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Marshall v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 20, 2015



DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this action to quiet title are two motions filed by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.: (1) a motion to intervene, and (2) a motion to dismiss the complaint. (ECF Nos. 15 and 17). The relevant issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to intervene and the motion to dismiss will be granted.

I. Background

Plaintiff Frank Marshall III, proceeding pro se, commenced this action on May 15, 2014 by filing his complaint against Defendant J.P. Morgan Chase & Company ("JPMC") in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland. (ECF No. 2). JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase" or "Defendant"), though not originally named in the complaint, was served with a copy of the complaint and summons on or about September 26, 2014, and filed a notice of removal in this court on October 24, 2014, citing diversity and federal question jurisdiction. (ECF Nos. 1 and 11).

On November 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (ECF No. 13). The amended complaint seeks to quiet title on property located at 712 Bonnie Meadow Lane in Ft. Washington, Maryland 20744 ("the Property"), to declare invalid the Deeds of Trust encumbering the Property, and to vacate the foreclosure conducted prior to this case. The amended complaint alleges that any liens Defendant has on the Property are deficient. (ECF No. 13). First, citing U.C.C. § 3-302, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is "NOT Holder/holder in Due Course of the authentic[, ] original[, ] unaltered Promissory Note' evidencing the claimed indebtedness." (Id. at 1) (emphases in original). Second, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant "violated numerous sections" of the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1, et seq, but then only asserts one such violation. (Id. ). According to Plaintiff, the National Bank Act prohibits financial institutions from "enter[ing] into mortgage agreements for real estate beyond [a] 5-year period[, ]" which purportedly renders Defendant's 30-year mortgage with Plaintiff fraudulent "by operation of law." (Id. ). Third, citing U.C.C. § 3-308, Plaintiff "denies the validity of signature on any photocopy of a Promissory Note" and requests the issuance of a subpoena requiring the "original[, ] unaltered Promissory Note to be produced." (Id. ). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, by illegally acted as a debt collector. (Id. ).

On December 5, 2014, Chase moved to intervene in this suit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) and to dismiss JPMC, who purportedly was improperly named as Defendant. (ECF No. 15). Chase also moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 17). Plaintiff opposed Chase's motion to dismiss and Chase replied.[1] (ECF Nos. 20 and 21).

II. Motion to Intervene and Dismiss JPMC as a Defendant

Chase moves to intervene as of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), arguing that Plaintiff has filed this suit against the improper defendant, and to dismiss JMPC from this suit. Chase attaches the Deed of Trust ("DOT") for the Property at issue, which secures Plaintiff's repayment of the $480, 000 loan from Chase ("the Loan"). (ECF No. 15-1). The DOT states that Chase is the lender and Plaintiff is the borrower. (Id. at 2). The DOT also bears Plaintiff's signature as borrower. (Id. at 15). Chase asserts that, as reflected on the face of the DOT, it is the entity that made the Loan to Plaintiff that is secured by the DOT and argues that it should be allowed to intervene as of right in this case.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) permits intervention as of right when:

On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who... claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.

In Pennsylvania Nat. Mut. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Perlberg, 268 F.R.D. 218, 224-25 (D.Md. 2010), Judge Blake noted that:

"[T]o intervene as of right, a movant must show: (1) timely application; (2) an interest in the subject matter of the underlying action; (3) that a denial of the motion to intervene would impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest; and (4) that the movant's interest is not adequately represented by the existing parties to the litigation. Houston Gen. Ins. Co. v. Moore, 193 F.3d 838, 839 (4th Cir. 1999). "A party moving for intervention under 24(a) bears the burden of establishing a right to intervene, and must do so by satisfying all four requirements." U.S. ex rel. MPA Const., Inc. v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., 349 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (D.Md. 2004) (citing In re Richman, 104 F.3d 654, 658 (4thCir. 1997)).

Chase's motion to intervene will be granted, as it satisfies all four requirements for intervention as of right. First, the motion to intervene is timely as it was filed shortly after Chase was given notice of this suit and while this case is still in its early stages. Second, Chase has a significantly protectable interest in the subject matter of this case, as it is the entity that made the Loan to Plaintiff that is secured by the DOT, which Plaintiff seeks to have invalidated. See, e.g., JLS, Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of W. Virginia, 321 Fed.App'x 286, 289 (4th Cir. 2009) ("Rule 24 does not specify what type of interest a party must have to intervene as a matter of right, but the Supreme Court has recognized that "what is obviously meant... is a significantly protectable interest.'" ( quoting Teague v. Bakker, 931 F.2d 259, 261 (4th Cir. 1991)). Third, denying Chase's motion to intervene would impede its ability to protect its interest in the DOT. Because Plaintiff's quiet title action seeks to invalidate the DOT and any liens on the Property, the outcome of the case could affect Chase's interests in the Property. Finally, Chase has met its burden in showing that its interests may not adequately be represented by the current parties in this litigation, as JPMC is a separate entity with no relation to the DOT, Loan, or Property at issue. Id. (noting that an intervenor's burden in showing that the existing parties will not adequately represent its interests is "minimal" and the intervenor need only show that "representation of his interest may be inadequate") (emphasis added) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

In its motion to intervene, Chase also moves to dismiss JPMC as Defendant pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).[2] Chase argues that, as reflected by the DOT, "JPMC is not the entity that made the Loan to Plaintiff or that is secured by the DOT on the Property[.]" (ECF No. 15, at 4-5). Chase contends that because Plaintiff's claims arise from the Loan, DOT, and the Property, and because JPMC has no connection to any of ...

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