United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
STEPHEN M. DOYLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Docs. 1-10,
1-11, 1-12), Plaintiff's Motion in Opposition to Dismiss
(Doc. 1-7), Plaintiff's Motion to Amend and Motion for a
Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. 1-9), and Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand (Doc. 4). For the reasons stated more fully
below, the undersigned Recommends that Plaintiff's
Motions be denied and Defendants' Motions be granted.
November 28, 2005, Plaintiff's wife, Ms. Thomason,
obtained two mortgages from Defendant EvaBank in order to
finance the purchase of a homestead. Thomason II,
(Doc. 1-10) at 4. Shortly after closing on the mortgage,
EvaBank sold the mortgage to Defendant IndyMac Bank, F.S.B.
(“IndyMac”). Thomason II, (Doc. 1-1) at
3-4; (Doc. 1-11) at 2. The mortgages subsequently fell into
default. Thomason I, (Doc. 183) at 4. Ms. Thomason
passed away in October 2009. Thomason II, (Doc. 1-1)
at 4. Plaintiff continued making payments on the mortgages
for a year after Ms. Thomason's death but eventually
ceased, with the last payment being made on November 4, 2010.
Thomason I, (Doc. 183) at 4-5. In March 2011,
Plaintiff sought bankruptcy protection to avoid foreclosure.
Thomason II, (Doc. 1-1) at 4; (Doc. 1-10) at 4.
Plaintiff's bankruptcy case was dismissed in November
2011. Thomason II, (Doc. 1-1) at 6. On March 26,
2012, Plaintiff filed another bankruptcy petition, but it was
dismissed the following month. Thomason II, (Doc.
1-1) at 7.
11, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court
alleging various claims arising from Defendant OWB's
handling of his “application for a loan
modification.” Thomason I, (Doc. 1);
Thomason II (Doc. 1-11) at 2. OWB filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Complaint. Thomason I, (Doc. 6).
Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint
to add additional claims and parties. Thomason I,
(Doc. 17). The Court granted OWB's motion, dismissed
Plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice and denied
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend. Thomason I, (Docs.
30, 31). Plaintiff appealed the dismissal to the Eleventh
Circuit. Thomason I, (Doc. 32). On November 1, 2013,
servicing of Plaintiff's mortgages transferred to
Defendant Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (“Ocwen”).
Thomason I, (Doc. 183) at 5. The Eleventh Circuit
remanded the case, directing this Court to allow Plaintiff to
amend his Complaint. Thomason I, (Doc. 42.)
Plaintiff subsequently amended his Complaint, adding Ocwen,
Deutsche Bank, and EvaBank as parties and adding various
causes of action. Thomason I, (Doc. 49). In
October 2017, Defendants filed Motions for Summary Judgment.
Thomason I, (Docs. 175, 182). In March 2018, this
Court granted summary judgment to Defendants and dismissed
Plaintiff's previous case. Thomason I, (Doc.
214); Thomason II, (Doc. 1-11) at 3.
April 25, 2018, Plaintiff appealed the Court's final
judgment to the Eleventh Circuit. Thomason I, (Docs.
220, 224); Thomason II, (Doc. 1-11) at 3. On July
31, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in state court,
alleging various claims against the same defendants arising
out of the same events as the case under appeal in federal
court. Thomason II, (Doc. 1-1). On November 15,
2018, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed Plaintiff's appeal
for want of prosecution because Plaintiff failed to pay the
required filing and docketing fees. Thomason I,
(Doc. 234). On December 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Petition
for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
Thomason II, (Doc. 1-11) at 3. In March 2019,
Defendants filed separate Motions to Dismiss in
Plaintiff's state court action arguing, inter
alia, that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the
doctrine of res judicata because there is already a prior,
final judgment on the identical matter in this Court.
Thomason II, (Docs. 1-10, 1-11).
April 8, 2019, the FDIC, in its capacity as Receiver for
IndyMac, removed Plaintiff's state court action to this
Court pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 1819(b)(2)(B) and 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b). Thomason II, (Doc. 1). On
April 24, 2019, The United States Supreme Court denied
Plaintiff's Petition for Writ of Certiorari in his
federal court case. Thomason I, (Doc. 242);
Thomason II, (Doc. 11). On May 1, 2019, Plaintiff
filed a Motion to Remand, arguing the FDIC is a
“nominal defendant” and, therefore, not
authorized under § 1819 to remove the case to federal
court. Thomason II, (Doc. 4). The United States
District Judge assigned to this case referred the case to the
undersigned United States Magistrate judge for “all
pretrial proceedings and entry of any orders or
recommendation as may be appropriate.” Thomason
II, (Doc. 3).
fundamental precept of common-law adjudication, embodied in
the related doctrines of collateral estoppel and res
judicata, is that a ‘right, question or fact distinctly
put in issue and directly determined by a court of competent
jurisdiction . . . cannot be disputed in a subsequent suit
between the same parties or their privies . . . .'”
Montana v. United States, 440 U.S. 147, 153 (1979)
(quoting S. Pac. R. Co. v. United States, 168 U.S.
1, 48-49 (1897)). “Under res judicata, a final judgment
on the merits bars further claims by parties or their privies
based on the same cause of action.” Id.
(citing Lawlor v. Nat'l Screen Svs.
Corp., 349 U.S. 322, 326 (1955); Cromwell v. Cty. of
Sac, 94 U.S. 351, 352 (1877)). “The purpose behind
the doctrine of res judicata is that the ‘full and fair
opportunity to litigate protects [a party's] adversaries
from the expense and vexation attending multiple lawsuits,
conserves judicial resources, and fosters reliance on
judicial action by minimizing the possibility of inconsistent
decisions.'” Ragsdale v. Rubbermaid, Inc.,
193 F.3d 1235, 1238 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting
Montana, 440 U.S. at 153-54). “Res judicata
bars the filing of claims which were raised or could have
been raised in an earlier proceeding.” Id.
(citing Citibank, N.A. v. Data Lease Fin. Corp., 904
F.2d 1498, 1501 (11th Cir. 1990)).
Under Eleventh Circuit precedent, a claim will be barred by
prior litigation if all four of the following elements are
present: (1) there is a final judgment on the merits; (2) the
decision was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(3) the parties, or those in privity with them, are identical
in both suits; and (4) the same cause of action is involved
in both cases.
Id. (citing Citibank, 904 F.2d at 1501).
based on a review of the record, the undersigned concludes
that all four requirements are unquestionably met. First, the
district court issued a final judgment in the prior
litigation on March 26, 2018. See Thomason I, (Doc.
214); see also Stanley v. Cent. Intelligence Agency,
639 F.2d 1146, 1157 (5th Cir. 1981) (noting that the granting of
summary judgment is a disposition on the merits of the case).
That final judgment was left standing by the Eleventh Circuit
(Doc. 234) and the United States Supreme Court (Doc. 242).
Hence, the undersigned finds that there is a final judgment
on the merits in the prior litigation.
the undersigned finds the Court had proper jurisdiction to
render that final judgment. A district court has
“original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A claim arises under
federal law if a federal question appears on the face of the
plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint. Louisville &
Nashville R.R. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908).
“As a general rule, a case arises under federal law
only if it is federal law that creates the cause of
action.” Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1502, 1505
(11th Cir.1996) (citing Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr.
Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 8-10 (1983)). Here,
Plaintiff asserted claims arising under various federal
statutes, to include 15 ...