United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se, Plaintiff Santana Cline (“Cline”
or “Plaintiff”), filed suit in this Court on May
18, 2017. Plaintiff asserted a variety of claims, all
touching upon the alleged malfeasance by HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
(“HSBC”), Reisenfeld & Associates
(“Reisenfeld”), and Christopher A. Dawson
(“Dawson”) (all three jointly referred to as
“Defendants”) regarding a promissory note in
Plaintiff's name, and the foreclosure of her property.
Specifically, Plaintiff claims Defendants forged her name on
a promissory note, and that they used that note to defraud
her by securing mortgage liens on the real property, which
Defendants allegedly sought to obtain via a foreclosure sale.
Compl., ECF No. 2. Per standing order, the Court
referred this case to Magistrate Judge Eifert for Proposed
Findings and Recommendations (“PF&R”).
Standing Order, ECF No. 4.
December 12, 2017, Magistrate Judge Eifert issued a PF&R
that addressed both Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF
No. 15 & 29) and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike (ECF
No. 33). Defendants moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6),
claiming that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim, and that
to the extent she has stated a claim, her claims are res
judicata. Reisenfeld Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 16, at 8-17; HSBC Mem. in Supp. of
Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 30, at 4. Plaintiff requested
the striking of “all Defendant's [sic]
pleadings” based, generally, upon her contention that
the pleadings contained all manner of falsehoods. Magistrate
Judge Eifert recommends that this Court grant Defendants'
Motions to Dismiss, deny Plaintiff's Motion to Strike,
and dismiss this case. PF&R, ECF No. 43, at 17.
December 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed objections to this
PF&R. Pl.'s Obj. to PF&R, ECF
No. 44. As permitted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2), Reisenfeld
and Dawson responded to Plaintiff's objections.
Reisenfeld Resp. to Pl.'s Obj., ECF No. 45.
Having reviewed Plaintiff's objections under a de
novo review, the Court does not agree with them.
explained below, the Court ADOPTS Magistrate
Judge Eifert's findings and recommendations in the
PF&R (ECF No. 43), to the extent they are not
contradicted by this Memorandum Opinion and Order.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS
Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 15 & 29),
and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Strike
(ECF No. 33).
background of this case reads as an extended,
multi-jurisdictional attempt by Plaintiff to litigate her way
toward a fix to a persistently held, perceived wrong.
Although this Court first encountered the facts at the heart
of this matter in May 2017, Plaintiff has been crisscrossing
the country for nearly a decade, airing her grievances before
a litany of courts.
saga began with the purchase of a house in Dublin, Ohio
(“Dublin House”). PF&R, at
In April 2006, Cline purchased the residence, taking out a
mortgage loan for $433, 200, by executing a promissory note.
Id. at 3. To secure the promissory note, Cline also
executed and delivered a mortgage deed on the residence,
which was subsequently recorded by the Recorder of Franklin
County, Ohio. Id. Although she made the first four
payments, as laid out in the promissory note and its addenda,
Cline soon began missing payments and defaulted. Id.
But Cline did not vacate the property.
2007, shortly after having been assigned lender's rights
under the promissory note and mortgage deed, HSBC initiated
the first of many judicial actions between these parties. On
March 13, 2007, HSBC filed a foreclosure complaint against
Cline in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Ohio
(“2007 Foreclosure Action”). Id. The
Court of Common Pleas entered an order finding that HSBC had
a valid mortgage lien on Plaintiff's Dublin House.
Id. The court also found that Plaintiff was in
default according to the terms of the promissory note, and
awarded HSBC “the equity of redemption and dower”
in the Dublin House. Id. To permit a quick
liquidation of the asset, the court ordered an appraisal and
sale in a sheriff's foreclosure sale. Id. 3-4.
in April 2008, before the sheriff's sale could take
place, Cline filed her first of five bankruptcy actions.
Filed under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, and in the
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of
Ohio, the petition automatically stayed the sheriff's
sale. Id. at 4. The stay permitted Cline to remain
in the Dublin House. However, the court dismissed the
bankruptcy petition in July 2008 based upon the failure of
Cline to present an acceptable plan for confirmation.
