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Wilder v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 5, 2014

BRENDA J. WILDER, Plaintiff,

For Brenda J Wilder, Plaintiff: Laleh Ensafi, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Laleh Ensafi, Encino, CA.

For Bank of America NA, Successor by merger to BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, formerly known as Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, Defendant: Matthew Scot Vesterdahl, Rosalie Euna Kim, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Jonathan A Burky, Reed Smith LLP, San Francisco, CA; Raffi Kassabian, LEAD ATTORNEY, Reed Smith LLP, Los Angeles, CA.



On March 5, 2014, Brenda Wilder filed a verified complaint against Bank of America, N.A., successor by merger to BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP fka Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP (" BofA") and certain fictitious defendants in Riverside Superior Court.[1] On April 4, 2014, BofA removed the action to federal court, invoking the court's diversity jurisdiction. A week later, it filed a motion to dismiss.[2] The case was transferred to this court on April 17, 2014, pursuant to General Order 08-05.[3] On May 2, 2014, Wilder filed a motion to remand, [4] which the court denied on June 30, 2014, concluding that it had diversity jurisdiction. The court also granted BofA's motion to dismiss the complaint with prejudice on res judicata grounds.[5] It entered judgment in BofA's favor the same day.[6]

On September 8, 2014, Wilder filed a motion to vacate the judgment under Rule 60(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[7] BofA opposes the motion.[8] Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing calendared for December 8, 2014, is therefore vacated, and the matter taken off calendar.


A. Prior Federal Court Action (Wilder I)

Brenda Wilder filed an earlier action in federal court on April 3, 2013 (" Wilder I") against Stearns Lending, Inc., (" Stearns"), BofA, and ten fictitious defendants. The complaint alleged claims for declaratory relief; negligence; quasi contract; violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2605 (" RESPA"); violation of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1641 (" TILA"); violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (" FDCPA"); violation of California Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq; and an accounting.[10] On June 28, 2013, the court dismissed Wilder's complaint with leave to amend.[11] On July 18, 2013, she filed a first amended complaint, which deleted the TILA claim but repled the remaining causes of action.[12] On August 22, 2013, Wilder filed a motion to add the " Bank of New York Mellon, as Trustee" (" BNYM") as a defendant.[13] The court denied that motion on November 25, 2013, and dismissed her first amended complaint with leave to amend.[14] On December 19, 2013, it extended Wilder's time to file a second amended complaint to January 3, 2014.[15] When no amended complaint was filed by that date, the court dismissed the case with prejudice on January 7, 2014 pursuant to Rule 41(b).[16]

Wilder I concerned a December 15, 2008 agreement pursuant to which Stearns made a $289, 987 purchase money mortgage loan to Wilder secured by residential property located at 13800 Roderick Drive, Moreno Valley, California 92555.[17] Wilder alleged that shortly after she entered into the loan agreement with Stearns, Stearns assigned its right, title, and interest in the note and deed of trust to a trust; Bank of New York Mellon (" BNYM") was purportedly the trustee of the trust.[18] Wilder asserted that the trust " act[ed] as an apparatus for converting mortgages into a debt commodity, " i.e., a mortgage-backed security, [19] and argued that the transfer divested Stearns of any right to receive payments on the loan, to be denominated the holder of her note, or to be deemed the lender on her deed of trust.[20]

On September 16, 2011, MERS executed an assignment of deed of trust, which transferred the beneficial interest in the deed of trust to BofA.[21] Wilder alleged that the assignment was invalid for a variety of reasons: because it was fabricated by MERS; because MERS lacked authority to make an assignment; because the MERS Certifying Officer who signed the assignment lacked the authority to do so; because MERS did not hold an ownership interest in the property that it purported to assign; and because the assignment violated the statute of frauds.[22]

Wilder contended that BofA and BNYM falsely represented the status of her debt and their ability to enforce the debt obligation, and that BofA attempted to collect the debt under false pretenses by asserting that it had been assigned to BofA and BNYM when it had not.[23]

On July 3, 2012, BofA recorded a substitution of trustee, substituting ReconTrust Company, N.A. (" ReconTrust") as the trustee on the deed of trust.[24] The same day, ReconTrust, as agent for the beneficiary, recorded a notice of default, which stated that Wilder was $31, 525.92 in arrears on her loan payments as of June 29, 2012.[25]

B. Factual Background in the Second Action (" Wilder II")

The complaint in this action (" Wilder II") contained far fewer factual allegations than the complaint in Wilder I, but concerned the same mortgage loan for the same property.[26] Wilder alleged that on December 15, 2008, she executed a deed of trust in favor of Stearns Lending, Inc.[27] As in Wilder I, she ...

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