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Janette Santiago v. Eastern Savings Bank

February 28, 2011

JANETTE SANTIAGO,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
EASTERN SAVINGS BANK, FSB, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff in this case, Janette Santiago, alleges that her mortgage broker deceived her into signing a mortgage with terms that differed from those that he promised her. The defendant in this action is not the broker, however. Rather, Santiago asserts claims arising under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL"), 73 Pa. Cons. St. § 201-1 et seq., against the lender on her mortgage, Eastern Savings Bank, FSB ("ESB" or "the Bank"). Presently before the Court is ESB's motion for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

The factual background of this case is set forth only to the extent necessary to explain the

Court's decision on the instant motion. In summary, Santiago alleges that, some time in early 2006, she called Dan Washinger, a mortgage broker at Common Mortgage Services, Inc. ("Common") about refinancing the mortgage on her Oxford, Pennsylvania home. (Fourth Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-13.) Washinger promised to obtain a loan for Santiago with certain terms, only to pressure and trick her into signing off on one with different terms that were detrimental to her, including a higher interest rate. (Id. at ¶¶ 46-59.) Santiago and her ex-husband, Joseph White, executed a mortgage in favor of Eastern to obtain the $189,000 loan. (See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. B.)

During the time she sought the loan, Santiago signed a Fee Disclosure Agreement ("Agreement") with Common. (Id., Ex. G.) The Agreement specified that Santiago would pay Common $5,670 (3% of $189,000) for its services. (Id., Ex. G ¶ 4.) The Agreement further specified that "any prospective lender" and Common were "independent contractors, and neither of them shall be responsible for any act, omissions, delays, etc. of the other." (Id., Ex. G ¶ 6.)

Separately, and before plaintiff signed any documents, Common and ESB entered into a Service Provider Agreement ("Provider Agreement"), which established the terms for the companies' relationship. (Id., Ex. J.) In pertinent part, the Provider Agreement states that Common "shall at all times remain an independent contractor" and that the Bank "shall have sole discretion in determining whether to approve or reject a loan underwriting package submitted by [Common]." (Id., Ex. J. ¶ 2.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

In considering a motion for summary judgment, "the court is required to examine the evidence of record in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, and resolve all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). The party opposing the motion, however, cannot "rely merely upon bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions" to support its claim. Fireman's Ins. Co. v. DuFresne, 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982). After examining the evidence of record, a court should grant summary judgment if the moving party "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); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

A factual dispute is material when it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law," and genuine when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation omitted).

IV. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff posits two theories of liability against ESB in her Fourth Amended Complaint. First, Santiago asserts that ESB is vicariously liable for Washinger's actions because the Bank and the broker were part of a joint venture.*fn2 Second, plaintiff argues that ESB violated the UTPCPL directly by concealing charges on a Truth in Lending ("TIL") form.*fn3 The Court concludes that neither theory has merit, as plaintiff has ...


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