Moore v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company et al
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION. Signed by JUDGE DERRICK K. WATSON on 4/30/2014. ~ The Court hereby dismisses Moore's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Clerk of Court is di rected to close the case. (ecs, )CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). Participants not registered to receive electronic notifications were served by first class mail on the date of this docket entry
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAI`I
GORDON KELIKIPI CHARLES
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL
TRUST COMPANY as trustee for
Ameriquest Securities, Inc., Asset
Backed Pass-Through Certificates
Series 2003-AR3, et al.
CIVIL NO. 13-00506 DKW-RLP
COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
This matter is nearly identical in relevant part to two other cases in
this district, brought by the same counsel, which have recently been dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Dicion v. Mann Mortgage, LLC, 2014 WL
1366151 (D. Haw. April 4, 2014); Pascua v. Option One Mortgage Corp., 2014
WL 806226 (D. Haw. Feb. 28, 2014). The result here is no different—because Mr.
Moore lacks standing and has not satisfied the amount in controversy requirement,
this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, mandating dismissal of the complaint.
Moore has a mortgage on his residence. Although he has been
making payments on this mortgage for years, he now asserts an uncertainty
regarding whom to pay. Complaint ¶ 35 (“At present, Mr. Moore does not know
the identity of the true Note holder and does not know to whom his mortgage
payments are due.”). He asserts a single cause of action that he refers to as “quiet
title,” requesting that this Court “declare which entity is the true owner of his Note
and mortgage so that he will not have double or triple liability for his debt.”
Complaint ¶ 1.
Defendants, the mortgagees and loan servicers on Moore’s mortgage,
move to dismiss.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Although Defendants’ motions are filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6) and 12(b)(2), the Court “must determine that [it] ha[s] jurisdiction before
proceeding to the merits.” Lance v. Coffman, 549 U.S. 437, 439 (2007). Thus, the
Court is “obligated to consider sua sponte whether [it] ha[s] subject matter
jurisdiction.” Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004). “If
the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court
must dismiss the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
A suit brought by a plaintiff without Article III standing is not a “case
or controversy,” and an Article III federal court therefore lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the suit. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 523 U.S. 83, 102
(1998). In order to establish standing, three requirements must be met:
First and foremost, there must be alleged (and ultimately
proved) an injury in fact—a harm suffered by the plaintiff that
is concrete and actual or imminent, not conjectural or
hypothetical. Second, there must be causation—a fairly
traceable connection between the plaintiff’s injury and the
complained-of conduct of the defendant. And third, there must
be redressability—a likelihood that the requested relief will
redress the alleged injury. This triad of injury in fact,
causation, and redressability constitutes the core of Article III’s
case-or-controversy requirement, and the party invoking federal
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing its existence.
Id. at 102–04 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). See Takhar v.
Kessler, 76 F.3d 995, 1000 (9th Cir. 1996) (“A plaintiff has the burden of
establishing the elements required for standing.”).
Even where a plaintiff has standing, subject matter jurisdiction must
also be established. Jurisdiction founded on diversity (the basis for jurisdiction
alleged by Moore here) “requires that the parties be in complete diversity and the
amount in controversy exceed $75,000.” Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins.
Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam); see 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Where, as here, declaratory or injunctive relief is sought, it is “‘well established
that the amount in controversy is measured by the value of the object of the
litigation.’” Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 840 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Adver. Comm’n, 432 U.S. 333, 347 (1977)). The object
of the litigation is “the value of the right to be protected or the extent of the injury
to be prevented.” Jackson v. Am. Bar Ass’n, 538 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1976); see
also Ridder Bros., Inc. v. Blethen, 142 F.2d 395, 399 (9th Cir. 1944) (stating that
the “required amount [in controversy is] the value of the particular and limited
thing sought to be accomplished by the action”).
“[T]he party asserting diversity jurisdiction bears the burden of
proof.” Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 749 (9th Cir. 1986).
Moore lacks standing and has failed to satisfy the amount in
controversy requirement necessary to establish diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly,
the Court dismisses the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
First, Moore has not alleged an injury in fact to sufficiently establish
standing. Although Moore asserts his general concern that he could face “double
or triple liability for his debt” without the Court’s assistance in ascertaining to
whom he should pay, Moore does not allege that any Defendant has actually
initiated foreclosure proceedings or that more than one party has actually
demanded payment on the same loan—allegations necessary to show actual injury.
