Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bradeen v. The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co. N. A.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 2, 2018

DAVID C. BRADEEN, and SUSAN A. BRADEEN, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON TRUST COMPANY, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, as successor to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas f/k/a Bankers Trust Corporation, as trustee for Residential Asset Securities Corporation, Home Equity Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2002-KS1; BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON CORPORATION; DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, f/k/a BANKERS TRUST CORPORATION, as Trustee for Residential Asset Securities Corporation, Home Equity Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2002-KS1; DEUTSCHE BANK, A.G.; ALLY FINANCIAL, INC.; GMAC MORTGAGE GROUP, LLC; RESIDENTIAL CAPITAL, LLC; GMAC-RFC HOLDING COMPANY, LLC; RESIDENTIAL ASSET SECURITIES CORPORATION; and MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          F. DENNIS SAYLOR, IV, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a dispute concerning a home mortgage foreclosure. In November 2001, plaintiffs David and Susan Bradeen obtained a loan secured by a mortgage on their residence at 91 Higgins Road, Framingham, Massachusetts. At some point, the Bradeens fell behind on their mortgage payments. Defendant The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, National Association, as successor to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas f/k/a Bankers Trust Corporation, as Trustee for Residential Asset Securities Corporation, Home Equity Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2002-KS1 (“BNY Mellon Trustee”) foreclosed on the property on May 19, 2015, and purchased the property as the highest bidder.

         On January 19, 2016, BNY Mellon Trustee filed a summary-process eviction action against the Bradeens in Framingham District Court, seeking possession of the property. The Bradeens answered the complaint and filed counterclaims on February 1, 2016. The case proceeded to a bench trial on July 24, 2018. The judge found the 2015 foreclosure void, and entered judgment for possession in favor of the Bradeens on August 8, 2018. BNY Mellon Trustee has appealed that judgment.

         The present action arises from a complaint the Bradeens filed against defendants in Middlesex Superior Court on May 29, 2018.[1] The complaint alleges 17 violations of Massachusetts state law, primarily consumer-protection, foreclosure, and contract claims, as well as two federal claims: one under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and one under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. On August 17, 2018, defendants removed the action to federal court.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that this Court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction under the prior-pending-action doctrine or the Colorado River abstention doctrine.

         For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.

         I. Analysis

         Defendants contend that this action should be dismissed on two grounds: the prior-pending-action doctrine and the Colorado River abstention doctrine.

         A. Prior-Pending-Action Doctrine

         Under the prior-pending-action doctrine, “the pendency of a prior action, in a court of competent jurisdiction, between the same parties, predicated upon the same cause of action and growing out of the same transaction, and in which identical relief is sought, constitutes good ground for abatement of the later suit.” O'Reilly v. Curtis Pub. Co., 31 F.Supp. 364, 364-65 (D. Mass. 1940). As a general rule, the suit filed first should have priority “absent the showing of balance of convenience in favor of the second action.” Adam v. Jacobs, 950 F.2d 89, 93-94 (2d Cir. 1991) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The doctrine arises out of concerns about judicial efficiency and avoiding inconsistent judgments. Curcio v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., 472 F.Supp.2d 239, 243 (D. Conn. 2007).

         Generally, a court may stay or dismiss a later-filed action under the doctrine if two conditions are met: (1) there exists an identity of issues between the two actions and (2) the controlling issues in the later-filed action will be determined in the earlier-filed action. 5C Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1360, at 89 (3d ed. 2004). The parties in the two suits need not be identical; they need only share sufficient congruence of interests. See Whitten Ranch, Inc. v. Premier Alfalfa, Inc., 2009 WL 1844482, at *2 (D. Neb. June 18, 2009) (finding “congruent, if not identical” interests of individual and company owned by him satisfied doctrinal requirement); Andy Stroud, Inc. v. Brown, 2009 WL 539863, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 4, 2009) (finding sufficient commonality between individual and two companies wholly owned by him); see also Samuels Grp., Inc. v. Hatch Grading & Contracting, Inc., 697 F.Supp.2d 1042, 1049 (N.D. Iowa 2010) (collecting cases). Moreover, “[w]hen it is possible that, through amendment, each action may contain all of the issues and parties presently contained in either action, the continuation of the first action to be filed is favored.” Holliday v. City of Newington, 2004 WL 717160, at *1 (D. Conn. Mar. 19, 2004) (citing Hammett v. Warner Bros. Pictures, 176 F.2d 145, 150 (2d Cir. 1949)).

         Here, the federal and state actions are sufficiently similar for purposes of the doctrine. The parties are not all literally identical, because only plaintiffs and BNY Mellon Trustee are parties to both actions. Nonetheless, the additional defendants in this action are “all purported predecessors-in-interest to BNY Mellon Trustee or purported related companies.” (Docket No. 7 at 9 n.6). Their interests therefore are entirely congruent. That fact is further evidenced by their sharing of the same counsel. See Samuels Grp., 697 F.Supp.2d at 1051 (finding relatedness of interests “highlighted by the fact that they are represented in the State Proceedings by the same counsel” as in the federal proceedings); Whitten Ranch, 2009 WL 1844482, at *2 (same). Furthermore, both actions raise the issues of the validity of the 2015 foreclosure under Massachusetts consumer-protection law, rightful possession of the property at 91 Higgins Road, and plaintiffs' claims under the SCRA. The state and federal complaints arise out of the same transactions, the parties seek essentially the same relief in each suit, and resolution of the two cases will involve the same evidence.

         Plaintiffs contend that their state counterclaims were filed by checking off pro forma responses on a court-provided form that included only a limited list of possible claims. They further contend that the parties agreed to limit their arguments at the state hearing and trial to only those issues concerning the eviction itself and the underlying foreclosure. But if they had additional claims to make, those claims should have been raised in the state court by amendment, not by filing a duplicative federal complaint that attempts to split their claims against defendants. Any causes of action in the federal complaint that are not directly related to the foreclosure and eviction nonetheless clearly arise out of the validity of the underlying foreclosure. In short, plaintiffs are not entitled to split their claims between state and federal court, and the prior-pending-action doctrine applies to this duplicative, later-filed proceeding.

         Even though the doctrine therefore applies, it is not mandatory that this Court defer to the state-court action. The prior-pending-action doctrine derives from a court's inherent power to control its docket. Ellison Framing, Inc. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 805 F.Supp.2d 1006, 1012 (E.D. Cal. 2011) (“The court's authority to hear ‘motions to stay and motions to dismiss because another action is pending' lies in the ‘inherent power of a court to regulate actions pending before it.'” (quoting Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1360 (3d ed. & Supp. 2010))); Universal Gypsum of Georgia, Inc. v. American Cyanamid Co., 390 F.Supp. 824, 825 (S.D.N.Y. 1975); cf. Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936) (“[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the cases on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. How this can best be done calls for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain an even balance.”). Thus, whether to apply the doctrine in a particular instance is a matter for the court's discretion. SeeHighway Ins. Underwriters v. Nichols, 85 F.Supp. 527, 529-30 (E.D. Okl. 1949). Courts in this district have applied the doctrine on multiple occasions to stay or dismiss a case in the interests of judicial efficiency and avoiding inconsistent judgments. See Qutab v. Kyani, Inc., 2018 WL 3849873, at ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.