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Woods v. Flagstar Bank, Fsb

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 1, 2013

HAZEL C. WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
FLAGSTAR BANK, FSB, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROGER W. TITUS, District Judge.

On October 2, 2012, Plaintiff Hazel Woods filed a pro se Complaint in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, against Defendants, Flagstar Bank, FSB ("Flagstar"), Euclid Mortgage Services, LLC ("Euclid"), Mortgage Electronic Registration System ("MERS"), Joan H. Anderson, and Doe 1-10. (Doc. No. 2). Woods brings a quiet title action, asserting in her Complaint that the Defendants unlawfully separated the Note from the Deed of Trust ("Deed"), causing a defect in her property's title, Deed, and Note, which in turn created a cloud on her title. Id. at ¶¶ 1-4.

Woods is a resident of Maryland. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 7). Defendant Flagstar is a federally-chartered savings association with its principal place of business in Michigan. Id. at ¶ 8. Defendant Euclid is no longer a business, but it was previously a Virginia limited liability company with its principal place of business in Washington, D.C. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Defendant MERS is a corporation incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Virginia. Id. at ¶ 10. Defendant Anderson is a resident of Michigan. Id. at 9.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Woods alleges that on or about May 15, 2008, she entered into a loan transaction to obtain ownership of 3530 Madison Street, Hyattsville, Maryland XXXXX-XXXX, with Euclid as the lender, MERS as the beneficiary, and Anderson as the trustee. ( See Doc. No. 2 at ¶ 7-8, Exhibit 1). Woods believes that her loan is currently serviced by Flagstar, but claims that she never entered into any transactions with Flagstar and does not believe that Flagstar is the holder of her Note. Id. at ¶¶ 9-11. Woods questions whether her Note was transferred and, if so, whether a transfer was proper. Id. at ¶ 12. She further asserts that the Defendants unlawfully separated the Deed from the Note on one or more occasions, rendering the Deed null and deficient and creating a cloud on her title. Id. at p.1 ¶¶ 3-4. Woods worries that the unidentified defendants, Does 1-10, may attempt to assert a claim against her estate, title, lien, or interest in her mortgaged property. Id. ¶ 14. Woods seeks to have her title quieted, asserting that she is the sole interest holder of the property, and requests that all the Defendants prove their ownership and interest in the Deed and Note. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 13, 15.

On November 2, 2012, Flagstar, MERS, and Anderson timely removed the action to this Court. (Doc. No. 1).[1] The Defendants note that they were not properly served for three reasons. Id. at ¶¶ 3-6. First, Woods failed to send a copy of the summons with the complaint that was sent on or about October 2, 2012, as required by the Maryland Rules, which were used for service.[2] See Md. Code Ann., Md. R. 2-121(a)(1); (Doc. Nos. 1 at ¶ 3, 2 at Exhibit 5). Second, Woods failed to send the complaints to the corporate defendants via restricted delivery. Md. Code Ann., Md. R. 2-121(a)(3); (Doc. Nos. 1 at ¶ 4, 2 at Exhibit 5). Third, Woods sent the complaint to Anderson's place of business, not her dwelling or place of abode as required by the rules. Md. Code Ann., Md. R 2-121(a)(2); (Doc. Nos. 1 at ¶ 5, 2 at Exhibit 5).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On November 9, 2012, Defendants Flagstar, MERS, and Anderson filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc No. 9). On November 30, 2012, Woods filed a joint motion, an opposition to the motion to dismiss, and a request for remand. (Doc. No. 12). On December 17, 2012, the Defendants filed a joint motion, a reply to the opposition to the motion to dismiss, and an opposition to the motion to remand. (Doc. No. 13). On January 7, 2013, Woods filed a "Consolidated Reply." (Doc. No. 14). On January 25, 2013, the Defendants opposed Woods' consolidated reply, asserting that it was an improper surreply. (Doc. No. 15).

ANALYSIS

I. Motion to Remand

Removal for diversity jurisdiction requires that: (1) the plaintiffs and defendants meet the diversity requirement (be citizens of different states); (2) the defendants not be citizens of the state in which the action was brought; and (3) the amount in controversy exceeds a value of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a), 1441(b); Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 84 (2005) ("Defendants may remove an action on the basis of diversity of citizenship if there is complete diversity between all named plaintiffs and all named defendants, and no defendant is a citizen of the forum State"). It is clear that the parties are diverse and none of the Defendants is a citizen of Maryland. See Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶ 7-11. The only contested issue is the amount in controversy.

Woods asserts that there is no value or debt in dispute and that this suit is to ascertain who holds the Note and Deed to her property. ( See Doc. No. 12 p.3 at ¶ 5). However, the Supreme Court has stated that in actions for declaratory relief, "the amount in controversy is measured by the value of the object of the litigation." Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Adver. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 346-47 (1977). Here, Woods wants to determine the legal status of her Deed and Note. (Doc No. No. 12 p.3 at ¶ 5). Thus, her request is one for declaratory relief. See BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1401 (9th ed. 2009) (defining declaratory relief as "[a] unilateral request to a court to determine the legal status or ownership of a thing").

The record is clear that the value of the object in controversy, the property underlying the Deed and Note, is worth more than $75, 000. (Doc. No. 2, Exhibit A). The Note, which was attached to the Complaint, indicates that a $203, 000 loan was taken to purchase the home in 2008. Id.[3] While a loan may not actually equate to the value of the property, the Court takes notice of the public databases cited by the Defendants indicating that the property is worth more than $75, 000. (Doc. No. 13 at 5). Furthermore, Woods never claims that the ...


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