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DeWayne v. JP Morgan Mortgage Acquisition Corp.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 7, 2018

BISHOP RUBEN DEWAYNE, Plaintiff,
v.
JP MORGAN MORTGAGE ACQUISITION CORP., and MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.[1]

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          INDIRA TALWANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Bishop Ruben DeWayne brings this action against Defendants JP Morgan Mortgage Acquisition Corp. (“JP Morgan Acquisition”) and Mortgage Electronic Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) (collectively, “Defendants”). Complaint [#1-1]. Plaintiff seeks $500, 000 in monetary damages for purported unfair and deceptive acts pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, a temporary injunction preventing a foreclosure sale with respect to the property located at 53 Charlotte Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts (the “subject property”), and that the court make findings of fact and conclusions of law by issuing a declaratory judgment. Compl. ¶ 28-30 [#1- 1]. Pending before this court is Defendant MERS' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (“Mot. to Dismiss”) [#10][2] and Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Injunction [#47]. For the reasons set forth below, MERS' Motion to Dismiss [#10] is GRANTED, and Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Injunction [#47] is DENIED.

         I. Facts as Alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint[3]

         As alleged in the complaint, Leitta Brooks granted a mortgage (the “Brooks Mortgage”) to First National Bank of Arizona to purchase the subject property. Compl. ¶ 9 [#1-1]. Under that instrument, MERS was the mortgagee “acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns.” See id. ¶ 9. First National Bank of Arizona merged with First National Bank of Nevada in June 2008, and both banks were placed into receivership by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in July 2008. Id. ¶ 3. The Brooks Mortgage was later transferred by MERS to JP Morgan Acquisition in September 2014, which was subsequently filed in the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds. See id. ¶ 3, 10. At some unknown time thereafter, Leitta Brooks sold Plaintiff the property for $2, 500 to satisfy a debt that she owed him for doing work on the property. See id. ¶ 27. JP Morgan Acquisition is the current holder of the mortgage and note. JP Morgan Acquisition subsequently filed a notice of pre-foreclosure with the Suffolk County Land Court, Civil Action No. 2017-SM-006779.

         II. Procedural History

         Both Plaintiff and Brooks previously filed several lawsuits against Defendants (or Defendant JP Morgan Acquisition's parent company, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. See Corp. Disclosure Statement [#28]) regarding the Brooks Mortgage. Brooks filed three lawsuits: the first two were dismissed by the district court and affirmed by the First Circuit, 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); the third is currently pending before another district judge within the District of Massachusetts. Brooks v. JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., No. 18-cv-12176 (D. Mass. Oct. 18, 2018). Plaintiff has also filed two prior related actions in this court. In 2015, Plaintiff sought declaratory judgment against MERS, “J.P. Morgan Mortgage Acquisition Corp., a/k/a/ known as JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, ” and others, regarding each party's rights to the subject property. See DeWayne v. First Nat'l Bank of Arizona, 15-cv-14245-IT (D. Mass. Dec. 1, 2016) (the “First DeWayne Action”). The court allowed the Defendants' motion to dismiss the First DeWayne Action, id., No. 64 (filed Nov. 10, 2016), and denied Plaintiff's motion to reconsider, id., No. 67 (filed Dec. 1, 2016). Plaintiff did not appeal. In December 2016, Plaintiff filed his second action, this time naming MERS, JP Morgan Acquisition, and JP Morgan Chase Bank, in Massachusetts state court, which Defendants removed to this court in January 2017. DeWayne v. MERS, Inc. et al., No. 17-cv-10139 (D. Mass. July 12, 2017) (the “Second DeWayne Action”), Nos. 1, 1-1. The court allowed the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Second DeWayne Action because the doctrine of res judicata barred Plaintiff's claims. Id. Mem. & Order, No. 26 (filed July 12, 2017). Plaintiff similarly did not appeal the court's dismissal of the Second DeWayne Action.

         III. MERS' Motion to Dismiss

         MERS moves to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), arguing again that the doctrine of res judicata precludes Plaintiff from asserting his claims and that the Complaint therefore fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         A. Standard of Review

         To 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 takes the complaint's factual allegations as true, but need not credit its conclusory legal allegations. 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.

         This 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).

         B. Application of Res Judicata

         The Full Faith and Credit statute provides that “judicial proceedings of any court . . . shall have the same full faith and credit in every court within the United States and its Territories and Possessions as they have by law or usage in the courts of such State, Territory, or Possession from which they are taken.” 28 U.S.C. § 1738. Where “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)).

         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. ...


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