United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
The Bank of New York Mellon f/k/a The Bank of New York as successor trustee for JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., as Trustee for the benefit of the Certificateholders of Equity One ABS, Inc. Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Series 2004-5, Plaintiff,
William Gary White, III, Palmetto Health Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Revenue, Defendant/Crossclaim Plaintiff,
Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Crossclaim Defendant
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge.
matter is currently before the court on a Recommendation from
the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 10), as well as a motion to
dismiss for lack of jurisdiction (ECF No. 14), and a motion
to consolidate cases. (ECF No. 17). The Bank of New York
Mellon (“BNYM”) initiated this foreclosure action
in the Lexington County Court of Common Pleas. William White
(“White”) then removed the action to this court
on March 13, 2017. (ECF No. 1). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., the case was
referred to the Magistrate Judge.
the Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
sua sponte and opines that this case should be
remanded back to the Lexington County Court of Common Pleas
for lack of jurisdiction. The Report sets forth in detail the
relevant facts and standards of law on this matter, and this
court incorporates those facts and standards without a
the filing of the Report, BNYM has filed a motion to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Within its motion,
BNYM incorporated the Magistrate Judge's recommendation
and provided additional arguments as to why this court does
not have jurisdiction over this case. Additionally, White has
filed a motion to consolidate this case with another case
previously before this court, which White voluntarily
dismissed in 2012. See White v. Equity One Mortgage
Co., 3:11-cv-01649-JFA. White filed objections to the
Report on April 27, 2017, (ECF No. 19), and all other motions
have been fully briefed. Therefore, the Report and both
motions are ripe for review.
court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report to which specific objections
are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge,
or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
However, a district court is only required to conduct a
de novo review of the specific portions of the
Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole,
974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific
objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this
court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198,
199 (4th Cir. 1983).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, see Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377
(1994), and a district court is charged with ensuring that
all cases before it are properly subject to such
jurisdiction. In re Bulldog Trucking, Inc., 147 F.3d
347, 352 (4th Cir. 1998). Generally, a case can be filed in
federal district court if there is diversity of citizenship
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, or if there is federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The removal
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, allows a state court
defendant to remove a case to a federal district court if the
state court action could have been originally filed there.
See Darcangelo v. Verizon Commc'ns, Inc., 292
F.3d 181, 186 (4th Cir. 2002).
the Report points out that White failed to indicate that all
defendants consented to the removal of the action from the
state court. When a case is removed on the basis of federal
question jurisdiction, all properly joined and served
defendants “must join in or consent to the removal of
the action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A). White
objects to this point by stating that BNYM failed to make a
timely objection and therefore waived its right to object to
this technical error in the removal process. However, because
this case is subject to remand even if this statutory
requirement were met, this issue is moot.
the notice of removal, White contends that this court has
federal question jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331 because he intends to assert a defense
under 15 U.S.C. § 45. However, as stated in the Report,
a federal question must be presented on the face of a
plaintiff's complaint to satisfy federal question
jurisdiction. Harless v. CSX Hotels, Inc., 389 F.3d
444, 450 (4th Cir. 2004). Also, “[a] federal defense to
a state cause of action is not sufficient to invoke federal
jurisdiction.” Cook v. Georgetown Steel Corp.,
770 F.2d 1272, 1275 (4th Cir. 1985). Here, BNYM instituted a
foreclosure action based exclusively on state law.
White's attempt to raise a defense to the foreclosure
action based on a federal law does not establish federal
objects to this conclusion by stating that this action arises
out of a breached settlement agreement that ended a case
previously before this court and “a district court
retains inherent jurisdiction and equitable power to enforce
agreements entered into in settlement of litigation before
that court.” (ECF No. 19 p. 3)(citing Millner v.
Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 643 F.2d 1005, 1009 (4th Cir.
1981)). However, “enforcement of [a] settlement
agreement . . . is more than just a continuation or renewal
of the dismissed suit, and hence requires its own basis for
jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co., 511 U.S. 375, 378 (1994). “Absent an
independent basis for federal jurisdiction, a district
court's ancillary jurisdiction to manage its proceedings,
vindicate its authority, and effectuate its decrees provides
such an independent jurisdictional basis to enforce a
settlement agreement if the parties' obligation to comply
with the terms of the settlement agreement has been made part
of the order of dismissal.” Marino v. Pioneer Edsel
Sales, Inc., 349 F.3d 746, 752 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 381). There are two ways in
which a court may make a settlement agreement part of its
dismissal order: either by separate provision (such as a
provision “retaining jurisdiction” over the
settlement agreement) or by incorporating the terms of the
settlement agreement in the order. Id.
argues that BNYM's complaint concerns disputes arising
from a 2012 settlement agreement reached after a court
ordered mediation in White v. Equity One Mortgage
Co., 3:11- cv-01649-JFA. (ECF No. 10 p. 4-5). However,
White has failed to indicate that this agreement was
incorporated into the order dismissing the prior case or that
this court retained jurisdiction over the settlement
agreement. Moreover, a review of the record in that case
shows that White voluntarily dismissed all claims in that
case with prejudice and without referencing any settlement
agreements. See White v. Equity One Mortgage Co.,
3:11-cv-01649-JFA (ECF No. 21 & 35). Therefore, this
court does not have jurisdiction over this case regardless of
whether it arises out of a breach of settlement agreement in
a separate case previously presided over by this court.
also argues that this court has jurisdiction over this matter
because the settlement in the previous case and the claims in
the present action are factually intertwined. (ECF No. 19 p.
5). However, “[t]he facts to be determined with regard
to such alleged breaches of contract are quite separate from
the facts to be determined in the principal suit, and
automatic jurisdiction over such contracts is in no way
essential to the conduct of federal-court business.”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 381 (1994). Therefore, the factual interdependence of
the prior ...