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Coleman v. America's Wholesale Lender

March 18, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker, J.



Plaintiffs, Odell and Rebecca Coleman, were unsuccessful litigants in two state court actions involving foreclosure and ejection from their home, each commenced in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.*fn1 Plaintiffs allege that Defendants deprived them of their due process rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn2 Presently before the Court is Defendants' unopposed*fn3 Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 33). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion.


On March 22, 1999, Odell Coleman obtained a loan from America's Wholesale Lender,*fn4 which was secured by a mortgage on his home located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the "Property"). Odell Coleman has been in default on this mortgage since November 1, 2000. Thus, Defendant Bank of New York, as Trustee, commenced the Foreclosure Action on May 18, 2001, and a default judgment was entered against Odell Coleman on July 12, 2001. Subsequently, on December 8, 2003, Odell Coleman deeded the Property to Rebecca Coleman. Rebecca Coleman is the estranged wife of Odell Coleman. The two have maintained separate residences with Ms. Coleman residing at the Property, and Mr. Coleman residing in Gloucester City, New Jersey.

After the Property was deeded, it was scheduled for a Sheriff's sale on February 3, 2004. Prior to the Sheriff's sale, however, on January 30, 2004, Rebecca Coleman filed a bankruptcy petition with the Court of Common Pleas that was dismissed on September 2, 2004. Rebecca Coleman filed a subsequent bankruptcy petition that was again dismissed on April 5, 2005. Following this second dismissal, on June 21, 2005, Bank of New York filed a motion for alternative service, which was granted on June 24, 2005. The motion allowed for alternative service upon Odell and Rebecca Coleman at the Property via certified mail, regular mail and by posting of the premises. Thus, on July 1, 2005, Bank of New York served the Coleman's with Notice of the Sheriff's Sale by regular mail and certified mail, and, on July 6, 2005, by posting notice on the Property. Despite service, however, Rebecca Coleman was not actually named as a party to the Ejectment Action filed in October of 2005, and there was no return of service from Ms. Colemen indicating that she had indeed been served. Nonetheless, on September 27, 2005, the Court of Common Pleas granted Bank of New York's motion to reassess damages. This motion allowed the original payoff balance of $162,267.60, as of the date of the Sheriff's sale, to be increased to $258,293.62 two weeks following the Sheriff's sale.

Then, on January 6, 2006, a motion to return the writ of execution was granted by the Court of Common Pleas. This permitted settlement to be made and for a Sheriff's deed to be executed and recorded. In light of this, on February 27, 2006, Rebecca Coleman filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, which sought to set aside the Sheriff's sale. In her motion, Rebecca Coleman asserted that she was the true owner of the Property, not her husband. In light of this allegation, the Court of Common Pleas entered an order postponing the enforcement of the writ of possession in the Ejectment Action until March 28, 2006, when a hearing on the matter could be conducted. On March 28, 2006, the Court of Common Pleas held a hearing on Rebecca Coleman's motion for a temporary restraining order and to set aside Sheriff's sale on March 28, 2006. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court of Common Pleas denied Rebecca Coleman's motion on the basis that she had failed to demonstrate good cause to set aside the Sheriff's sale. Following this ruling, the requisite writs were issued via the Ejectment Action, causing Plaintiffs to lose possession of and be ejected from their Property. After, the satisfaction of judgment was filed, on August 10, 2007, the Ejectment action was completed and discontinued.

Meanwhile, as the state court litigation was nearing a conclusion, Plaintiffs filed the instant Complaint with this Court, on May 31, 2007, alleging constitutional due process violations and conspiracy against Defendants. Shortly thereafter, on June 7, 2007, Plaintiffs filed a Temporary Restraining Order without notice pursuant to F.R.C.P. 65(b), which this Court denied on June 11, 2007. Then, on November 16, 2007, after the Court denied in part and granted in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, filed on June 18, 2007, the Plaintiffs filed a lis pendens against the Property. The Property remains in the possession of Bank of America, as successor in interest to Defendant Countrywide.


Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis of its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. After the moving party has met its initial burden, "the adverse party's response, by affidavits or otherwise as provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e). That is, summary judgment is appropriate if the non-moving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "[I]f the opponent [of summary judgment] has exceeded the 'mere scintilla' [of evidence] threshold and has offered a genuine issue of material fact, then the court cannot credit the movant's version of events against opponent, even if the quality of the movant's evidence far outweighs that of its opponent." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992). Under Rule 56, the Court must view the evidence presented in the motion in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.


Defendants contend that they are entitled to summary judgment based on the grounds that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims in accordance with the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. In the alternative, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the principles of res judicata and for failure to ...

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