United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae” or
“Defendant”) moves for summary adjudication on a
portion of John Vodonick's (“Plaintiff”)
first claim for declaratory relief.
reasons set forth below, the Court denies the
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
owns and resides at 15240 Willow Ridge Court in Nevada City,
California. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's
Statements of Undisputed Material Facts (“SUF”)
at ¶ 1. In August 2014, Fannie Mae was assigned the
promissory note to the neighboring property, which was
declared to be in default. SUF at ¶¶ 2, 3. In
addition to being neighbors, Plaintiff alleges- though
Defendant disputes-that he has an easement over a portion of
the property. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) at
¶¶ 10-14; Defendant's Response to
Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Material Facts
(“SDF”) at ¶ 8. Fannie Mae posted a copy of
the notice of the foreclosure sale-to take place on November
26, 2014, at 12:30 p.m.-at the main entrance of the Nevada
County, California, Superior Courthouse. SUF at ¶ 4; SDF
at ¶ 1; Request for Judicial Notice
(“RFJN”), ECF No. 27, Exh. 6.
was out of town on November 26, 2014, and dispatched an
agent, Michael Nudelman, to appear at the auction. SUF at
¶ 6. Although the parties dispute whether or not Mr.
Nudelman could have made a valid bid on that day, the parties
appear to agree that he showed up for the scheduled sale. SUF
at ¶¶ 6-8; SDS at ¶ 4. Plaintiff instructed
Mr. Nudelman to bid up to the amount of Fannie Mae's
lien, but to not get into a bidding war with another bidder.
SUF at ¶ 9. The parties dispute whether or not someone
appeared to cry the sale or continue the sale to another
date. SDS at ¶ 4. The actual sale took place on a
subsequent day. SDS at ¶ 7. According to the
“Trustees Deed Upon Sale, ” the property was sold
“at public auction on 12/01/2014 at the place named in
the Notice of Sale[.]” RFJN, Exh. 8 at 2.
filed this action in March, 2015, and the Court granted
Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings with
respect to claims three, four, and five, and part of the
first claim in March, 2016. ECF Nos. 1, 4, & 18. The
Court denied Defendant's motion with respect to the part
of the first claim seeking a declaration that the deed to
Defendant is null and void. ECF No. 18. For the surviving
claims, Plaintiff first seeks declarations that the purported
deed is null, void, and of no effect and that Plaintiff is
vested in title and interest to the easement. Second,
Plaintiff seeks to quiet title to the easement by
implication. See FAC.
states that the basis for this Court's jurisdiction is
federal question jurisdiction because Defendant's
“charter provides that it is empowered to sue and be
sued, and to complain and to defend, in any court of
competent jurisdiction, State or Federal.” FAC at
¶ 1. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled
the Ninth Circuit on this issue, holding that the
sue-and-be-sued clause in Defendant Fannie Mae's charter
only permits suit in a court already endowed with
subject-matter jurisdiction and is not an independent source
of jurisdiction. Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortg. Corp.,
137 S.Ct. 553 (2017). The Court notified the parties of the
change and permitted the parties to brief this issue. See
Thunder Prop., Inc. v. Treadway, No.
3:15-cv-00141-MMD-VPC, 2017 WL 899961 (D. Nev. Mar. 7, 2017)
(relying on Lightfoot in remanding a case to state
court where removal was based on the
“sue-and-be-sued” clause in Fannie Mae's
charter). The parties submitted a joint response conceding
that the Court no longer has federal question jurisdiction
over the case. ECF No. 34. They argued, however, that the
Court should retain the case under diversity jurisdiction
because the parties are diverse and the property in dispute
puts the amount in controversy over the $75, 000 minimum.
Court is satisfied that diversity jurisdiction applies in
this case. First, Plaintiff is a California citizen, FAC
¶ 3, and Defendant is a citizen of the District of
Columbia, 12 U.S.C. § 1717(a)(2)(B). Second,
Plaintiff's first cause of action seeks a declaration
that the deed to Defendant is null and void. Even though the
FAC does not allege damages, the parties provide persuasive
authority and evidence that the requirement is met in this
case. See RFJN, ECF No. 35, Exh. 1 (Trustees Deed
Upon Sale for the price of $393, 824.21); Cohn v.
Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 840 (9th Cir. 2002)
(“In actions seeking declaratory or injunctive relief,
it is well established that the amount in controversy is
measured by the value of the object of the
litigation.”) (citation omitted); Hendricks v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. CV-15-01299-MWF (JEMx), 2015
WL 1644028, at *5-6 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2015) (finding that,
in an action seeking to enjoin the foreclosure sale, the
value of the property was relevant to determining the amount
in controversy). The Court thus retains the case.
Judicial Notice and Evidentiary Objections
seeks judicial notice of several documents, most of which are
not pertinent to the Court's ruling on this motion.
See RFJN, ECF No. 27. Among those documents,
Defendant requests notice of Defendant's Exhibit 6
([“Notice of Trustee's Sale”] dated October
29, 2014, recorded on October 31, 2014, in the official
records of Nevada County as document number 20140021214) and
Exhibit 8 ([“Trustee's Deed Upon Sale”] dated
December 2, 2014, recorded in the official records of Nevada
County on December 8, 2014, as document number 20140023981).
Defendant again requests notice of the same
“Trustee's Deed Upon Sale” in support of its
jurisdictional argument. RFJN, ECF No. 35, Exh. 1. Plaintiff
does not raise any objections. These documents are in the
public record and not subject to reasonable dispute. See
Grant v. Aurora Loan Services, Inc., 736 F.Supp.2d 1257,
1263- 64 (C.D. Cal. 2010). Thus, the Court grants
Defendant's requests as to these three documents.
evidentiary objections, Defendant objects to portions of John
Vodonick's Declaration, ECF No. 30-1, and portions of
Michael Nudelman's Declaration, ECF No. 30-2, due to
contradictions between the declarations and prior testimony
or statements. Reply at 7-9. Because the Court's ...