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Davis v. The Bank of New York Mellon

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

September 27, 2017




         BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion to Remand [5] filed by Plaintiff Karen M. Davis. This Motion is fully briefed. Having considered the Motion, the record, and relevant legal authority, the Court finds that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand [5] should be granted, and that this case should be remanded to the Chancery Court of George County, Mississippi. Plaintiff's request for reasonable attorney's fees will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual background

         On June 20, 2002, Troy and Sandra Howell (the “Howells”) executed a Deed of Trust which was secured by what appears to be two parcels of real property located on Lyman Havard Lane in Lucedale, George County, Mississippi (the “Howell Property”). See Deed of Trust [1-2] at 14-25. The Deed of Trust was subsequently assigned to Defendant The Bank of New York Mellon, f/k/a The Bank of New York as successor in interest to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. as Trustee for NovaStar Mortgage Funding Trust, Series 2002-3 NovaStar Home Equity Loan Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2002-3 (“Defendant” or “BONY”). See Substituted Trustee's Deed [1-2] at 9.

         After the Howells purportedly defaulted on the terms of the Deed of Trust, on December 8, 2016, the Substituted Trustee offered the Howell Property for sale, and Defendant was the highest bidder. Id. at 10. On December 20, 2016, the Substituted Trustee executed a Substituted Trustee's Deed and conveyed the Howell Property to Defendant, and the Substituted Trustee's Deed was filed in the George County, Mississippi, property records on December 27, 2016. Id. The Substituted Trustee's Deed noted that Roy Davis, Jr. had acquired an interest in a portion of the Howell Property by a Quit-Claim Deed dated June 6, 2016. Id. at 9.

         Earlier, on March 30, 2016, Roy Davis, Jr. (“Mr. Davis”), executed a QuitClaim Deed which purported to convey to Plaintiff Karen M. Davis (“Plaintiff” or “Davis”) a parcel of real property also located in George County, Mississippi (the “Davis Property”). The Quit-Claim Deed was filed in the George County property records the same date. Compl. [1-1] at 1; see also Quit-Claim Deed [1-2] at 6-8. The legal description of the Davis Property in the Quit-Claim Deed differs from the descriptions of the two parcels in the Deed of Trust and Substituted Trustee's Deed. Compare Quit-Claim Deed [1-2] at 8, with Substituted Trustee's Deed [1-2] at 12. It is unclear from the record to what extent the Davis Property and the Howell Property may overlap, if at all.[1]

         According to the Complaint, eviction notices have been placed on Plaintiff Karen M. Davis's home located on Highway 26 in Lucedale, Mississippi. Compl. [1-2] at 2. Plaintiff asserts that she “has been called on the telephone by the Defendant . . . and/or their agents, employees, or Co-Defendants, to threaten Plaintiff with trespass, to threaten to physically remove her from her home, all for no legal reason or justification, ” and that as a result, Plaintiff has been unable to enter her home since December 2016. Id. Plaintiff claims that she has informed Defendant and its agents and employees that she is the owner of the Property and is not indebted to Defendant, but that Defendant and its agents and employees “have continued to threaten the Plaintiff with arrest, prosecution, and the threat of criminal prosecution.” Id.

         B. Procedural history

         On May 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint for Damages, for Wrongful Eviction, and for Temporary Restraining Order [1-2] in the Chancery Court of George County, Mississippi, naming BONY as the sole Defendant. Compl. [1-2] at 1. Plaintiff appeared to assert a wrongful eviction claim and sought a temporary restraining order to enjoin Defendant from evicting her from her home and “stop the threatened eviction and arrest of Plaintiff . . . .” Id. at 3. Plaintiff stated that she “wonders if applicable RESPA [Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq.] rules were followed” and reserved “the right to conduct discovery and amend her complaint after exploring this point.” Id. The Complaint requested

reasonable damages and compensation for the threats, for preventing Plaintiff from being allowed access into her home, for posting Notice of Eviction notices on her home, for embarrassment to her family, friends and the community . . . in the amount of $50, 000.00 in addition to her attorney fees and all costs of this matter.

Id. at 4.

         On June 8, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court, invoking diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Notice of Removal [1] at 2-3. On June 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present Motion to Remand [5], contending that the amount in controversy requirement of § 1332 is not satisfied. Pl.'s Mot. [5] at 1-3. Defendant responds that, in light of the injunctive relief and attorney's fees sought in the Complaint, the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000.00, exclusive of interest and costs. Def.'s Resp. [6] at 2-4.


         A. Defendant has not shown that diversity jurisdiction exists.

         1. Relevant ...

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