Helm v. Freedom Mortgage Corporation et al
ORDER Granting Defendant's 33 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge Matthew F. Leitman. (HMon)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
RODNEY HELM and
Case No. 15-cv-12394
Hon. Matthew F. Leitman
CORPORATION and LOANCARE, LLC,
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #33)
On May 21, 2015, Plaintiffs Rodney Helm and Linda Helm filed this action
in the Lapeer County Circuit Court against Defendants Freedom Mortgage
Corporation (“Freedom”) and LoanCare, LLC (“LoanCare”). (See ECF #1-2.) The
Helms alleged, among other things, that the Defendants wrongfully foreclosed on
their home. (See id.) Defendants removed the case to this Court on July 2, 2015.
(See ECF #1.)
On January 20, 2016, the Helms filed an Amended Complaint that included
five counts: wrongful foreclosure (Count I); fraudulent misrepresentation (Count II);
slander of title (Count III); declaratory relief due because the foreclosure was barred
by unclean hands (Count IV); request for conversion to judicial foreclosure (Count
V). (See Am. Compl., ECF #14.) Within the wrongful foreclosure claim, the Helms
raised a number of sub-claims, including that LoanCare violated the Real Estate
Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2605 (“RESPA”), when it allegedly (1)
failed to provide the Helms notice that the servicing of their loan and/or mortgage
was sold or transferred as required by 12 U.S.C. § 2605(b) and (2) failed to respond
to the Helms’ Qualified Written Request for more information regarding the
servicing of their loan as required by 12 U.S.C. § 2605(e)(2) (“Section 2605(e)(2)”).
(See id. at ¶¶ 158-164, Pg. ID 344-45.)
On February 3, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Amended
Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (See ECF
#15.) The assigned Magistrate Judge then issued a Report and Recommendation
(the “R&R”) in which she recommended that the Court grant the motion as to all
claims except the Helms’ claim “for monetary damages based on LoanCare’s failure
to respond to a Qualified Written Request” as required by Section 2605(e)(2). (R&R,
ECF #24 at Pg. ID 943.) Over LoanCare’s objection (see ECF #25), the Court
entered an Order on December 20, 2016, adopting the R&R, denying the motion to
dismiss with respect to the Helms’ RESPA claim under Section 2605(e)(2), and
granting the motion to dismiss in all other respects. (See ECF #30.)
Discovery has now closed, and LoanCare has now moved for summary
judgment on the sole remaining REPSA claim. (See ECF #33.) For the reasons
explained below, the motion is GRANTED.1
LoanCare argues that it is entitled to summary judgment under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 56. A movant is entitled to summary judgment when it “shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact....” SEC v. Sierra Brokerage
Servs., Inc., 712 F.3d 321, 326-27 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)) (quotations omitted). When reviewing the record,
“the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Id. “The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party’s] position will be
insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for [that
party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Summary judgment is not appropriate when “the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury.” Id. at
251-52. Indeed, “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the
drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a
judge....” Id. at 255.
Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), the Court concludes that oral argument is not
necessary and would not aid its decision on LoanCare’s motion.
LoanCare first argues that “Plaintiff Lindy Helm has no standing to bring a
RESPA claim under 12 U.S.C. § 2605(e) because she is not a borrower on the loan.”
(LoanCare Mot., ECF #33 at Pg. ID 1066.) In support of this argument, LoanCare
directs the Court to authority which holds that “a spouse who was not a party to her
partner’s loan or mortgage lacks [standing] to bring a RESPA  claim.” Britt v.
Flagstar Bank, FSB, 2011 WL 6941710, at *4 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 27, 2011),
recommendation adopted at 2012 WL 12804 (E.D. Mich., Jan. 4, 2012). The Court
has also found authority in this circuit that supports LoanCare’s argument. See
Cooper v. Fay Servicing, 115 F.Supp.3d 990, 908-09 (S.D. Ohio. 2015) (holding
that wife lacked standing to bring RESPA claim because “12 U.S.C. § 2605 specifies
that civil liability under RESPA is limited to borrowers” and wife “did not sign the
note or loan application modification”); Mitchell v. Mortgage Electronic
Registration Systems, Inc., 2012 WL 1094671, at *2 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 30, 2012)
(dismissing RESPA claims brought by plaintiff for lack of standing where plaintiff
was not a “signatory to the mortgage and note at issue”).2
See also Johnson v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, 374 Fed. App’x 868, 874 (11th Cir.
