to the defendant. Id. ¶ 6. The defendant never cured the default, and “to date neither Plaintiff . . . nor any prior assignor has ever received payment on the Note since its origination.” Id. ¶ 7. As of July 26, 2016, the plaintiff was owed $1, 811, 750.64 on the Note. Id. ¶ 8.

         The long and protracted history of the present suit began on August 21, 2013, when the plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest filed a complaint in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia seeking judicial foreclosure of the Property, pursuant to D.C. Code § 42-816 and common law, or, in the alternative, a judicial sale. See Compl., Super. Ct. File, Attachment 3 at 141-48, ECF No. 2-3. On December 5, 2014, after the close of discovery, and just four days before the date of a pre-trial conference in the Superior Court, the defendant removed the case to this Court. See Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. at 2-3. Concluding that the removal was untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), the Court immediately remanded the case back to the Superior Court. See Order, CPCA Trust I v. Poblete (Poblete I), No. 14-cv-2063 (D.D.C. 2014), ECF No. 4. The defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, two motions to stay, and an appeal, each of which was denied, and, in addition, after the case was closed, a motion to convene a special grand jury, for which leave to file was denied in light of the lack of any pending case. See Def.'s Mot. Reconsideration, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063, ECF No. 5; Def.'s Mot. Stay, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063, ECF No. 6; Min. Order, dated Dec. 15, 2014, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063; Def.'s Notice of Appeal, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063, ECF No. 7; Def.'s Mot. Stay, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063, ECF No. 8; Min. Order, dated Dec. 22, 2014, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063; Mandate of U.S. Court of Appeals, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063, ECF No. 13; Leave to File Denied, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063, ECF No. 12. The case could not be remanded until after the defendant's various post-decision motions and appeal were decided, and, thus, was not remanded until September 4, 2015-nearly ten months after this Court's Order of remand. See Docket Entry, dated Sept. 4, 2015, Poblete I, No. 14-cv-2063.

         On the same day the remand took effect, September 4, 2015, the Superior Court reopened the case. The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on November 10, 2015, see Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. at 1, which the defendant opposed, see Def.'s Obj. Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. at 1, ECF No. 7. The Superior Court scheduled a hearing for March 25, 2016, but before the hearing took place, on March 24, 2016, the defendant for the second time filed a notice of removal to federal court. Docket Sheet, Super. Ct. File, Attachment 1 at 1-4, ECF No. 2-1. Upon review of the removed case, this Court issued an Order to Show Cause why the case should not be remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, see Min. Order, dated July 7, 2016, to which the plaintiff responded explaining that the Court possessed diversity jurisdiction over the action and that, while it could have objected to the removal under the applicable statutory framework, the plaintiff “would be extremely prejudiced by the delay associated with a [s]econd remand order and likelihood of yet another appeal.” Pl.'s Reply Show Cause Order at 2-3, ECF No. 10. Conscious of the jurisdictional merry-go-round on which the plaintiff found itself, the Court discharged the Order to Show Cause and exercised jurisdiction over the matter, in which the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was pending. See Min. Order, dated July 19, 2016.

         The defendant then proceeded to make a series of filings in this matter seemingly intended to further delay its resolution. First, on August 19, 2016, the defendant filed a notice providing that he “filed for involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy” and “all activity in this court should be on stay, ” Def.'s Judicial Notice to Court, ECF No. 14, which the Court construed as an invocation of the automatic stay requirement of 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) and, after receiving briefing from the plaintiff on the issue, denied in view of the bankruptcy court's dismissal of the action as nonmeritorious, see Min. Order, dated Sept. 6, 2016; see also Pl.'s Resp. Aug. 24, 2016 Min. Order, Ex. 1, ECF No. 16-1 (copy of Order from bankruptcy court dismissing action). Also on August 19, 2016, the defendant filed a notice indicating that he had filed a case in Superior Court against counsel for the plaintiff in this case, this Court, the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, and the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. See Def.'s Mandatory Judicial Notice, ECF No. 15. Then, on September 1, 2016, the defendant gave “notice of Indigenous Standing” and asserting that “[t]his court is the incorrect venue, because [he is] now protected by International Law.” Def.'s Judicial Notice, ECF No. 17. Due to this so-called “status change, ” the defendant sought a hearing to “be held in camera, ” Def.'s Mot. Status Change Hr'g, ECF No. 19, and filed a further motion for an in camera hearing, to “rebut[] the presumption of death under Maritime Law, which is the foundation of the judicial system, ” Def.'s Request In Camera Hr'g, ECF No. 20, which motions the Court denied in view of their failure to articulate a cognizable ground for a hearing, see Min. Order, dated Dec. 14, 2016.

