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Rimmer v. Citifinancial, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

July 19, 2018

KAREN RIMMER, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
v.
CITIFINANCIAL, INC. DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-05-564493

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Brian Ruschel Patrick J. Perotti Dworken & Bernstein Co., L.P.A.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Kip T. Bollin Mark R. Butscha, Jr. James L. Defeo Stacey A. Greenwell Thompson Hine, L.L.P.

          BEFORE: E.T. Gallagher, P.J., Laster Mays, J., and Jones, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          EILEEN T. GALLAGHER, P.J.

         {¶1} Proposed intervenors-appellants, Ruth Brown, Herman Holden, Jacqueline Rainge, and Martha Tubbs (collectively "appellants"), appeal from the trial court's denial of their separate motions to intervene in a class action lawsuit filed against defendant-appellee, Citifinancial, Inc, ("Citi"), in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CV-05-564493. Appellants raise the following assignments of error for review:

1. The trial court erred in denying the named plaintiff and four proposed intervenors' motions for the four intervenors to intervene in this lawsuit to protect their interests.
2. The trial court erred in omitting the four moving intervenors from the class, providing notice and recovery to a group smaller than the certified class, and giving no explanation or reasoning for that ruling excluding the proposed intervenors, and others.

         {¶2} After careful consideration, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. Procedural and Factual History

         {¶3} The facts of the underlying class-action case are as follows:

[In April 2000], Karen Rimmer executed a note and security agreement with Bank of Yorba Linda for $5, 000. Her loan was subsequently assigned to Associates Financial Services, Inc. which was merged with Citi several months later, and Citi became the holder of Rimmer's mortgage. On April 10, 2001, Rimmer paid off her loan in full. On August 16, 2001, the satisfaction of the subject mortgage was recorded with the Cuyahoga County Recorder.
[On June 6, 2005], Rimmer filed a class action complaint against Citi, alleging Citi failed to file an entry of satisfaction of mortgage with the county recorder within 90 days of full payment of the mortgage, in violation of R.C. 5301.36. Rimmer sought automatic damages ($250), interest, and costs as allowed under R.C. 5301.36(C).
On January 25, 2006, Rimmer filed a motion for class certification seeking to represent a class of all persons who, from March 8, 1999, paid residential mortgages in full but for whom Citi did not file an entry of satisfaction of mortgage with the county recorder within 90 days of loan payoff.

Rimmer v. Citifinancial, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 99760, 2013-Ohio-5732, ¶ 4-6.

         {¶4} Following several appeals concerning the appropriateness of class certification and the scope of the defined class, [1] the class was defined by the trial court on January 21, 2015, as follows:

All persons who, from March 8, 1999 entered into a residential mortgage agreement (as defined by R.C. 5301.36) with Citifinancial, Inc. (or any predecessor or other entity acquired or merged with, or otherwise now part of Citifinancial, Inc., including any affiliates, subsidiaries, and/or related lending institutions) without entering into an arbitration provision agreement with Citifinancial, Inc. relating to disputes arising out of said mortgage agreement, and thereafter satisfied their obligation where Citifinancial, Inc. (or any predecessor or other entity acquired or merged with, or otherwise now part of Citifinancial, Inc., including any affiliates, subsidiaries, and/or related lending institutions) was the mortgagee at the time of satisfaction, and, for each such satisfied mortgage, Citifinancial, Inc. did not record the fact of the satisfaction in the appropriate county recorder's office and pay fees required for the recording within 90 days from the date of satisfaction.

(Emphasis added.)

         {¶5} After the class was certified, the trial court ordered Citi to identify the class members fitting within the class definition. Accordingly, Citi hired a title company to identify potential class members by searching various county recorders' offices throughout the state of Ohio. On April 14, 2016, Citi presented the results of the title ...


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