United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
ALAN D. MEEKINS, Pro se Petitioner,
LAKEVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, et al., Respondents.
J. Novak United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Confirm
Arbitration Award (ECF No. 1) filed by Petitioner Alan D.
Meekins ("Petitioner"). Respondents RoundPoint
Mortgage Servicing Corporation ("RoundPoint"),
Lakeview Loan Servicing, LLC ("Lakeview"), and
Loancare, LLC ("Loancare") (collectively,
"Respondents") have filed oppositions. (ECF Nos.
10-11.) Additionally, Lakeview and Loancare (collectively,
"Counterclaimants") have filed an Amended
Counterclaim. (Amended Counterclaim for Declaratory Judgment
and Injunctive Relief ("Am. Counterclaim") (ECF No.
17).). Counterclaimants have also filed an Amended Motion for
Preliminary Injunction against Petitioner and Innovative
Holdings Inc. d/b/a Sitcomm Arbitration Association
("SAA"). (ECF No 18.) For the reasons stated
herein, Petitioner's Motion is hereby DENIED WITH
PREJUDICE. The Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction is
hereby DENIED, and the Amended Counterclaim is hereby
DISMISSED without prejudice.
dispute arises out of a mortgage obtained by
Petitioner. In June 2017, Petitioner obtained a loan
in the amount of $359, 900.00 from Embrace Home Loans, Inc.
(Am. Counterclaim at ¶ 10.) In October 2017, the
servicing of the loan was transferred to Lakeview as servicer
and Loancare as subservicer. (Id. at ¶ 12.) At
some point, Petitioner apparently defaulted on the loan, and
Loancare sent him notices regarding the default.
(Id. at ¶ 16.) In March 2018, Petitioner sent
Lakeview a document titled "Tender of Payment
Offering," which appeared to assert that the United
States Government had an obligation to pay $431, 700 to
Lakeview on Petitioner's behalf. (ECF No. 17-3.) On
February 12, 2019, Petitioner sent a document to Respondents,
titled a "Show of Cause Proof of Claim Demand" that
contained a litany of difficult to comprehend legal and
factual assertions. (ECF No. 10-3). It stated that
Respondents "will have agreed to and consented through
'tacit acquiescence' to ALL the facts in relation to
the above referenced alleged Commercial/Civil/Cause."
(Id.) It further provided that Respondents will have
consented to arbitration through "tacit
acquiescence" should they not respond within ten days.
(Id.) Then, on February 25, 2019, Petitioner sent a
"Notice of Default" that stated, "you are now
a party to the contract that you have received and you have
not complied to the terms of the contract" and that
failure to respond within three days would result in
"default and we will proceed to get a judgment against
you through arbitration." (ECF No. 17-4.)
18, 2019, the arbitrator purported to enter a "Notice of
Arbitration Hearing," setting a hearing for June 4,
2019. (ECF No. 17-8.) On May 23, 2019, Lakeview sent a cease
and desist letter to Petitioner. (ECF No. 17-6.) On June 20,
2019, arbitrator Sandra Goulette in Laurel, Mississppi,
awarded Petitioner $1, 079, 700.00 from Respondents.
(("Award") (ECF No. 1-1) at 17.) Thereafter, on
July 10, 2019, Petitioner filed his Motion to Confirm, along
with a copy of the Award. (ECF No. 1.)
filed the Motion to Confirm, asking the Court to confirm an
arbitration award by SAA. Respondents claim that they never
entered into an agreement to arbitrate any disputes with
Petitioner; therefore, the Court cannot confirm any award.
(RoundPoint's Opp. to Mot. to Confirm Arbitration Award
("RoundPoint's Opp.") (ECF No. 10);
Counterclaimants' Obj. to Mot. to Confirm Arbitration
Award ("Counterclaimants' Opp.") (ECF No.
11-1).) Further, Counterclaimants request that the Court
vacate the Award. (Counterclaimants' Opp. at 5-7.)
The Court Will Not Confirm the Award.
the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), a court may
confirm an arbitration award "[i]f the parties in their
agreement have agreed that a judgment of the court shall be
entered upon the award made pursuant to the
arbitration...." 9 U.S.C. § 9. To obtain
confirmation of an award, the statute requires the moving
party to file (1) the agreement, (2) the award, and (3) each
notice, affidavit, or other paper used to confirm, modify or
correct the award. 9 U.S.C. § 13. This allows the Court
to determine whether a valid arbitration agreement and award
exist upon which it can base its judgment. See United
Cmty. Bank v. Arruarana, 2011 WL 2748722, at *2 (W.D.
