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Batson v. Deutsche Bank Trust Americas

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

April 26, 2018

RICHARD N. BATSON and BEVERLY J. JONES-BATSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST AMERICAS, INDENTURED TRUSTEE FOR SASTA 2005-3 MORTGAGE BACKED ASSETS 2005-3, OCWEN LOAN SERVICING LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CASE

          Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Plaintiffs' Failure to File an Amended Complaint Pursuant to Two Court Orders, ECF No. 178. The motion was heard without oral argument. Defendants request the Court exercise its discretion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), and dismiss this action for Plaintiffs' failure to comply with two court orders. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion and dismisses this case.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         On June 23, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in the Spokane County Superior Court in an attempt to stop the non-judicial foreclosure on the real property located at 12910 E. Sinto Avenue, Spokane Valley, Washington 99216 (the “Property”). 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. ECF No. 1. The action was removed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on July 24, 2015.

         On August 4, 2015, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On August 21, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a “Petition for Temporary Restraining Order” to halt the Trustee Sale of the Property scheduled for October 2, 2015. The Court construed Plaintiffs' pleading as a motion for a preliminary injunction. ECF No. 20.

         On November 6, 2015, the Court issued an Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to dismiss (the “November 2015 Order”). ECF No. 57. The Court dismissed all but Plaintiffs' Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) claim, and only for alleged violations occurring after June 23, 2012. The Court directed Plaintiffs to file an amended complaint no later than thirty days from the publication of the November 2015 Order. Plaintiffs failed to file an amended complaint as directed.

         The Court also denied Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, ECF No. 56. The Court found Plaintiffs' had not demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their claims.

         Instead of filing an amended complaint, Plaintiffs filed a second action in state court, which was promptly removed to this Court. No. 2:15-cv-00329-SAB. On March 22, 2016, the Court dismissed No. 2:15-cv-00329-SAB on claim preclusion grounds. Then, Plaintiffs filed a motion to stay proceedings, which the Court denied on April 25, 2016. ECF No. 71.

         Defendants proceeded with a Trustee Sale of the Property on July 22, 2016, and the Property reverted to the trust. Plaintiffs, facing eviction, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on August 1, 2016. The Court construed the motion as one for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”), and granted the motion to prevent Plaintiffs' imminent homelessness. ECF No. 81.

         At the Court's suggestion, the parties participated in a settlement conference conducted by the Chief Bankruptcy Judge of this District. Unfortunately, the case did not settle. The Court then located a volunteer attorney from the federal bar association who agreed to meet with and provide advice to Plaintiffs regarding this case. The TRO remained in place while these efforts were made, to which Defendants did not object.

         Almost a year after the Court's November 2015 Order, Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their complaint. ECF No. 97. Plaintiff submitted a proposed amended complaint, ECF No. 125, and later a revised proposed first amended complaint. ECF No. 149. On August 30, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs' motion to amend (the “August 2017 Order”). ECF No. 170.

         The Court did not accept Plaintiffs' proposed first amended complaint as drafted because many of the proposed claims had previously been dismissed, or failed as a matter of law. Instead, the Court stated “[a] complaint alleging claims in accordance with the Order may be filed.” The August 2017 Order provided Plaintiffs with a framework to file an amended complaint alleging the following: (1) any claims for alleged RESPA violations occurring after June 23, 2012 (the earliest possible date for RESPA claims to survive the statute of limitations); (2) any Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) claims predicated on RESPA violations; and (3) an unaddressed CPA claim for attempting to collect on a stale debt within the statute of limitations. Plaintiffs failed to file an amended complaint in accordance with the Court's August 2017 Order.

         Approximately two months later, the Court held a telephonic status conference in order to set discovery and dispositive motion deadlines. Discovery in this matter was to be completed by January 31, 2018, and any dispositive motion were to be filed no later than March 15, 2018. In an attempt to comply with the deadlines set by the Court, Defendants served written discovery upon Plaintiffs and inquired about deposition dates. Plaintiffs did not respond to those inquiries.

         On January 31, 2018, Defendants filed the instant motion requesting the Court dismiss this action because Plaintiffs failed to file an amended complaint as directed by two of the Court's Orders. ECF No. 178. Thirty-six days later, ...


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