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Rampp v. Ocwen Financial Corporation

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 29, 2014

CHAUNTEL RAMPP, Plaintiff,
v.
OCWEN FINANCIAL CORPORATION, OCWEN LOAN SERVICING LLC, NOMURA CREDIT & CAPITAL, INC., EQUITY ONE, INC., WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, and HSBC BANK USA, NA, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BARRY TED MOSKOWITZ, Chief District Judge.

The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 78, 90.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES each motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Chauntel Rampp alleges that Defendants, most notably Ocwen Financial Corporation and Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (collectively "Ocwen"), wrongfully refused to honor a loan modification agreement Plaintiff entered into with the prior loan servicer, Litton Loan Servicing LP ("Litton"). On September 7, 2005, James and Chauntell Rampp obtained an adjustable rate mortgage in the amount of $400, 000.00, secured by a Deed of Trust on the property located at 244 Avalon Drive, Vista, CA 92083 (the "Property"). On the same day, James and Chauntell Rampp obtained a $100, 000 loan secured by a second Deed of Trust on the Property. The Deed of Trust and the Note provided the lender with authority to accelerate the loan and commence foreclosure proceedings in the event of default. (Defs.' Exs. 4, 5.)

On January 22, 2009, a Notice of Default was recorded against the Property. (Pl.'s Ex. G.) According to the Notice of Default, the Rampps were in arrears in the amount of $18, 956.41. Bankruptcy proceedings, as well as divorce proceedings, ensued shortly thereafter. Plaintiff retained responsibility for payment of the loan after the divorce, and Mr. Rampp transferred his interest in the property to Plaintiff. (Pl.'s Dep. 60-62, Ex. 10.)

In January 2011, Plaintiff received a "commitment letter" on Litton Loan Servicing letterhead offering to modify the terms of the loan. (Pl.'s Ex. P.) The offer was made by "Prommis Solutions as authorized agent for Litton Loan Servicing LP." The letter set forth the terms of the modification, including the new principal balance and monthly payment ($2, 391.42) beginning March 1, 2011. The letter stated that to accept the offer for a modified mortgage, the Rampps must sign and return the letter by February 7, 2011. The letter included terms for "Acceptance of Offer for Modified Mortgage, " followed by signature lines under the words: "I/We have had the opportunity to consult with legal and/or tax counsel prior to accepting this offer, and whether or not I/we retained such counsel, I/we have agreed to these terms and conditions." The Rampps signed the letter on January 31, 2011, and ostensibly returned it by February 7, 2011, resulting in the issuance of a formal loan modification agreement ("LMA") and related documents. These documents were signed by the Rampps on April 4, 2011. (Pl.'s Ex. H.)

In a letter dated August 15, 2011 (Pl.'s Ex. I), the Rampps were notified by Litton that Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC was taking over the servicing of the account. Litton assured the Rampps: "The transfer of the servicing of your account does not affect any term or condition of your financing agreement, other than terms directly related to the servicing of your account." Yet in a letter dated September 24, 2011, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC informed Plaintiff that she was not eligible for the modification. Ocwen refused to accept payments under the LMA, and Plaintiff filed this lawsuit thereafter.

The Court granted Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from foreclosing on the encumbered property, and Plaintiff has since deposited payments with the Clerk of Court to satisfy the bond requirement imposed by the Court.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency , 261 F.3d 912, 919 (9th Cir. 2001). A dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to establish an essential element of the nonmoving party's case on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving at trial. Id . at 322-23. "Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

Once the moving party establishes the absence of genuine issues of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth facts showing that a genuine issue of disputed fact remains. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 314; In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig. , 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010). The nonmoving party cannot oppose a properly supported summary judgment motion by "rest[ing] on mere allegations or denials of his pleadings." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 256. When ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must view all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Motion for ...


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