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Christian v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 28, 2016

HOWARD CHRISTIAN and BARBARA CHRISTIAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, FHLMC MULTICLASS CERTIFICATE SERIES NUMBER UNKNOWN TRUST REMIC, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., QUICKEN LOANS, INC., and PROVIDENT FUNDING ASSOCIATES, L.P., Defendants.

         OPINION AND ORDER (1) GRANTING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (ECF NO. 51) AND (2) DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY DISPOSITION ON LIABILITY (ECF NO. 53) AND MOTION TO ALLOW REDEMPTION/SETTLEMENT FUNDS TO BE PAID INTO COURT ESCROW (ECF NO. 50)

          LINDA V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         On or about July 8, 2013, Plaintiffs commenced this action against Defendants in the Circuit Court for Oakland County, Michigan. The matter arises from the foreclosure of property commonly known as 7860 Buckhom Lake Road, Holly, MI (“Property”). This Court previously issued an opinion and order dismissing Plaintiffs' claims against Defendants Quicken Loans, Inc. (“Quicken”) and FHLMC Multiclass Certificates Series (Number Unknown) Trust (REMIC) (“Trust”). (ECF No. 52.) The matter is now before the Court on the following motions:

• Motion for judgment on the pleadings filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) by Defendants Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”), Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), and Provident Funding Associates, LP (“Provident”) (hereafter, collectively “Defendants”) (ECF No. 51);
• Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 (ECF No. 53); and
• Plaintiffs' “Motion to Allow Redemption/Settlement Funds to be Paid into Court Escrow” (ECF No. 50).

         Plaintiffs filed a response to the motion for judgment on the pleadings.[1] No other briefs were filed with respect to the pending motions. Nevertheless, the Court finds the facts and legal arguments sufficiently presented in the parties' briefs such that oral argument is unnecessary. The Court therefore is dispensing with oral argument pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f).

         Rule 12(c) Standard

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is subject to the same standards of review as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1998). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but it must contain more than “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action . . ..” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint does not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         As the Supreme Court provided in Iqbal and Twombly, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard “does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal [conduct].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In deciding whether the plaintiff has set forth a “plausible” claim, the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). This presumption is not applicable to legal conclusions, however. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 668. Therefore, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         Ordinarily, the court may not consider matters outside the pleadings when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Weiner v. Klais & Co., Inc., 108 F.3d 86, 88 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing Hammond v. Baldwin, 866 F.2d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1989)). A court that considers such matters must first convert the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P 12(d). However, “[w]hen a court is presented with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, it may consider the [c]omplaint and any exhibits attached thereto, public records, items appearing in the record of the case and exhibits attached to [the] defendant's motion to dismiss, so long as they are referred to in the [c]omplaint and are central to the claims contained therein.” Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008). Thus, a court may take judicial notice of “other court proceedings” without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Buck v. Thomas M. Cooley Law Sch., 597 F.3d 812, 816 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Winget v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 537 F.3d 565, 575 (6th Cir. 2008)).

         Rule 56 Standard

         Summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed R. Civ. P. 56(a). The central inquiry is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). After adequate time for discovery and upon motion, Rule 56 mandates summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party bears the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On November 14, 2006, Plaintiffs accepted a $403, 000 loan from Quicken, and, in exchange, executed a promissory note (“Note”) secured by a mortgage (“Mortgage”) on the Property. (Defs.' Mot., Exs. 1, 2, ECF No. 51-2, 51-3.) The Mortgage, executed in favor of MERS “as a nominee for [Quicken] and [Quicken]'s successors and assigns[, ]” designates MERS as “the mortgagee[.]” (Id., Ex. 2 at 2, ECF No. 51-2 at Pg ID 168.) The Mortgage was recorded with the Oakland County Register of Deeds on November 29, 2006, at Liber 38445, Page 634. (Id.)

         The Note subsequently was endorsed over to Provident. (Id., Ex. 1 at 3; ECF No. 51-2 at Pg ID 390.)

         On November 8, 2012, MERS executed an Assignment of Mortgage (“Assignment”), assigning the Mortgage to Provident. (Id., Ex. 3; ECF No. 51-4.) The Assignment was recorded in the Oakland County Register of ...


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