United States District Court, D. Maryland
LOUIS M. LUPO,
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., et al.
DeBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.
Presently pending and ready for resolution is the motion by Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC to dismiss or to transfer the action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. (ECF No. 19). The issues have been briefed and no hearing is deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss based on improper venue or transfer based on forum non conveniens will be denied.
A. Factual Background
Since 2011, Plaintiff has lived in Maryland. (ECF No. 18 ¶ 5). He is employed by a federal contractor, who stations him at various federal agencies throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. ( Id. ¶¶ 2-3). His job requires his continuous presence in the D.C. area. ( Id. ¶ 4). Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase") is a national banking association that does business in Maryland, with its principal place of business in Ohio. (ECF No. 1-1, at 2 and 1-2, at 2). Defendant Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC ("SLS") is a mortgage servicing corporation with its principal place of business in Colorado. (ECF No. 18 ¶ 13).
On December 20, 2007, Plaintiff executed a 30-year fixedrate promissory note (the "Note") payable to the lender, Chase. ( Id. ¶ 31). On the same day, Plaintiff also executed a deed of trust ("DOT") to secure repayment of the Note with a lien against his property located in Richland, Texas (the "Property"). ( Id. ¶ 33). The DOT specifies that it is "governed by federal law and the law of the jurisdiction in which the Property is located." ( Id. ¶ 13).
Plaintiff alleges that, since the inception of his mortgage loan, Chase, as his loan servicer, has "miscalculated and overcharged for escrow" on his account. ( Id. ¶ 38). Although in the past Plaintiff was able to resolve these errors, Plaintiff alleges that in 2013 Chase made an error that he has been unable to resolve. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on February 9, 2013, Chase "erroneously reported to Equifax that [he] was 30 days late on his November 30, 2012 mortgage loan payment." ( Id. ¶ 46). Prior to this time Plaintiff's credit history was perfect. ( Id. ¶ 43). The February 9, 2013 report "stated that Plaintiff was $4, 000 delinquent for the month of November 2012[, ]" but Plaintiff alleges that his monthly mortgage payments only averaged $1, 502. ( Id. ¶¶ 47-48). Following the release of the February 9, 2013 credit report, Plaintiff called Chase numerous times and asked that it correct his credit report and recalculate his escrow charges, which he alleges were inaccurate. ( Id. ¶¶ 49, 53-54). Plaintiff also faxed and mailed Chase written requests to investigate the credit reporting error, recalculate his escrow payments, and reconcile his mortgage loan account, and with these requests he provided supporting documentation that his loan payments were not in arrears. ( Id. ¶¶ 79, 100). During this time period of February 2013 until May 2013, Chase through its telephone line representatives and through the letters it sent Plaintiff, informed Plaintiff that his loan payments were overdue, that Chase was a debt collector, and that it was attempting to collect a debt. ( Id. ¶¶ 67, 90, 96, 101, 105, 114, 117). Chase refused to repair Plaintiff's credit report until he made various payments, all of which Plaintiff alleges were not owed to Chase. ( Id. ¶¶ 91, 97-99).
On May 31, 2013, Chase mailed Plaintiff a letter informing him that his mortgage loan had been transferred and assigned to SLS effective June 17, 2013, and that Chase could no longer accept payments on his mortgage loan. ( Id. ¶ 121). Plaintiff called SLS and asked it to investigate his loan payment history, because he believed that Chase's reporting showing him in arrears was inaccurate. ( Id. ¶ 137). Plaintiff sent documentation to SLS on July 1 and August 21, 2013, verifying his proof of payment for the previous twenty months, and requesting that SLS investigate his loan history, recalculate his escrow payments, reconcile his account, and correct his credit report. ( Id. ¶¶ 142-43). SLS mailed Plaintiff a letter on July 11, 2013, stating that he was in default as he had failed to make loan payments since April 2013 and that his loan repayment schedule was being accelerated. ( Id. ¶¶ 144-46). Again on August 14, 2013, SLS sent Plaintiff a letter informing him, inter alia, that he must make a payment on his loan by August 28, 2013 in order to stop the foreclosure process. ( Id. ¶¶ 153-57).
As of January 5, 2014, Defendants Chase and SLS have not performed the investigation and reconciliation requested by Plaintiff, nor have they corrected his credit report. ( Id. ¶¶ 160-61). Plaintiff's employment requires that he hold security clearances, and the clearances require the holder to maintain financial integrity. ( Id. ¶¶ 41-42). During his dispute with Chase and SLS, Plaintiff was being vetted for an employment position that required additional security clearances. ( Id. ¶ 44). Due to the credit reporting by defendants, Plaintiff was denied a security clearance and access to his job site. ( Id. ¶¶ 163-64). In addition, several of Plaintiff's credit card accounts were closed. ( Id. ¶ 162). Moreover, on February 4, 2014, Plaintiff was informed by Hughes, Watters & Askanase, LLP, on behalf of SLS, that the Texas Property would be foreclosed on and sold in a non-judicial sale on March 4, 2014. ( Id. ¶ 170).
B. Procedural Background
On February 19, 2014, Plaintiff Luis M. Lupo, proceeding pro se, filed his original complaint against Defendants Chase and SLS. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff filed an amended twenty-eight count complaint alleging multiple violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA"), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), and various Maryland consumer protection and mortgage fraud laws, as well as claims for breach of contract, defamation, tortious interference with economic relations, and unjust enrichment. ( Id. at 17-31). Plaintiff has requested declaratory relief, damages, and costs. ( Id. at 31-32). Plaintiff also requests that Defendants be enjoined from selling the Texas Property and from continuing to violate RESPA and FDCPA, and that Defendants be required to correct his credit report. If there be no adequate legal remedy, Plaintiff asks that a constructive trust be placed on his Property in Texas. ( Id. at 31-32).
Defendant SLS moved to dismiss this action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3) or transfer this action on the ground of forum non conveniens to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on April 16, 2014. (ECF No. 19). Plaintiff opposed this motion on May 6, 2014 (ECF No. 22), and SLS replied on May 22, 2014 (ECF No. 23).
II. Motion to Dismiss or Transfer
Defendant SLS moved to dismiss this action for improper venue pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3) or, in the alternative, to ...