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Boone v. Quicken Loans Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division

February 9, 2018

Thelma Boone, Plaintiff,
v.
Quicken Loans, Inc., Defendant. Vance L. Boone, Plaintiff,
v.
Quicken Loans, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         In these consolidated actions, Plaintiffs Thelma Boone and Vance L. Boone (together “Plaintiffs”) filed the above-captioned actions against Defendant Quicken Loans, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Quicken Loans”) alleging claims for violation of the South Carolina Attorney Preference Statute (“SCAPS”), SC Code § 37-10-102 (2017), in the context of a mortgage loan closing. T. Boone v. Quicken Loans, Inc., C/A No. 5:15-cv-04772-JMC, ECF No. 1-1 at 9 ¶¶ 8- 13 (D.S.C. Nov. 30, 2015) (“Boone 1”); V. Boone v. Quicken Loans, Inc., C/A No. 5:15-cv-04843-JMC, ECF No. 1-1 at 10 ¶¶ 8-13 (D.S.C. Dec. 4, 2015) (“Boone 2”).

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' and Defendant's Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule[1] 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF Nos. 88, 91 (Boone 1); ECF Nos. 86, 89 (Boone 2).) The parties oppose each other's Motions respectively. (ECF No. 100, 105 (Boone 1); ECF Nos. 98, 103 (Boone 2).) For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTIONS

         Quicken Loans “is a nationwide online mortgage lender that provides, among other things, residential mortgage loan refinances.” Boone v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 803 S.E.2d 707, 709 (S.C. 2017). “Under the Quicken Loans refinance procedure, the borrowers have already purchased the property and are simply seeking a new mortgage loan (presumably with more favorable terms) to replace the existing loan.” Id.

         On or about September 13, 2012, Thelma Boone provided information by telephone to Quicken Loans' mortgage banker for purposes of completing a loan application to refinance the mortgage on Plaintiffs' residence located at 226 River Drive, Rowesville, South Carolina.[2] (ECF No. 88-5 at 3 ¶¶ 4-5 (Boone 1); ECF No. 86-5 at 3 ¶¶ 4-5 (Boone 2).) As a result of the information provided by Thelma Boone, Quicken Loans generated loan application documents that were sent to Plaintiffs to review and sign. (Id.) In addition to the loan application package, Quicken Loans included an Attorney/Insurance Preference Checklist (the “AIPC”). (Id.; see also ECF No. 1-1 at 13 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1-1 at 14 (Boone 2).) Based on the information provided by Thelma Boone, Quicken Loans sent Plaintiffs an AIPC that was prepopulated with the following relevant information (in bold):

         1. I (We) have been informed by the lender that I (we) have a right to select legal counsel to represent me(us) in all matters of this transaction relating to the closing of this loan.

         (a) I select I/We will not use the services of legal counsel.

Borrower

Vance L. Boone

Date

Borrower

Thelma Boone

Date

Borrower

Date

Borrower

Date

         (b) Having been informed of this right, and having no preference, I asked for assistance from the lender and was referred to a list of acceptable attorneys. From that list I select

Not Applicable

Not Applicable

Borrower

Date

Borrower

Date

Not Applicable

Not Applicable

Borrower

Date

Borrower

Date

(ECF No. 1-1 at 13 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1-1 at 14 (Boone 2).)

         On September 17 and 18, 2012, Plaintiffs signed the loan application documents and the AIPC. (ECF No. 88-5 at 3 ¶ 6 (Boone 1); ECF No. 86-5 at 3 ¶ 6 (Boone 2).) Plaintiffs then sent the signed loan application documents to Quicken Loans by telefax on September 17, 2012, and the AIPC to Quicken Loans on September 19, 2012. (ECF Nos. 1-1 at 13 & 88-7 (Boone 1); ECF Nos. 1-1 at 14 & 86-7 (Boone 1).) On October 19, 2012, Thelma Boone had a telephone conversation with a Quicken Loans' representative to discuss the details of the loan closing, including who would be in attendance. (ECF No. 88-5 at 3-4 ¶ 7 (Boone 1); ECF No. 86-5 at 3- 4 ¶ 7 (Boone 1).) On October 25, 2012, Plaintiffs met with attorney Justin Tapp of McDonnell & Associates, P.A. and signed a disclosure form agreeing to the terms of McDonnell & Associates' representation at the loan closing. (ECF No. 88-8 at 3-4 ¶ 7 (Boone 1); ECF No. 86-8 at 3-4 ¶ 7 (Boone 2).) On October 26, 2012, Plaintiffs completed their loan closing. (ECF No. 88-8 at 3 ¶ 4 (Boone 1); ECF No. 86-8 at 3 ¶ 4 (Boone 2).)

         On October 15, 2015, Plaintiffs filed Complaints against Quicken Loans in the Court of Common Pleas for Orangeburg County, South Carolina alleging violation of the SCAPS.[3] (ECF No. 1-1 at 10 ¶ 12 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1-1 at 9 ¶ 12 (Boone 2).) After Quicken Loans removed the cases to this court (ECF No. 1 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1 (Boone 2)) and they were consolidated (ECF No. 44 (Boone 1); ECF No. 43 (Boone 2)), the parties engaged in and completed discovery on March 1, 2017. (ECF No. 54 (Boone 1); ECF No. 53 (Boone 2).) Quicken Loans then moved for summary judgment on March 31, 2017. (ECF No. 88 (Boone 1); ECF No. 86 (Boone 2).) On that same day, Plaintiffs filed their Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 91 (Boone 1); ECF No. 89 (Boone 2).)

         The court heard argument from the parties on the instant Motions at a hearing on December 5, 2017. (ECF No. 147 (Boone 1); ECF No. 144 (Boone 2).)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) based on Quicken Loans' allegations that there is complete diversity of citizenship between Plaintiffs and Quicken Loans, and the amount in controversy herein exceeds the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand ($75, 000.00) Dollars, exclusive of interest and costs. (ECF No. 1 at 2 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1 at 2 (Boone 2).) Quicken Loans is a corporation organized under the laws of Michigan with its principal place of business in Detroit, Michigan. (ECF No. 1-2 at 3 ¶ 5 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1-2 at 3 ¶ 5 (Boone 2).) Plaintiffs are both citizens and residents of Orangeburg County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 1-1 at 8 ¶ 1 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1-1 at 9 ¶ 1 (Boone 2).) Moreover, the court is satisfied that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 in accordance with DMTAC's representation. (ECF No. 1 at 3-7 (Boone 1); ECF No. 1 at 3-7 (Boone 2).)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence would affect the disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). A genuine question of material fact exists where, after reviewing the record as a whole, the court finds that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Newport News Holdings Corp. v. Virtual City Vision, 650 F.3d 423, 434 (4th Cir. 2011).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 123-24 (4th Cir. 1990). The non-moving party may not oppose a motion for summary judgment with mere allegations or denial of the movant's pleading, but instead must “set forth specific facts” demonstrating a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986); Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1012 (4th Cir. 1991). All that is required is that “sufficient ...


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