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Hoffman v. J.P. Morgan Chase

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 2, 2019

JOAN MARIE HOFFMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
J.P. MORGAN CHASE and CALIBER HOME LOANS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Michael A. Shipp United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Joan Marie Hoffman's f "Plaintiff) Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO") and attendant application for leave to proceed without prepayment of fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 ("IFP Application"). (ECF Nos. 1, 1-2, 1-3.) It appears Plaintiff moves ex parte, as she has not included documentation evidencing service upon Defendants J.P. Morgan Chase ("J.P. Morgan Chase" or "Chase") and Caliber Home Loans (collectively, "Defendants"). The Court has carefully considered Plaintiffs submissions, and pursuant to Local Civil Rule 78, 1, decides the matter without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs IFP Application is granted and Plaintiffs TRO Motion is denied.

         I. IFP Application

         Plaintiff alleges her total monthly income is $1608, which includes $1416 from retirement and $ 192 from public assistance. (IFP Appl., ECF No. 1-3.) Plaintiff also states she currently has $38 in her checking account, $50 in cash, and her listed asse;S are: (1) a home in foreclosure; and (2) an automobile that she alleges has a value of $500. The Court finds this information sufficient to determine Plaintiff is economically eligible to proceed in forma pauperis, and, accordingly, grants Plaintiffs IFP Application.

         II. TRO Motion

         As a threshold matter, the Court finds Plaintiff failed to establish the Court has jurisdiction to hear this case. Plaintiffs provided basis for jurisdiction is that the United States Government is a plaintiff, and she seeks relief pursuant to the New Jersey Fair Foreclosure Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:50-53 to -68.[1] (Civil Cover Sheet, ECF No. I.) Plaintiffs Complaint also contains general allegations of fraud. (See generally Compl., ECF No. 1.)

         Here, the United States Government is not a party to this action, Plaintiff does not pursue relief under federal law (see 28 U.S.C. § 1331), and Plaintiff fails to provide the citizenship of the parties involved (see 28 U.S.C. § 1332). Plaintiff, therefore, fails to establish the Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.[2] See, e.g., Schneller v. Cromer Chester Med, Ctr., 387 Fed.Appx. 289, 292 (3d Cir. 2010) ("Federal courts have limited jurisdiction, and they may only decide cases as authorized by Congress or the Constitution.").

         Assuming, arguendo, that Plaintiff could establish diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate she is entitled to a TRO. Preliminary injunctive relief is "an extraordinary remedy" and "should be granted only in limited circumstances." Kos Pharms., Inc. v, Andrx Corp., 369 F.3d 700, 708 (3d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). The burden is on the party seeking the TRO to "establish every element in its favor, or the grant of a [TRO] is inappropriate." P.C. Yonkers, Inc. v. Celebrations the Party & Seasonal Superstore, LLC, 428 F.3d 504, 508 (3d Cir. 2005) (quoting NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enters., Inc., 176 F.3d 151, 153 (3d Cir. 1999)). This remedy should be granted only if: (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) denial will result in irreparable harm to the plaintiff; (3) granting the injunction will not result in irreparable harm to the defendant; and (4) granting the injunction is in the public interest. Hartmann v.Maybee-Freud, 279 Fed.Appx. 142, 144 (3d Cir. 2008). The standards for reviewing a preliminary injunction are the same for a TRO. See, e.g. Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008).

         Here, Plaintiff did not explicitly address any of the aforementioned factors. The Court construes Plaintiffs filings liberally, however, because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant. See Haines v. Kemer, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nonetheless, Plaintiff fails to establish the matter is emergent or a likelihood of success on the merits. Plaintiff seeks a stay of an eviction order, [3] yet, she did not provide the Court with that order. In fact, although Plaintiff states that the eviction will take place on May 6, 2019, Plaintiff has not provided the Court with any documentation supporting that assertion. Rather, Plaintiff provided the Court with an April 1, 2019, New Jersey Superior Court, Somerset County, Chancery Division Order granting a stay of the sheriffs eviction until April 30, 2019.[4] (5eeTROAppl. 3.)

         Moreover, Plaintiffs general allegations of fraud fail to meet the heighted pleading standard set forth under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 9(b). Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b) ("In alleging fraud or mistake, a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake."). Plaintiff claims Caliber Home Loans has "grossly inflated" the amount she owes on her mortgage and she has been "coerced into 'interest only' loans." (Compl. ¶¶ 8-13.) Plaintiff however, did not support those allegations with any supporting facts, persuasive documentation, or legal authority. Thus, not only is the record before the Court deficient, but Plaintiff fails to adequately allege violations of the New Jersey Fair Foreclosure Act[5] or fraud, generally. HI. Conclusion The Court finds Plaintiff sufficiently demonstrated economic eligibility to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court also finds Plaintiff failed to establish the Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter, and assuming Plaintiff could establish diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff failed to demonstrate she is entitled to emergent injunctive relief.

         Accordingly, IT IS on this 2nd day of May 2019, ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiffs IFP Application (ECF No. 1-3) is GRANTED.
2. Plaintiffs TRO Application (ECF No. 1-2} is ...

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