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Hood v. Victoria Crossing Townhouse Association Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 25, 2019

LISA HOOD, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
VICTORIA CROSSING TOWNHOUSE ASSOCIATION, et al. Defendants.

          Joshua Louis Thomas, Esq. JOSHUA L. THOMAS & ASSOCIATES 225 Wilmington West Chester Pike Suite Attorney for Plaintiffs

          Christian M. Scheuerman, Esq. MARKS, O'NEILL, O'BRIEN, DOHERTY & KELLY, P.C. Cherry Tree Corporate Center Attorney for Defendants Victoria Crossing Townhouse Association, Atlantic Realty Management, Kenneth Jaeger, Marjorie Wilson, Gail Lusk, and Debra Lafferty

          Laurence P. Chirch, Esq. SANDELANDS EYET LLP Attorney for Defendant Nationstar Mortgage, LLC d/b/a Mr. Cooper

          Christina A. Livorsi, Esq. DAY PITNEY LLP Attorney for Defendants MTGLQ Investors and New Penn Financial, LLC d/b/a/ Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing

          Martin J. McAndrew, Esq. O'CONNOR KIMBALL LLP Attorney for Defendants Brigantine Realty and David Getter

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case arises out of a foreclosure action on a property leased by Plaintiffs Lisa Hood, David Hood, Sr., David Hood III, and Imani Hood (hereinafter, "Plaintiffs") at 108 Pine Knoll Circle in Mays Landing, New Jersey (hereinafter "the Property"). Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendants Victoria Crossing Townhouse Association (hereinafter "Victoria Crossing"), Kenneth Jaeger, Atlantic Realty Management (hereinafter "Atlantic Realty"), Marjorie M. Wilson, Debra A. Lafferty, Gail H. Lusk, Nationstar Mortgage (hereinafter "Nationstar"), MTGLQ Investors (hereinafter "MTGLQ"), New Penn .Financial d/b/a Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing (hereinafter "Shellpoint"), Brigantine Realty, and David Getter. (Compl. [Docket Item 1] -) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that Defendants defrauded them by concealing the identity of the true owner of the Property and the status and nature of foreclosure proceedings against its previous owner and failed to disclose required information. Id.

         As discussed below, the Complaint was filed after two closely related proceedings in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County. In both actions, the court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice. (See Order Dismissing Complaint against Nationstar [Docket Item 15-10]; Order Dismissing Complaint against Victoria Crossing, et al. [Docket Item 16-5]; Denial of Motion to Vacate [Docket Item 15-13].][1]

         Presently before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, preclusion under the New Jersey entire controversy doctrine, and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) (6). (See Defs. Brigantine Realty and Getter's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 5]; Defs. MTGLQ and Shellpoint's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 8]; Def. Nationstar's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 15]; Defs. Victoria Crossing, Atlantic Realty, Jaeger, Lafferty, Lusk, and Wilson's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 16].) Plaintiffs have not filed any opposition briefs in relation to any of these motions. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the motions to dismiss with prejudice.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In 2007, Luz Ramirez executed a promissory note, payable to Countrywide Home Loans and secured by a mortgage, for the Property. (Mortgage Documents [Docket Item 8-3] .) In March 2014, the mortgage was assigned to Defendant Nationstar. (Assignment of Mortgage [Docket Item 8-5].)

         In July 2014, Ramirez transferred the Property to Defendant Victoria Crossing through a quitclaim deed[2] as part of Ramirez's bankruptcy proceedings. (Transcript of Hearing on Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint [Docket Item 16-5], 29:18-21.) In August 2014, Plaintiffs entered into a written lease agreement with Defendant Victoria Crossing and began occupying the Property the following month. (Def. Victoria Crossing's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 16-4].)

         On September 2, 2014, Defendant Nationstar filed a foreclosure action against Ramirez in the Superior Court of Atlantic County, Chancery Division. (Nationstar's Complaint [Docket Item 8-6].)

