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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. White

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

November 29, 2017

WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., as Trustee Plaintiff
v.
BRADFORD J. WHITE Defendant

          Attorneys for Plaintiff: Andrea Holbrook, Esq. Brett Messinger, Esq. Duane Morris LLP

          Allyson Knowles, Esq. Andrew Schaefer, Esq. Bendett & McHugh

          Attorney for Defenant: John Campbell, Esq. Campbell & Associates Pll - Ford Motor Credit Company - Pro Se, Pll - Portfolio Recovery Associates - Pro Se

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          A. M. Horton, Justice

         Defendant Bradford J. White has filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in response to the renewed foreclosure complaint filed against him by Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. as Trustee. Plaintiff opposes the Motion and Defendant has filed a reply to Plaintiffs opposition.

         The court elects to decide Defendant's Motion without oral argument. See M.R. Civ. P. 7(b)(7).

         Background

         Not all of the background facts are pertinent to the pending Motion. What is pertinent is that this is the second foreclosure action commenced by Plaintiff against Defendant. The prior action was filed in 2011 and went to a non-jury trial in 2013. See Wells Fargo Bank, as Trustee v. White, Me. Super. Ct., Cum. Cty, Docket No. CUMSC-RE-11-77. In an order dated March 21, 2014, the court entered a foreclosure judgment in favor of Wells Fargo "based on indebtedness of $110, 000, " less than Wells Fargo claimed to be due, but more than Bradford White agreed was due. See id., Order (Mar. 21, 2014). However, in September 2014, after the Maine Law Court had issued its decision in Bank of America v. Greenleaf, 2014 ME 89, 96 A.3d 700, the Superior Court sua sponte vacated its March 2014 order and entered judgment for Bradford White "on the ground that the notice of default and right to cure letter sent to White on November 17, 2010 did not comply with 14 M.R.S. § 6111." Id., Order (Sept. 5, 2014). The second judgment does not state that whether is entered with, or without, prejudice. Neither party appealed from the second judgment, so it became the final judgment in the prior action.

         The sole issue raised by Defendant White's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is whether the September 2014 judgment in favor of Defendant operates to bar Plaintiffs claim in this case. Defendant says the September 2014 judgment is res judicata as to Plaintiffs claim; Plaintiff says it is not.

         Standard of Review

         The standard of review applicable to a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure is similar to that on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion-whether the pleading to which the motion is directed, viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, states a valid claim. See Town of Eddington v. University of Maine Foundation, 2007 ME 74, §5, 926 A.2d 183, 184; Heberv. Lucerne-in-Me. Vill. Corp., 2000 ME 137, ¶ 7, 755 A.2d 1064, 1066.

         In this case, Defendant's Motion relies on matter outside the pleadings, namely the September 2014 judgment in Defendant's favor in the prior foreclosure action. However, materials outside the pleadings can be considered, and the court can take judicial notice of its own docket and its prior orders. Cf. Moody v. State Liquor and Lottery Commission, 2004 ME 20, ¶ 10, 843 A.2d 43, 48 ("official public documents, documents that are central to the plaintiffs claim, and documents referred to in the complaint [can be considered[] without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for a summary judgment when the authenticity of such documents is not challenged").

         Analysis

         Defendant contends that the outcome of this case is dictated by the Law Court's recent decision in Federal National Mortgage ...


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