United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
SAPORITO MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of
Magistrate Judge Saporito (Doc. 32) to a Motion to Dismiss
(Case No. 368, Doc. 13; Case No. 374, Doc. 9) filed by
Defendant SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. (“SunTrust”)
and a Motion to Dismiss (Case No. 368, Doc. 22; Case No. 374,
Doc. 15) filed by Defendant Specialized Loan Serving, LLC
(“SLS”). Plaintiff Jackie Stefanowicz, proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this
consolidated action pursuant to, inter alia, the
Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), the Home Ownership
and Equity Protection Act (“HOEPA”), the Real
Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”), the
Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), and the Equal Credit
Opportunity Act (“ECOA”). (See Case No.
368, Doc. 1; Case No. 374, Doc. 1.) Magistrate Judge Saporito
recommended that the Court grant Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss, dismiss Plaintiff's federal-law claims as either
frivolous and malicious pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) or for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
state-law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). For
the reasons that follow, the Magistrate Judge's Report
and Recommendation will be adopted in its entirety.
February 9, 2007, Plaintiff Jackie Stefanowicz took out a
mortgage from Defendant SunTrust on a home located at 311 New
Street, Duryea, Pennsylvania. The mortgage instrument was
duly recorded in the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds Office
on April 9, 2007.
25, 2010, Stefanowicz filed a complaint in Stefanowitz v.
SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-01321
(M.D. Pa.),  in which she made substantially similar
factual allegations regarding the origination and servicing
of her mortgage loan. On April 27, 2011, a magistrate judge
issued a Report that recommended the Court dismiss the Truth
in Lending Act (“TILA”) claim as time-barred
under the applicable statute of limitations, the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (“FCRA”) claim for failure to state
a claim, and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
(“HMDA”) claim and state-law claims for lack of
federal subject matter jurisdiction. On July 20, 2011, the
Court adopted the Report and dismissed the action.
January 5, 2015, SunTrust assigned the mortgage to Defendant
SLS. The assignment instrument was duly recorded in the
Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds Office on January 26, 2015.
March 1, 2016, Stefanowicz filed two separate Complaints,
which were docketed by the Clerk as Civil Action No.
3:16-cv-00368 (“Case No. 368") and Civil Action
No. 3:16-cv-00374 (“Case No. 374"), respectively.
Both Complaints named SunTrust and SLS as Defendants, and
both concerned the origination and servicing of the mortgage
on the home at 311 New Street, Duryea, Pennsylvania. The
Magistrate Judge exercised his discretion to consolidate the
two actions pursuant to Rule 42(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Case No. 368 Complaint, Stefanowicz asserted claims against
the Defendants under TILA, HOEPA, and RESPA, as well as
state-law claims of predatory lending practices, an
unconscionable mortgage agreement, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, negligence, and unjust enrichment.
Specifically, Stefanowicz alleged that Defendants failed to
cooperate in her efforts to secure a loan modification or to
extend a forbearance agreement, failed to properly credit her
escrow account for expenses that she paid directly, and
reported inaccurate credit information about her to national
Case No. 374 Complaint, Stefanowicz alleged that
Defendants' same conduct constituted discrimination in
violation of the FHA and ECOA. In particular, Stefanowicz
alleged that Defendants discriminated against her due to her
financial status (poverty), her familial status (a family
with a child under the age of 18), her gender (female), her
national origin (natural-born United States citizen), her
race (Caucasian), her age (unspecified), and the fact that
she is neither a military veteran nor disabled. Additionally,
Stefanowicz alleged that, on multiple occasions, she was
forced to speak with someone at SunTrust who “could
barely speak English.”
alleged that, in August 2014, following a period of
unemployment, she entered into a three-month forbearance
agreement with SunTrust with the understanding that, if she
continued to have financial difficulties, the forbearance
period could be extended or her loan payment terms could be
modified. She further alleged that when she later sought to
obtain such additional relief from her mortgage payment
obligations, SunTrust failed to return her telephone calls
or, when she was able to speak with customer service
representatives on the phone, provide her with the
forbearance or loan modification application forms she
requested. After the mortgage loan was assigned to SLS,
Stefanowicz entered into a three-month agreement with SLS
under which she made three payments of approximately $500 per
month toward her mortgage loan arrears in September, October,
and November 2015. When she attempted to contact SLS to
extend this arrangement and obtain a new monthly payment
amount, SLS failed to return her calls. Stefanowicz claims
that, on multiple occasions, she returned home to find
notices affixed to her front door advising her that someone
had been on the property and directing her to contact SLS.
Each time this occurred, she called SLS and left a voicemail
message, apparently without any response from SLS.
February 2016, when Stefanowicz investigated a possible
refinance loan with another mortgage lender, she learned that
her credit report indicated that her mortgage was
approximately $1000 past due, an allegedly inaccurate figure.
In addition, on multiple, unspecified occasions, Defendants
allegedly advised Stefanowicz's homeowner's insurance
carrier that her home was unoccupied, which was untrue,
potentially jeopardizing her ability to maintain insurance
coverage as required by the mortgage agreement.
Reviewing a Report & Recommendation
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report are filed,
the court must conduct a de novo review of the
contested portions of the Report. Sample v. Diecks,
885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)). However, this only applies to the extent
that a party's objections are both timely and specific;
if objections are merely “general in nature, ”
the court “need not conduct a de novo
determination.” Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5,
6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). Indeed, the Third Circuit has instructed
that “providing a complete de novo
determination where only a general objection to the report is
offered would undermine the efficiency the magistrate system
was meant to contribute to the judicial process.”
Id. at 7. In conducting a de novo review,
the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate
judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v.
Beard, 829 F.Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993).
the review is de novo, the law permits the court to
rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the
extent it deems proper. See United States v.
Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980); Goney,
749 F.2d at 7; Ball v. United States Parole
Comm'n, 849 F.Supp. 328, 330 (M.D. Pa.1994).
Uncontested portions of the Report may be reviewed at a
standard determined by the district court. See Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985); Goney, 749 F.2d
at 7. At the very least, the court should review uncontested
portions for clear error or manifest injustice. See,
e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F.Supp. 375, 376-77 (M.D. Pa.
1998). Therefore, the Court reviews the portions of the
Report & ...