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Hunt v. JP Morgan Chase Bank

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 5, 2019

JOYCE HUNT, Plaintiff,
v.
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         On August 26, 2016, Plaintiff Joyce Hunt filed a Complaint in the Lake County, Indiana, Circuit/Superior Court, alleging that in 2006 Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank issued fraudulent loans in Plaintiff's name without her knowledge or consent and changed the terms of a legitimate loan Plaintiff took out so that Defendant could pay off the fraudulent loan. Compl. ¶¶ 7-18, ECF No. 3. On October 31, 2016, Defendant removed the matter to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 33]. Plaintiff, who is currently proceeding pro se, was served with a Notice of Summary Judgment Motion in conformity with Northern District of Indiana Local Rule 56-1(f) and Timms v. Frank, 953 F.2d 281, 285 (7th Cir. 1992). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for ruling. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “The court shall grant summary judgment 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). “[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by ‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “If the moving party has properly supported [its] motion, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Spierer v. Rossman, 798 F.3d 502, 507 (7th Cir. 2015). “To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must establish some genuine issue for trial such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in [his] favor.” Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2012).

         Within this context, the Court must construe all facts and reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Frakes v. Peoria Sch. Dist. No. 150, 872 F.3d 545, 550 (7th Cir. 2017). However, the nonmoving party “is only entitled to the benefit of inferences supported by admissible evidence, not those ‘supported by only speculation or conjecture.'” Grant v. Trs. of Ind. Univ., 870 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Nichols v. Michigan City Plant Planning Dep't, 755 F.3d 594, 599 (7th Cir. 2014)). Likewise, irrelevant or unnecessary factual disputes do not preclude the entry of summary judgment. Carroll v. Lynch, 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The Court “liberally construe[s] the pleadings of individuals who proceed pro se.” Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chi., Ill., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). “The essence of liberal construction is to give a pro se plaintiff a break when, although [she] stumbles on a technicality, [her] pleading is otherwise understandable.” Hudson v. McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 1998). However, the Court “still holds Plaintiff to the same substantive standards as other civil litigants when it considers the motion for summary judgment.” Runnels v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 105 F.Supp.2d 914, 918 (C.D. Ill. 2000).

         STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

         Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the following are the undisputed material facts of record. In January 2006, Plaintiff applied for a loan (the “1934 Loan”) from Chase Bank USA backed by a mortgage on her real estate in Gary, Indiana. Compl. ¶ 7. The 1934 Loan was initially denied on January 30, 2006, based on “ownership deficiencies.” Resp. to Summ. J. 2, ECF No. 48.

         Chase Bank USA later reversed course and approved this loan. As a result, on February 24, 2006, Plaintiff signed a note agreeing to pay Chase Bank USA $40, 000.00 plus interest in exchange for a $40, 000.00 loan. Mem. Supp. Summ. J., Ex. 1, at 5-7, ECF No. 34-1. The 1934 Loan was backed by a mortgage, which Plaintiff also signed, on Plaintiff's real estate in Gary, Indiana. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 10-23. On the same day, Plaintiff signed a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) Settlement Statement authorizing the release of loan funds in the amounts of: $20, 055.00 to “HFC, ” a creditor of Plaintiff's; $2820.61 to Chase Bank USA in settlement charges for the loan; and the balance of $17, 124.39 to Plaintiff in cash. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 31-32.

         The note on the 1934 Loan explicitly authorized Chase Bank USA to transfer servicing of the loan, and, on February 24, 2006, Plaintiff signed a “Notice of Assignment, Sale or Transfer of Servicing Rights” acknowledging the transfer of the 1934 Loan from Chase Bank USA to Defendant, JP Morgan Chase Bank. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 5, 34-35. When that transfer became effective on April 1, 2006, the 1934 Loan number was updated to a number ending in 8455 (the “8455 Loan”). Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 64. Thus, the 1934 Loan and the 8455 Loan both refer to the same transaction (together the “1934/8455 Loan”). See Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 64.[1]

         On August 28, 2006, Plaintiff signed documents for a new loan (the “5283 Loan”) with Chase Bank USA, backed by a new mortgage on her same real estate in Gary, Indiana. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 36-63. This loan was for $55, 200.00, with $41, 985.73 allocated to pay off the 1934/8455 Loan, $911.00 allocated toward paying off a tax lien on Plaintiff's mortgaged real property, and the remaining balance going to Plaintiff. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 62- 64.

         ANALYSIS

         In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges: (1) the 8455 Loan was taken out “without her consent or authorization”; (2) $20, 055.00 of the 8455 Loan was not actually paid to HFC despite Defendant's representation to the contrary; and (3) Defendant used $41, 985.75 of the 5283 Loan to pay off the 8455 Loan and $911.00 of the 5283 Loan to pay off a tax lien without Plaintiff's consent to those terms. Compl. ¶¶ 9, 11-15. Defendant argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because the unrefuted evidence contradicts each of these claims or absolves Defendant of liability and because Plaintiff failed to respond to requests for admission, effectively admitting that each of these claims are false. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. 6. The Court agrees with Defendant that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that no reasonable fact finder could find for Plaintiff. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (“[T]he record must reveal that ‘no reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.'” (quoting Anderson v. Stauffer Chem. Co., 965 F.2d 397, 400 (7th Cir. 1992))). The Court considers each basis of Plaintiff's fraud claim in turn.

         First, Plaintiff claims that the 8455 Loan was fraudulently taken out in her name without her authorization. Compl. ¶ 9. But, as set forth above, the 8455 Loan and the 1934 Loan are one and the same. Defendant has submitted documents that were signed by Plaintiff and notarized which show that she authorized the 1934 Loan for $40, 000 on February 24, 2006. See Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 5-7, 22, 29. These documents also show that, on the same date that she signed the 1934 Loan, Plaintiff explicitly authorized Defendant to transfer the 1934 Loan. See Mem. Supp. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 5, 29, 35. Defendant then transferred the 1934 Loan from “Chase Bank USA” to “JPMorgan Chase Bank, ” giving notice to Plaintiff the ...


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