2010) (dismissing complaint, which included a RESPA claim, where plaintiff “was
not a party to the [underlying] loan and, therefore, lacked standing to bring any claim
based on that loan”).
Lindy Helm has not responded to LoanCare’s standing argument or presented
any basis for the Court to conclude that she has standing in this case. Accordingly,
in light of the authority cited above, and in the absence of any counter-authority or
argument presented by Lindy Helm, the Court will grant LoanCare summary
judgment with respect to Lindy Helm due to her lack of standing.
LoanCare next argues that it is entitled to summary judgment against Rodney
Helm because he has not established that he suffered actual damages. (LoanCare
Mot., ECF #33 at Pg. ID 1068-78.) The Court agrees.
“Actual damages is an element of any claim under RESPA § 2605,” Wyler v.
Bank of Am., 2011 WL 5361077, at *3 (W.D. Mich. Nov. 7, 2011),3 and LoanCare
is entitled to summary judgment because it has demonstrated that Rodney Helm has
no evidence that he suffered actual damages form the alleged RESPA violation.
LoanCare issued discovery requests to Rodney Helm in which LoanCare asked him
See also Langley v. Chase Home Fin., LLC, 2011 WL 1150772, at *10 (W.D. Mich.
Mar. 11, 2011) (citing Eronini v. JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, 368 Fed. App’x 841,
842 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that the district court properly dismissed the plaintiff’s
complaint for failure to state a claim for a violation of RESPA because plaintiff
suffered no damages as required under § 2605(f), which allows the recovery of
“actual damages”) and Mekani v. Homecomings Fin., LLC, 752 F.Supp.2d 785, 795
(E.D. Mich. 2010) (“Even if the Court were able to conclude that Plaintiff has
adequately alleged that Defendant’s responses were somehow inadequate, Plaintiff’s
RESPA claim fails for the additional reason that Plaintiff has alleged no actual
damages attributable to Defendant’s alleged failure to respond.”).
to identify and produce any evidence that he suffered damages as a result of the
alleged RESPA violations. (See ECF #33-16 at Pg. ID 1208.) In response, Rodney
Helm failed to identify any evidence of damages. (See id.) Instead, Rodney Helm
directed LoanCare to documents that he attached to his discovery responses, but
none of the documents contain (or are) evidence that he suffered any damages. (See
id. at Pg. ID 12111-1236.) Because Rodney Helm lacks evidence of damages, his
RESPA claim fails as a matter of law.
Rodney Helm resists this conclusion on two grounds, but neither is persuasive.
First, he argues that the Court’s earlier ruling denying Defendants’ motion to dismiss
the RESPA claim is res judicata and precludes entry of summary judgment in
LoanCare’s favor on that claim. This argument lacks merit. A ruling denying a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) does not preclude entry of summary judgment
under Rule 56 because, among other things, the rules address different issues. A
motion under Rule 12(b)(6) attacks the sufficiency of a plaintiff’s allegations; a
motion under Rule 56 attacks the sufficiency of a plaintiff’s evidence. Thus, a ruling
denying a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) says nothing about whether the
defendant may later be entitled to summary judgment under Rule 56. See, e.g.,
Partrich v. Farber, 2009 WL 4947913, at *8 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 14, 2009) (rejecting
argument that because court denied motion to dismiss court was precluded from
granting defendant summary judgment on same claim).
Second, Rodney Helm contends that the Court should deny summary
judgment because he has “pled a proper claim” and because there are “genuine issues
[of] disputed facts.” (Helm Resp. Br., ECF #40 at Pg. ID 1300.) But whether Rodney
Helm has pleaded a proper claim has no bearing on whether LoanCare is entitled to
summary judgment under Rule 56. And while Rodney Helm says that there are
genuine issues of disputed fact, he has not identified any evidence that could create
such a dispute. Indeed, Rodney Helm neither attaches to his response, nor directs
the Court to, any evidence at all. Under these circumstances, there are plainly no
material factual disputes that require resolution by a jury.
For the reasons explained above, IT IS HERBY ORDERED that LoanCare’s
motion for summary judgment (ECF #33) is GRANTED.
Dated: February 2, 2018
s/Matthew F. Leitman
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon the
parties and/or counsel of record on February 2, 2018, by electronic means and/or
s/Holly A. Monda
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