United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
GIBSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 50) filed by Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
("Wells Fargo") against Defendants Jeffrey A.
Carnell and Anna M. Carnell (collectively "the
Carnells"). This Motion has been fully briefed (see ECF
Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56) and is ripe for disposition.
case arises from Wells Fargo's claims against two
mortgagors, Jeffrey Carnell and Anna Carnell. Wells Fargo
seeks, inter alia, quiet title and a declaratory judgment
regarding the property underlying the mortgage on the basis
that the Carnells defaulted on their mortgage payments.
However, Wells Fargo's claims are complicated by Jeffrey
Carnell's assertion that Anna Carnell impermissibly
signed his name on the mortgage documents. In the instant
Motion, Wells Fargo asks this Court to grant summary judgment
in its favor because, regardless of whether Jeffrey
Carnell's version of the facts are true, Anna Carnell had
the authority to enter the mortgage on Jeffrey Carnell's
behalf under a power of attorney -despite not remembering
that she had such authority until years later, shortly before
the instant case was scheduled for mediation.
reasons that follow, Wells Fargo's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 50) is GRANTED.
Jurisdiction and Venue
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-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.
Fargo's main office is located in South Carolina and
Defendants are domiciled in Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1
¶¶ 1-5; ECF No. 39 ¶¶ 1-5.) Further, the
value of the mortgage underlying this dispute exceeds $75,
000. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 24; ECF No. 39 ¶ 24.) This Court,
therefore, has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. § 1391
because the property in question is in the Western District
of Pennsylvania and at least one defendant resides in the
Western District of Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 25 ¶ 3; ECF
No. 29 ¶ 3.)
Relevant Procedural History
Fargo filed its Complaint with this Court on June 10, 2016.
(ECF No. 1.) Wells Fargo's Complaint features ten counts:
(1) a claim for quiet title against the Carnells in Count I,
(2) a claim for declaratory judgment against the Carnells in
Count II, (3) claims for an equitable lien or equitable
mortgage against the Carnells in Count III, (4) additional
claims for an equitable lien or equitable mortgage against
the Carnells in Count IV, (5) a claim for breach of contract
against Anna Carnell in Count V, (6) a second claim for
breach of contract against Anna Carnell in Count VI, (7) a
claim for fraud against Anna M. Carnell and Ryan P. Jay in
Count VII, (8) a claim for fraud against Anna M. Carnell and
Larry E. Jay in Count VIII, (9) a claim for negligent
misrepresentation against Anna M. Carnell and Ryan P. Jay in
Count IX, and (10) a claim for negligent misrepresentation
against Anna M. Carnell and Larry P. Jay in Count X.
(Id. at 16-20.)
in granting the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23)
filed by Ryan P. Jay and Larry E. Jay (collectively "the
Jays"), this Court dismissed all claims against the Jays
with prejudice because Wells Fargo failed to bring its claims
against the Jays within the applicable statute of
limitations. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Carnell,
No. 16-cv-130, 2018 WL 988352, at *8 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 15,
2018). This Court also dismissed all crossclaims brought by
Jeffrey Carnell against the Jays, fully terminating the Jays
from the instant case. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v.
Carnell, No. 16-cv-130, 2018 WL 1882854 (W.D. Pa. April
April 12, 2018, Wells Fargo filed the present Motion for
Summary Judgment, Concise Statement of Material Facts, and
Brief in Support thereof. (ECF Nos. 50, 51, 52.) Jeffrey
Carnell opposed this Motion by filing his Response to
Movant's Concise Statement of Undisputed Material Facts
and Brief in Opposition on May 4, 2018. (ECF Nos. 54, 55.)
Anna Carnell, pro se, has not filed any response. Lastly,
Wells Fargo filed its Reply Brief on May 18, 2018. (ECF No.
Relevant Factual History
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
Carnell and Anna Carnell were married on two separate
occasions-the latter of which occurred on August 21, 1999.
(ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 9-10; ECF No. 54 ¶¶ 9-10.)
The Carnell's second marriage ended in divorce in 2013.
(ECF No. 51 ¶ 52.)
9, 2003, Jeffrey Carnell executed a durable power of attorney
appointing Anna Carnell as his
agent/attorney-in-fact. (ECF No. 51 ¶ 11; ECF No. 51-3;
ECF No. 54 ¶ 11.) However, Anna Carnell only remembered
that she had this power of attorney "right before the
mediation" in the present litigation. (ECF No. 54 ¶
11; ECF No. 54-1 at 132: 14-17.) This power of attorney
generally authorizes Anna Carnell to act on Jeffrey
Carnell's behalf, including an express authorization for
Anna Carnell to mortgage property on Jeffrey Carnell's
behalf. (ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 14-16; ECF No. 51-3; ECF No.
54 ¶¶ 14-16.) Anna Carnell managed the
Carnells' finances from August 21, 1999 until 2010. (ECF
No. 51 ¶ 19; ECF No. 54 ¶ 19.)