         On November 29, 2016, the defendant filed a motion requesting a stay of a foreclosure sale of the Property and a motion to sequester the Note until the resolution of the instant case, see Def.'s Mot. Stay Foreclosure Sale, ECF No. 22; Def.'s Mot. Sequester Genuine Original Note, ECF No. 23, both of which motions were denied, like the defendant's motions for a hearing, in light of their failure to articulate cognizable grounds for the requested relief, see Min. Order, dated Dec. 14, 2016. As a result of the defendant's motion to stay the foreclosure sale of the Property, however, and the plaintiff's response thereto, see Pl.'s Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Stay Foreclosure Sale, ECF No. 25, the Court became aware that the plaintiff was seeking to foreclose on the Property under a “power of sale” provision in the Deed of Trust that permits foreclosure by way of the non-judicial process outlined in D.C. Code § 42-815, and that a non-judicial foreclosure sale of the Property was set to occur on December 15, 2016. Given the plaintiff's sole requested relief in the instant suit of foreclosure, the plaintiff was directed to advise the Court of “the status of the December 15, 2016, nonjudicial foreclosure sale” as well as “the relief, if any, still requested by the plaintiff in this action following said sale.” Min. Order, dated Dec. 14, 2016.

         Thereafter, the plaintiff made two filings addressing the Court's concerns regarding the effect of the non-judicial foreclosure on the justiciability of the present action, see Pl.'s Resp. Court Order (“Pl.'s 1st Resp.”), ECF No. 27; Pl.'s Resp. Court Order (“Pl's 2d Resp.”), ECF No. 35, attaching exhibits related to the sale and asserting that the case is not moot notwithstanding the completed sale. The defendant filed a motion to cancel the non-judicial foreclosure sale, contending that cancellation “is needed so Defendant can gather required documents and choose appropriate Bankruptcy Chapter.” Def.'s Pet. Cancel Sale. The defendant also made or attempted to make multiple further filings, including an appeal of an order of the Court denying leave to file an unintelligible document. See ECF Nos. 29-33, 36-38.

         The defendant is no stranger to lawsuits against him involving real property. For example, in U.S. Bank National Association v. Poblete, No. 15-cv-312 (BAH), 2017 WL 598471 (D.D.C. 2017), the plaintiff, which had foreclosed upon commercial real estate of which the defendant was the record owner, brought an action against the defendant alleging he “unlawfully trespassed upon, converted, and interfered with the legal title of the foreclosed property, id. at *1.

         In the course of the litigation, the defendant failed to comply with discovery orders and, as in the instant action, filed or attempted to file multiple “unintelligible, repetitive, or irrelevant” documents with the Court. Id. at *2-*4. As a consequence, sanctions were imposed on the defendant in the form of a default judgment. Id. at *6. In addition, upon consideration of the defendant's filings in that case, as well as his history of vexatious filings in various lawsuits in both federal and local courts, a pre-filing injunction was issued requiring the defendant to obtain leave of court, pursuant to certain specified procedures, for any further filing. Id. at *9 & n.4.

         Pending before the Court are the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and the defendant's motion to cancel the non-judicial foreclosure sale.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Under Article III of the Constitution, federal-court jurisdiction is limited to “Cases” and “Controversies.” U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. The Supreme Court has interpreted this limitation to require that “an actual controversy be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed.” Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 136 S.Ct. 663, 669 (2016) (quoting Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 67 (1997)). Accordingly, “[i]f an intervening circumstance deprives the plaintiff of a ‘personal stake in the outcome of the lawsuit, ' at any point during litigation, the action can no longer proceed and must be dismissed as moot.” Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 133 S.Ct. 1523, 1528 (2013) (quoting Lewis v. Cont'l Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477-78 (1990)). If, for example, “the court can provide no effective remedy because a party ...


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