Id. Since the dismissal removed the stay, the
sheriff's sale was rescheduled. Id.
sale would, once again, not happen. Cline filed her second
bankruptcy petition in the same court as her first. This
time, Cline petitioned under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy
Code. Id. In her filings, Cline listed the Dublin
House as an asset and scheduled the mortgage loan as a
secured debt. Id. Importantly, Cline filed a
statement of intention to surrender the Dublin House under
the bankruptcy plan. Id. Unlike in her first
bankruptcy, Cline received a discharge of her debt in
February 2009. Id. Despite stating that she would
vacate the property as part of the granted bankruptcy, Cline
did not leave the Dublin House. Instead, she continued to
live there, payment-free. Id.
the debt discharge, a third sheriff's sale was scheduled.
Id. However, in May 2010, roughly a month before the
sheriff's sale was to take place, Cline filed a motion
for relief from the 2007 Foreclosure Action judgment in the
Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County, Ohio, and asked the
court to stay the sale. Id. In that motion, Cline,
echoing the allegations made in this matter, claimed that
HSBC lacked standing to foreclose upon the Dublin House
because the assignment of the mortgage was fraudulent.
Id. Regardless of Cline's assertions, on June
29, 2010, the court denied her motion as untimely.
7, 2010, repeating a so-far successful maneuver, Cline filed
yet another bankruptcy petition, her third. Id. at
5. This petition, filed two days before the sheriff's
sale, automatically stayed that sale. Id. As part of
this third bankruptcy, Cline filed two adversary proceedings.
Cline v. HSBC, et al, No. 2:10-ap-2482 (Bankr. S.D.
Ohio); Cline v. HSBC, et al, No. 2:10-ap-2618
(Bankr. S.D. Ohio). In the adversary proceedings, Cline
admitted signing the promissory note and mortgage deed on the
Dublin House, however, Cline contended that HSBC's
assignment was fraudulent. Id. This was the second
time Cline had implored a court to review the authenticity of
the mortgage assignment. As part of this effort, Cline
requested that the Ohio bankruptcy court cancel the mortgage.
Id. And Cline claimed that, due to HSBC's fraud,
she should also be awarded costs, and both compensatory and
punitive damages. Id. The court apparently
disagreed, however, and dismissed the adversary proceedings.
scheduled and canceled three sales, the fourth attempt to
conduct the sheriff's sale was set for May 6, 2011. True
to form, Cline once again filed another motion for relief
from judgment and stay of sale in the 2007 Foreclosure
Action. PF&R, at 5. In that motion, Cline
repeated her claim that HSBC had no legal interest in the
Dublin House, due to the allegedly fraudulent assignment.
Id. But the court found that Cline has sowed this
ground before, “and did not present any new
evidence” to support her claims. Ex. C to
HSBC's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 29-2, at 6. Although
the court denied the motion as meritless, it delayed the
sheriff's sale, and forced a fifth scheduled date.
PF&R, at 5.
before that fifth date for the sheriff's sale, Cline
filed her fourth bankruptcy action. Id. She returned
to the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio,
filing under Chapter 13. In re Cline, No.
2:11-bk-5493 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio). Of course, the automatic
stay prevented the impending sale of the Dublin House.
Id. In that action, Cline filed another adversary
proceeding, which reiterated her contentions that the HSBC
assignment was fraudulent and forged. Cline v. HSBC,
No. 2:11-ap-2336 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio). Both the adversary
proceedings and the bankruptcy were dismissed.
attempt was made at conducting the sheriff's sale; this
time it was set for March 30, 2012. PF&R, at 6.
For nearly six years, Cline had remained in the Dublin House,
without making payments. Instead of allowing the sale to
continue, Cline filed yet another judicial action. This time,
falling back upon the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin
County, Ohio, she brought a “quiet title” action
for the Dublin House. Id. She based the action upon
the same allegations of a fraudulent and forged assignment.
