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Bostwick v. 44 Chestnut Street

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 27, 2019

RICHARD D. BOSTWICK and RICHARD D. BOSTWICK as a CLASS OF ONE, Plaintiffs,
v.
44 CHESTNUT STREET, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS SANTANDER AND FANNIE MAE'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Richard D. Bostwick ("Plaintiff) asserts claims for various civil rights violations allegedly stemming from foreclosure proceedings related to his home and from decisions made by the Land Court, Middlesex Superior Court, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court in various civil suits surrounding ongoing issues at his property. [ECF No. 1 ("Complaint" or"Compl.")]. Santander Bank, N.A ("Santander") and Federal National Mortgage Association ('Tannie Mae") (collectively, "Defendants") have moved to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to res judicata, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [ECF No. 68]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are drawn from the Complaint, the well-pleaded allegations of which are taken as true for the purposes of evaluating the motion to dismiss. See Ruivo v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 766 F.3d 87, 90 (1st Cir. 2014). As it may on a motion to dismiss, the Court has also considered "documents incorporated by reference in [the complaint], matters of public record, and other matters susceptible to judicial notice." Giragosian v. Ryan, 547 F.3d 59, 65-66 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers Corp., 324 F.3d 12, 20 (1st Cir. 2003).[1]

         As here, where the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court "hold[s] pro se pleadings to less demanding standards than those drafted by lawyers and endeavors, within reasonable limits, to guard against the loss of pro se claims due to technical defects." Santiago v. Action for Bos. Cmty. Dev. Inc., No. 17-cv-12249-ADB, 2018 WL 5635014, at *2 (D. Mass. Oct. 31, 2018) (quoting Dutil v. Murphy, 550 F.3d 154, 158 (1st Cir. 2008)). Accordingly, the Court liberally construes Plaintiffs complaint. Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A, 772 F.3d 63, 75 (1st Cir. 2014) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

         Plaintiff owns a multi-family home at 44 Chestnut Street in Wakefield, MA ("44 Chestnut Street"). [Compl. ¶ 1]. On January 31, 2003, Plaintiff signed a mortgage for 44 Chestnut Street with Sovereign Bank. [ECF No. 1-1 ¶75]. On February 10, 2003, the mortgage was assigned to Fannie Mae. [Id.]. On September 15, 2015, Santander, through Orlans Moran PLLC, entered an Order of Notice against Plaintiffs property at 44 Chestnut Street. [Compl. ¶ 71]. On November 12, 2015, the Land Court entered an order allowing a foreclosure sale within three weeks of publication of notice of the sale. [Id]- Notice of the foreclosure sale was published on February 22, 2016. [ECF No. 100-45]. The foreclosure auction was held on April 29, 2016. [ECF No. 100-46].

         B. History of Prior Litigation

         Plaintiff, Santander, and Fannie Mae have been litigating issues related to the mortgage on 44 Chestnut Street since 2008, at which time Santander was known as Sovereign Bank.[2]Below, the Court recaps, in relevant part, the litigation between Plaintiff, Santander, and Fannie Mae.

         1. Land Court Servicemembers Claims

         In 2008, Sovereign Bank filed a Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act ("SCRA") action in Massachusetts Land Court seeking a declaration that Plaintiff was not entitled to the benefits of the SCRA, which provides financial protections to members of the military. See Sovereign Bank v. Bostwick, No. 08-Misc-388922 (Mass. Land Ct). The Land Court dismissed the case in light of a preliminary injunction entered by the Middlesex Superior Court in a related case that "enjoin[ed] [Sovereign Bank] from proceeding in all actions relating to foreclosure against [Bostwick's] property." [ECF No. 100-42].[3]

         In 2015, after initiating steps towards a foreclosure, Santander filed an SCRA action in Land Court again seeking a declaration that Plaintiff was not entitled to the benefits of the SCRA. See Santander Bank, N.A. v. Bostwick, No. 15-SM-006460(Mass. Land Ct. 2015). The Land Court issued a judgment that Plaintiff was not entitled to the benefits of the SCRA. Id.

         2. Land Court Try Title and Trespass Claims

         In 2016, Plaintiff filed an action for try title and trespass against Santander; Fannie Mae; Orlans Moran PLLC; Saturn Realty Group, LLC; Unknown Future Property Owners Claiming Title to 44 Chestnut Street, Wakefield, Mass.; and, Unknown Future Title Insurance Companies providing Title Insurance to Unknown Future Property Owners Claiming Title to 44 Chestnut Street, Wakefield, Mass. See [ECF No. 69-7]. On September 28, 2016, the Land Court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss the try title claim on the ground that the action was barred under Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(9) due to a then-pending action in Middlesex Superior Court. See [ECF No. 69-8]. The Land Court also dismissed the trespass claim against all defendants under Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), finding that Plaintiff had not pled facts that could plausibly establish a trespass claim. [Id]. On March 26, 2018, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Land Court's decision dismissing the action. See [ECF No. 69-9].

         3. Middlesex Superior Court Litigation

         In 2009, Plaintiff brought suit against Santander and Fannie Mae in Middlesex Superior Court ("Superior Court") alleging wrongful foreclosure, unlawful failure to remediate lead paint contamination, and improper failure to offer a loan modification ("2009 Action"). See [ECF No. 69-4]. On May 19, 2009, the Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction staying the foreclosure of Plaintiffs property. Bostwick v. Sovereign Bank, No. 2009-MICV-01755 (Mass. Super. Ct). On October 31, 2012, the Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of Santander and Fannie Mae, finding that "1.) there has been no foreclosure; 2.) the defendants owed no duty to remediate the lead contamination at Mr. Bostwick's property; and 3.) the defendants had no obligation to work out Mr. Bostwick's ...


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