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My Home Now, LLC v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 26, 2018

MY HOME NOW, LLC, a Nevada Limited Liability Company, Plaintiff,
v.
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. a National Banking Corporation; U.S. BANK TRUST, N.A. AS TRUSTEE FOR LSF9 MASTER PARTICIPATION TRUST, a National Banking Corporation; CALIBER HOME LOANS, INC., a South Carolina Corporation, Defendants.

          ORDER

          GLORIA M. NAVARRO, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 67), filed by Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“Chase”). Plaintiff My Home Now, LLC (“Plaintiff”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 70), and Chase filed a Reply, (ECF No. 75).

         Also pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 68), filed by Plaintiff. Defendants Caliber Home Loans, Inc. (“Caliber”) and U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. (“U.S. Bank”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 69), and Chase (collectively “Defendants”) also filed a Response, (ECF No. 71). Plaintiff filed Replies, (ECF Nos. 76, 77).

         Also pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 79), filed by Defendants Caliber and U.S. Bank. Plaintiff filed a Response, (ECF No. 81), and Caliber and U.S. Bank filed a Reply, (ECF No. 82).

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of the parties' disputed ownership of real property located at 7555 Glowing Ember Court, Unit 101, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89130, APN 125-27-219-013 (the “Property”). (See Deed of Trust, Ex. A to Chase's Mot. for Summ. J. (“MSJ”), ECF No. 67-1). [1]Specifically, on September 18, 2008, John MacArthur (“MacArthur”) purchased the Property subject to a Deed of Trust with a loan obtained from Metlife Home Loans, a Division of Metlife Bank, N.A. (“Metlife”).[2] (Id.). On January 5, 2012, a Notice of Delinquent Assessment Lien was recorded against the Property on behalf of Summerhills Condominiums Unit 1 (the “HOA”) by Nevada Association Services, Inc. (the “HOA Trustee”). (Not. of Delinquent Assessment, Ex. 5 to U.S. Bank's Request for Jud. Notice, ECF No. 55-5). The Notice of Default and Election to Sell under the Homeowners Association Lien was recorded against the Property by the HOA Trustee on March 7, 2012. (Not. of Default, Ex. 6 to U.S. Bank's Request for Jud. Notice, ECF No. 55-6).

         On September 19, 2013, Metlife recorded a Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust where it assigned its interest under the Deed of Trust to Chase. (Assignment to Chase, Ex. C to Chase's MSJ, ECF No. 67-3). A Notice of the Foreclosure Sale was recorded against the Property by the HOA Trustee on April 10, 2014. (Not. of Foreclosure, Ex. 7 to U.S. Bank's Request for Jud. Notice, ECF No. 55-7). On May 2, 2014, a non-judicial foreclosure sale occurred whereby Suzannah R. Noonan and Anthony S. Noonan (“the Noonans”) acquired interest in the Property; the Noonans recorded this interest on May 5, 2014. (Foreclosure Deed, Ex. 8 to U.S. Bank's Request for Jud. Notice, ECF No. 55-8); (see Pl.'s MSJ ¶ 10, ECF No. 68). On June 18, 2014, the Property was sold to Plaintiff. (Quitclaim Deed at 15-18, Ex. 9 to Pl.'s MSJ, ECF No. 68-2).

         On October 6, 2014, Plaintiff filed a quiet title suit against Chase and unnamed Does and Roes, which was later removed to this District. (State Ct. Compl. at 21-30, Ex. 10 to Pl.'s MSJ, ECF No. 68-2); (see My Home Now, LLC v. JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., et al, 2:14-cv-01958-APG-NJK) (hereinafter the “Prior Action”). However, in February 2015, Chase notified Plaintiff that it “held title for a short period of time and then title was reassigned.” (Plaintiff's Letter at 2, Ex. 11 to Pl.'s MSJ, ECF No. 68-3) (hereinafter “Plaintiff's Letter”). “This conversation was memorialized by correspondence from Plaintiff's counsel to Chase's counsel.” (Pl.'s MSJ ¶ 26). Pursuant to this exchange, Chase filed a Disclaimer of Interest (the “Disclaimer”) in February 2015, disclaiming any legal or equitable interest in the Property. (Disclaimer of Int. at 5-6, Ex. 12 to Pl.'s MSJ, ECF No. 68-3). Because Chase filed the Disclaimer, Plaintiff stipulated to dismiss its claims against Chase on June 2, 2015. (Stip. of Dismissal at 8-9, Ex. 13 to Pl.'s MSJ, ECF No. 68-3) (the “Stipulation”).

