United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
STEPHEN S. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
PHH MORTGAGE CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
RENÉE MARIE BUMB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon Motions to Dismiss, filed
by Defendant PHH Mortgage Corporation
(“PHH”)[Dkt. No. 34] and Defendants Experian
Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”), Equifax
Information Services, LLC (“Equifax”), and
Equifax Consumer Services LLC
(“ECS”)(collectively, the “CRA
Defendants”)[Dkt. No. 36] seeking the dismissal of
Plaintiff Stephen S. Edwards' (“Plaintiff”)
First Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”)[Dkt. No.
31] in its entirety pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). PHH
also argues, in the alternative, for the transfer of this
matter to the United States District Court for the District
of Arizona pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Plaintiff
has six (6) pending motions before this court, as follows(1)
a “Motion for Dispute Resolution” [Dkt. No. 33];
(2) a “Motion to Quash PHH Motion to Dismiss and for
Sanctions Against Lawyers Sixkiller and Norblatt for their
fraud upon this Court [for] Witholding evidence” [Dkt.
No. 38]; (3) a “Motion for Immediate Injunctive
Relief” [Dkt. No. 39]; (4) a “Motion to Deny
Dismissing Defendants Equifax and Experian” [Dkt. No.
43]; (5) a “Motion for an Order to Show Cause against
PHH Mortgage” [Dkt. No. 51]; and (6) a “Motion to
Strike” [Dkt. No. 54] in relation to PHH's
Cross-Motion for Sanctions [Dkt. No. 52].
this litigation's lack of connection to this forum and
Defendant PHH's argument for transfer § 1404(a),
this Court issued an Order to Show Cause as to why this Court
should not transfer the case to the District of Arizona, in
the interest of convenience and justice [Dkt. No. 64]. Having
reviewed the parties' briefing on this issue, including
the responses from Plaintiff [Dkt. No. 65] and the CRA
Defendants [Dkt. No. 66], the Court finds that a transfer of
this action is appropriate under § 1404(a). Therefore,
this Court will not render a decision on the other pending
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court liberally
construes the Amended Complaint. Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)(citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972)(“however inartfully pleaded,
” the “allegations of a pro se complaint
[are held] to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers”). Even construing Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint liberally, his factual allegations are
vague and unclear. The facts set forth herein are those which
the Court could construe from Plaintiff's Amended
resides at 16030 S. 36th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 48048. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 5). PHH is a mortgage corporation headquartered
in New Jersey that conducts business throughout the nation,
including “regularly” conducting business
“through its entities in the Maricopa County area of
Arizona.” Id. ¶ 6. Plaintiff states that
Experian is “based on Costa Mesa, ” California
and Equifax is “based in Atlanta” and “have
marketing and sales relationships that are clearly
biased.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that PHH, at
some point, “fraudulently” misled him into a
“faulty mortgage situation, in which [he] took a
construction loan . . . which in turn . . . led to a
fraudulent foreclosure.” Id. ¶ 7.
Plaintiff does not identify the location of the property that
is subject to this mortgage, although he implies that it is a
property located in Mesa, Arizona. Id. ¶ 26.
Moreover, throughout his Complaint Plaintiff seems to
variably allege that he owes PHH nothing, that he owes PHH
$100, 000, Id. ¶ 23, and that PHH owes him
$285, 000.00, Id. ¶ 22.
connection with this construction loan and mortgage,
Plaintiff alleges that PHH has “lied” both to
credit reporting agencies and the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit about how much Plaintiff owes them.
Id. at ¶¶ 12-13. Plaintiff also alleges
that PHH declined full payment in November 2014 and July 2015
and “circumvented the sale” of his home on two
occasions. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. Moreover,
Plaintiff alleges, “PHH failed to provide a Simple
Payoff letter and when ordered to do so they [sic] submitted
fraudulent payoff terms purposely harassing Edwards.”
Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges that PHH's
actions led him to build a custom home in Mesa, Arizona,
without the assistance of a licensed contractor, and to
convert his home into a business, which in turn hurt his
ability to run his “limousine service.”