Consequently, as Judge Seabright concluded in Dicion:
Absent such factual allegations, the potential for multiple
liability or foreclosure is no more than mere speculation and
falls far short of constituting an Article III injury-in-fact. Thus,
Plaintiff's injury is no more than his own uncertainty regarding
which Defendant is entitled to his mortgage payments. Such a
subjective uncertainty is neither sufficiently concrete nor
particularized to constitute an injury-in-fact.
2014 WL 1366151, at *4 (internal citations omitted); see also Pascua, 2014 WL
806226, at *4 (“At most, the injury-in-fact that Pascua suffers is the ‘uncertainty’
he says he has regarding what entity he is supposed to pay. It is not clear that this
subjective feeling of uncertainty is sufficiently concrete and particularized to
constitute an injury-in-fact. It is also not clear that Pascua’s purported injury, such
as it is, is caused by Defendants’ conduct rather than by Pascua’s own apparent
inability to discern the nature of his obligations.” (internal citation omitted)).
Indeed, the Defendants agree that there is no dispute as to the roles of each
Defendant entity, and there is nothing to even suggest that Moore would be subject
to double or triple liability, as he apparently fears. Having alleged no injury in
fact, and the Court declining to allow Moore to manufacture one, Moore lacks
standing, depriving the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. Steel Co., 523 U.S.
The Court also adopts the same reasoning and conclusion reached by Judge Seabright in Dicion
for the second and third requirements of standing:
Furthermore, in the absence of a demand for payment from multiple
Defendants, Plaintiff’s uncertainty is not fairly traceable to any challenged
Second, the Court also lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the
amount in controversy requirement to establish diversity jurisdiction has not been
satisfied. Moore alleges that “the amount in controversy is $369,000.00, which is
the amount of the mortgage loan secured on the Subject Property.” Complaint
¶ 14. However, as Judge Mollway discussed in Pascua:
Here, the matter Pascua says he wants to accomplish does not
implicate the entire debt or the value of the property. Although
he styles his claim as one to “quiet title,” Pascua does not allege
that he holds title to the property free and clear of any debt
obligation. Nor does Pascua seek to enjoin a foreclosure. In
either such situation, the full debt or the property itself would
be the object of the litigation, because the claimant would be
trying to prevent paying the debt or losing the property.
Pascua, by contrast, asks for a declaration to prevent him from
feeling uncertainty as to whom to pay. He is not actually being
asked to pay his acknowledged debt more than once. The
amount in controversy is therefore the subjective value to
Pascua of freeing him from that risk. Courts are often
disinclined to speculate as to the monetary value of something
so vague and amorphous as a feeling of uncertainty.
In any event, it is implausible to suggest that the subjective
value to Pascua of such a declaration is greater than $75,000.
Pascua’s primary fear appears to be that he will accidentally
pay the wrong party $41,139.92, which is the amount Wells
Fargo is currently requesting he pay to avert foreclosure. The
harm to Pascua of his fear that he might lose a second payment
of $41,139.92 cannot plausibly be worth in excess of $75,000.
2014 WL 806226, at *5 (internal citations omitted).
action of the Defendants. Nor is Plaintiff's uncertainty likely to be
redressed by a favorable decision.
2014 WL 1366151, at *5 (alterations, quotation marks, and citation omitted).
Similarly here, Moore asks for a declaration to clarify his alleged
confusion as to whom to pay. Therefore, the object of the litigation is not the full
amount of the mortgage loan, but is instead the value in relieving Moore’s
uncertainty. Dicion, 2014 WL 1366151, at *6. However, Moore has not even
attempted to prove what the value of that uncertainty is and the Court will not
speculate. In short, “because the true purpose of this action is neither to quiet title
in favor of Plaintiff and against all Defendants, nor to stop an imminent foreclosure
sale, simply requesting such relief cannot transform the object of litigation to the
subject property [or the full amount of the mortgage on that property].” Dicion,
2014 WL 1366151, at *6 n.6.
Finally, the Court notes that even if the Court had subject matter
jurisdiction, “Plaintiffs’ contention that they do not know to whom their debt is
owed is not a basis to ‘quiet title.’” Klohs v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 901
F.Supp.2d 1253, 1261 n.4 (D. Haw. 2012).
The Court hereby dismisses Moore’s complaint for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I, April 30, 2014.
Moore v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Company, et al.; CV 13-00506 DKW/RLP;
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER
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