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Sadler v. The Bank of New York Mellon

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 29, 2018



          Marcia S. Krieger, Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court pursuant to the Plaintiffs' (“the Sadlers”) pro se[1] Motion for Preliminary Injunction (# 27), and the Defendants' response (# 29); and the Sadlers' Motion for Expedited Consideration (# 30), which the Court now denies as moot.


         Because the Plaintiffs' Complaint (# 6) is somewhat unclear, the Court turns to the Scheduling Order (# 22) for a recitation of the pertinent facts. The Sadlers reside in a home in Castle Rock, Colorado. The home is encumbered[2] by a mortgage note in the principal amount of $295, 000 and Deed of Trust, originally issued in favor of America's Wholesale Lender. At some point between 2007 and 2014, the note and Deed of Trust were assigned to Defendant Bank of New York Mellon (“BNY”) and serviced by Defendant Shell Point Mortgage Servicing (“Shell”). The note fell into default in or about 2007. BNY commenced a foreclosure action at that time, but according to the Sadlers, because BNY presented “three separate versions” of the promissory note, the Colorado District Court for Douglas County dismissed the foreclosure action. BNY and Shell commenced several more foreclosure proceedings, but dismissed them for various reasons. In 2017, BNY commenced a new foreclosure proceeding. The Sadlers contend that BNY presented a fourth version of the note in this proceeding, and that the note “is not the original.” Nevertheless, the Douglas County court was apparently persuaded: it authorized a foreclosure sale, BNY was the high bidder for the property with a bid of $408, 000, and the Douglas County Public Trustee eventually issued a certificate of purchase to BNY, transferring title to the property.

         The Sadlers' claims are not well-articulated in either the Complaint or Scheduling Order, They consist largely of an assertion that the Defendants committed “deception [and] fraud” and violated an array of statutes the Sadlers identify only by their initials -- the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”), 12 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.; the Home Affordable Modification Prograrm (“HAMP”), an uncodified Treasury Department program created pursuant to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, 12 U.S.C. § 5201; the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTCA”), 15 U.S.C. § 45(a); the Truth In Lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.; the Consumer Financial Protection Act (“CFPA”), 12 U.S.C. § 5531 and 5536 - along with “various Colorado statutes” (apparently including the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. § 6-1-101 et seq.) “and other illegal practices.”[3]

         On March 2, 2018, the Sadlers filed the instant Motion for Preliminary Injunction (# 27). That motion explains that the Defendants “posted a demand for possession” on the Sadlers' home in February 2018 - that is, BNY commenced a Forcible Entry and Detainer (“FED” action) in the Colorado District Court for Douglas County, seeking the Sadlers' eviction from the home. The Sadlers state that they “should be subject to the rulings of only one court, not two” and request that the Court “grant relief from any eviction process by the Defendants until the Complaint [in this case] is resolved.” They explain that they are “both in their mid-70s and experiencing the infirmities that come with aging, ” as well as caring for a grandchild with special needs.

         The FED action is set for trial on April 2.


         A. Standard of review

         The Sadlers seek a preliminary injunction restraining the Defendants from prosecuting the FED action. A party seeking a preliminary injunction is required to show: (i) the party will suffer an imminent and irreparable injury if the injunction is denied; (ii) a likelihood of success on the merits of the claims in the action; (iii) a balancing of the equities tipping in favor of the party seeking the injunction; and (iv) that the requested injunction is not injurious to the public interest. McDonnell v. City and County of Denver, 878 F.3d 1247, 1252 (10th Cir. 2018). In addition, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(c), the Court must require the movant to “give[ ] security in an amount that the court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.”

         B. Threshold issues

         There are several obstacles that prevent the Court for reaching the Sadlers' request for an injunction on the merits. The Defendants have argued that the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, prevents the Court from enjoining the FED action. That statute provides that the Court “many not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State Court” unless: (i) a federal statute provides for such injunction, (ii) the Court must enjoin the state proceeding in order to preserve its jurisdiction over the case, or (iii) the Court has issued a judgment that requires such an injunction. Although it is not entirely clear whether the Sadlers request that this Court enjoin the state court from hearing the FED action, or whether they simply request that this Court enjoin BNY from prosecuting that case, the difference is not material. The Anti-Injunction Act also prohibits injunctions directed at private parties where the injunction would prohibit the party from using the results of a state court proceeding. U.S. v. Billingsley, 615 F.3d 404, 409 (5th Cir. 2010). Federal courts have routinely concluded that the Anti-Injunction Act prevents them from enjoining state eviction proceedings. Bond v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 526 Fed.Appx. 698, 701-02 (2d Cir. 2013) (dicta); Powers v. Bank of America, 63 F.Supp.3d 747, 752 (E.D.Mi. 2014). As set forth below, the Court finds that none of the statutes that the Sadlers invoke provide for injunctive relief to halt an eviction, and the Court finds that none of the Sadlers' putative claims depend on their presence in the home to secure this Court's jurisdiction. To the contrary, the Sadlers' claims are in personam claims that the Sadlers can assert regardless of whether they are living in the home, an apartment, or on a yacht. Thus, the Court declines the Sadlers' request solely on the strength of the Anti-Injunction Act.

         The Court also has concerns that the Sadlers' request would be barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. That doctrine prohibits a party who lost in a concluded state court proceeding from invoking federal jurisdiction in an effort to upset the state court's judgment. Dillard v. Bank of New York, 476 Fed.Appx. 690, 691-92 (10th Cir. 2012). The Sadlers appear to be asserting that, although the state court has approved BNY's foreclosure on the home and issued a confirmation deed, they contend that the note BNY presented during that proceeding was fraudulent or otherwise inauthentic. By requesting that BNY be precluded from evicting them from the home, the Sadlers appear to be suggesting that this Court should somehow find fault with the state court's conclusive determination on the foreclosure action, which has been completed. To do so would violate the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

         The Court also agrees with the Defendants that the doctrine of Younger abstention would also counsel against this Court interfering in the FED action. See e.g. Flemming v. Sims, 2017 WL 8314665 (D.Colo. Aug. 1, 2017); Davis v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., 2016 WL 8670507 (D.Colo. Dec. ...

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