Id. ¶ 26.
filed his initial Complaint on October 3, 2017, and filed his
Amended Complaint on June 22, 2018, alleging (1) breach of
contract; (2) breach of fiduciary duty; (3) fraud; (4)
violation of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §§
1601, et seq.; (5) and violation of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq..
Although not articulated in enumerated counts, Plaintiff also
states that “Violations of Federal LawUSC §802,
§504, §12101 Exist.” Id. at p. 2.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and equitable relief in the
forms of an Order requiring specific performance by PHH and
an injunction prohibiting PHH from, among other things,
foreclosing on his mortgage.
not Plaintiff's first lawsuit against PHH, Experian, or
Equifax. Indeed, Plaintiff has previously filed at least
seven actions against PHH in Arizona state and
federal courts. See Super Trust Fund u/t/d 06/15/01 v.
Charles Schwab Bank et al., No. 2:13-cv-00735-ROS (D.
Ariz.)(“Edwards I”); Edwards v.
Charles Schwab Bank et al., No. 2:14-cv-00066-MHB (D.
Ariz)(“Edwards II”); Stephen S.
Edwards Inc. v. PHH Mortgage Corp. et al., No.
2:15-cv-00919-ROS (D. Ariz.)(“Edwards
III”); Stephen S. Edwards v. PPH Corp.,
et al., No. 2:16-cv-01842-JJT (D.
Ariz.)(“Edwards IV”); Stephen S.
Edwards v. PPH Corp., et al., No. CV2017-012833, (Sup.
Ct. Ariz.)(“Edwards V”); Edwards v.
Experian Info. Sols. Inc., No. 2:15-cv-02640-JJT (D.
Ariz.). Each of these previously filed actions, several of
which have been dismissed, relates to a loan secured by real
property located at 1765 N. Lemon Street, Mesa, Arizona 85025
(the “Lemon Street Property”). The Court has
reason to believe that the Lemon Street Property is the
property implicated in the instant matter. This Court also
notes that Plaintiff currently has yet another active matter
pending against PHH in the District of Arizona. See
Edwards v. PHH Mortgage Corp. et al., No.
2:18-cv-04040-SPL (D. Ariz.)(removed from Maricopa County
Superior Court, CV2018-009743).
LEGAL STANDARD & ANALYSIS
1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that:
“For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the
interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil
action to any other district or division where it might have
been brought.” The parties do not appear to genuinely
dispute that this action could have been filed in the
District of Arizona, where the Lemon Street Property is
located, where the underlying transaction occurred, where
Plaintiff resides, where PHH operates regional locations, and
where Plaintiff has filed the half-dozen prior suits related
to this transaction in both federal and state courts.
the proposed alternative forum is appropriate, ” as it
is here, “it is then within the Court's discretion
to transfer the action.” Taylor v. Global Credit
& Collection Corp., 2010 WL 2521758, at *1 (D.N.J.
June 14, 2010) (citing Jumara v. State Farm Ins.
Co., 55 F.3d 873, 883 (3d Cir. 1995)). Indeed,
“Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the
district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according
to an ‘individualized, case-by-case consideration of
convenience and fairness.'” Stewart Org., Inc.
v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988)(quoting Van
Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)). “A
determination that transfer to another jurisdiction is
appropriate represents an ‘exercise ... of structured
discretion by trial judges appraising the practical
inconveniences posed to the litigants and the court should a
particular action be litigated in one forum rather than
another.'” Lawrence v. Xerox Corp., 56
F.Supp.2d 442, 450 (D.N.J. 1999)(internal citations omitted).
Thus, the district court “is vested with a large
discretion” to determine when transfer should be
ordered “for the convenience of parties and witnesses,
in the interest of justice, ” pursuant to §
1404(a). Solomon v. Continental Am. Life Ins. Co.,
472 F.2d 1043, 1045 (3d Cir. 1973).
deciding whether to transfer an action under § 1404(a),
courts in the Third Circuit consider both private and public
interests, the Court addresses these factors below.