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Batson v. Deutsche Bank Trust Americas

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 30, 2017

RICHARD N. BATSON, BEVERLY J. JONES-BATSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST AMERICAS, INDEPENDENT TRUSTEE FOR SASTA 2005-3 MORTGAGE BACKED ASSETS 2005-3, MORGAN STANLEY FINANCIAL, OCWEN MORTGAGE SERVICES, NORTH CASCADE TRUSTEE SERVICES, DOES 1-10, ALL OTHERS WITH SECURED INTEREST, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND PARTIALLY GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          Stanley A. Bastian, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction[1], ECF No. 149, and Defendant's Motion to Amend the Complaint, ECF No. 97. Plaintiffs Richard Batson and Beverly Jones-Batson appear pro se, and Defendants Ocwen Mortgage Services and Deutsche Bank Trust Americas, Independent Trustee (Defendants) are represented by Robert Norman and Cara Christensen. The motions were heard without oral argument.

         For the reasons below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion to amend the complaint, and denies the motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court dissolves the temporary restraining order in effect and lifts the stay in this case.

         A complaint alleging causes of action for violations of the Real Estate Procedures Act (“RESPA”) and various claims under the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) survives, and the Court orders that a scheduling conference be held to set a case schedule.

         RELEVANT FACTS

         On April 16, 2005, Beverly J. Jones-Batson and Richard N. Batson entered an agreement to purchase the property contested in the instant action, 12910 East Sinto Avenue, Spokane Valley Washington 99216. The Plaintiffs executed a promissory note to finance the home purchase, and the deed of trust was executed on July 3, 2005. The Plaintiffs received their first payment statement in late July 2005. The amount due differed “with no explanation, [from the] amount previously outlined.” ECF No. 1-3 at 32:18-19. The Plaintiffs then engaged in a five year effort, from July 2005 to October 2010, to “correct, clear up, and eventually end association” with Saxon Mortgage, the original lender. Id. at 32:22-23. Once Saxon Mortgage transferred the deed, the Batsons attempted to similarly contest the terms of their loan with Ocwen, from March 2011 to October 2013. In 2009, the Batsons defaulted on their loan payments.

         The Batsons unsuccessfully attempted to secure information about their loan from Saxon Mortgage, Ocwen, and Deutsche Bank from March 2011 through July 2013. After sending a demand letter in July 2014, the Batsons did not receive word from the Defendants until January 2015, when Ocwen began sending letters “claiming debt and attempting debt collection by way of invoices for reinstated loan, required insurance and threats of foreclosure.” Id. at 33:13-16. A Notice of Trustee Sale was posted on the property on March 28, 2015, which was filed on June 1, 2015 with the Spokane County Auditor.

         The Plaintiffs' filed a complaint on June 26, 2015 in Spokane County Superior Court. ECF No. 1-3. The complaint stated causes of action for Wrongful Foreclosure, Intent to Defraud, Wrongful Claim to Debt Secured by Deed, Violation of Consumer Rights, and Violation of Plaintiffs' Civil Rights. The case was removed to this Court's jurisdiction on July 24, 2015, and Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on August 21, 2015, to halt the trustee's sale.

         The Court dismissed Defendant Morgan Stanley with prejudice and dismissed Plaintiffs' claims for various federal statutory violations, Wrongful Foreclosure, Fraud, and civil rights claims. ECF No. 57. A Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act claim survived. The Court also denied a motion for an injunction, finding Plaintiffs unlikely to prevail on any claim that could halt the foreclosure.

         Plaintiffs filed a second action in state court, which was promptly removed to this Court. The Court dismissed this second case with prejudice on March 22, 2016, on grounds of claim preclusion.

         Plaintiffs proceeded to file a motion to stay and a motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”), which the Court denied. On April 14, 2016, a trial was set for April 10, 2017.

         Defendants proceeded with the trustee's sale on July 22, 2016, and the property reverted to the trust. In face of the sale of their house, Plaintiffs then filed another motion for a preliminary injunction on August 1, 2016, attesting they would be evicted in days. The Court construed the motion as one for a TRO, and granted the motion. ECF No. 81.

         A motion hearing was held on Dec. 16, 2016, where argument was heard on the injunction and a motion to strike. The Court concluded it would take the matters under advisement. On Jan. 10, 2017, the Court entered an order staying the case and consideration of the motions until the question of pro bono counsel could be answered. No pro bono counsel was appointed, because there were no volunteers. A lawyer from Seattle volunteered to meet with and provide advice to the Batsons, and his involvement has been very helpful to the Court.

         Various delays, scheduling conflicts and untimely filings lead to the postponement of the consideration of these motions. After in-person conferences were held in June 2017, the Court gave all parties a final opportunity to file briefing, and stated ...


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