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Bank of America, N.A. v. Ann Losee Homeowners Association

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 16, 2018

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Plaintiffs,
v.
ANN LOSEE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is defendants/counterclaimants Nevada New Builds, LLC (“NNB”), Arkham, LLC, and Arkham XIII, LLC's (collectively “Arkham”) motion to strike jury demand or alternatively, motion to bifurcate. (ECF No. 102). Defendant Ann Losee Homeowners' Association (the “HOA”) joined (ECF No. 103) and plaintiff Bank of America, N.A. (“BANA”) filed a response (ECF No. 104), to which NNB and Arkham replied (ECF No. 106). The HOA also joined NNB and Arkham's reply. (ECF No. 107).

         Also before the court is BANA's motion in limine. (ECF No. 105). The HOA filed a response. (ECF No. 111).

         Facts & Background

         On February 26, 2016, BANA filed its initial complaint against the HOA, NNB, Janet Marleny Garcia, Arkham, and Absolute Collection Services, LLC (“ACS”). (ECF No. 1).

         On May 31, 2017, BANA filed a jury trial demand. (ECF No. 50). On June 2, 2017, BANA's motion for clerk's entry of default as to Janet Marleny Garcia was granted. (ECF No. 53). On August 25, 2017, the parties filed a proposed pretrial order (ECF No. 75) that the court granted on August 29, 2017 (ECF No. 76). The pretrial order noted BANA's jury demand. Id.

         On October 12, 2017, BANA filed a first amended complaint alleging the following four (4) causes of action: (1) quiet title/declaratory judgment against all defendants; (2) breach of NRS 116.1113 against the HOA and ACS; (3) wrongful foreclosure against the HOA and ACS; and (4) injunctive relief against Arkham. (ECF No. 82).

         In advance of the January 31, 2018 calendar call, BANA and Ann Losee submitted proposed jury instructions and voir dire. (ECF Nos. 84, 85, 91, 92). The parties then stipulated to continue trial four (4) times. (ECF Nos. 95, 98, 100, 112).

         In the instant motion, NNB and Arkham move to strike BANA's jury demand because BANA's claims for quiet title/declaratory judgment and permanent injunction are equitable in nature and are thus not afforded a Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. (ECF No. 102).

         In BANA's motion in limine, BANA requests that the court exclude the HOA's rebuttal expert, Michael L. Brunson (“Brunson”), from testifying at trial. (ECF No. 105).

         I. Legal Standard

         (a) Motion to strike jury demand

         In determining whether the right to a jury trial exists, the court must first decide whether the statutes underlying the party's claims afford the right to a jury trial. See City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). If the statutes do not afford the right to a jury trial, the court must consider whether the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution affords such a right. Id. The Seventh Amendment provides that “[i]n Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.” U.S. CONST. amend. VII; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 38(a) (“The right of trial by jury as declared by the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution-or as provided by a federal statute-is preserved to the parties inviolate.”).

         The Seventh Amendment preserves jury trials for “Suits at common law, ” but there is no jury trial right for equitable actions. Katchen v. Landy, 382 U.S. 323, 336-37 (1966). In order to determine whether a party's claims are those to which the right to a jury trial attaches, the court must examine the nature of the issues involved and the remedy sought. Wooddell v. Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, Local 71, 502 U.S. 93, 97 (1991). This is a two-step process. First, the court must compare the action to “18th-century actions brought in the courts of England prior to the merger of the courts of law and equity” to determine if the action is legal or equitable. Id. Second, the court must determine whether the remedy sought “is legal or equitable in nature.” Id. “The second inquiry is the more important in [the] analysis.” Id. Where the two steps lead to conflicting answers, “the equitable nature of the relief is dispositive, unless Congress lacks the power to so limit the remedies available” for the claim. Spinelli v. Gaughan, 12 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir.1993).

         (b) ...


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