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Woodley v. U.S. Bank National Association

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 10, 2018

MOLITA WOODLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, As Indenture Trustee for Sasco Mortgage Loan Trust 2004-GEL3, Defendant.

          MARIANI, J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAROLINE MEHALCHICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is a filing submitted by pro se plaintiff, Molita Woodley (hereinafter “Woodley”), construed by the Court as a complaint seeking injunctive relief.[1] (Doc. 1). In addition to the filing of her complaint, Woodley has also filed the following motions, which remain pending before this Court: a Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2); a Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief and Motion to Exceed Page Limit (Doc. 8); and a Motion to Expedite and Motion to Stay Proceedings (Doc. 9). Having conducted its statutory screening review of the complaint, the Court respectfully recommends that the motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) be GRANTED, but that the complaint (Doc. 1) be DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         I. Background and Procedural History

         On January 31, 2018, Woodley filed the instant complaint, [2] which names U.S. Bank National Association (hereinafter “US Bank NA”) as the sole defendant. (Doc. 1). The same day, Woodley also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). Although Woodley's complaint is not entirely clear, she appears to directly appeal an order issued on January 30, 2018 (the “January 30th Order”) by Pennsylvania State Court Judge Arthur L. Zulick (“Judge Zulick”) of the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County. (Doc. 1, at 1, ¶1). Woodley further requests a stay and injunction of all State Court orders issued by Judge Zulick, pending review of his conduct in ordering a praecipe for writ of possession[3] on December 27, 2017 (the “Writ of Possession”), and denying her petition for an emergency injunction on January 26, 2018 (the “January 26th Order”). (Doc. 1, at 3-4, ¶¶1-10; Doc. 1, at 8-9). As gleaned from the complaint, Woodley ultimately seeks to both challenge and avoid enforcement of the Writ of Possession, the January 26th Order, and the January 30th Order (collectively, the “State Court Orders”). (Doc. 1, at 3-6, ¶¶6-20; Doc. 1, at 8-9).

         The facts that form the basis of Woodley's complaint stem from a mortgage foreclosure and subsequent ejection action initiated by U.S. Bank NA in state court. The January 30th Order issued by Judge Zulick described much of the factual and procedural background of the state court litigation as follows:

“The background of this case began on May 18, 2012 when U.S. Bank NA filed a mortgage foreclosure action…against Darius Woodley and Molita Woodley. The court stayed the proceedings in the foreclosure action from December 20, 2012 through September 18, 2013 while the Woodleys and U.S. Bank NA participated in the Monroe County Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, but the Woodleys were unsuccessful in reaching a resolution with their mortgage creditor. The lender then took a default judgment in the mortgage foreclosure case against the Woodleys on November 1, 2013. The property was executed upon and sold at sheriff's sale on January 26, 2017. A Sheriff's deed was recorded to the executing creditor on February 24, 2017.
Molita Woodley filed an appeal to the Superior Court on March 7, 2017 in that foreclosure case. The Superior Court quashed the appeal on June 7, 2017.
US Bank [NA] then commenced [an] action for ejectment against Darius Woodley and Molita Woodley at No. 1669 Civil 2017 on March 17, 2017. A motion for summary judgment was granted in the action on July 6, 2017, and a praecipe for judgment was filed and judgment entered on July 24, 2017. A writ of possession was issued on the same day.
Molita Woodley filed a Notice of Appeal to the Superior Court on August 3, 2017. On October 6, 2017 the Superior Court quashed the appeal for failure to comply with Pa.R.A.P. 3517.”
U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No.

         After the Superior Court dismissed Woodley's appeal, Judge Zulick ordered the Writ of Possession with respect to the Disputed Property. U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.); (Doc. 2, at 7-9). Woodley subsequently requested that the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board (“PJCB”) investigate Judge Zulick's actions (Doc. 2, at 4-5), and filed a petition for emergency ex parte injunction on January 26, 2018, pending the outcome of the PJCB's determination. U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.); (Doc. 2, at 23-24). Judge Zulick, however, denied this petition in his January 26th Order, which Woodley appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on January 29, 2018. U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.); Woodley v. U.S. Bank National Assoc., Docket No. 562-EDA-2018 (Pa. Super. Ct.); (Doc. 2, at 36-38). The same day, Woodley filed a similar petition for an emergency ex parte injunction in state court, which Judge Zulick once again considered and denied in his January 30th Order. U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.); (Doc. 2, at 14-21; Doc. 7, at 1-3). Therein, Judge Zulick concluded the following:

“The only defense that Ms. Woodley raises in her petition now before the court is that she received a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, this is an action for possession of property owned by U.S. Bank [NA]. A discharge in bankruptcy does not extinguish valid liens on a property of a debtor. A discharge voids and prospectively enjoins collection of a judgment as the personal liability of a debtor. The injunction does not prevent a creditor from enforcing a valid lien on property existing prior to the time of the entry of the order for relief. In Re Wells, 125 B.R. 908, 909 (Bkrtcy D.Del. 1991).
US Bank [NA] has obtained ownership of what was the Woodley property through a lawful means in a foreclosure action before this court. It then properly obtained final judgment in this ejectment action. U.S. Bank [NA] now has the right to recover possession of its property. Nothing in the Woodley petition before the court suggests otherwise.”
U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Darius Woodley and Molita Woodley, No.

         While appellate review of the January 26th Order was pending in State Court, [4] Woodley initiated the instant action in Federal Court, seemingly in an effort to appeal the January 30thOrder. (Doc. 1); Woodley v. U.S. Bank National Assoc., Docket No. 562-EDA-2018 (Pa. Super. Ct.). In her complaint, Woodley avers that the January 30th Order[5] was contrary to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and ultimately violated her civil rights. (Doc. 1, at 1-2, ¶¶1-2). Woodley also seemingly asserts that U.S. Bank NA illegally brought the state court foreclosure and ejectment actions against her, as the outstanding mortgage amount was “flawed” by virtue of the Disputed Property's discharge in a previous Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding (the “Bankruptcy Proceeding”). (Doc. 1, at 6, ¶4). She further contends that U.S. Bank NA “robbed [her of the Disputed Property] with judicial assistance, ” as it failed to communicate with her regarding the Disputed Property “for any reason.” (Doc. 1, at 6-7, ¶¶4-5). Similarly, although not named as a party to the instant action as initiated, Woodley argues that Judge Zulick lacked the authority to invalidate her discharge of the Disputed Property granted in the Bankruptcy Proceeding. (Doc. 1, at 5, ¶15). Woodley further contends that Judge Zulick deprived her of protection under the color of law, as he presided over, or made appearances in, a number of federal and state court actions that she participated in. (Doc. 1, at 2, ¶ 2). As such, Woodley claims that her compliance with the State Court Orders would be “unconstitutional and otherwise inappropriate.” (Doc. 1, at 5, ¶¶15-16).

         This matter is now before the Court pursuant to its statutory screening obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to screen a complaint and dismiss it if it fails ...


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