United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
NANCY C . HARDWICK, Plaintiff,
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
filed this action for breach of contract, unfair business
practices and unfair and deceptive acts, negligence, breach
of fiduciary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and
fair dealing, and fraud. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The
matter is before the Court for review of the Report and
Recommendation (Report) of the United States Magistrate Judge
suggesting that Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment
be denied. The Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of
those portions of the Report to which specific objection is
made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole
or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or
recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on June 8, 2016, and
Defendant filed its objections to the Report on June 27,
2016. The Court has reviewed the objections, but finds them
to be without merit. Therefore, it will enter judgment
raises two objections to the Report. First, Defendant objects
to the Magistrate Judge’s suggestion that the
applicable statute of limitations should be equitably tolled
or, alternatively, that the Defendant should be equitably
estopped from asserting the statute of limitations as a
defense. ECF No. 57 at 2. Defendant argues Plaintiff’s
claims are all governed by a three-year statute of
limitations which ran on December 21, 2013, and Defendant
propounds that it “took no action or in any way
prevented Plaintiff from raising her claims in the pending
2010 Foreclosure Action, ” so there is no injustice in
time-barring Plaintiff’s claims. Id. at 3-4.
Court, however, finds Defendant’s emphasis on the fact
that it did not outright prevent Plaintiff from bringing her
claims within the statutorily defined period unpersuasive.
Given that Plaintiff is appearing pro se, as well as the fact
that Plaintiff depended on Defendant’s seeking a
foreclosure judgment after the dismissal of her 2012 federal
action, this Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge’s
application of equitable tolling and equitable estoppel.
Because the Court finds no error in the Magistrate
Judge’s treatment of this issue, it need not discuss it
in further detail. Therefore, the Court will overrule
Defendant’s first objection.
Defendant objects to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion
that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is inapplicable,
contending abstention prevents this Court from addressing
this case. Id. at 6. Defendant avows the Magistrate
Judge incorrectly held that Plaintiff’s pending appeal
before the South Carolina Court of Appeals means there has
been no final state court judgment, because the appeal is
purportedly improper, so the Master in Equity’s
foreclosure judgment is de facto final. Id.
Defendant further asserts that it is irrelevant that
Plaintiff filed her Complaint prior to the entry of the
foreclosure judgment, as the timing of the filing is only one
of several relevant considerations under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine in the Fourth Circuit.
Id. at 7.
contentions are, again, misguided. First, Defendant’s
argument that Plaintiff’s appeal was improper and the
South Carolina Court of Appeals will ultimately “have
no choice but to dismiss [it]” is unpersuasive, as
regardless of what may happen to that appeal in the future,
it is not a final judgment at present. Id. at 6.
Further, as noted by the Magistrate Judge, the United States
Supreme Court has explained that the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine applies only to “cases brought by state-court
losers complaining of injuries caused by state court
judgments rendered before the district court proceedings
commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of
those judgments.” See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi
Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). Thus, even
if the foreclosure judgment is final, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine fails to bar this Court from
addressing Plaintiff’s claims in that Plaintiff brought
this action several months before the Foreclosure Order was
signed. Consequently, the Court will overrule
Defendant’s second objection as well.
thorough review of the Report and the record in this case
pursuant to the standard set forth above, the Court overrules
Defendant’s objections, adopts the Report, and
incorporates it herein. Therefore, it is the judgment of this