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Bey v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 31, 2019

AIRIZ COLEMAN BEY, Plaintiff,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TANYA S. CHUTKAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Airiz Coleman Bey, proceeding pro se, brings this suit alleging various injuries stemming from Deutsche Bank National Trust Company's (“Deutsche Bank NTC”) foreclosure of his mortgage note and the subsequent sale of his home. Defendants Deutsche Bank NTC, Elizabeth A. Ostermann, Judge Peter J. Kontos, Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Lynn B. Griffith, III, Sheriff Paul S. Monroe, Deputy Sheriff Dominic Massary, the office of the Trumbull County Sheriff, Shapiro, Van Ess, Phillips & Barragate, LLP (“SVPB”), Matthew Murtland, and Christopher G. Phillips have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint in its entirety (ECF Nos. 5, 10, 18, 33)[1]; and Plaintiff has filed two opposition briefs (ECF Nos. 28 and 31).

         For the reasons stated below, the court will GRANT Defendants' motions to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, an Ohio resident, owned property at 2710 Orchard Avenue S.E., in Warren, Ohio. (ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 1, Ex. 1 at 5.) In December 2004, Plaintiff mortgaged his property as security in exchange for a loan of $54, 000 from New Century Mortgage Corporation. (Compl. Ex. 1 at 9.) From the record, it appears that Plaintiff was notified by letter dated April 6, 2015, that he had missed monthly mortgage payments. (ECF No. 18-5 at 10-11.)

         In November 2015, New Century Liquidating Trust Successor-in-Interest for New Century Mortgage Corporation, represented by Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC, assigned Plaintiff's mortgage to Deutsche Bank NTC. (Compl. Ex. 1 at 29.) The Assignment of Mortgage agreement was prepared by SVPB and signed by Ostermann, as Vice President of Carrington Mortgage Services. (Id.)

         In December 2015, Deutsche Bank NTC filed a complaint for foreclosure against Plaintiff with the Trumbull County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas. (Compl. ¶ 4, Ex. 1 at 5-8.) Deutsche Bank NTC was represented by Murtland and Phillips of SVPB. (Compl. Ex 1. at 8.) Judge Kontos presided over the action and ultimately granted the foreclosure. (See Compl. ¶ 8, Ex. 1 at 39, 43.) Subsequently, Trumbull County Sheriff sold the property to Deutsche Bank NTC. (See ECF No. 10 (“Def. Judge Peter J. Kontos' MTD”) at 1; ECF No. 18-13 at 2.)

         Following the sale, Plaintiff brought this case seeking the return of his home and $10, 000, 000 to compensate him for the destruction of his property and video projects. (Compl. ¶ 9.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a factual basis for the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendants. Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Soc'y, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990). To meet this burden, a plaintiff must allege “specific acts connecting the defendant[s] with the forum.” Second Amend. Found. v. U.S. Conference of Mayors, 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (alteration in original). In evaluating whether a plaintiff has established personal jurisdiction, the court “may receive and weigh affidavits and other relevant matter[s] to assist in determining the jurisdictional facts.” Bigelow v. Garrett, 299 F.Supp.3d 34, 41 (D.D.C. 2018) (quotation marks and citations omitted). However, “when deciding personal jurisdiction without an evidentiary hearing[, ] . . . the court must resolve factual disputes in favor of the plaintiff.” Livnat v. Palestinian Auth., 851 F.3d 45, 57 (D.C. Cir. 2017).

         The court is mindful that pro se pleadings must be liberally construed, as they are held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Budik v. Dartmouth- Hitchcock Med. Ctr., 937 F.Supp.2d 5, 11 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). Further, “[a]t the motion to dismiss stage . . . pro se complaints[] are to be construed with sufficient liberality to afford all possible inferences favorable to the pleader on allegations of fact.” Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1106 (D.C. Cir. 2005). However, this liberal standard “is not . . . a license to ignore the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Neuman v. United States, 70 F.Supp.3d 416, 422 (D.D.C. 2014) (quotation marks and citations omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A court can exercise two forms of personal jurisdiction over a defendant: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. General jurisdiction “permits a court to assert jurisdiction over a defendant based on a forum connection unrelated to the underlying suit, ” while specific jurisdiction requires an “affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy.” Livnat, 851 F.3d at 56 (citation omitted). Courts in this district determine whether general or specific jurisdiction may be exercised by reference to District of Columbia law. United States v. Ferrara, 54 F.3d 825, 828 (D.C. Cir. 1995), amended (July 28, 1995). Then, they decide whether exercise of jurisdiction comports with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See GTE New Media Servs. Inc. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1347 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (“A court must first examine whether jurisdiction is applicable under the state's long-arm statute and then determine whether a finding of jurisdiction satisfies the constitutional requirements of due process.”).

         Section 13-422 of the D.C. Code enables a District of Columbia court to exercise general jurisdiction “over a person domiciled in, organized under the laws of, or maintaining his or its principal place of business in, the District of Columbia as to any claim for relief.” D.C. Code § 13-422. If a corporate defendant is neither incorporated in nor has its principal place of business in the District of Columbia, the court may exercise general jurisdiction, pursuant to Section 13-334(a) of the D.C. Code, if the corporate defendant is “doing business in the District.” D.C. Code § 13-334(a); see also FC Inv. Grp. LC v. IFX Markets, Ltd., 529 F.3d 1087, 1091 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (“Although section 13-334(a) expressly addresses service of process, the D.C. Court of ...


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