United States District Court, D. Maryland
ANNETTE L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
EDWARD S. COHN and DOES 1 THROUGH 100, Defendants.
Xinis United States District Judge.
is Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion for Temporary
Restraining Order and Permanent Injunction. ECF No. 3. The
Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no
hearing is necessary. Plaintiff’s motion will be
Complaint, Annette L. Williams (“Plaintiff”),
acting as trustee of the Harry R. Williams Revocable Trust,
alleges that her father refinanced his property located in
Huntingtown, Maryland with a reverse mortgage loan in August
2003. ECF No. 1 at 3. Foreclosure proceedings were commenced
against Plaintiff on February 28, 2014 in the Circuit Court
for Calvert County. According to publicly available records,
the case is still active. On August 16, 2016, Plaintiff,
appearing pro se, filed suit against Edward S.
Cohen-one of the Substitute Trustees who brought the
foreclosure action against Plaintiff-and Does 1 through 100
(collectively, “Defendants”). ECF No. 1.
avers that Defendants have violated several state and federal
statutes in the course of foreclosing upon the subject
property, including the Federal Truth and Lending Act
(“TILA”); the Real Estate Settlement Procedures
Act (“RESPA”); the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act (“FDCPA”); and the Maryland Consumer
Protection Act (“CPA”). Plaintiff alleges six
causes of action: (1) Declaratory Relief; (2) Constructive
Fraud, Quiet Title, Reformation; (3) Violations of TILA, the
Federal Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Statute, the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act, and the Maryland Consumer
Protection Act; (4) Slander of Title; (5) “CCPA”
and; (6) Rescission.
moves for injunctive relief to prevent the Defendants from
foreclosing upon her late father’s property, which is
allegedly set to take place on August 23, 2016. ECF No. 3 at
3-4. Under the Anti-Injunction Act, this Court may not grant
“an injunction to stay the proceedings in a State court
except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where
necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or
effectuate its judgments.” 28 U.S.C. § 2283;
see also Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC,
83 F.Supp.3d 635, 641 (D. Md. 2015). Accordingly, the Court
cannot grant Plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief.
motion, Plaintiff also seeks declaratory relief, requesting
“a judicial determination of the rights, obligations,
and interest of the parties” with respect to the
property in question. ECF No. 3 at 6. The Anti-Injunction Act
also bars the issuance of a declaratory judgment that has the
same practical effect as an injunction. See Samuels v.
Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 73 (1971) (declaratory relief has
virtually the same practical impact as a formal injunction).
For example, if a plaintiff requests “a declaration
that the [plaintiff’s] mortgage and note are
unenforceable, ” the request “preempts the
foreclosure and has ‘the same effect’ as [a]
request for an injunction to prevent foreclosure; both
‘result in precisely the same interference with and
disruption of state proceedings that the long-standing policy
limiting injunctions was designed to avoid.’”
Lovett v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co., No. CA
3:12-1816-MBS-SVH, 2013 WL 841679, at *6 (D.S.C. Feb. 12,
2013) (quoting Samuels, 401 U.S. at 73). Here,
Plaintiff requests a broad judicial determination settling
who has rights to the subject property, which would
inherently encroach on the foreclosure proceeding pending in
state court. Thus, Plaintiff’s request for declaratory
judgment is also dismissed. See Tucker v. Specialized
Loan Servicing, LLC, 83 F.Supp.3d 635, 641 (D. Md. 2015)
(deciding that Anti-Injunction Act prohibited federal court
from declaring property was not subject to foreclosure);
Lovett, 2013 WL 841679, at *6; Hayes v. JP
Morgan Chase Bank, No. 13-1884-JFA, 2014 WL 4198897, at
*5 (D.S.C. Aug. 20, 2014) (recognizing that Anti-Injunction
Act prohibited federal court from staying state court
foreclosure action or declaring mortgage unenforceable, which
would have the same effect); Graves v. One West Bank,
FSB, No. DKC-13-3343, 2014 WL 994366, at *1 (D. Md. Mar.
13, 2014) (noting previous dismissal of claim for injunctive
relief under the Anti-Injunction Act); Glasgow, Inc. v.
Noetzel, 556 F.Supp. 595 (D.W.Va. 1983) (dismissing
claim for declaratory relief, relying in part on
where equitable relief is sought regarding property that is
already the subject of an ongoing in rem action in another
court, the court controlling the property for purposes of the
earlier-filed suit has exclusive jurisdiction over the
property. See Princess Lida of Thurn & Taxis
v. Thompson, 305 U.S. 456, 466 (1939) (the jurisdiction
of the second court must yield to the court where the matter
was first pending); see also Parker v. Investire,
LLC, No. CV JKB-16-256, 2016 WL 687496, at *1 (D. Md.
Feb. 19, 2016). Here, the previously filed, ongoing
foreclosure proceeding in Maryland state court is an in rem
proceeding. Tucker v. Specialized Loan Servicing,
LLC, 83 F.Supp.3d 635, 642 (D. Md. 2015) (citing
Jones v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 444 Fed. App’x
640, 644 (4th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff’s request for emergency relief were not
barred by the Anti-Injunction Act or the exclusive
jurisdiction doctrine, temporary restraining orders and
preliminary injunctions are “extraordinary remedies
involving the exercise of very far-reaching power to be
granted only sparingly and in limited circumstances.”
MicroStrategy Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., 245 F.3d 335,
339 (4th Cir. 2001). A party seeking preliminary injunction
or TRO must demonstrate that: (1) she is likely to succeed on
the merits “by a clear showing”; (2) she is
likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in her
favor; and (4) preliminary injunctive relief is in the public
interest. Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc.,
555 U.S. 7, 20-24 (2008); Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v.
FEC, 575 F.3d 342, 346-47 (4th Cir. 2009), vacated
on other grounds, 559 U.S. 1089 (2010). Here, the court
cannot conclude that Plaintiff has made or can make the
showing necessary to justify the extraordinary relief
requested. In particular, Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that
she is likely to succeed on the merits.
Annette Williams’ motion for emergency temporary
restraining order and permanent injunction is DENIED. A
separate order will follow.