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Christiana Bank & Trust Co. v. Dalton

November 17, 2009

CHRISTIANA BANK & TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE OF THE SEQUOIA TRUST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DENISE DALTON, ALSO KNOWN AS DENISE RICHARDS, ROBERT SIMON, NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SERVICES OF JAMAICA, INC., THE BROOKLYN UNION GAS COMPANY, CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE, NEW YORK CITY PARKING VIOLATIONS BUREAU, NEW YORK CITY ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL BOARD, JOHN DOE 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, THE NAMES OF THE TEN LAST NAMED DEFENDANTS BEING FICTITIOUS, REAL NAMES UNKNOWN TO THE PLAINTIFF, THE PARTIES INTENDED BEING PERSONS OR CORPORATIONS HAVING AN INTEREST IN, OR TENANTS OR PERSONS IN POSSESSION OF, PORTIONS OF THE MORTGAGE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Christiana Bank & Trust Company ("Christiana Bank") has filed the following motions: (1) for summary judgment against Defendants Denise Dalton and Robert Simon; (2) to dismiss Ms. Dalton's and Mr. Simon's counterclaims against it; (3) to substitute U.S. Bank Trust National Association ("U.S. Bank Trust"), as Trustee of the Sequoia Funding Trust, in its place as Plaintiff; (4) to amend the caption to add Toni Melvin as "John Doe #1", Ira Dalton as "John Doe #2", and Tiarah Dalton as "John Doe #3", and to discontinue this action against John Does #4-10; (5) to grant a default judgment against the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, Criminal Court of the City of New York, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, New York City Parking Violations Bureau, New York City Environmental Control Board (hereafter, the "Defaulting Defendants"), Toni Melvin, Ira Dalton, and Tiarah Dalton (hereafter, the "Former John Doe Defendants"); (6) to extend the Notice of Pendency filed on June 7, 2006 for a period of three years, nunc pro tunc, from June 7, 2009; and (7) for whatever other relief the Court deems necessary and proper. For the foregoing reasons: (1) summary judgment is GRANTED as to Ms. Dalton but DENIED as to Mr. Simon, and, sua sponte, the claims against Mr. Simon are DISMISSED AS MOOT; (2) the motion to dismiss is DENIED; (3) the motion to substitute U.S. Bank Trust as the Plaintiff is GRANTED (hereafter, the Court will construe these motions as being made by U.S. Bank Trust); (4) the motion to amend the caption is GRANTED; (5) the motion for a default judgment is GRANTED as to the Defaulting Defendants but DENIED as to the Former John Doe Defendants*fn1 ; and (6) the motion to extend the Notice of Pendency, nunc pro tunc, is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This is a mortgage foreclosure action. On March 29, 2005, Ms. Dalton took out a $200,000 mortgage on her home in Jamaica, Queens with First Continental Mortgage Investment Corporation ("First Continental"), thereby paying off an existing mortgage on the property. Pl. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 2. In so doing, Ms. Dalton conveyed a security interest in her property to First Continental. Id. at ¶ 3. The mortgage and security interest were later assigned to Christiana Bank. Id. at ¶ 4.

Ms. Dalton never made a single payment on her mortgage, leaving an unpaid principal balance of $200,000. Id. at ¶ 5. On June 7, 2006, Christiana Bank filed suit in the New York Supreme Court, County of Queens, seeking to foreclose on the property. This action named Mr. Simon because, at the time, Ms. Dalton had purported to convey an interest in the premises to him. It named the Defaulting Defendants because, at the time, the Defaulting Defendants had obtained judgments against Ms. Dalton, Mr. Simon, or against individuals whom Christiana Bank believed might be Ms. Dalton's or Mr. Simon's aliases. In naming the Defaulting Defendants, Christiana Bank sought to clear the property's title by making sure that -- even if the Defaulting Defendants had judgments against Ms. Dalton or Mr. Simon -- those judgments did not constitute liens on the property superior to Christiana Bank's mortgage. Christiana Bank's Complaint also named ten John Doe defendants, but did not explain why.

