ANNIE Y. GRIFFIN AND FREDERICK GRIFFIN APPELLANTS
ABN AMRO MORTGAGE GROUP, INC., ITS AFFILIATES, HEIRS, AND ASSIGNS, MORRIS & ASSOCIATES, EMILY K. COURTEAU, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER CAPACITY AS SUBSTITUTED TRUSTEE ON THE DEED OF TRUST, AND CITIMORTGAGE INC., AS SUCCESSOR IN INTEREST TO ABN APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 08/21/2015
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. MITCHELL M. LUNDY JR.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: FREDERICK GRIFFIN (PRO SE)
Y. GRIFFIN (PRO SE) ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: BRADLEY BARRON
VANCE RICHARD CARLTON KELLER MICHAEL ALAN JEDYNAK
GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Annie and Frederick Griffin stopped paying their mortgage
following a disagreement with their mortgage provider over
modified loan terms. In 2007, they sued their mortgage
carrier, ABN, in the Chancery Court of DeSoto County
(Griffin I), alleging fraud as well as violations of
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Truth
in Lending Act (TILA). The case was removed to federal court,
and in 2012 the district court dismissed the action for
failure to prosecute. The court's order noted that it had
previously warned the Griffins that dismissal for failure to
prosecute was imminent if the case did not move forward, and
also noted that the Griffins appeared to be engaged in a
deliberate strategy of extending the life of the litigation
indefinitely. After the case was dismissed, the Griffins
filed a new, substantially identical complaint in DeSoto
County Chancery Court (Griffin II). Griffin
II was dismissed on the ground of res judicata. The
Griffins appeal the dismissal of Griffin II to this
Court. Finding no error, we affirm.
AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW
In Griffin I, the defendant mortgage company sought
to compel arbitration after being sued by the Griffins over
modified loan terms. The motion to arbitrate was granted, but
the case was remanded back to federal court in June 2010
after the designated arbitrator withdrew from the consumer
arbitration business. In March 2011, the Griffins filed a
motion to declare the arbitration agreement unenforceable. To
move the litigation along, the defendants filed a motion to
withdraw their request to compel arbitration, consenting to
proceed in court. The district court granted the motion.
The Griffins then filed a pro se motion objecting to the
court's grant of the defendants' withdrawal of the
request to compel arbitration. The Griffins objected to the
motion being granted prior to their having an opportunity to
respond (even though the Griffins had a standing motion to
find the arbitration agreement unenforceable), and then
proceeded to argue that the mortgage contract bound both
parties to resolve disputes by arbitration.
On May 23, 2012, the district court entered an order on its
own motion dismissing the case for failure to prosecute. The
court, in a detailed order, traced the Griffins' shifting
legal arguments and came to the conclusion that "[i]t
appears to this court that plaintiffs view this lawsuit not
as something to be actually litigated, but, rather, as
something to be kept alive indefinitely, even at the cost of
taking a position that is fundamentally inconsistent with the
one they have taken for years in this case."
In January 2014, following the dismissal of the case from the
federal court, the Griffins filed a new complaint pro se in
the Chancery Court of DeSoto County (Griffin II).
The new complaint asserted the same causes of action arising
out of the same factual circumstances as those asserted in
Griffin I. After various procedural actions
including a removal to and then remand back from federal
court, as well as reassignment to a different chancellor, the
chancery court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss
Griffin II on the ground of res judicata.