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Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v. Monroe County Tax Claim Bureau

July 30, 2012

FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF
v.
MONROE COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU, AND ALL STATE ASSET MANAGEMENT, LLC, DEFENDANTS.
IN RE: UPSET SALE OF REAL ESTATE BY MONROE COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court in this quiet title action are Plaintiff Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation's and Defendant All State Asset Management, LLC's Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (Docs. 25, 23). The Motions have been fully briefed and are therefore ripe for our review. For the reasons articulated herein, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion and grant Plaintiff's Motion.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY & STATEMENT OF FACTS

As noted in the Motion papers, Plaintiff Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("Plaintiff," "the Corporation," or "Freddie Mac") and Defendant All State Asset Management, LLC ("All State") agree on all factual allegations made in the Complaint.*fn1 Accordingly, the only item in dispute is a matter of law and therefore it is a matter to be appropriately settled on summary judgment.

Freddie Mac, a corporate instrumentality of the United States created by Congress to make home loans more accessible to the public, acquired title to Lot 1823 Sec. H, Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County, PA 18466 ("the Property") on December 29, 2009, pursuant to a marshal's foreclosure sale. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 2, 7, 10). At the time Freddie Mac took title to the Property, the Property was subject to past due property taxes owed to Monroe County. (Id. ¶ 14). After attempts to collect the back taxes, Monroe County initiated a tax sale of the Property, resulting in All State paying $12,000 to acquire title subject to a decree nisi. (Id. ¶¶ 15--18).

Freddie Mac filed a timely response to the decree nisi, objecting to the sale of the Property to All State. (Id. ¶ 19).

Plaintiff filed the instant action on September 6, 2011, seeking a declaratory judgment to quiet title to the Property. Plaintiff contends that by virtue of the Supremacy and Property Clauses of the United States Constitution, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Act ("Act"), Plaintiff's interest in real property cannot be impaired or extinguished without its consent. See U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2; U.S. Const. art. IV, § 3, cl. 2; 12 U.S.C. § 1452.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant meets this burden by pointing to an absence of evidence supporting an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325. Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

In opposing summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations of denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must ... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Arguments made in briefs "are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Twp. of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109--10 (3d Cir. 1985). However, the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non- moving party. P.N. v. Clementon Bd. of Educ., 442 F.3d 848, 852 (3d Cir. 2006).

Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences that a factfinder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be a genuine issue of material fact to preclude summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247--48.

IV. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's legal argument is straightforward: as an instrumentality of the United States, Plaintiff is not subject to the state laws granting a local taxing authority the power to sell Plaintiff's real property to settle a tax debt. All State argues that Congress has explicitly abrogated Plaintiff's exemption from paying property taxes to local taxing ...


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