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Greene v. Homesales, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 7, 2013

DAVID ALAN GREENE, Plaintiff-Appellant,

Submitted on February 01, 2013.

Josephine County Circuit Court 10CV0551 A151026 Pat Wolke, Judge.

David A. Green filed the briefs pro se.

Michael J. Farrell and Martin, Bischoff, Templeton, Langslet & Hoffman, LLC, filed the brief for respondents Homesales, Inc., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., and Chase Home Finance, LLC.

Teresa M. Shill and Routh Crabtree Olsen, P.C., filed the brief for respondent Northwest Trustee Services, Inc.

Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Sercombe, Judge, and Hadlock, Judge.


This dispute relates to interests that the parties may have in certain real property located in Josephine County--property that, according to plaintiff's pleadings, is or was his home, and from which one or more of the defendants sought to have him evicted. After giving plaintiff several opportunities to adequately plead his claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against defendants, the trial court granted summary judgment to defendants and entered two limited judgments dismissing plaintiff's claims against them. On plaintiff's appeal from those two limited judgments, we affirm.

The significant facts on appeal are procedural and undisputed. In his first amended petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, plaintiff alleged that defendants--JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Chase Home Finance, LLC, and Homesales, Inc., of Delaware (collectively, "the Chase defendants") and Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. (NWTS)[1]--were "named on the Note, Deed of Trust, Trustee's Deed, and other documents" pertaining to the property. In association with various pleadings, plaintiff submitted a copy of the pertinent note and trust deed showing that JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., had loaned him $234, 000, secured by a trust deed on the real property at issue.

After defendants filed motions under ORCP 21, the trial court allowed plaintiff to replead, resulting in the filing of a pleading titled "second amended petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief; constructive trust; expunge mortgage." (Capitalization modified.)[2] In that petition, plaintiff alleged that Homesales was a necessary party because it had represented itself as the purchaser and present owner of the property; he alleged that the other defendants had "each played a part" in the foreclosure proceedings that he claimed were "wrongful." Most specifically, plaintiff alleged that JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., was "the 'Lender' on the Note" and "may have transferred the Note without notice" to plaintiff. Plaintiff sought a declaration of his rights under the "Note and Deed of Trust material to this case" and any other agreements or contracts that defendants might rely upon, and notice as to which parties might "qualify as real parties in interest to the Note and Deeds of Trust. * * *" Plaintiff also sought equitable relief, including a judgment "expunging the mortgage and quieting the title to [his] home. * * *"

NWTS and the Chase defendants all filed answers that included the affirmative defense of failure to allege facts stating a claim for relief. Those defendants acknowledged in their answers that JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., was the lender on the note, and Homesales admitted in its answer that it was the present owner of the property.

NWTS subsequently moved for judgment on the pleadings or, alternatively, for summary judgment. In that motion, NWTS argued, among other things, that plaintiff's complaint did not describe a justiciable controversy because it did not "allege acts of wrongdoing by NWTS, " "show an actual and substantial controversy between Plaintiff and NWTS, " or show that plaintiff and NWTS had adverse interests. In addition, and in support of its alternative motion for summary judgment, NWTS submitted evidence that plaintiff had secured payment of the note with the property by granting a trust deed to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.; JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. later assigned the beneficial interest in the deed of trust to Chase Home Finance, LLC, (and that assignment was recorded); Chase Home Finance appointed NWTS as successor trustee to the deed of trust (and that assignment was recorded); and, when plaintiff defaulted on the loan, NWTS gave plaintiff notice of its intent to sell the property, and foreclosure culminated in sale of the property to Homesales in March 2008.

The Chase defendants also moved for summary judgment, arguing that "there [was] no evidence that the foreclosure of Plaintiff's home was wrongful" and adopting the factual assertions and evidence that NWTS had submitted in support of its own motions. The Chase defendants asserted that plaintiff had made only one claim against any defendant in the case, i.e., that JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., might have transferred the note without giving him notice. That assertion could not form a basis for relief, they argued, because no Oregon law entitled plaintiff to notice that an interest in the note was being transferred.

Plaintiff opposed the defense motions, asserting that the "real question" was "where's the note and who was the note holder at the time of foreclosure." "Without that being clearly revealed and declared, " plaintiff argued, "there was no default and therefore no lawful foreclosure." Plaintiff did not offer any evidence that the note had been transferred to another party, nor any argument tending to establish that any such transfer would have been unlawful. ...

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