Id. Granting summary judgment in favor of HSBC on
Cline's claims, the court found that claim and issue
preclusion barred Cline's attempt at re-litigating
matters that had been, or should have been raised, during the
2007 Foreclosure Action. Id.
this did not cease Cline's attempt to litigate the issue.
In 2013, Cline filed a civil action in the District Court for
the Southern District of Ohio. Cline v. Mortg. Elec.
Registration Sys., Inc., No. 2:13-cv-401, 2013 WL
6687257 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 18, 2013). Cline again relied upon
her refrain that HSBC's mortgage assignment was
fraudulent and forged. Id. at *5. Further, she
asserted claims similar to those she has brought before this
Court. Id. at *1. But the court rejected Cline's
arguments. Id. *2. Focusing upon the 2007
Foreclosure Action, the court noted that the Court of Common
Pleas had found that the mortgage was properly recorded and
validly assigned to HSBC, and that Cline had defaulted.
the district court dismissed Cline's claims. Id.
at *6. The court found that multiple legal frameworks
required the dismissal of Cline's complaint. Relevantly,
the court found that claim and issue preclusion
“prevent this Court from re-examining the issues
resolved on summary judgment by the state court in the
foreclosure action and from relitigating the claims that were
raised or could have been raised.” Id. at *5.
six months after she filed the civil action in the Southern
District of Ohio, Cline filed another civil action, but this
time her complaint traveled across the country. On November
1, 2013, Cline filed a complaint in the Central District of
California, making similar allegations to what she has made
in this case. Cline v. CBSK, No. SACV
13-1720-JLS(JPRx), 2015 WL 1005520, at *1-2 (C.D. Cal. Mar.
5, 2015). Again, Cline argued that HSBC had benefited from a
fraudulent assignment of the mortgage on the Dublin House,
and that the foreclosure sale should be invalidated upon this
ground. Id. at *2. However, the court found that
res judicata barred the suit. Id. at *6.
According to the court, the complaint filed in the District
Court for the Southern District of Ohio in 2013 arose from
the same “transactional nucleus of facts.”
Id. at *4. Cline, said the court, had already
addressed the same claims, between the same parties, and the
Southern District of Ohio court had reached a final judgment
on the merits. Id. at *6. Based upon that, the court
granted HSBC's motion to dismiss. Id.
same year that the California federal court dismissed her
complaint, Cline turned back to the protections offered by
the bankruptcy code. She filed a proceeding under Chapter 11
in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada,
constituting her fifth bankruptcy action. PF&R,
at 6-7. The bankruptcy court found that Cline had improperly
included the Dublin House in her list of assets. Id.
at 8. The court noted that the 2007 Foreclosure Action had
extinguished any interest Cline held in the Dublin House.
Id. Further, the bankruptcy court found that Cline
had filed for bankruptcy in bad faith in an effort to
“delay, hinder, and defraud creditors.” Ex G
to Reisenfeld Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 15-1, at 178-79.
Consequently, the court barred Cline “from filing
another bankruptcy anywhere in the United States for one
calendar year.” Id. at 179.
day that the Nevada bankruptcy judge found that Cline had no
interest in the Dublin House, Cline brought the Dublin House
dispute to West Virginia. Cline executed a quitclaim deed,
transferring any interest she may have had to her stepfather,
Timothy Dials (“Dials”), who lives in Scott
Depot, WV. PF&R, at 9; Ex H to Reisenfeld
Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 15-1, at 181-82. In exchange,
Dials reportedly gave Cline five dollars. Id.
According to the quitclaim deed, the transfer was made
subject to any encumbrances, restrictions, liabilities, or
thereafter, Dials filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in
the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West
Virginia. See In re Dials, No. 6:16-bk-60085, 575
B.R. 137 (Bankr. S.D. W.Va. 2017). In the filing, Dials
listed the Dublin House as an asset valued at $600, 000, but
failed to disclose HSBC's mortgage lien as a debt.
Id. at 137. After discovering the bankruptcy action,
HSBC filed an objection stating its interest, and notified
the Court that the mortgage had long been in default.
Id. Defendants Reisenfeld and Dawson ...