         After learning of Chase's assignment, but before issuing the Stipulation, Plaintiff amended its Complaint to add MacArthur as a party. (Plaintiff's Letter at 2). MacArthur failed to appear.

         On July 31, 2015, Chase recorded its previous assignment of interest to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), and HUD recorded its assignment of interest to U.S. Bank on August 31, 2015. (See Chase Assignment, Ex. 7 to Chase's MSJ, ECF No. 67-7); (HUD Assignment, Ex. 10 to Chase's MSJ, ECF No. 67-10). These recorded assignments were made public on September 23, 2015. (Chase Assignment, Ex. 7 to Chase's MSJ); (HUD Assignment, Ex. 10 to Chase's MSJ).

         In light of this, Plaintiff contacted Chase on October 9, 2015, accusing Chase of committing slander of title by recording its assignment to HUD after filing the Disclaimer. (Plaintiff's Letter at 2). Notably, on the very same day as it issued Plaintiff's Letter, Plaintiff then filed a motion for entry of clerk's default against MacArthur. (Mot. for Entry of Clerk's Default, Prior Action, ECF No. 30). After the Clerk entered default, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment on October 21, 2015, which was ultimately granted on November 25, 2015. (Default J., Prior Action, ECF No. 33). The order granting default judgment held that judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff and against MacArthur and “any ROE ENTITY quieting title to [the Property].” (Id. 5:25-26).

         Subsequently, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint and Defendants removed it to this Court on April 1, 2016. (See Pet. for Removal, ECF No. 1). In its Complaint, Plaintiff alleges claims of: (1) quiet title against all Defendants; (2) slander of title against all Defendants; and (3) breach of contract against Chase. (Pet. for Removal Ex. A (“Compl.”), ¶¶ 21-52, ECF No. 1-1). On April 26, 2016, Chase filed a motion to dismiss, (ECF No. 8), which the Court granted, (ECF No. 58). In the Order, the Court dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff's quiet title claim against Chase and provided Plaintiff leave to amend its slander of title and breach of contract claims. (Order 5:23-6:6). Plaintiff filed its Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 59), on February 27, 2017.

         Chase filed its Motion for Summary Judgment on March 29, 2017, seeking judgment on Plaintiff's slander of title and breach of contract claims. (See Chase's MSJ, ECF No. 67). On that same day, Plaintiff filed its Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendants for each cause of action. (See Pl.'s MSJ, ECF No. 68). U.S. Bank and Caliber filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on October 11, 2017, seeking summary judgment only on the quiet title cause of action. (See U.S. Bank and Caliber's MSJ, ECF No. 79).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary adjudication when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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). Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Id. “Summary judgment is inappropriate if reasonable jurors, drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor.” Diaz v. Eagle Produce Ltd. P'ship, 521 F.3d 1201, 1207 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing United States v. Shumway, 199 F.3d 1093, 1103-04 (9th Cir. 1999)). A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323- 24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.

         At summary judgment, a court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmovant is “to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255. But if the evidence of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See Id. at 249-50.

         III. DISCUSSION

         In the instant action, all of the parties involved have filed cross motions for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Because of this, the Court will determine summary judgment on each cause of action rather than on each of the parties' Motions. The Court will therefore first address the quiet title claim and then turn to the slander of title claim and the breach of contract claim.

         A. Quiet Title against ...


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