Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Alston v. Federal National Mortgage Association

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 12, 2018

THOMAS ALSTON, CAREY VAUGHN, TAVARIS PITTMAN, SHAWANDA PITTMAN and BRANDON PITTMAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION, SETERUS, INC. and SERVICELINK FIELD SERVICES, LLC, [1] Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Self-represented Plaintiffs Thomas Alston, Carey Vaughn, Tavaris Pittman, Shawanda Pittman, and Brandon Pittman (collectively, "Plaintiffs") have filed this action against Defendants Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae"), Seterus, Inc. ("Seterus"), and ServiceLink Field Services, LLC ("ServiceLink"), alleging trespass and conversion arising from an unauthorized entry onto a residential property and the removal of personal property belonging to each of the Plaintiffs. Presently pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Fannie Mae and Seterus (collectively, "the Moving Defendants"). Having reviewed the submitted materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         Curtis Ross, a non-party in this case, owns a residential property located at 12603 Old Chapel Road, Glenn Dale, Maryland ("the Property"), which is subject to a mortgage loan ("the Mortgage"). The Mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae and serviced by Seterus. The Mortgage is subject to a Deed of Trust, which allows for entry onto the Property by Fannie Mae or its agents:

Lender or its agent may make reasonable entries upon and inspections of the Property. If it has reasonable cause, Lender may inspect the interior of the improvements on the Property. Lender shall give Borrower notice at the time of or prior to such an interior inspection specifying such reasonable cause.

         Deed of Trust ¶ 7, Joint Record ("J.R.") 8, ECF No. 37.[2] The Deed of Trust further provides that in the event of a "legal proceeding that might significantly affect [the] Lender's interest in the Property and/or rights under this Security Instrument, " "[a]ny amounts disbursed by Lender . . . shall become additional debt of Borrower secured by this Security Instrument." Id. ¶ 9, J.R. 8-9.

         According to Plaintiffs, Ross allowed Alston and Vaughn to store "work material and equipment" on the Property, including personal property and "work material and equipment relating to [a] real estate investment business" and a "real estate contractor business." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-17, ECF No. 21. Separately, Ross rented the Property to Tavaris and Shawanda Pittman beginning in early 2017.

         In February 2017, Seterus instructed ServiceLink to enter the Property. ServiceLink entered the Property and removed "work material and equipment" and unspecified "personal property" belonging to Plaintiffs. Id. ¶ 28. The Amended Complaint alleges that ServiceLink "broke into" the Property, stole Plaintiffs' property, and "changed all the locks, " presumably referring to a house or structure on the Property. Id. ¶ 38. No. Defendant provided advanced notice of these actions. At the time of the intrusion, Ross was not in default on the mortgage.

         On August 14, 2017, Plaintiffs, along with Ross, filed a pro se lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, but the Complaint was signed by Alston only. On September 1, 2017, Alston sent a copy of the summons and the Complaint to (1) Timothy J. Mayopoulos, the President of Fannie Mae; and (2) to "The Corp Trust, " the registered agent for Seterus in Maryland, by United States Postal Service ("USPS") certified mail, a service that allows a sender to verify delivery of the item to its destination. See Insurance & Extra Services, United States Postal Service, https://www.usps.com /ship/insurance-extra-services.htm (last visited May 23, 2018); Timothy J. Mayopoulos, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fannie Mae, http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-fm/leadership/mayopoulos.html (last visited May 23, 2018); Seterus, Inc., Maryland Business Express, https://egov.maryland.gov/ BusinessExpress/EntitySearch/BusinessInformation/F 14047906 (last visited May 23, 2018).[3]Neither mailing was sent by USPS "Restricted Delivery, " a separate service that allows a sender to restrict delivery to a specific individual. See Insurance & Extra Services, United States Postal Service, https://www.usps.com/ship /insurance-extra-services.htm (last visited May 23, 2018). Neither Alston nor any other Plaintiff filed a service affidavit or other proof of service.

         Defendants removed this case to this Court on October 4, 2017. Since the original Complaint was signed by Alston only, the Court ordered Plaintiffs to resubmit the Complaint with signatures by all Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs then filed an Amended Complaint signed by each Plaintiff with the exception of Ross, who was removed as a Plaintiff.

         DISCUSSION

         In their Motion to Dismiss, the Moving Defendants argue that (1) service of process was insufficient; (2) the Amended Complaint should be dismissed for failure to join Ross as a party; (3) Plaintiffs fail to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for trespass; and (4) Plaintiffs fail to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for conversion. In their Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion, Plaintiffs offer to file a Second Amended Complaint that would provide additional details on the allegedly stolen personal property.

         I. Legal Standard

         To the extent that the Moving Defendants seek dismissal of the Amended Complaint on the basis of insufficient service of process, the Motion is construed as a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5). In such a Motion, Plaintiffs bear the burden to demonstrate that service was adequate. Dickerson v. Napolitano, 604 F.3d 732, 752 (2d Cir. 2010); Danik v. Housing Auth. of Bait. City,396 Fed.Appx. 15, 16 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing Dickerson). In ruling on such a motion, the Court may consider evidence outside of the pleadings. Urquhart ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.