BATISTA v. COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying Plaintiff's motion for an emergent temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Signed by Judge Kevin McNulty on 6/29/15. (gh, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 15-cv-4522 (KM)
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC.,
STERN, LAVINTHAL &
FRANKENBERG, BANK OF
AMERICA, BAC HOME LOANS
SERVICING, LP, FIRST FINANCIAL
This matter comes before the Court on the pro se plaintiff’s complaint
and motion, without filing fee (Dkt. No. 1), for an emergent temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction against defendants Countrywide
Home Loans, Inc., Stern Lavinthal & Frankenberg, Bank of America, BAC
Home Loans Servicing, LP, and First Financial Equities, Inc. (the “defendants”).
In 2008, the plaintiff defaulted on her mortgage. The New Jersey Superior
Court, Middlesex County, entered a judgment of default in 2009, and a final
judgment of foreclosure in 2013. The plaintiff filed this federal action to enjoin
the defendants from selling her home at a Sheriff’s Sale that is scheduled to
occur on July 1, 2015. The plaintiff argues that she has successfully rescinded
her mortgage in a letter dated June 12, 2015, that the mortgage loan and note
are now void, and that, therefore, there is no legal basis to conduct the Sheriff’s
Sale. The plaintiff also argues that the defendants violated the Truth in Lending
Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 1601, et seq., by failing to satisfy certain of the Act’s disclosure
“A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish
 that [sjhe is likely to succeed on the merits,
 that [s]he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
[3j that the balance of equities tips in (her] favor, and
j4j that an injunction is in the public interest.”
Winter v. Natural Res. Def Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008) (line breaks and
numbering added); accord American Express Travel Related Servs., Inc. v.
Sidamon.-Eristoff 669 F.3d 359, 366 (3d Cir. 2012); Kos Pharm., Inc. v. Andrx
Corp. 369 F. 3d 700, 708 (3d Cir. 2004); see Adams v. Freedom Forge Corp.,
204 F.3d 475, 486 (3d Cir. 2000) (movant bears the burden of establishing
these elements). The requirements for a temporary restraining order are
similar. See Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. v. Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd.,
2015 WL 1782653 (D.N.J. April 16, 2015) (Simandle,
A court will consider all four factors, but the first two are essential: A
court may not grant injunctive relief, “regardless of what the equities seem to
require,” unless plaintiffs carry their burden of establishing both a likelihood of
success and irreparable harm. Adams, 204 F. 3d at 484; accord Hoxworth v.
Blinder, Robinson & Co., 903 F.2d 186, 197 (3d Cir. 1990) (placing particular
weight on the probability of irreparable harm and the likelihood of success on
the merits, stating: “[W]e cannot sustain a preliminary injunction ordered by
the district court where either or both of these prerequisites are absent.”
(quoting In re Arthur Treacher’s Franchisee Litigation, 689 F.2d 1137, 1143 (3d
Cir.1982)); Morton v. Beyer, 822 F.2d 364, 367 (3d Cir.1987); Freixenet, S.A. u.
Admiral Wine & Liquor Co., 731 F.2d 148, 151 (3d Cir.1984); American Express,
669 F.3d at 366, 374.
Injunctive relief, whether preliminary or temporary, must be denied here
because plaintiff has made no showing of likely success on the merits. This is
not the first time the plaintiff has come to federal court to contest the validity of
her mortgage. In a prior action before Judge Hochberg, 2: 14-cv-02369 (the
“prior action”), the plaintiff alleged numerous causes of action—15 counts over
more than 50 hand-written pages—against the defendants and other entities
associated with the origination, servicing, and processing of the same
mortgage. There, the plaintiff sought, inter alia, to obtain a declaration stating
that the mortgage was unenforceable (and also sought preliminary injunctive
relief). The plaintiff filed two Amended Complaints, both of which were
dismissed by Judge Hochberg. In dismissing the plaintiff’s Second Amended
Complaint, Judge Hochberg found that certain claims, to the extent they could
be identified, were time-barred, and that “all counts... [werej pled in an entirely
conclusory fashion” against defendants as a group, without factual specificity.
(Dkt. No. 68, at 7) Because the plaintiff did not successfully state a claim after
being afforded three opportunities to do so, Judge Hochberg dismissed the
Second Amended Complaint with prejudice. (Dkt. No. 68, at 8). Thereafter, the
plaintiff timely filed an appeal, which is pending. (Dkt. Nos. 69-70).
The plaintiff has responded by simply filing this separate federal court
action, seeking a fourth bite at the apple. That case has been assigned to me
(Judge Hochberg has retired from the Court). The plaintiff’s claims against the
defendants, however, were already adjudicated by Judge Hochberg in the prior
action, and dismissed with prejudice.’
If dismissal “with prejudice” means anything, it means that a plaintiff
cannot circumvent the bar to filing a Third Amended Complaint by instituting a
separate, duplicative lawsuit. To view it another way, some or all of the issues
asserted in this action are estopped by the prior judgment. Howard Hess
Only one claim appears to go beyond what was asserted in the prior action.
Plaintiff now claims that she “rescinded” her mortgage by letter dated June 12, 2015.
She cites and attaches a copy of Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 574 U.S.
135 S.Ct. 790 (2015). That case, however, holds that a borrower must give written
notice of rescission under the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1635(a), (1’), within (at
most) three years after the date the loan was consummated. Plaintiffs loan was
consummated some twelve years ago. That limitations period aside, defenses based on
the validity of the mortgage come too late. The foreclosure action was initiated in 2008;
a default judgment was entered in 2009; and a final judgment of foreclosure was
entered in 2013.
Dental Labs, Inc. v. Dentsply Int’l, Inc., 602 F.3d 237, 247 (3d Cir. 2010)
(citations and quotations omitted) (“Under the doctrine of collateral estoppel,
once an issue is actually and necessarily determined by a court of competent
jurisdiction, that determination is conclusive in subsequent suits based on a
different cause of action involving a party to the prior litigation.”)
In short, plaintiff’s complaint (which shares the vagueness that led to the
dismissal of its predecessors) and exhibits fail to make out a showing of
likelihood of success on the merits.
To be sure, the pendency of a sheriff’s sale on July 1, 2015, may
constitute an emergency and a threat of irreparable harm as of today. But the
circumstances suggest that the emergency is self-created. Litigation has been
going on for years; plaintiff’s “rescission” letter was sent on June 12, 2015; but
this complaint and application for emergent relief were not filed until Friday,
June 26, 2015, five days before the scheduled sheriff’s sale.
I note also that the plaintiff has not filed proof of service of the current
complaint. Nor does she state in writing her efforts to give notice of this request
for emergent relief or the reasons notice should not be required. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 65(b)(1)(B); Local Rule 65.1.
At any rate, however, relief would be denied based on the lack of a
showing of likelihood of success on the merits alone.
IT IS therefore this 29th day of June, 2015,
ORDERED that the plaintiff’s motion for an emergent temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction is DENIED.
L Y, U.S.D.
Plaintiff has submitted a copy of the notice by publication of the foreclosure
sale which cuts off the date, so the court is unable to determine when it was
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