         In February 2015, Plaintiffs filed a pro se complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County, Law Division against Defendants Nationstar, Victoria Crossing, Atlantic Realty, Lafferty, and Lusk. (Def. Victoria Crossing's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 16-4], 3). Plaintiffs subsequently filed an amended complaint in April 2015 against the same Defendants. (See Second Amended Civil Complaint, [Docket Item 16-5], Ex. B.) On June 12, 2015, the Law Division dismissed the Plaintiffs' claims. against Defendant Nationstar with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Dismissal [Docket Item 15-10]). On June 26, 2015, the Law Division further dismissed Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice against Defendants Victoria Crossing, Atlantic Realty, Lafferty, and Lusk after oral argument for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (See Transcript of Oral Argument, [Docket Item 16-5].) After oral argument, the Law Division held that Defendant Victoria Crossing was the legal owner of the Property at the time Plaintiffs entered into the lease agreement with Defendant Victoria Crossing, therefore all of Plaintiffs' claims based on the dispute of the ownership of the Property failed as a matter of law. (Id. at 29:18-30:3.) The Superior Court also held that Plaintiffs' other claims - which were nearly identical to many of the claims against Defendant Victoria Crossing, Atlantic Realty, Jaeger, Lafferty, Lusk, and Wilson in the present Complaint - were either insufficiently pled or barred by the parol evidence rule. (Id. at 33:17-35:11.)

         Defendant Nationstar's foreclosure complaint against Ramirez was initially dismissed in January 2016, but it was reinstated in .October of the same year and final judgment in favor of Defendant Nationstar was entered on January 12, 2017. (Final Judgment for Foreclosure [Docket Item 8-10].) On January 24, 2017, Defendant Nationstar assigned the mortgage to Defendant MTGLQ. (Assignment of Mortgage [Docket Item 8-16].) Defendant Nationstar sent a notice to Plaintiffs regarding the foreclosure and the upcoming sheriff's sale. (Certification of Proof of Notice [Docket Item 8-11].) On August 17, 2017, the Property was sold to Defendant MTGLQ at the sheriff's sale. (Report of Sale [Docket Item 8-15].) On September 21, 2017, notice was sent to Plaintiffs regarding the change in ownership. (Notification Letter [Docket Item 8-17].)

         Five months after the Superior Court's final judgment in favor of Defendant Nationstar in the foreclosure action, Plaintiffs filed a pro se motion in the Superior Court of Atlantic County to vacate the final judgment in the foreclosure action, stay the scheduled sheriff's sale, and dismiss the foreclosure complaint. (Motion to Vacate [Docket Item 8-12].) The Superior Court scheduled oral argument regarding the pro se motion for October 27, 2017, where Plaintiffs' motion was denied after they failed to appear. (Transcript of Motion Hearing [Docket Item 8-13]; Denial of Motion to Vacate [Docket Item 15-13].) The Superior Court held that Plaintiffs did not have standing to bring forth any of their claims because they were not a party to the original loan and that they should seek remedies through the appropriate landlord dispute court in the state if they had issues with their tenancy. (Transcript of Motion Hearing [Docket Item 8-13], 13:11-25.)

         On December 12, 2017, Defendant MTGLQ filed a complaint in the Superior Court of Atlantic County against Plaintiffs for nonpayment of rent. (Tenancy Summons[3] [Docket Item 8-18].) On January 24, 2018, the Superior Court dismissed the action after the rent was paid in full by Plaintiffs to Defendant MTGLQ. (Case Summary[4][Docket Item 8-20].)

         While continuing to live at the Property, Plaintiffs filed the present Complaint on July 31, 2018. (Compl. [Docket Item 1].) The Complaint seems to be premised on three main allegations: (1) that the mortgage documents, transfer, and note were fraudulent, (2) that the Defendants misrepresented and concealed the true status and nature of the foreclosure, and (3) that the Defendants, in their respective capacities, improperly managed the Property and harassed the Plaintiffs. (See Compl. [Docket Item 1].) The Complaint alleges a host of conclusory recitations of statutes and fails to comply with the Local Civil Rules. More troubling, the Court notes that Plaintiff's Counsel has a well-documented history of filing virtually identical claims in the foreclosure context barred by either the Rooker-Feldman doctrine or the New Jersey entire controversy or both in the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.[5]

         Thereafter, Defendants filed the present motions to dismiss. (See Defs. Brigantine Realty and Getter's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 5]; Defs. MTGLQ and Shellpoint's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 8]; Def. Nationstar's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Item 15]; Defs. Victoria Crossing, Atlantic Realty, Jaeger, Lafferty, Lusk, and Wilson's Mot. to- Dismiss ...


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