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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Carnell

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 25, 2017

WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFREY A. CARNELL, ANNA M. CARNELL, RYAN P. JAY, and LARRY E. J AY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON, JUDGE

         Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. brought this case against two mortgagors-Jeffrey A. Carnell and Anna M. Carnell-and the two notary publics who notarized the underlying mortgage documents, Ryan P. Jay and Larry E. Jay, after the Carnells allegedly defaulted on their mortage payments. Wells Fargo primarily seeks an order quieting title to the property underlying the mortgage. Pending before the Court is Jeffrey Carnell's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 26). For the reasons that follow, his motion to dismiss is DENIED.

         I. Background[1]

         On October 14, 2005, Jeffrey A. Carnell and Anna M. Carnell acquired property located in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 6, 10.) The Carnells were married at the time and acquired the property as tenants by the entireties. (Id. ¶ 10.) On September 5, 2006, the Carnells signed a mortgage against the property in favor of M&T Mortgage Corporation for a loan of $82, 400.00. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         After obtaining their mortgage with M&T, the Carnells twice refinanced their mortgage through Wells Fargo. (See Id. ¶¶ 14, 25.) The Carnells obtained their first refinance loan-which was for $101, 952.00-in June 2008. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) They obtained their second refinance loan- which was for $156, 548.00-in March 2009. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24.) For both refinance loans the Carnells executed refinance mortgages against the property in favor of Wells Fargo and executed affidavits of title. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15, 25-26.)

         In March 2009, the Carnells executed also a uniform settlement statement related to the 2009 refinance mortgage. (Id. ¶¶ 29-31.) This statement provides that, out of the $156, 548.00 loan, Wells Fargo disbursed $102, 548.00 to satisfy the 2008 refinance mortgage and disbursed $54, 000.00 as cash to the Carnells. (Id.; ECF No. 1-19 at 2.) In April 2009, the 2008 refinance mortgage was marked as satisfied of record with the Officer of the Recorder of Deeds of Bedford County. (ECF Nos. 1 ¶ 33, 1-20 at 2.)

         Both the 2008 mortgage and the related affidavit of title were signed by Jeffrey and Anna Carnell and notarized by Larry Jay. (See ECF Nos. 1 ¶ 16, 1-7 at 16-17, 1-8 at 5.) Similarly, the 2009 mortgage and related affidavit of title were signed by the Carnells, but notarized by Ryan Jay. (See ECF Nos. 1 ¶ 26, 1-15 at 17-18, 1-16 at 5.) Records from the Pennsylvania Department of State disclose that both Larry Jay and Ryan Jay were notary publics commissioned in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the times they notarized the Carnells' signatures. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 17, 28.)

         On March 14, 2012, Wells Fargo sued the Carnells in the Bedford County Court of Common Pleas to foreclose on the 2009 mortgage. (Id. ¶ 34; ECF No. 1-21.) Wells Fargo alleged that the Carnells had defaulted on the mortgage and that they had made no payments since September 2010. (ECF No. 1-21 at 4.) In May 2012, Jeffrey Carnell filed an answer in that case, stating that the M&T mortgage was “legitimate” but denying that he executed the 2008 and 2009 Wells Fargo mortgages. (ECF Nos. 1 ¶ 35, 1-22 at 2-4.) In his answer, Jeffrey Carnell alleged that Anna Carnell-without his permission-had either signed his name or had someone else sign his name on the mortgage documents. (ECF No. 1-22 at 4-5.)

         In May 2014, Wells Fargo submitted requests for admissions regarding the execution of the mortgage documents to Anna Carnell. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 36.) In her responses to those requests, Anna Carnell stated that Jeffrey Carnell was not present at the closing on the 2008 and 2009 mortgages, that he did not appear before Larry Jay or Ryan Jay, that he did not sign the mortgages, and that she signed Jeffrey Carnell's name to both documents with his permission. (ECF Nos. 1-23, 1 ¶ 37.)

         On June 10, 2016, Wells Fargo filed this case against the Carnells and Larry Jay and Ryan Jay. Wells Fargo primarily seeks an order quieting title to the property and declaring that the 2009 mortgage encumbers the property as a valid mortgage lien. (See ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 39-46.) Wells Fargo also pleaded nine additional counts in the alternative-some against the Carnells, some against Anna Carnell and Larry Jay, and some against Anna Carnell and Ryan Jay- requesting that an equitable lien or mortgage be imposed and for breach of contract, fraud, and negligent representation.

         On November 18, 2016, Jeffrey Carnell filed the motion to dismiss before the Court (ECF No. 26.) Jeffrey Carnell argues that this Court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction because of Wells Fargo's parallel suit to quiet title in the Bedford County Court of Common Pleas and because Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1062 provides that actions to quiet title “may be brought in and only in a county in which the land or a part of the land is located.”

         II. Jurisdiction

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), district courts have original jurisdiction over cases between citizens of different states if the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. For diversity purposes, a national banking association-like Wells Fargo (ECF No. 1 ¶ 1)-is considered a citizen of “the State designated in its articles of association as its main office.” Wachovia Bank v. Schmidt, 546 U.S. 303, 318 (2006); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1348. In its complaint, Wells Fargo states that its main office is located in South Carolina and alleges that all defendants are domiciled in Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 1-5.) Further, the value of the mortgage underlying this dispute exceeds $75, 000. (Id. ¶ 24.) This Court therefore has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).

         III. Standard of Review

         A. Applicable ...


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