United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge.
20, 2017, the plaintiff filed a complaint and request for
injunction, in which he sought, in part, to have this court
direct the defendant to cause the Monroe County Sheriff to
stay an August 31, 2017, sheriff's sale until it could be
determined whether the plaintiff was eligible for a Fannie
Mae “Flex” loan modification. (Doc. 1).
A motion to expedite hearing for injunctive relief was filed
on the following day. (Doc. 3).
hearing was held on the matter on July 31,
2017. On August 8, 2017, the plaintiff filed a
brief in support of his request for injunctive relief. (Doc.
12). The defendant filed a brief opposing the
plaintiff's request on August 18, 2017. (Doc.
15). On August 22, 2017, the plaintiff filed a reply
brief. (Doc. 16).
order dated August 25, 2017, the court construed the
plaintiff's request as one for a preliminary injunction
seeking the stay of a sheriff's sale which was the result
of a final judgment in state foreclosure proceedings. The
court viewed such a request to be prohibited under the
Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. §2283. Because the court
determined that it lacked the authority to grant the relief
which the plaintiff requested, his motion for a preliminary
injunction was denied. In all other respects, however, the
court found that the plaintiff could proceed with his
complaint. The court issued the order of August 25,
2017, so that the parties would be on notice of its
conclusion, with an indication that a more detailed
memorandum containing the court's reasoning would follow.
This memorandum is filed in support of the August 25, 2017
plaintiff does not dispute the history of his state court
foreclosure proceedings, which commenced on March 8, 2012,
with the filing of a foreclosure action by the defendant in
the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. The defendant
alleged in the state court proceedings that the
plaintiff's mortgage was in default because he had failed
to make monthly payments of principal and interest since
November 1, 2008. A final judgment was ultimately entered
against the plaintiff in the foreclosure action and a
sheriff's sale was scheduled for August 28, 2014. The
plaintiff indicates in the present action that he does not
challenge anything which occurred in those proceedings.
to the originally scheduled sheriff's sale, on August 26,
2014, the plaintiff filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of
the Bankruptcy Code. A Proof of Claim was filed by the
defendant in the bankruptcy action, which the plaintiff has
not challenged, in which it was certified that the defendant
was then owed $351, 318.79 and that the plaintiff was then in
arrears of $155, 468.42.
the plaintiff filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss his
bankruptcy action. The plaintiff's motion was granted and
his case was dismissed on October 18, 2016.
plaintiff subsequently filed the instant action in which he
alleges misconduct by the defendant in the bankruptcy
proceedings and, specifically, in the Bankruptcy Court's
Mortgage Modification Mediation Program,
(“MMMP”). As indicated above, the plaintiff seeks
to have this court direct the defendant to cause the Monroe
County Sheriff to stay an August 31, 2017, sheriff's sale
until it can be determined whether he is eligible for a
Fannie Mae “Flex” mortgage modification. The
plaintiff argues that this action is justified by the
defendant's behavior in the Bankruptcy Court's MMMP,
wherein he provides that he was led to believe that
bankruptcy relief was not needed. The plaintiff argues in his
brief that he will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction
does not issue but, in the alternative, requests that the
court enter judgment in his favor for “not less than
$31, 712.00 in unwarranted payments to BNY-M, fees and costs
of not less than $425.00, attorney fees of not less than $2,
500.00 and other losses and expenses.”
grant of injunctive relief, including preliminary injunctive
relief, is an extraordinary remedy and it should only be
granted in limited circumstances. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co.
v. Winback & Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421,
1426-27 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting Frank's GMC Truck
Cent., Inc. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 847 F.2d 100, 102 (3d
Cir. 1988)) (alterations in original). The court's
ultimate decision to deny a preliminary injunction is
discretionary, though legal and factual determinations will
be reviewed according to their normal standard. See
Tenafly Eruv Ass'n, Inc. v. Borough of Tenafly, 309
F.3d 144, 156 (3d Cir. 2002).
order to obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party
must demonstrate the following:
(1) the likelihood that the plaintiff will prevail on the
merits at final hearing; (2) the extent to which the
plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by the conduct
complained of; (3) the extent to which the defendant will
suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is
issued; and (4) the public interest.
Id. at 1427 (quoting Merchants & Evans, Inc.
v. Roosevelt Bldg. Prods., 963 F.2d 628, 623-33 (3d Cir.
1992)). More specifically, the third prong requires a
balancing of harms between the plaintiff and the defendant
and a finding that the balance favors the plaintiff's
request for relief. See Issa v. Sch. Dist. of
Lancaster, 847 F.3d 121, 131 (3d Cir. 2017).
injunction should issue only if the plaintiff produces
evidence sufficient to convince the district court that all
four factors favor preliminary relief.” Id.
Moreover, it is only if the first two prongs are satisfied
that the court must inquire into the final two factors.
Tenafly, 309 F.3d at 157. Thus, “a failure to
show a likelihood of success or a failure to demonstrate
irreparable injury must necessarily result in the denial of a
preliminary injunction.” In Re Arthur
Treacher's Franchise Litig., 689 F.2d 1137, 1143 (3d
Cir. 1982). However, if a plaintiff proves the first two
requirements, it will almost always be the case that the
public interest favors preliminary relief, Issa, 847
F.3d at 143, leaving the crux of the matter to the balance of
considering the above, the plaintiff's request fails
based on the first two requirements for issuing a preliminary
injunction. Therefore, the court need not and will not
address the final two requirements. See Tenafly, 309
F.3d at 157. Initially, the plaintiff has failed to show a
likelihood of success on the merits. Although the plaintiff
attempts to argue that this case does not involve matters
adjudicated or waived in the state court foreclosure
proceedings, the plaintiff is attempting to stay the
sheriff's sale of his home, which is the direct result of
a judgment entered by the state court in his foreclosure
proceedings. To this extent, the Anti-Injunction Act,
28 U.S.C. §2283, precludes the court from granting
injunctive relief in this case. See Jung Yun v. Bank of
Am., N.A., 2016 WL 7324554 (M.D.Pa. Dec. 16, 2016). The
Anti-Injunction Act deprives federal district courts of the
ability to “grant an injunction to stay proceedings in
a State court.” 28 U.S.C. §2283. “The
Anti-Injunction Act simply does not allow federal courts to
enjoin state court proceedings, including mortgage
foreclosure actions, absent the application of an exception
under the statute.” Clark v. United States Bank
Nat'l Ass'n, 2004 WL 1380166, at *3 (E.D. Pa.
June 18, 2004). There are three narrow exceptions that allow
a federal court to grant equitable relief, but the court
finds that all three are inapplicable to ...