N.C. July 12, 2012) ("Without the filings required by
§ 13, the Court is unable to conclude from the record
that a valid arbitration agreement and award exist and
therefore is unable to determine whether the Petitioner is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law."). Indeed, the
FAA requires an agreement to arbitrate before the Court will
compel arbitration. See 9 U.S.C. § 2
(arbitration agreements enforceable "save upon such
grounds exist at law or equity for the revocation of any
contract"). Whether a party agreed to arbitrate "is
an issue for judicial determination to be decided as a matter
of contract." Johnson v. Circuit City Stores,
Inc., 148 F.3d 373, 377 (4th Cir. 1998).
Petitioner did not file any agreement with his Motion to
Confirm, in contravention of Section 13's requirement.
Petitioner later attempted to file a purported contract as
part of his Motion to Supplement the Record. (ECF No. 15-1.)
However, what he labeled as "Contract Between the
Parties" and titled "Show of Cause Proof of Claim
Demand" does not amount to an enforceable agreement
between the parties. The submission from Petitioner fails to
form a contract under basic hornbook contract law.
an enforceable contract in Virginia, "there must be
mutual assent of the contracting parties to terms reasonably
certain under the circumstances." Allen v. Aetna
Cas. & Sur. Co., 222 Va. 361, 364 (1981).
"Mutual assent by the parties to the terms of a contract
is crucial to the contract's validity." Wells v.
Weston, 229 Va. 72, 78 (1985). "Mutual assent is
determined from the reasonable meaning of a party's
expressions - his words and acts - actually communicated
lo the other party to the purported contract."
Moorman v. Blackstock /mr., 276Va.64, 75(2008).
nothing in the record demonstrates a scintilla of mutual
assent. The signatures of Respondents appear nowhere on the
document. Nor does Petitioner suggest that they signed the
document. Instead, Petitioner bases Respondents' assent
on their failure to respond to Petitioner's demand rather
than any affirmative act of acceptance. Petitioner offers
no actions, words or expressions communicated from
Respondents that could constitute acceptance of
Petitioner's demand. Without mutual assent, a contract
does not exist. Id. Because Petitioner has not
presented a valid agreement whereby the parties agreed to
arbitrate a dispute, the Court will not confirm the Award
under the FA A.
The Court Will Vacate the Award.
also ask the Court to vacate the Award.
(Counterclaimants' Opp. at 5-7.) The FA A provides that a
district court may vacate an arbitration award:
1. where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or
2. where there was evident partiality or corruption in the
arbitrators, or either of them;
3. where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in
refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause
shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material
to the controversy; or any other misbehavior by which the
rights of any party have been prejudiced; or
4. where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so
imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite
award upon the subject matter submitted was not made.
9 U.S.C. § 10(a). Further, courts recognize common law
grounds for vacating awards, including "those
circumstances where an award fails to draw its essence from
the contract, or the award evidences a manifest disregard of
the law." Patten v. Signator Ins. Agency, Inc.,
441 F.3d 230, 234 (4th Cir. 2006). However, the "process
and extent of federal judicial review of an arbitration award
are substantially circumscribed." Id.
Additionally, the Court undertakes its review of the award
with an understanding of the strong "national policy
favoring" arbitration. Hall Street Assocs. v.
Mattel, Inc., 552 U.S. 576, 581 (2008).
The Court Will Vacate the Award Pursuant to the FAA.
argue that the Court should vacate the Award under the
"fraud, corruption, or undue means" provision of
Section 10(a) of the FAA. (Counterclaimants' Opp. at 6.)
The Court agrees. Petitioner obtained an arbitration
"hearing" by sending Respondents an
incomprehensible agreement to arbitrate and using their
non-response to initiate an arbitration. Moreover, the Award
itself does not appear to have any grounding in fact or law.
The Court expresses great skepticism about the validity of
SAA as an arbitration entity. Indeed, courts around the country
have expressed doubts regarding SAA's validity. See
Kalmowitz v. Fed. Home Mortg. Corp., 2019 WL 6249298, at
*2 (E.D. Tex. Oct. 22, 2019) ("The purported arbitration
agreement and award do not appear to have any meritorious
basis in fact or law, and Sitcomm does not appear to be a
valid entity of arbitration."); U-S. Bank National
Ass'n v. Nichols, 2019 WL 4276995, ...