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Sampson v. Beneficial Financial I, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

October 16, 2019

BILLIE JEAN SAMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BENEFICIAL FINANCIAL I, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          M. Hannah Lauck United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Beneficial Financial I, Inc. 's ("Beneficial'') Rule 41(d) Motion to Stay Action, (ECF No. 2), and Beneficial's Motion fr Extension of Time to Respond to Complaint, (ECF No. 4). The matter is ripe fr disposition. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Beneficial's Rule 41(d) Motion to Stay Action and grant Beneficial's Motion fr Extension of Time to Respond to Complaint. [1]

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         A. Summary of Allegations in the Complaint

         In March 2002, Sampson and her husband entered into a mortgage loan as borrowers with Beneficial Mortgage Company of Virginia as the lender. (Compl. 14, ECF No. 1-1) The mortgage loan was evidenced by a Loan Repayment and Security Agreement, secured by a deed of trust, and recorded in the Circuit Court of Henrico County ("Henrico County Circuit Court") clerk's office. (Id.) Beneficial Financial, Inc. ("Beneficial") replaced Beneficial Mortgage Company of Virginia as the successor in interest. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         In February 2005, Beneficial informed Sampson via letter that it had reduced the interest rate on her loan, thereby lowering her required monthly payments. (Id. ¶ 12.) In January 2010, Beneficial sent Sampson another letter, informing her that her interest rate would be further decreased for six months, further reducing her required monthly payments. (Id. ¶ 13.) At an unspecified point later on, Sampson paid a representative of Beneficial $10, 975. (Id.) Of that total, she paid $5, 975 through a cashier's check and $5, 000 in cash. (Id.) Beneficial cashed the cashier's check, but it did not credit Sampson for the $5, 975 payment made by that check. (Id.)

         In February 2013, Beneficial sent Sampson a letter, offering her a six-month loan modification. (Id. ¶ 32.) The letter assured Sampson that Beneficial would give her a loan modification as long as she made required (lower) monthly payments for the next two months. (Id.) Sampson states that she authorized Beneficial to withdraw several payments from her account, and that she made another payment via check to Beneficial. (Id. ¶ 35.) In April 2013, however, Beneficial claimed that it did not receive two qualifying payments. (Compl. Ex. D.) At some point after offering Sampson the loan modification, Beneficial told her that it would accelerate the loan and foreclose on her home if she did not pay $6, 591.31 by April 1, 2013. (Id. ¶ 39.)

         Sampson alleges that Beneficial never sent her a proper 30-day cure notice as required by paragraph 17 of the Deed of Trust, but nonetheless appointed Surety Trustees, LLC ("Surety") as substitute trustee on the deed of trust and instructed Surety to foreclose on Sampson's home. (Id. ¶ 14-15.) In March 2014, Surety conducted a "purported" foreclosure sale of the home, at which Beneficial made the high bid. (Id. ¶ 17.) Surety executed a "purported" trustee's deed, which conveyed ownership of Sampson's home to Beneficial. (Id. ¶ 18.) After the foreclosure, Beneficial issued negative reports regarding Sampson to credit reporting agencies. (Id. 25.) After Beneficial scheduled a lock-out of Sampson to evict her from her home, Sampson filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Henrico County, Virginia. (Id. ¶¶ 24, 27.) In response to the filing of Sampson's complaint, Beneficial canceled the lock-out, and Sampson voluntarily vacated the home. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28.)

         Sampson states that through Beneficial's foreclosure on her home and its conduct leading up to, and subsequent to, the foreclosure, Beneficial breached the terms of paragraph 17 of the Deed of Trust and breached the terms of the Loan Modification Offer. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 40.) She also concludes that the Beneficial's underlying breaches of contract made the purported foreclosure and trustee's deed void, or alternatively, voidable. (Id. ¶ 41.) As a result of Beneficial's foreclosure on Sampson's home, Sampson avers that she sustained a variety of damages and related legal and relocation costs, including loss of title to her home as well as damage to her credit record. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 42.)

         B. Procedural History

         In May 2015, Sampson filed her first complaint against Beneficial and Surety in the Henrico County Circuit Court, alleging breach of contract of the deed of trust, breach of contract of a loan modification, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (Mem. Supp. Rule 41(d) Mot. Stay 2, ECF No. 3). In January 2016, she filed an amended complaint that did not substantively change her claims. (Id. 2-3.) In March 2018, she filed a second amended complaint, in which she discarded her claim to rescind the foreclosure sale of her home. (Id. 3.) Later, the Henrico County Circuit Court dismissed the claim regarding breach of the implied warranties of good faith and fair dealing. (Id.) In July 2018, during a hearing on summary judgment, the Henrico County Circuit Court denied summary judgment, but also expressed skepticism regarding Sampson's ability to "meet her burdens of proof at trial." (Id.) Less than one week before the scheduled jury trial, Sampson filed a motion to non-suit her claims. (Id.)

         Several months later, Sampson re-filed her claims against Beneficial in Henrico County Circuit Court alleging breach of contract of the deed of trust and breach of contract of a loan modification. (Id.) While there exist some differences between the complaints in the two suits, they are substantially similar. (Id.) They both plead the same causes of action for Counts I and II, they seek the same damages, and they include the same attached exhibits.[2] (Id.)

         In March 2019, Beneficial removed the underlying action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446. (Notice of Removal, ECF No.1.) Beneficial then filed the instant Rule 41(d) Motion to Stay "pending the payment of its reasonable attorneys' fees and costs in defending the previously filed state court litigation." (Mot. Stay, ECF No. 2.)

         II. Standard of Review: Federal Rule of ...


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