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Thomas v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 10, 2014

RUDIE THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS SUCCESSOR BY MERGER TO LASALLE BANK, N.A., AS TRUSTEE FOR THE MLMI TRUST SERIES 2006-RM2 AND ALL PERSONS UNKNOWN CLAIMING ANY ILLEGAL OR EQUITABLE RIGHT, TITLE, ESTATE, LIEN, OR INTEREST IN PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THE COMPLAINT ADVERSE TO PLAINTIFF'S TITLE OR ANY CLOUD ON PLAINTIFF'S TITLE, OR ANY CLOUD ON PLAINTIFF'S TITLE THERETO; DOES 1 to 10, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO DECLARE PLAINTIFF A VEXATIOUS LITIGANT

LARRY ALAN BURNS, District Judge.

Thomas accuses Bank of America of illegally buying his home at a foreclosure sale and subsequently removing him from it. Now pending before the Court are BOA's motion to dismiss and motion to declare Thomas a vexatious litigant. Both motions are GRANTED.

This case is, on its facts, as simple as any other foreclosure case the Court has seen in recent years. It is actually even simpler considering that BOA's most direct argument is that Thomas's claims are barred by res judicata, an argument that needn't even reach the substantive merits of Thomas's claims. For whatever reason, however, the case comes with a staggering amount of briefing and exhibits. Almost everything that has been filed is either too long or too heavily exhibited. Thomas's complaint is almost 80 pages, and his oppositions to the motions are each over two hundred pages. For BOA's part, its motion to declare Thomas a vexatious litigant comes with over a thousand pages of exhibits. The Court has done its best to review everything.

I. Res Judicata

This isn't the first case in which Thomas has challenged BOA's right to buy his home and remove him from it.

In 2010, after it bought Thomas's home at a trustee's sale, BOA filed an unlawful detainer action against Thomas in San Diego Superior Court. BOA prevailed. The court entered summary judgment in its favor, ordering that "Plaintiff LASALLE BANK, N.A. as Trustee have and recover from Defendant(s) RUDIE THOMAS possession of the improved real property located at 5048 CRESCENT BAY DR, SAN DIEGO, CA 92154." (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. I.) Thomas lost on appeal, and his petition for rehearing was denied. (Mot. to Dismiss, Exs. R, S.)

After the unlawful detainer action was filed but before it was resolved on appeal, Thomas filed a motion to set aside the trustee's sale and to quiet title-also in San Diego Superior Court. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. J.) Again, BOA prevailed. The court granted its motion to dismiss, and on May 13, 2013 the Court of Appeal affirmed. (Mot. to Dismiss, Exs. K, V.) His petition for rehearing was denied, as was his petition for review with the California Supreme Court. (Mot. to Dismiss, Exs. W, Z.)

Thomas also pressed his case in federal court. On December 27, 2011, just a few months after he filed his second amended complaint in San Diego Superior Court, he filed a motion to set aside the trustee's sale and to quiet title in this Court. See Thomas v. Bank of America, Case No. 11-CV-3009, Doc. No. 1. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. M.) This case was assigned to judge Bencivengo, and she dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction on September 7, 2012. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. O.) She explained to Thomas that even if he alleged jurisdictional facts, "the matters that you have pending in the state court are similar to the matters here and because they involve the disposition of property in your quiet title claim, the law requires that we abstain from hearing the matter when the state court already had jurisdiction and heard it first." Case No. 11-CV-3009, Doc. No. 44 at 3.

Undeterred, Thomas turned around and filed a second case in this Court on October 12, 2012. It asserted claims under RESPA, FDCPA, TILA, RICO, and ยง 1983, among others, and also accused Bank of America of criminal violations under state and federal law. See Thomas v. Bank of America, Case No. 12-CV-2475, Doc. No. 1. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. P.) This case was assigned to Judge Curiel, who ordered that the parties file supplemental briefing on the question whether principles of res judicata barred the claims. Case No. 12-CV-2475, Doc. No. 30. Judge Curiel subsequently issued a thorough, 13-page order sua sponte dismissing the case based on principles of res judicata. Case No. 12-CV-2475, Doc. No. 46. (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. X.) Judge Curiel recognized that "res judicata will bar not only those claims actually litigated in a prior proceeding, but also claims that could have been litigated, " and that "[i]n California, a [1] valid, final judgment on the merits is a bar to a subsequent action by [2] parties or their privies [3] on the same cause of action.'" Case No. 12-CV-2475, Doc. No. 46 at 7 (quoting Sargon Enters., Inc. v. Univ. of S. Cal., 215 Cal.App.4th 1495, 1508 (Cal.Ct.App. 2013)). (Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. X.)

The Court has reviewed Judge's Curiel's dismissal order and finds it equally pertinent to this case. This is the crux of it:

The primary right is Plaintiff's right to the subject property. The harm for which Plaintiff sought relief in state court is the same harm for which he now seeks to hold defendants liable which is the foreclosure of his property. The alleged wrong by Defendants is that Defendants wrongfully foreclosed on his property. The actions in state court and this court concern the same property, same deed of trust and same foreclosure sale. The fact that Plaintiff raises new theories for relief is not relevant for purposes of claim preclusion. Through different court proceedings, Plaintiff has been seeking relief for the alleged wrongful foreclosure of the property. Case No. 12-CV-2475, Doc. No. 46 at 11. (Mot to Dismiss, Ex. X.)

The Court agrees fundamentally with that analysis. Moreover, Thomas has no rebuttal to it as it applies to this case. In his opposition brief, he merely repeats several times the same lines with respect to the res judicata issue, and they are meaningless:

Plaintiff denies this argument and it should be noted that Mr. Stolzman statement is deceptive in that the Ryan Firm purchased bogus promissory notes in which Bank of America, N.A. deemed as uncollectible. The Trustee's Deed Upon Sale was recorded on May 5, 2008. Bank of America, N.A. just recently provided the plaintiff with documentation that reflects that Bank of America, N.A. did not own or service the loan nor does the Ryan Firm represent Bank of America, N.A. as counsel. The documentation will also show that it was The Ryan Firm that created the bogus account for the plaintiff in which was ordered to be removed as part of the Independent Foreclosure Review. (Opp'n Br. at 5-7.)

He also says, at least twice, that this case "claims violation, by the defendant, of the liberty clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution as they apply to the plaintiff, " which it obviously can't do insofar as Bank of America is a completely private actor. See Collins v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2013 WL 3808097 at *12 (D. Ariz. July 23, 2013). (Opp'n Br. at 6-7.) When Thomas does seem to have a substantive argument with respect to res judicata, all he does is cite a case for the ...


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