United States District Court, E.D. Washington
JAN M. RENFROE, Plaintiff,
QUALITY LOAN SERVICE CORP. OF WASHINGTON; BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., successor by merger to BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, f/k/a Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP; CITIBANK, N.A., as trustee of NRZ Pass-Through Trust VI; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.; and BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, as trustee on behalf of the Certificateholders of the CWHEQ Inc., CWHEQ, Revolving Home Equity Loan trust Series 2006-C. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
SALVADOR MENDOZA JUDGE
matter arises from a non-judicial foreclosure commenced
against Plaintiff Jan Renfroe's Oroville, Washington home
under Washington's Deed of Trust Act (DTA), Wash. Rev.
Code (RCW) § 62.A. Renfroe seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief, quiet title in her favor, and damages
under Washington's Consumer Protection Act. Renfroe
argues that the foreclosure was commenced by an invalid
beneficiary, that the foreclosure documents provided
incorrect information, and that the foreclosure was barred by
the statute of limitations. Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. (MERS) and Citibank, N.A. (Citibank)
(collectively, Defendants), brought this motion for summary
judgment on all claims. They argue that the foreclosure
proceedings complied with the DTA, and that Renfroe has
failed to identify any deceptive acts or practices in which
Citibank or MERS engaged.
Court heard oral argument on Defendants' motion on
December 20, 2017. After reviewing the file, the briefing,
and the arguments presented at the hearing, the Court is
fully informed and grants Defendants' motion. The
undisputed facts show that the foreclosure was advanced and
continued on proper authority and proceeded in compliance
with the DTA. Accordingly, summary judgment for Defendants is
appropriate on all claims.
2005, Jan and her then-husband Rand Renfroe obtained a $154,
3500.00 loan evidenced by a note (the Note), ECF No. 5-1, and
secured by a deed of trust (the Deed of Trust) against their
residential property in Oroville, Washington, ECF No. 5-2.
The Deed of Trust identified MERS as the beneficiary
“solely as nominee for Lender and Lender's
successors and assigns.” ECF No. 5-2 at 3. The loan
requires monthly payments over thirty years and matures in
the year 2035. Id.
Note and Deed of Trust changed hands several times after
origination. Sometime after its origination, Federal National
Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) bought the loan.
See ECF No. 5-3 at 5. Bank of America acted as
Fannie Mae's servicing agent and held the Note for Fannie
Mae. ECF No. 5-5. In August 2010, Bank of America appointed
Quality Loan Service Corp. of Washington (Quality Loan) as
the successor trustee under the Deed of Trust. ECF No. 5-4.
In May 2011, MERS, the original beneficiary, assigned the
Note to BAC Home Loans. ECF No. 36-4. BAC Home Loans later
merged with Bank of America. Bank of America provided Quality
Loan with a beneficiary declaration confirming under penalty
of perjury that Bank of America held the Note. ECF No. 5-5.
It also provided Quality Loan with a copy of the Note. ECF
Nos. 5-1, 5-5. In April 2016, Fannie Mae sold the loan to
Citibank. ECF No. 5-7. Citibank took possession of the Note
and provided Quality Loan with a beneficiary declaration
confirming it held the Note. ECF No. 5-6.
the Renfroes fell behind in their monthly payments. As a
result of the 2008 recession, Jan Renfroe began to experience
financial hardship. ECF No. 36 at 2. In 2011, she stopped
making monthly payments on the loan. ECF No. 1-1 at 4.
9, 2014, Bank of America, through its attorneys at Bishop,
Marshall & Weibel, P.S., issued a notice of default. ECF
No. 5-3. At that time, Bank of America held the
Note. The Notice identified Fannie Mae as the
Note owner and Bank of America as the acting servicer.
Id. On December 21, 2016, Quality Loan issued a
notice of sale. ECF No. 5-7. The notice of sale identified
Quality Loan as the trustee and Citibank as the beneficiary.
ECF No. 5-7 at 1, 4. The notice of sale set the original
auction date for April 28, 2017. Id. at 2. Before
the auction date, Renfroe filed a “wrongful
foreclosure” action in the Superior Court of Okanogan
County. ECF No. 9.
judgment 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). Once a party has moved for summary
judgment, the opposing party must point to specific facts
establishing that there is a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
If the nonmoving party fails to make such a showing for any
of the elements essential to its case for which it bears the
burden of proof, the trial court should grant the summary
judgment motion. Id. at 322. “When the moving
party has carried its burden under Rule [56(a)], its opponent
must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts. . . . [T]he nonmoving party
must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (internal citation omitted). When
considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court does not
weigh the evidence or assess credibility; instead, “the
evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
Renfroe's Deed of Trust Act claims lack merit.
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief regarding nonjudicial
foreclosure proceedings initiated against the Oroville
Property, damages under the Consumer Protection Act, and
quiet title in her favor. The foundation for each of these
claims is Defendants' alleged violation of
Washington's DTA. Renfroe's theory of the case is as
follows: (1) the Note is not endorsed in blank; (2) Bank of
America obtained beneficiary status through an assignment by
the original beneficiary, MERS; (3) because MERS is not a
valid beneficiary, it cannot assign beneficiary status; and
(4) any beneficiary interest Bank of America purported to
have as the result of an assignment from MERS is invalid.
Renfroe's argument is logically sound, it is ultimately
unavailing because the evidence in the record shows that the
Note was endorsed in blank, making the note holder the deed
of trust beneficiary. Bank of America asserts that it held
the Note when it initiated foreclosure and Renfroe cannot
generate a genuine issue of fact to dispute this assertion.
Ultimately, the undisputed facts in the record show
that-while the Note and Deed of Trust changed hands several
times- Defendants acted with proper authority and in
compliance with the DTA.
Washington's Deed of Trust Act
understand Renfroe's argument, it is first necessary to
briefly review Washington's DTA. The DTA establishes a
“three party system for mortgages where an independent
trustee acts as the impartial party between a lender and a
borrower instead of the court.” Lyons v. U.S. Bank
Nat. Ass'n, 336 P.3d 1142, 1148 (Wash. 2014). A
statutory deed of trust operates as an “equitable
mortgage” by conveying title to the trustee to secure
the home loan. RCW § 61.24.005. The DTA allows parties