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Hopson v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC

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

March 6, 2018




         Hoping to avoid foreclosure on their home, pro se Plaintiffs Bobby and Mary Hopson filed this suit in the Chancery Court of Rankin County, Mississippi, against Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC; Deutsche Bank National Trust Company; and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.[1] In their state-court Complaint, the Hopsons asserted a “claim to quiet title[, ] set aside foreclosure sale[, ] cancel note and deed of trust for fraud, usury, slander of title, [and because] the statute of limitations has expired.” Compl. [1-1] at 1. Defendants removed the case to this Court on October 18, 2017. See Not. of Removal [1]. Since then, the parties have filed fourteen motions. This Order addresses six of them in an effort to establish jurisdiction and clean up the docket.

         I. Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand

         On December 6, 2017, the Hopsons filed a motion to remand saying this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Mot. to Remand [20] at 1 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)). “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted). By statute, federal jurisdiction will exist when the complaint raises a federal question and when there exists diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (providing that federal-question jurisdiction exists over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”), 1332(a) (providing diversity jurisdiction where parties are “citizens of different States” and amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000). Both types of jurisdiction exist in this case.

         Starting with federal-question jurisdiction, the Hopsons plead numerous federal claims in their Complaint. See Compl. [1-1] at 12-13 (pleading claims under Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1640, et seq., and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”), 12 U.S.C. §§ 2601 et seq.). This alone is sufficient to create federal-question jurisdiction.

         Defendants also removed based on diversity of citizenship, claiming that they are citizens of Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, and California. See Not. of Removal [1]; see also Defs.' Resp. [30] at 8. The Hopsons say they are Mississippi citizens, see Compl. [1-1] at 4, and they have not challenged Defendants' claimed citizenship or the amount in controversy. Diversity jurisdiction therefore exists.

         The only other jurisdictional issue is the Hopsons' argument that “the procedural rules were not followed to move this case to Federal court so this court lacks proper jurisdiction.” Mot. to Remand [20] at 2. Motions to remand based on procedural defects “must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Here, Defendants removed the case on October 18, 2017, and the Hopsons sought remand on December 6, 2017. Any procedural defects were waived.

         For all of these reasons, this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction; the Hopsons' motion to remand [20] is denied.

         II. Motions for Sanctions

         The Hopsons filed three essentially identical motions for sanctions against Attorneys John T. Rouse, Greg Massey, Mark H. Tyson, and their law firms. See Pls.' Mots. for Sanctions [21, 22, 23]. Each motion relies on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. The motions are procedurally defective and substantively meritless.

         Rule 11 provides that an attorney, by presenting a pleading to the Court, certifies to the best of his “knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances” that “the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(2). “If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction . . . .” Id. R. 11(c).

         Rule 11(c)(2) provides the procedure by which a party moves for sanctions:

(2) Motion for Sanctions. A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion must be served under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets. If warranted, the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, incurred for the motion.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(2) (emphasis added). These procedures require strict compliance. See In rePratt, 524 F.3d 580, 588 (5th Cir. 2008) (“[W]e have continually held that ...

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