United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
BARBARA A. GIBBS, et al., Plaintiffs,
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., et al, Defendants.
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
action consists of a counterclaim that Plaintiffs filed in
response to Defendants' state foreclosure action, in
which Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are liable for unjust
enrichment, breach of contract, violations of the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. §
1962(c) ("RICO"), civil conspiracy, and violations
of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. ECF No. 2. Presently
pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to
Reconsider the Court's March 31, 2017 opinion, ECF No.
75, which granted Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, ECF No.
77, and Plaintiffs' Motion to Reopen Case and Remand to
State Court, ECF No. 80. No hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following
reasons, Plaintiffs' motions are granted.
2005 and 2006, Plaintiffs purchased two homes, one in
Florence, South Carolina and one in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
ECF No. 2 ¶ 50. Plaintiffs state that they
"financed the building of their South Carolina home with
a one year construction loan[, ] purchased with a 30-year
fixed rate mortgage from [Bank of America.]."
Id. Although not alleged by the Plaintiffs, the
judge in a prior, almost identical case that Plaintiffs
brought in the District of Colorado stated that "it is
clear that both of the Plaintiffs' mortgages
were with [Bank of America]." See Gibbs-Squires v.
Urban Settlement Servs., No. 14-CV-00488-MSK-CBS, 2015
WL 196217, at *9 n.12 (D. Colo. Jan. 14, 2015),
aff'd, 623 Fed.Appx. 917 (10th Cir. 2015)
(emphasis in original) (hereinafter, "the Colorado
in May of 2008, Plaintiffs sought loan modifications from
Bank of America. ECF No. 2 ¶ 53. Bank of America
initially approved Plaintiffs' request for loan
modifications, conditioned upon their payment of $30, 000 in
closing costs. Id. Plaintiffs declined the loan
modifications because any savings from a reduction in their
monthly mortgage payments would be erased by the new
requirement to pay closing costs. Id. Plaintiffs
continued, unsuccessfully, to request alternative loan
modifications from Bank of America until 2012. Id.
¶¶ 55-70. At that point, they were informed by Bank
of America that their mortgages had been sold to Nationstar.
Id. ¶ 70.
complain about their treatment by Bank of America employees
while they sought loan modifications, stating that they were
repeatedly misled about their qualifications for a federal
program known as the Home Affordable Modification Program
("HAMP"), which aims to provide mortgage
modifications to eligible borrowers facing foreclosure, and
were often told to resubmit documents that they had already
submitted. Id. ¶¶ 5-6, 50-73. These
allegations serve as the basis for what Plaintiffs describe
as a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations ("RICO") Act, 18 U.S.C. §
1962(c), in which Bank of America, Nationstar, and other
defendants, conspired to defeat the purpose of the HAMP
program by misleading and deceiving borrowers. ECF No. 2
¶¶ 2, 5-6, 9-13; see also Id. ¶¶
also allege that Bank of America directed Defendants Nadel,
Atlantic Law Group and Montgomery Village Foundation, to file
frivolous lawsuits against them, with the goal of
"stealing" their homes. Id. ¶
They further allege that the Maryland Attorney General
entered into a consent agreement with Bank of America,
agreeing to turn a "Blind Eye to [Bank of America's]
continued conspiracy and racketeering in defrauding
HAMP" in return for receiving money from the bank.
Id. ¶ 24. Finally, Plaintiffs claim that
Defendants have "paid bribes to South Carolina
government employees to institute and maintain their illegal
foreclosure practices." Id. ¶ 107.
with their RICO claim, Plaintiffs bring seven additional
claims against the Defendants, who they often refer to
generally as "Defendants" or the "HAMP-less
gang." Id. ¶ 23. First, they allege state
law claims of breach of contract, unjust enrichment,
conspiracy and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection
Act ("MCPA"), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law §
13-101, et seq. Id. ¶¶ 49-73, 99-109.
Plaintiffs also allege violations of three federal civil
rights statutes, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986,
claiming that Defendants' "illegal actions were
instituted against Plaintiffs based on their RACE:
BLACK." Id. ¶ 108.
March 26, 2015, Nadel, on behalf of Nationstar, instituted
foreclosure proceedings against Plaintiffs regarding the
Maryland property in Maryland state court. See Nadel
Action, Case No. 402900V, at Dkt. No. 1. On June 2, 2015,
Plaintiffs filed a counter-claim in that case asserting the
claims discussed above, id., at Dkt. No. 12, which
was separated from the foreclosure case and became the
initial complaint in a new case. See Gibbs v. Bank of
America, N.A., Case No. 405624V (Mont. Co. Cir. Ct.
2015), Dkt. No 1 (hereinafter, the "Gibbs
Action").On August 12, 2016, Defendants Bank of
America and Nationstar removed the Gibbs Action to
this Court. ECF No. 1.
removal, each of the named Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims were barred on
multiple grounds including res judicata, lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, improper venue, lack of personal
jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. See ECF Nos. 10, 13, 17, 25, 31, 57,
and 66. Plaintiffs also filed their own motions, including a
Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims, ECF No. 39.
March 31, 2017, the Court granted Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss, and denied Plaintiffs' motions. ECF No. 75. In a
footnote, the Court acknowledged that the parties disagreed
over whether the removal of this case from state court was
proper, but concluded that the case was "properly
removed to this Court." Id. at 8 n.11. On April
10, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Reconsideration, ECF
No. 77, which Defendants Opposed, ECF No. 78, and to which
Plaintiffs subsequently replied, ECF No. 79. On October 20,
2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Reopen the Case and Remand
it to state court, ECF No. 80.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for reconsideration filed within 28 days of the
underlying order is governed by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e). Courts have recognized three limited grounds
for granting a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Rule
59(e): (1) to accommodate an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence; or (3) to
correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.
See United States ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah
River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002)
(citing Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins.
Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)),
cert, denied, 538 U.S. 1012 (2003). A Rule 59(e)
motion "may not be used to re-litigate old matters, or
to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been
raised prior to the entry of judgment." Pacific Ins.
Co., 148 F.3d at 403 (quoting 11 Wright, et al,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1, at 127-28 (2d
ed. 1995)). See also Sanders v. Prince George's
Public School System, No. RWT 08-cv-501, 2011 WL
4443441, at * 1 (D. Md. Sept. 21, 2011) (a motion for
reconsideration is "not the proper place to relitigate a
case after the court has ruled against a party, as mere
disagreement with a court's rulings will not support
granting such a request"). "In general,
'reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an
extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly.'" Id. (quoting Wright, et
al, supra, § 2810.1, at 124).
Court has noted that "[n]either Rule 59(e), nor Local
Rule 105.10 (providing the deadline for a motion for
reconsideration), contains a standard for the application of
Rule 59(e) and the Fourth Circuit has not identified such a
standard." Bey v. Shapiro Brown & Alt, LLP,997 F.Supp.2d 310, 320 (D. Md.), affd, 584 Fed.Appx.
135 (4th Cir. 2014). Thus, this Court has previously looked
to the "widely cited case" of Above the Belt,
Inc. v. Bohannan Roofing, Inc.,99 F.R.D. 99
(E.D.Va.1983), for its reasoning that a "motion to
reconsider would be appropriate where, for example, the Court
has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision
outside the ...