United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
ROBERT L. SULLEN, Plaintiff,
JAY BRAY, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
AARON POLSTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
17, 2017, Pro Se Plaintiff Robert L. Sullen filed
this action challenging the state court foreclosure of his
property against everyone directly or indirectly connected to
the state court case: the holder of the note/assignee of the
mortgage and its CEO (Nationstar Mortgage LLC
(“Nationstar”) and Jay Bray), the lawyers and law
firm representing Nationstar in the state foreclosure case
(Scott Casterline and Bradley Toman of Casterline, McNeill,
Rini, Kramer & Ulrich Co. LPA), the purchaser of
Sullen's home (Dennis Matson), Medina County Sheriff Tom
Miller, Ken Detner of Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, the U.S. Comptroller of Currency John C. Dugan, and
SEC Commissioners Michael S. Piwowar and Kara M. Stein.
Sullen alleges a scattershot of claims against
“Defendants, ” “each Defendant, ” or
“the applicable Defendants:” violations of the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15
U.S.C. § 1692, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
(“RESPA”) 12 U.S.C. § 2601, the National
Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1710, the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 1961, and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act
(“OCSPA”), O.R.C. Chapter 1345, along with a host
of common-law claims (negligence, breach of contract, unjust
enrichment, fraud/misrepresentation, intentional infliction
of emotional distress and civil conspiracy).
federal complaint, Sullen challenges Nationstar's
standing to bring the foreclosure proceeding against him in
state court and asks this Court to enjoin the sale of his
property (which was sold before he filed this case); he
contests the validity of the assignment of his mortgage to
Nationstar; he asks the Court to vacate and reverse the state
court rulings resulting in the transfer of his interest in
the property; he asks the Court to declare that he is the
rightful holder of title to the property; and he seeks
damages from “each applicable Defendant, ” no
matter how remotely they may have been associated with the
state foreclosure case.
Tom Miller has filed a Rule 12(c) Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings, and Jay Bray and Nationstar have filed a Motion to
Dismiss under Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1). (Respectively,
Doc ##: 9, 13.) The Moving Defendants both
contend, among other things, that this case is barred by
res judicata and the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine. The time for responding to these two
motions has passed, and Sullen has not filed anything.
December 14, 2006, Plaintiff Robert L. Sullen executed a Note
in the original amount of $134, 400.00 with Lehman Brothers
Bank, FSB, a Federal Savings Bank. (Ex. 7-1 at 4-8.) The Note
is endorsed in blank. (Id.) That same day, Sullen
executed a Mortgage granting Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc., as mortgagee and nominee for Lehman Brothers
Bank, FSB, its successors and assigns, a security interest in
the property located at 1717 Station Rd., Valley City, OH
44280 (“the Property”). (Id. at 9-31.)
The State Foreclosure Case
26, 2016, Nationstar, the holder of the Note and assignee of
the Mortgage, filed a foreclosure action against Robert and
Donna Sullen in the Medina County, Ohio Court of Common
Pleas. Nationstar Mortg. LLC v. Sullen, Medina Cnty.
Ct. Com. Pl. No. 16CIV0523. The complaint noted that the
Sullens had filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case in the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio and were
granted a discharge in that case in September 2010. Based on
that discharge, Nationstar stated that it did not seek a
personal money judgment against the Sullens on the Note, but
a first lien on the Property. Id. Sullen filed an
answer on August 11, 2016. The state court referred the case
to the Mediation Department, but the Court Mediator's
effort to mediate a resolution of the case proved
unsuccessful. On November 22, 2016, Nationstar filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment backed by evidence contending that it
had demonstrated a prima facie case for judgment on
its Note and foreclosure of its Mortgage. The state court set
a deadline for Sullen to file his response on December 23,
2017. On December 28, 2016, after Sullen failed to respond to
the Motion in a timely manner, the court granted the motion
as unopposed. The court concluded that Nationstar was
entitled to foreclose on the Property as a matter of law and,
pending a three-day waiting period, directed the Medina
County Sheriff to proceed without delay to appraise,
advertise and sell the Property. The Property was sold on
March 16, 2017.
month later, on April 17, 2017, Sullen filed a Motion to Set
Aside and Vacate Judgment Entry Dated 12/28/2016 and Set
Aside Sheriff Sale, contending that Nationstar lacked
standing to sue him and arguing that the judgment was void
because genuine issues of material fact existed as to
whether, among other things, Nationstar violated the RESPA,
the FDCPA, the OCSPA, and the National Housing Act.
Nationstar opposed the motion on May 2, 2017 and, one week
later, the court issued an opinion denying Sullen's
motion. In doing so, the court characterized the motion as a
motion for relief from judgment under Ohio Civ. R. 60(B) and
articulated the applicable standard:
Generally, in order to prevail on a motion for relief from
judgment brought pursuant to Civ. R. 60(B), the movant must
demonstrate that: (1) the party has a meritorious defense or
claim to present if relief is granted; (2) the party is
entitled to relief under one of the grounds stated in Civ. R.
60(B)(1) through (5); and (3) the motion is made within a
reasonable time. GTE Automatic Electric v. Arc
Industries (1976), 47 Ohio St.2d 146, 351 N.E.2d 113,
paragraph two of the syllabus.
Nationstar Mortg. LLC, Medina Cnty. Ct. Com. Pl. No.
16CIV0523, J. Entry-Denying Motion to Vacate etc., filed
09/May/2017, at 1. The court concluded that Sullen had failed
to present any evidence showing that he had a meritorious
defense to the foreclosure action; he had not presented any
evidence that he was entitled to relief under one of the
grounds stated in Rule 60(B)(1) through (5) (i.e., mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, excusable neglect, fraud,
misrepresentation, misconduct, or newly discovered evidence);
and he did not file his motion within a reasonable
time-observing that Sullen failed to explain why he waited
110 days after judgment was entered and one month after the
sheriff's sale took place to file his Rule 60(B) motion.
Id. at 1-3.
did not appeal the state court's ruling.
The Current Action
on June 29, 2017, Sullen filed the within Complaint and Order
for Injunction alleging claims challenging the state court
foreclosure judgment against twelve Defendants, most of whom
were tangentially involved in the state court foreclosure
action. Among the Defendants are Nationstar Mortgage LLC, the
state foreclosure plaintiff, and Medina County Sheriff Tom
Miller, under whose auspices the ...