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Bartlett v. Citibank N.A.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 19, 2017

ROY M. BARTLETT, Plaintiff,
CITIBANK N.A., et al., Defendants.


          EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Roy M. Bartlett has filed suit against Defendants Citibank, N.A. and Citimortgage, Inc. (collectively, “Citi”); Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. (“NTS”); and Marcia Patera. The suit is a foreclosure-related action. All Defendants have made an appearance except for NTS. The case is somewhat unusual in that it was removed by Ms. Patera (proceeding pro se), but now it is another defendant, Citi, who is moving for a remand, i.e., instead of the plaintiff Mr. Bartlett.

         Having considered the parties' briefs and accompanying submissions, [1] as well as all other evidence of record, [2] the Court hereby finds the matter suitable for disposition without oral argument. The hearing on the remand motion is VACATED, and Citi's motion is GRANTED.


         Based on the evidence of record, it appears as follows.

         In December 2013, Mr. Bartlett initiated the instant action in state court (Contra Costa Superior Court, No. C 13-02611). See Docket No. 1 (Ex. A) (complaint). He asserted various state law claims against Citi and NTS only (not Ms. Patera). In his complaint, he alleged that he and Ms. Patera were joint owners of certain real property in Alamo, and that the two took out three different mortgage loans from Citi. See Docket No. 1 (Ex. A) (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 14, 18, 19). According to Mr. Bartlett, Citi wrongfully sought to foreclose on the real property.

         Subsequently, it appears that Mr. Bartlett amended the complaint several times. The second amended complaint (“SAC”) was filed in August 2016. See Docket No. 1 (Ex. B) (SAC). In this pleading, Mr. Bartlett continued to assert state claims only. However, Mr. Bartlett now added Ms. Patera as a defendant to the lawsuit. Mr. Bartlett stated as follows with respect to Ms. Patera's being named in the suit:

Patera is being added as a party defendant pursuant to court order and court determination that she is a necessary and/or indispensable party. Patera jointly held title to the Property with Bartlett and was a co-borrower for the three subject loans. Bartlett is informed and believes that Patera's interests in the claims being asserted by Bartlett are similar to those of Bartlett. Bartlett invited Patera to voluntarily joint this action as a plaintiff with Bartlett, but Patera declined to do so. Instead, Patera has attempted to pursue separate litigation against Citibank and CitiMortgage. Citibank and CitiMortgage asserted that Patera is an indispensable party to this case and asked the Court to order that Bartlett add Patera as a party. Bartlett understands that California law requires Patera to be named as a nominal defendant rather than an involuntary plaintiff.

Docket No. 1 (Ex. B) (SAC ¶ 4).

         The lawsuit filed by Ms. Patera, to which Mr. Bartlett referred in the above paragraph, appears to be either No. C-14-4533 JSC or No. C-16-2937 VC. In the first case (initiated in October 2014), Judge Corley granted Citi's motion to dismiss based on failure to state a claim and for failure to join a necessary and indispensable party (Mr. Bartlett) but gave Ms. Patera leave to amend. Ms. Patera filed an amended complaint, but Citi again moved to dismiss. Judge Corley granted the motion to dismiss without prejudice for failure to join a necessary and indispensable party. Judge Corley added that she would not give leave to amend this time because “at oral argument [Ms. Patera] did not represent that [Mr.] Bartlett would join this lawsuit; instead, it appears that [Ms. Patera] and [Mr.] Bartlett are in a dispute. It is a dispute they will have to resolve if they wish to pursue claims against Defendants arising from their jointly-obtained loan and jointly-owned house.” Patera v. Citibank, N.A., No. C-14-4533 JSC (N.D. Cal.) (Docket No. 59) (Order at 4). The case thus terminated in May 2015.

         In June 2016, Ms. Patera filed the second lawsuit against Citi (No. C-16-2937 VC). This case was initially assigned to Judge Kim but then Judge Corley related the case to her earlier case (No. C-14-4533). Subsequently, Ms. Patera declined to consent to a magistrate judge, and Judge Corley issued a report and recommendation in which she recommended that Citi's motion to dismiss the new lawsuit be granted, and without leave to amend. Judge Chhabria was then assigned to the case. He adopted Judge Corley's R&R and entered a judgment against Ms. Patera in September 2016. Ms. Patera has appealed that judgment to the Ninth Circuit. That appeal (No. 16-16583) is still pending.

         In February 2017, Ms. Patera removed the instant case from Contra Costa Superior Court to this Court. See Docket No. 1 (notice of removal). Citi subsequently filed the currently pending motion to remand.


         A. Request for a Stay

         Before the Court addresses Citi's motion to remand, it addresses what appears to be a request for stay filed by Ms. Patera. See generally Docket Nos. 6-8 (memorandum and declarations). More specifically, Ms. Patera seems to be asking this Court to stay proceedings pending a ruling by the Ninth Circuit in her appeal (No. 16-16583) of Judge Chhabria's case. See Docket No. 6 (Patera Decl. ¶ 14) (“I have and am requesting stay in this case pending review and remand from the Ninth Circuit . . . .”).[3]

         By asking this Court to stay proceedings pending an appeal in a different case, Ms. Patera is seeking what is commonly referred to as a Landis stay. See ASIS Internet Servs. v. Member Source Media, LLC, No. C-08-1321 EMC, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109241, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sep. 8, 2008) (stating that, where there is a request to stay proceedings pending an appeal in a different case, a party is making a request for a Landis stay). “A district court has discretionary power to stay proceedings in its own court under Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936).” Lockyer v. State of Cal., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005).

         In assessing the propriety of a stay under Landis, a court must balance the length of the delay against the justifications for the stay. See Yong v. INS, 208 F.3d 1116, 1119 (9th Cir. 2000). More particularly, the court must examine

the competing interests which will be affected by the granting or refusal to grant a stay . . . . Among those competing interests are the possible damage which may result from the granting of a stay, the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward, and the orderly course of justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay.

Lockyer, 398 F.3d at 1110 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Because Ms. Patera has failed to brief any of the above factors, the Court would well be within its authority to deny her request for a stay. Moreover, based on its own independent analysis, the Court sees no reason for a stay. The pending motion to remand does not address the merits of this case in any way; it simply resolves which forum the case should be in. There is no need to put that ...

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