Carnell concedes that he never formally revoked his power of
attorney, but believed that the power of attorney was only to
be used if he and Anna Carnell were "on good terms"
and he was incapacitated. (ECF No. 51 ¶ 13; ECF No. 54
the Carnells' second marriage, the Carnells acquired
title to real property located at 4139 Elk Lick Road,
Everett, Pennsylvania 15537 ("the Property") as
"husband and wife" by deed dated October 14, 2005.
(ECF No. 51 ¶ 21; ECF No. 54 ¶ 21.)
to a promissory note dated September 5, 2005, M&T
Mortgage Corporation ("M&T") loaned the
Carnells the principal sum of $82, 400.00. (ECF No. 51 ¶
22; ECF No. 54 ¶ 22.) Pursuant to a mortgage dated
September 5, 2006 ("the M&T Mortgage"), the
Carnells gave a mortgage against the Property in order to
secure repayment of the debt to M&T. (ECF No. 51 ¶
25; ECF No. 54 ¶ 25.) Jeffrey Carnell's signature
appears on both the M&T promissory note and the M&T
Mortgage; he signed his own name on both of these M&T
documents. (ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 23-24, 26-27; ECF No. 54
¶¶ 23-24, 26-27.)
to a promissory note dated June 30, 2008, Wells Fargo loaned
the Carnells the principal sum of $101, 952.00 to, at least
in part, pay off the debt secured by the M&T Mortgage.
(ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 28, 36; ECF No. 54 ¶¶ 28,
36.) Pursuant to a mortgage dated June 19, 2008 ("the
2008 Wells Fargo Mortgage"), the Carnells gave a
mortgage against the Property to Wells Fargo in order to
secure repayment of the 2008 debt to Wells Fargo. (ECF No. 51
¶ 32; ECF No. 54 ¶ 32.) Jeffrey Carnell's name
appears on both the 2008 Wells Fargo loan and the 2008 Wells
Fargo Mortgage, but he did not sign them-Anna Carnell signed
his name. (ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 29-31, 33-35; ECF No. 54
¶¶ 29-31, 33-35.)
to a promissory note dated March 31, 2009, Wells Fargo loaned
the Carnells the principal sum of $156, 548.00 to, at least
in part, pay off the debt secured by the 2008 Wells Fargo
Mortgage. (ECF No. 51 ¶¶ 39, 47; ECF No. 54
¶¶ 39, 47.) Pursuant to a mortgage dated March 20,
2009 ("the 2009 Wells Fargo Mortgage"), the
Carnells gave a mortgage against the Property to Wells Fargo
in order to secure the repayment of the 2009 debt to Wells
Fargo. (ECF No. 51 ¶ 43; ECF No. 54 ¶ 43.) Jeffrey
Carnell's name appears on both the 2009 Wells Fargo loan
and the 2009 Wells Fargo Mortgage, but he did not sign
them-Anna Carnell signed his name. (ECF No. 51 ¶¶
40-42, 44-46; ECF No. 54 ¶¶ 40-42, 44-46.)
March 14, 2012, Wells Fargo filed an action in the Bedford
County Court of Common Pleas to foreclose on the lien of the
2009 Wells Fargo Mortgage against the Property
("Foreclosure Action"). (ECF No. 51 ¶ 50; ECF
No. 54 ¶ 50.) In this Foreclosure Action, Jeffrey
Carnell filed an answer and new matter on May 29, 2012,
stating that the M&T Mortgage was "legitimate,
" but asserting that he did not execute the 2008 Wells
Fargo Mortgage or the 2009 Wells Fargo Mortgage. (ECF No. 51
¶ 51; ECF No. 54 ¶ 51.) However, the Foreclosure
Action has purportedly been discontinued effective March 16,
2018 due to the substitution of Specialized Loan Servicing,
LLC as a party plaintiff for Wells Fargo. (ECF No. 54 ¶
judgment is appropriate only where . . . there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact. .. and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Melrose,
Inc. v. Pittsburgh, 613 F.3d 380, 387 (3d Cir. 2010)
(quoting Ruehl v. Viacom, Inc., 500 F.3d 375, 380
n.6 (3d Cir. 2007)); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Issues of fact are genuine "if the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see also McGreevy v. Stroup,
413 F.3d 359, 363 (3d Cir. 2005). Material facts are those
that will affect the outcome of the trial under governing
law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court's role
is "not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth
of the matter, but only to determine whether the evidence of
record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party." Am. Eagle Outfitters v.
Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009).
"In making this determination, 'a court must view
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draw all inferences in that party's favor.'"
Farrell v. Planters Lifesavers Co., 206 F.3d 271,
278 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting Armbruster v. Unisys
Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 111 (3d Cir. 1994)).
moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the
basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the
record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex, 411 U.S. at 323. If the moving party
meets this burden, the party opposing summary judgment
"may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials"
of the pleading, but "must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir.
2001) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 n.ll (1986)). "For
an issue to be genuine, the nonmovant needs to supply more
than a scintilla of evidence in support of its position-there
must be sufficient evidence (not mere allegations) for a
reasonable jury to find for the nonmovant."
Coolspring Stone Supply v. Am. States Life Ins. Co.,10 F.3d 144, 148 (3d Cir. 1993); see also Podobnik v.
U.S. Postal Sew.,409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. ...