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U.S. Bank, National Association v. Barclays Bank PLC

Superior Court of Maine, Androscoggin

July 15, 2016

U.S. BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, as trustee for RMAC TRUST, SERIES 2012-5T, Plaintiff,
v.
BARCLAYS BANK PLC, f/k/a EQUIFIRST CORPORATION, Defendant, and THOMAS W. BYRNE, a/k/a THOMAS BYRNE, ANNA MARIE BYRNE, MAINE REVENUE SERVICE, LVNV FUNDING, LLC, PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, LLC, Parties-in-Interest.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO VOLUNTARILY DISMISS COMPLAINT

          Mary Gay Kennedy Justice, Superior Court

         Presently before the court is Plaintiff U.S. Bank, National Association's motion to dismiss its complaint for declaratory judgment and title against Defendant Barclays Bank PLC. Based on the following, Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to Plaintiff's complaint, on July 20, 2007, Parties-in-Interest Thomas W. Byrne and Anna Marie Byrne ("the Byrnes") executed and delivered to Equifirst Corporation a promissory note in the amount of $161, 5000.00. (Compl. ¶ 8.) To secure the note, the Byrnes executed a mortgage deed in favor of Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. ("MERS"), as nominee for Equifirst Corporation. (Id. ¶ 10.) The secured property is located at 21 Tyler Street in Auburn, Maine. (Id.) The mortgage deed was recorded in the Androscoggin County Registry of Deeds in Book 7229, Page 226. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that, on September 26, 2012, MERS assigned the mortgage deed to The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, National Association, which in turn assigned mortgage to Plaintiff on December 28, 2012. (Id. ¶¶ 12-14.)

         In 2014, the Law Court held that, because MERS has only the right to record the mortgage and no ability to assign the right to foreclose on the mortgage, an assignee from MERS lacks standing to foreclose on a mortgage. Bank of Am., N.A. v. Greenleaf, 2014 ME 89, ¶ 14-17, 96 A.3d 700. Therefore, Plaintiff in this case has no standing to seek foreclosure on the mortgage deed executed by the Byrnes.

         To resolve its standing problem, Plaintiff filed this action for declaratory judgment and title against Defendant Barclays Bank PLC on June 5, 2015. Plaintiff's complaint seeks a "confirmatory Nunc Pro Tunc order" reaffirming the assignment of the mortgage from MERS to Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ a.) Plaintiff also seeks a declaratory judgment that it is both the owner of the subject note and mortgage. (Id. ¶ b.) Defendant Barclays Bank PLC did not answer the complaint and has not appeared in this action. The Byrnes, as parties-in-interest, did answer the complaint and have appeared in this action.

         On November 16, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion for partial default judgment and judgment on the pleadings against Barclays Bank PLC affirming the assignment by MERS and declaring Plaintiff the owner of the subject note and mortgage. (Pl. Mot. for Default J. 4-5.) The Byrnes filed an opposition to the motion for default judgment and a motion for sanctions against Plaintiff's counsel on December 7, 2015. Plaintiff timely replied to the Byrnes' opposition on December 14, 2015, and filed an opposition to the motion for sanctions on December 30, 2015. The Byrnes' timely replied to the opposition. Oral argument on both motions was held on February 2, 2016.

         On March 3, 2016, while the court's decisions on the motion for default judgment and the motion for sanctions were still pending, Plaintiff filed this motion, which Plaintiff's counsel has titled a "motion to dismiss action as moot." Plaintiff asserts that it has obtained a quitclaim assignment from original lender Equifirst Corporation assigning any and all rights it may have under the mortgage to Plaintiff. (Pl. Mot. to Dismiss 2, Ex. A.) Thus, according to Plaintiff, its complaint for declaratory judgment and title against Defendant Barclays Bank PLC is now moot.

         The Byrnes filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion to dismiss on March 25, 2016. The Byrnes do not oppose dismissal of this action, but argued that the court should impose terms and conditions upon dismissal pursuant to Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2). (Byrne Resp. to PI. Mot. to Dismiss 1.) The Byrnes also argued that the court should still act on their motion for sanctions against Plaintiff's counsel. (Id.) However, on June 2, 2016, the Byrnes withdrew their motion for sanctions and their opposition to the motion to dismiss. The Byrnes consent to the dismissal of this action without any fees or costs to either party.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff's motion to dismiss does not address, or even cite, the applicable Rule of Civil Procedure governing the dismissal of its complaint. Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a) governs the voluntary dismissal of an action by a plaintiff. Rule 41(a) states, in relevant part, "an action shall not be dismissed at the plaintiff's instance save upon order of the court and upon such terms and conditions as the court deems proper. ... Unless otherwise specified in the order, a dismissal under this paragraph is without prejudice." M.R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Rule 41 permits a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss an action it no longer wishes to pursue. Because Plaintiff believes that the quitclaim assignment it has obtained satisfies its objectives and it no longer wishes to pursue its declaratory judgment action against Barclays Bank PLC, the court will dismiss this action pursuant to Rule 41. Because Plaintiff has moved to voluntarily dismiss its complaint, the court need not decide whether Plaintiff's claim is moot as a matter of law. In fact, the court expressly declines to rule or opine on the validity of the quitclaim assignment at this time and whether it moots Plaintiff's complaint.

         Though the court grants the motion to voluntarily dismiss its complaint, the court notes that Plaintiff's filings throughout this case have been less than scrupulous. In some instances, Plaintiff has led the court believe that Equifirst Corporation no longer exists and that Barclays Bank PLCS is the proper defendant. In other instances, the Plaintiff has averred that Equifirst Corporation is the real defendant in this case. Plaintiff's motion to dismiss and the quitclaim assignment have done nothing to clarify the facts in this case or ...


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