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Locklear v. Federal Home Mortgage Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division

May 2, 2017

HENRY T. LOCKLEAR, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL HOME MORTGAGE CORPORATION, and WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES C. DEVER, III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 30, 2017, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo" or "defendant") moved to dismiss this action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim [D.E. 16]. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), (6). On January 31, 2017, the court notified Henry T. Locklear ("Locklear" or "plaintiff') about the motion to dismiss and the consequences of failing to respond [D.E. 18]. See Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4th Cir. 1975) (per curiam). Locklear did not respond, although on February 24, 2017, Locklear asked the pro bono panel to review his case [D.E. 20]. As explained below, the court grants Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss, denies Locklear's request that the pro bono panel review his case, and dismisses Locklear's action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

         I.

         On or about September 26, 2005, Locklear and his wife ("Ms. Locklear") obtained a $115, 000 loan from Sidus Financial, LLC ("Sidus"). Compl. [D.E. 7] ¶¶ 5-6. Locklear and Ms. Locklear memorialized their loan obligations in a Promissory Note (the "Note") and secured their obligations with a Deed of Trust encumbering their residence at 1823 Snake Road, Lumberton, North Carolina (the "Collateral Property"). Id. ¶¶6-7; [D.E. 16-1] (Note); [D.E. 16-2] (Deed of Trust). On September 28, 2005, the Deed of Trust was recorded in Book D1491 at Page 889 of the Robeson County, North Carolina Public Registry.

         Plaintiff and Ms. Locklear defaulted on their loan payments. On June 14, 2007, the Clerk of Robeson County Superior Court ("Clerk") entered an Order to Allow Foreclosure Sale (the "Foreclosure Order"). [D.E. 16-3]. Plaintiff and Ms. Locklear appealed the Foreclosure Order, but, on October 4, 2007, the Robeson County Superior Court dismissed their appeal in an Order to Dismiss Appeal. [D.E. 16-4]. Plaintiff and Ms. Locklear sought reconsideration in Robeson County Superior Court, but they withdrew their motion for reconsideration on January 17, 2008. [D.E. 16-5].

         Between March 17, 2008, and October 16, 2013, Locklear and Ms. Locklear filed numerous voluntary bankruptcy petitions in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (the "Bankruptcy Court"). Each time Locklear or Ms. Locklear filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition, the Substitute Trustee had to advertise notice of the foreclosure sale, delaying the actual foreclosure of the property. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 45-21.22(c).

         On January 9, 2013, Locklear filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 13 in the Bankruptcy Court, and the case was assigned case number 13-00155-9-SWH (the "January Bankruptcy Case"). [D.E. 16-6]. On February 26, 2013, the Bankruptcy Court dismissed the January Bankruptcy Case. [D.E. 16-7]. On May 24, 2013, Locklear filed another voluntary petition under Chapter 13 in the Bankruptcy Court, and the case was assigned case number 13-03385-5-RDD (the "May Bankruptcy Case"). [D.E. 16-8]. On May 24, 2013, the Bankruptcy Court dismissed the May Bankruptcy Case. [D.E. 16-9]. On August 5, 2013, the Clerk re-activated the 2007 foreclosure proceeding in an Order Rendering File Active. [D.E. 16-10]. On October 16, 2013, pursuant to the Foreclosure Order, Wells Fargo purchased the Collateral Property at a foreclosure sale. On October 16, 2013, Locklear filed another bankruptcy petition and the case was assigned case number 13-06493-8-DMW (the "October Bankruptcy Case"). [D.E. 16-11]. OnDecember3, 2013, the Bankruptcy Court dismissed the October Bankruptcy Case. [D.E. 16-12]. On April 25, 2014, the Bankruptcy Court entered an Order Confirming the Automatic Stay is Not in Effect in which the Bankruptcy Court held that because Locklear filed two prior bankruptcy cases in 2013 that were dismissed for failure to pay the filing fee, Locklear's filing of the October Bankruptcy Case had not triggered the automatic stay. See [D.E. 16-13]; 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(4)(A)(i).

         Wells Fargo assigned its bid to Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("Freddie Mac"), and the Substitute Trustee conveyed title to the Collateral Property to Freddie Mac in the Substitute Trustee's Deed. See [D.E. 16-15, 16-16]. OnNovember25, 2013, the Substitute Trustee's Deed was recorded in Book D 1930, Page 163 of the Robeson County, North Carolina Registry of Deeds.

         On February 28, 2014, Locklear filed a complaint against Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac (the "State Court Complaint") in Robeson County Superior Court, Case 14 CVS 00451 (the "State Court Action"). [D.E. 16-17]. The complaint in the State Court Action essentially replicates the instant complaint. Compare Id. with Compl. On May 2, 2014, the Robeson County Superior Court entered an order denying Locklear's request for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the enforcement of a Writ of Possession of the Collateral Property (the "Order"). [D.E. 16-18]. On May 19, 2014, Locklear voluntarily dismissed the State Court Action. See [D.E. 16-19].

         II.

         In Locklear's complaint, Locklear makes five claims for relief against Wells Fargo - breach of contract, abuse of process, libel, slander, and request for a restraining order. See [D.E. 7] Compl. ¶¶ 42-62. All five claims concern the foreclosure. See id.

         A.

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) tests subject-matter jurisdiction, which is the court's "statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case." Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't 523 U.S. 83, 89 (1998) (emphasis omitted'): see Holloway v. Pagan River Dockside Seafood. Inc., 669 F.3d 448, 453 (4th Cir. 2012); Constantine v. Rectors & Visitors of George Mason Univ., 411 F.3d 474, 479-80 (4th Cir. 2005). As the party asserting that this court has subject-matter jurisdiction, Locklear must prove that subject-matter jurisdiction exists. See, e.g.. Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 104; Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999); Richmond. Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). In considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. See, e.g.. Evans, 166 F.3d at 647.

         The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits a "party losing in state court... from seeking what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States district court, based on the losing party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser's federal rights." Johnson v. De Grandy,512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 ri994>: see D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman.460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983); Thana v. Bd. of License Comm'rs for Charles Cty.,827 F.3d 314, 318-20 (4th Cir. 2016); Washington v. Wilmore. 407 F.3d 274, 279 (4th Cir. 2005). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine encompasses "not only review of adjudications of the state's highest court, but also the decisions of its lower courts." Brown & Root. Inc. v. Breckenridee.211 F.3d 194, 199 (4th Cir. 2000) (quotation omitted). Rooker-Feldman "reinforces the important principle that review of state court decisions must be made to the state appellate courts, and eventually to the Supreme Court, ...


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