Shortly after Christiana Bank filed suit, Ms. Dalton and Mr. Simon began their on-going Herculean effort to stall, frustrate and impede Christiana Bank's efforts to assert its lawful rights. On June 28, 2006, Mr. Simon filed a 50 page, 100 paragraph Notice of Removal, and both Mr. Simon and Ms. Dalton moved to dismiss. Although Mr. Simon peppered this Notice with quotes from the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and case citations spanning 200 years, his attempt to remove this action was utterly frivolous. But Christiana Bank failed to file a timely motion to remand. And so, given complete diversity between the parties (though with New York State defendants), this Court acquired jurisdiction it should never have had.*fn2 Mr. Simon's and Ms. Dalton's motions to dismiss were equally nonsensical, and the Court denied these motions on March 28, 2007. See March 28, 2007 Order ("Defendants simply spew out legal jargon; they provide no factual assertions for why such statutes and grounds constitute reasons for dismissal of the action").

Undeterred by the denial of their frivolous motion to dismiss, Mr. Simon and Ms. Dalton continued their quest to frustrate Christiana Bank's foreclosure efforts. On August 24, 2007, Mr. Simon filed his first collateral appeal before the Second Circuit. His objection? That the Court had referred this case to Magistrate Judge Boyle for pre-trial discovery efforts. Mr. Simon and Ms. Dalton also brought counterclaims and cross-claims against numerous entities, including First Continental and the Federal Reserve Bank. Mr. Simon and Ms. Dalton have not, however, filed counterclaims against Christiana Bank. The Second Circuit denied Mr. Simon's first collateral appeal and, on September 29, 2008, the Court dismissed the cross-claims brought against First Continental and the Federal Reserve Bank.

On September 26, 2008, Christiana Bank sent a letter requesting permission to move for summary judgment, enclosing its Rule 56.1 Statement. Mr. Simon and Ms. Dalton did not file timely Rule 56.1 Counter-Statements. Instead, on October 30, 2008, Ms. Dalton moved to stay the case for 60 days. Mr. Simon, for his part, filed his second collateral appeal (which the Second Circuit has since dismissed), this time protesting the Court's order that he and Ms. Dalton must file their Rule 56.1 Counter-Statements by November 3, 2008. But, although filing his appeal, he never filed a Rule 56.1 Counter-Statement. Ms. Dalton finally filed her Rule 56.1 Counter-Statement on March 3, 2009, long after the Court-imposed deadlines had passed and without any explanation for her tardiness. And, rather than actually responding to Christiana Bank's Rule 56.1 Statement with citations to admissible evidence, Ms. Dalton instead set forth nothing more than cursory denials and bizarre legal theories.

The end result is that, four and a half years after Ms. Dalton defaulted on her mortgage without making a single payment, Christiana Bank (and now, U.S. Bank Trust) still has not been able to successfully foreclose on the property.

Tired of Mr. Simon's and Ms. Dalton's legal pranks, U.S. Bank Trust moved on April 1, 2009 for summary judgment and the other relief noted above. Neither Mr. Simon nor Ms. Dalton have filed any opposition to Christiana Bank's motions. The Brooklyn Gas Company has appeared but not challenged the motion for default judgment. Ira and Tiarah Dalton have not formally appeared, but have submitted a letter indicating that they just learned about the case and have no idea why they have been named as parties. This letter also indicated that, although they accepted service, they do not remotely resemble the "Ira Dalton" and "Tiarah Dalton" who were supposed to be served. Specifically, the "Ira Dalton" described is female, not male, and the "Tiarah Dalton" described is supposedly aged 36-50, not 22 years old. The remaining Defaulting Defendants and Toni Melvin have not appeared.

DISCUSSION

I. The Summary Judgment Motion

A. Standard of Review

"Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine disputes concerning any material facts, and where the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Harvis Trien & Beck, P.C. v. Fed. Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (In re Blackwood Assocs., L.P.), 153 F.3d 61, 67 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed. 2d 265 (1986); ...


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