United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
B. RUBEN DEWAYNE, Plaintiff,
MERS, INC., J.P. MORGAN MORTGAGE ACQUISITION CORP., AND JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge
January 26, 2017, Defendants J.P. Morgan Mortgage Acquisition
Corp., and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (together,
“Chase”), and MERS, Inc. (collectively,
“Defendants”) removed to this court Plaintiff B.
Ruben DeWayne's Massachusetts state court complaint.
Notice of Removal [#1]. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory
judgment concerning each party's “rights,
relations, and status” with respect to the property
located at 53 Charlotte Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts
(the “subject property”). Compl. ¶ 8 [#1-1].
Pending before this court is Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss the Complaint (“Mot. to Dismiss”)
[#4] and Plaintiff's Motion for an Injunction and
Protective Order to Stay Foreclosure Pending Ruling on This
Matter Brought in Good Faith (“Mot. for Inj. &
Prot. Order”) [#15], Motion to Strike, Objection
and Opposition to the Motion of Defendants JPMorgan Mortgage
Acquisition Corp., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and MERS, Inc.
for Protective Order Staying Discovery Pending Ruling on
Motion to Dismiss (“Mot. to Strike”) [#16],
and Motion for Reconsideration of Order Granting
Defendants' Motion and Protective Order to Stay
Discovery (“Mot. for Reconsideration”)
[#18]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss [#4] is GRANTED, and
Plaintiff's Motion for Injunction and Protective
Order [#15], Motion to Strike [#16], and
Motion for Reconsideration [#18] are DENIED as moot.
Facts as Alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint
alleged in the complaint, on or about May 11, 2007, Leitta
Brooks obtained a loan from First National Bank of Arizona,
secured by the subject property. Compl. ¶ 2a [#1-1].
Brooks executed a promissory note in the original principal
amount of $500, 000, granting a mortgage on the subject
property in favor of lender First National Bank of Arizona
(the “Brooks mortgage”). Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss
Ex. B 2 [#5-2]. Under that instrument, MERS was the
mortgagee, “acting solely as a nominee for Lender and
Lender's successors and assigns.” Id. at
1. On or about July 25, 2008, First National Bank of Arizona
merged with First National Bank of Nevada, and was placed
into receivership by the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation. Compl. ¶¶ 2c-2d [#1-1]. Several years
later, on or about September 22, 2014, MERS transferred and
assigned First National Bank of Arizona's interest to
Chase. Id. ¶ 2e. Chase claims to be the current
owner and holder of the note and the Brooks mortgage.
Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff acquired title to the
subject property on October 14, 2015, after Brooks conveyed
it to him by quitclaim deed in exchange for work Plaintiff
had performed on the subject property and $2, 500.
Id. ¶ 1.
Plaintiff and Brooks previously filed lawsuits against the
Defendants regarding the Brooks mortgage. Brooks filed two
lawsuits, both of which were dismissed. The First Circuit
affirmed both dismissals. See Brooks v. JPMorgan Chase
Bank, N.A., No. 13-2041 (1st Cir. 2014); Brooks v.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. 15-1055 (1st Cir. 2015).
Plaintiff also filed an action in this court against the same
defendants as the present action on December 30, 2015,
seeking declaratory judgment regarding each party's
rights to the subject property. DeWayne v. First
Nat'l Bank of Arizona, 15-cv-14245-IT (the
“First DeWayne Action”). The court allowed the
Defendants' motion to dismiss the First DeWayne Action,
[15-cv-14245, #64], and denied Plaintiff's motion to
reconsider, [15-cv-14245-IT, #67]. The case was dismissed on
December 1, 2016. [15-cv-14245-IT, #68]. On December 16,
2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action in Massachusetts
state court. [#1-1]. As noted above, Defendants removed the
case to this court on January 26, 2017. Notice of Removal
[#1]. The parties' motion practice occurred thereafter.
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
have moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), arguing that the doctrine of res judicata precludes
Plaintiff from asserting his claims and, in the alternative,
that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted.
Standard of Review
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must include factual
allegations that, taken as true, demonstrate a plausible
claim for relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555-58 (2007). A plausible claim is one containing
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To assess a complaint, the court first
“must separate the complaint's factual allegations
(which must be accepted as true) from its conclusory legal
allegations (which need not be credited).” Jane Doe
No. 1 v. Backpage.com, LLC, 817 F.3d 12, 24 (1st Cir.
2016) (citation omitted). The court must then
“determine whether the remaining facts allow it to
‘draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Id.
court can, in an appropriate case, consider the affirmative
defense of res judicata on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
See In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers Corp., 324 F.3d
12, 16 (1st Cir. 2003). An appropriate case is one in which
(1) “the facts that establish the defense must be
definitively ascertainable from the allegations of the
complaint, the documents (if any) incorporated therein,
matters of public record, and other matters of which the
court may take judicial notice, ” and (2) “the
facts so gleaned must conclusively establish the affirmative
defense.” Id. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, a court is ordinarily limited to
considering “only the complaint, documents attached to
it, and documents expressly incorporated into it.”
Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 71-72
(1st Cir. 2014). The court can also consider matters of
public record, Freeman v. Town of Hudson, 714 F.3d
29, 36 (1st Cir. 2013), including the record of the
purportedly preclusive action where a “motion to
dismiss is premised on a defense of res judicata.”
Andrew Robinson Int'l, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins.
Co., 547 F.3d 48, 51 (1st Cir. 2008).
Application of Res Judicata
“both the potentially precluding suit and the
potentially precluded suit were litigated in federal courts,
federal law governs the res judicata effect of the prior
judgment.” Mass. Sch. of Law at Andover, Inc. v.
Am. Bar Ass'n, 142 F.3d 26, 37 (1st Cir. 1998).
Under the doctrine of res judicata, “a final judgment
on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their
privies from relitigating claims that were raised or could
have been raised in that action.” Apparel Art
Int'l, Inc. v. Amertex Enters. Ltd., 48 F.3d 576,
583 (1st Cir. 1995) (citing Allen v. McCurry, 449
U.S. 90, 94 (1980)); see also In re Sonus Networks, Inc.,
S'holder Derivative Litig., 499 F.3d 47, 56 (1st
Cir. 2007) (“Claim preclusion is based on the idea that
the precluded litigant had the opportunity and incentive to
fully litigate the claim in an earlier action, so that all
matters that were or could have been adjudicated in the
earlier action on the claim are considered to have been
finally settled by the first judgment.”). A res
judicata defense precludes litigation of a party's claims
when the following elements have been established: (1) a
final judgment on the merits in an earlier proceeding, (2)
sufficient identity between the causes of action asserted in
the earlier and later suits, and (3) sufficient identity
between the parties in the two actions. Kale v. Combined
Ins. Co. of Am., 924 F.2d 1161, 1165 (1st Cir. 1991),
cert. denied, 502 U.S. 816 (1991).
all three elements are satisfied. First, the court in the
First DeWayne Action entered a final judgment on the merits
by allowing Defendants' motion to dismiss,
[15-cv-14245-IT, #64], and denying Plaintiff's motion to
reconsider, [15-cv-14245-IT, #66-67]. See Airframe Sys.,
Inc. v. Raytheon Co., 601 F.3d 9, 14 (1st Cir. 2010)
(citing AVX Corp. v. Cabot Corp., 424 F.3d 28, 30