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Letren v. Arch Bay Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

December 16, 2016

NEIL F. LETREN, Plaintiff,
ARCH BAY HOLDINGS, LLC et al., Defendants.


          George J. Hazel, United States District Judge.

         In the Court's previous Memorandum Opinion and Order dated March 25, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff Neil F. Letren's ("Plaintiff or "Mr. Letren") claims in favor of Defendants Arch Bay Holdings, LLC ("Arch"), Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC ("SLS), and Stephen N. Goldberg ("Goldberg") (collectively, "Defendants").[1] ECF No. 56; ECF No. 57. Plaintiff now moves the Court to alter or amend the judgment contained in its earlier Opinion, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). ECF No. 58. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs Motion to Alter or Amend is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background facts of this action were fully set forth in the Court's previous Memorandum Opinion. ECF No. 56 at 2-6.[2] To summarize, this case arises out of a dispute concerning a promissory note (the "Note") for a mortgage on real property. In 2007, Mr. Letren obtained a mortgage loan against his property (the "Property") located in Capitol Heights, Maryland, for which he signed the promissory note (the "Note"). ECF No. 40 ¶ 10. Mr. Letren also executed a Deed of Trust as a lien against the Property, which named him as the borrower, and various financial entities as "lender, " "beneficiary, " or "trustee." Id. ¶ 11. At some point, Defendant Arch Bay Holdings, LLC ("Arch") purported to be the owner of the Note, and Defendant Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC ("SLS) claimed to be the "servicer" of the loan. Id. ¶ 13.

         In May 2011, a foreclosure action was initiated against the Property in Prince George's County Circuit Court based on Mr. Letren's alleged default on the loan, but the action was ultimately dismissed without prejudice. See Cohn v. Letren, No. CAE11-13229 (Prince George's Cty. Cir. Ct); ECF No. 40 ¶ 77. Between May 2012 and November 2012, Plaintiff filed three separate actions in Prince George's County Circuit Court against various Defendants named in the suit subjudice. See Letren v. Cohn, Goldberg & Deutsch, LLC, No. CAL12-15920 (Prince George's Cty. Cir. Ct.); Letren v. Mortgagelt, Inc., No. CAE12-17709 (Prince George's Cty. Cir. Ct.); Letren v. Specialized Loan Servicing LLC, No. CAL12-36628 (Prince George's Cty. Cir. Ct).

         To resolve these lawsuits, Mr. Letren, Arch, SLS, and the "Substitute Trustees"[3] entered into a Release and Settlement Agreement ("the Settlement Agreement") dated September 20, 2013, in order to effectuate their "desire to settle, discharge, and terminate all claims, controversies, and potential claims and controversies which may now exist, whether known or unknown, between them without resort to further litigation..." ECF No. 44-4 at 3; see also ECF No. 40 ¶¶ 36-37. At that time, the Note had a principal balance owed in the amount of $281, 674.44. ECF No. 44-4 at 2. The parties' Settlement Agreement provided, among other things, that Mr. Letren would pay the sum of $90, 000 to Arch as a payoff amount "in full accord and satisfaction of the debt evidenced by the said Note . .." ECF No. 44-4 at 3. Upon receipt of the payoff, Arch would release the Deed of Trust encumbering the Property as security for the Note. Id.

         Mr. Letren brought the current action in this Court, alleging that despite his payment of the $90, 000, the Note had not been returned to him, violating the terms of the Deed of Trust. ECF No. 40 ¶ 18. Mr. Letren alleged that because Defendants did not possess the original Note, they were not "holders" of the Note. Thus, Defendants could not seek payment pursuant to the Note and were not entitled to the $90, 000 he had paid them pursuant to the Settlement Agreement. Id. ¶ 21. Mr. Letren asserted claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act ("MCDCA"), the Maryland Consumer Protection Act ("MCPA"), as well as for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and common law fraud. ECF No. 40. The Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that Mr. Letren's FDCPA, MCDCA, MCPA, unjust enrichment, and common law fraud claims were barred by res judicata, and that his breach of contract claim was barred by the parties' Settlement Agreement itself. ECF No. 56.


         Rule 59(e) allows a party to file a motion to alter or amend a judgment no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); see also Ford v. United States, No. GJH-11-3039, 2016 WL 3430673, at *1 (D. Md. Mar. 16, 2016). One purpose of Rule 59(e) is to "permit a district court to correct its own errors, 'sparing the parties and the appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings.'" Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat. Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998). However, the Fourth Circuit recognizes only three grounds on which a court may alter or amend an earlier judgment: "(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law: (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial: or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." United States ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)). "Clear error or manifest injustice occurs where a court 'has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension . ..'" Wagner v. Warden, No. ELH-14-791, 2016 WL 1169937, at *3 (D. Md. Mar. 24, 2016) (quoting King v. McFadden, 2015 WL 4937292, at *2 (D.S.C. August 18, 2015)).

         "[R]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly." Pac Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403 (citation omitted). A Rule 59(e) motion "may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Id. (citation omitted). "[M]ere disagreement" with the court's ruling does not support a motion to alter or amend the judgment. Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1082 (4th Cir. 1993). Such limitations are necessary because "[w]ere it otherwise, then there would be no conclusion to motions practice, each motion becoming nothing more than the latest installment in a potentially endless serial that would exhaust the resources of the parties and the court-not to mention its patience." Pinney v. Nokia, Inc., 402 F.3d 430, 453 4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Potter v. Potter, 199 F.R.D. 550, 553 (D. Md. 2001)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         In his Motion to Alter or Amend, Mr. Letren does not allege any intervening changes in controlling law, nor does he contend that new evidence has come to light. Rather, Mr. Letren argues that the Court erred by 1) failing to address his argument that the Defendants breached the Settlement Agreement, 2) failing to correctly apply principles of res judicata, and 3 "impermissibly judging the merits of Plaintiff s allegations" relating to the effect of fraud on the parties' Settlement Agreement. The Court will address Plaintiffs first, third, and second arguments in turn.

         A. Failure to Address Argument that the Defendants Breached Settlement Agreement

         Plaintiff argues that "the Court completely failed to address or mak[e] any finding with regards to Plaintiffs argument that the Defendant breached the settlement agreement and therefore the Plaintiff is permitted to ...

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