Hopson et al v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC et al
ORDER denying 20 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction; denying 21 Motion for Sanctions; denying 22 Motion for Sanctions; denying 23 Motion for Sanctions for the reasons set out in the Order. Plaintiffs are directed to file response s to Defendants' motions to dismiss [4, 8], motion to strike 42 , and motion for injunctive relief 50 by March 23, 2018. Replies to those responses should be filed in accordance with the local rules. Signed by Chief District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III on March 6, 2018. (SP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
BOBBY WAYNE HOPSON AND
MARY FRANCES HOPSON
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-CV-832-DPJ-FKB
SPECIALIZED LOAN SERVICING, LLC;
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY;
AND JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.
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 . 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.
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  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
Although the Hopsons misidentified these entities as “plaintiffs” in the style of their
Complaint [1-1], the Hopsons are the plaintiffs and the entities are the defendants. The styles of
all future pleadings should therefore conform to the style of this Order.
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 ; see also Defs.’ Resp. 
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
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  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  is denied.
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
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(2) (emphasis added). These procedures require strict compliance. See In re
Pratt, 524 F.3d 580, 588 (5th Cir. 2008) (“[W]e have continually held that compliance with Rule
11 is mandatory.”).
Here, the Hopsons failed to comply with Rule 11(c)(2) in two ways. First, there is no
suggestion that they complied with the safe-harbor provision by giving 21-days’ notice before
filing these motions. Second, their generic allegations of misconduct fail to “describe the
specific conduct that allegedly violate[d] Rule 11(b).” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(2).2 For these
reasons, the motions fail.
Finally, Defendants seek their fees associated with these motions and other general relief.
Under Rule 11, “the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including
attorney’s fees, incurred for the motion.” Id. (emphasis added). Looking to the pleadings thus
far, there was no apparent basis for the Hopsons to seek Rule 11 sanctions, and they failed to
follow the necessary procedures to do so. That said, they are proceeding pro se, so the Court will
be lenient and exercise its discretion to deny Defendants’ fee request. The Hopsons are advised
that any similarly meritless Rule 11 motions in the future may well result in an award of
reasonable attorneys’ fees to Defendants.
Motions to Dismiss
Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
arguing that the Hopsons are barred from asserting their claims in this case because they were
previously dismissed in an earlier case in this Court. See Defs.’ Mem.  at 1 (citing Hopson v.
Chase Home Fin. LLC, 14 F. Supp. 3d 774, 781 (S.D. Miss. 2014), aff’d sub nom. Hopson v.
Chase Home Fin., L.L.C., 605 F. App’x 267 (5th Cir. 2015); see also Defs.’ Mem.  at 6.
Under Mississippi law, “[t]he doctrine of res judicata bars parties from litigating claims ‘within
the scope of the judgment’ in a prior action.” Hill v. Carroll Cty., 17 So. 3d 1081, 1084 (Miss.
2009) (quoting Anderson v. LaVere, 895 So. 2d 828, 832 (Miss. 2004)).
The Hopsons say that counsel violated Rule 11 by “fil[ing] suit without evidentiary
support for the allegations contained in the complaint.” Pls.’ Mot.  at 2. Of course the
Hopsons are the ones who filed this suit, suggesting that their Rule 11 motions might actually
relate to the disputed collection efforts. If so, then Rule 11 does not apply because it relates to
representations made “to the court,” i.e., this Court in this proceeding. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b).
Although the Hopsons docketed a brief that is designated in the record as a “reply” to
these motions, the document itself is titled: “Reply to [Defendants’] Response to Motion to
Object to Moving the Case to Federal Court.” See Reply  at 1. In other words, it seems to
address the Hopsons’ remand motion. Id. As best the Court can tell, the Hopsons have never
directly responded to Defendants’ motions to dismiss or the res judicata argument. But res
judicata is a threshold issue the Court must resolve now that jurisdiction has been established.
The Court therefore instructs the Hopsons to file a response to Defendants’ motions to
dismiss [4, 8] and the res judicata arguments no later than March 23, 2018. The Hopsons should
likewise file a response to Defendants’ Motion to Strike Counterclaim  and Motion for
Injunctive Relief  by that same date.
Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs’ motion to remand  and motions for sanctions [21,
22, 23] are denied.
Plaintiffs are directed to file responses to Defendants’ motions to dismiss [4, 8], motion
to strike , and motion for injunctive relief  by March 23, 2018. Replies to those
responses should be filed in accordance with the local rules. Failure to comply may result in an
order granting Defendants’ motions.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 6th day of March, 2018.
s/ Daniel P. Jordan III
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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