United States District Court, D. Maryland
RENEE L. MCCRAY, Plaintiff,
SAMUEL I. WHITE, P.C., et al., Defendants.
David Copperthlte, United States Magistrate Judge.
case was referred to me for all proceedings on May 11, 2018
(ECF 128). The Plaintiff, pro se, has Filed this
action alleging Defendants as debt collectors violated the
FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692. et seq. In essence.
Plaintiff complains that Defendants failed to comply with the
FDCPA when they foreclosed and eventually sold real property
secured by a defaulted loan. In the motion now being
addressed by this Court (ECF 136), Plaintiff is seeking
injunctive relief to restrain the Baltimore City Circuit
Court's decision, confirmed on appeal by the Maryland
Court of Special Appeals, approving the sale of the real
property. Interestingly as well, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
has also found that the Defendants were entitled to proceed
with the sale of the property when a stay of proceedings was
lifted and Plaintiff was discharged of the debt. In Re:
Renee L. McCray NVA 13-26131, Docket No. 79.
For the reasons stated below, the Motion for Preliminary
Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order will be DENIED.
Plaintiff has pursued remedies in both state court and in
this Court, including the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. See ECF
142. 1-6. In its simplest view. Plaintiff now seeks in
this Court the same relief denied her in the Circuit Court
for Baltimore City, on appeal to the Court of of Special
Appeals and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court - an injunction to
prevent ratification of the sale of real property that
secured a loan she defaulted.
order to prevail on a motion, the Fourth Circuit has applied
the standard set forth in Winter v. Natural Resources
Defense Counsel. Inc., 555 U.S. 7 (2008). Real Truth
About Ohama, Inc. v. Federal Election
Com'n. 575 F.3d 342, 345 (4th Cir. 2009).
"In its recent opinion in II inter, the Supreme
Court articulated clearly what must be shown to obtain a
preliminary injunction, stating that the plaintiff must
establish " that he is likely to succeed on the
merits.  that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in
the absence of preliminary relief.  that the balance of
equities tips in his favor, and  that an injunction is in
the public interest." Winter, at 20. And all
lour requirements must be satisfied. Id. Indeed, the
Court in Winter rejected a standard that allowed the
plaintiff to demonstrate only a "possibility" of
irreparable harm because that standard was "inconsistent
with our characterization of injunctive relief as an
extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear
showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief."
Id. at 20.
plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish
that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely
to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary
relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and
that an injunction is in the public interest. Id.
The Court will address each of these factors in the instant
present case. Plaintiff presents no credible evidence that
she is likely to succeed on the merits. In fact, all of the
evidence is to the contrary. In the litigation efforts of
Plaintiff to prevent the foreclosure and sale of the
property, Plaintiff has failed at every step. As Defendants
point out in their response. Plaintiff tiled multiple motions
to stay proceedings and dismiss the foreclosure proceedings
in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City (ECF 142-1.4).
Plaintiff appealed those adverse rulings denying injunctive
relief and on appeal, the denial of injunctive relief was
affirmed (ECF 142-4). Plaintiff presented no evidence
whatsoever in her motion to support her claim that there is a
strong likelihood that she will succeed on the merits.
Instead Plaintiff just re-alleges the facts (ECF 136). As
Winter dictates. Plaintiff must prevail on all four
requirements in order to obtain injunctive relief.
Winter at 346. On this basis alone, the Court
clearly is able to DENY the motion.
briefly, arguendo to address the other factors, the property
has since been sold. and it is of note that Plaintiffs debt
has been discharged in her bankruptcy proceedings (ECF
142-3). which according to Defendants' Response also
precluded any injunctive relief when the slay of proceedings
was lifted. Id. Plaintiff in this motion failed to
present evidence of irreparable harm, in that the property
has since been sold. Plaintiff is not precluded from seeking
any relief to which she may be entitled under the FDCA. but
any irreparable harm she alleged has already occurred after
her unsuccessful but lengthy litigation in state court. There
is no balance of equities in favor of Plaintiff in this case
and she presented no evidence of such in her motion. In fact,
there is no finding in any of the state court proceedings
that even suggest inequity at all. While Plaintiff may argue
that she is a victim and that there is a public interest in
preventing homeowners from losing their homes, that is not
the case before the Court. Plaintiff proceeded in litigation
for five years in state court, following her default on a
loan which lead to the forfeiture of her property. Plaintiff
availed herself of every litigation opportunity in state
court and in the United States Bankruptcy Court. She did not
succeed, with the exception of discharge of her debts. All of
those safeguards to protect the public interest were properly
in place and she took advantage of every opportunity to have
her day in court. She simply did not succeed. Based upon her
pleadings and the Defendants' response it is clear that
Plaintiff is not entitled in injunctive relief in this
action. She has failed to present evidence to satisfy the
four elements required. Winter, supra.
raise other meritorious arguments in their response. The
Court agrees that the doctrine of res judicata
applies in this case. The parties are the same, the Plaintiff
again relies on the validity of the foreclosure action, thus
meeting the "transaction test." and the final
judgment includes the adjudication of the injunctive relief
sought in this case. Community College of Cambridge
Environmental Health and Community Development Croup, el at.,
v. City of Cambridge, 115 F.Supp.2d 550. 560 (D.Md.
2000). The Court finds that the doctrine of res
judicata precludes injunctive relief sought in
Defendants argue that the Anti-Injunction Act. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2283. precludes Plaintiff from injunctive relief. The
Court agrees. In the present case. Plaintiff has diligently
pursued her remedies in state court and in the United States
Bankruptcy Court. She has been denied relief and that denial
has been upheld in state court on appeal. The Anti-Injunction
Act reads as follows:
"A court of the United States may not grant an
injunction to stay 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.
present case, there is no express authorization by Congress
to enjoin a slate court, nor was there any federal
jurisdiction at issue in the state court proceedings. That
leaves only the third exception which is not available to
Plaintiff since there was no federal court judgment to
protect. Bryan v. BellSouth Communications, Inc.,
492 F.3d 231. 236 (4th Cir. 2007). The third
exception, known as the "re-litigation exception"
was designed to permit a federal court to prevent state
litigation of an issue that was previously decided by the
federal court." Id. It is clear that is not
what we have in the present case. Plaintiffs motion is denied
as well based upon the Anti-Injunction Act. 28 U.S.C. §
foregoing reasons. Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary
Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order is ...