United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ALYSSA S. PETERSON, Plaintiff,
WELLS FARGO TRUSTEE, et al., Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Peterson lost a mortgage foreclosure action in state court,
and her appeal and eventual efforts to be heard en
banc or by the Connecticut Supreme Court failed. She
subsequently brought this action pro se in federal
court, raising eight claims that predominantly were or could
have been raised as defenses in state court. On the
defendants' motion, for reasons of both issue and claim
preclusion, I dismissed with prejudice all of Peterson's
claims except slander of title. Peterson has moved for
reconsideration of that order. In addition, the defendants
have moved for summary judgment on Peterson's remaining
claim, arguing that she has not satisfied the required
element of damages for slander of title. Peterson has
cross-moved for summary judgment, focusing on the elements of
malice and special damages.
that Peterson has not made any new arguments or cited
additional authority to warrant revisiting my order with
respect to the motion to dismiss. I therefore deny her motion
for reconsideration. I also conclude that Peterson has not
produced sufficient evidence to satisfy the requisite
elements for slander of title, and so grant the
defendants' motion for summary judgment and deny
Peterson's cross-motion for summary judgment.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when the record demonstrates that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986) (plaintiff
must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat properly
supported motion for summary judgment).
ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must construe
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
and must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable
inferences against the moving party. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Adickes v. S.H.
Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970); see
also Aldrich v. Randolph Cent. Sch. Dist., 963 F.2d 520,
523 (2d Cir. 1992) (court is required to “resolve all
ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party”). When a motion for summary judgment is properly
supported by documentary and testimonial evidence, however,
the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations or
denials, but must present sufficient probative evidence to
establish a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); Colon v.
Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995).
when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of
the evidence is summary judgment proper.” Bryant v.
Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991); see
also Suburban Propane v. Proctor Gas, 953 F.2d
780, 788 (2d Cir. 1992). If the nonmoving party submits
evidence that is “merely colorable, ” or is not
“significantly probative, ” summary judgment may
be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact. As to materiality, the
substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.
Id. at 247-48. To present a “genuine”
issue of material fact, there must be contradictory evidence
“such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the non-moving party.” Id. at 248.
nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of his case with respect to which he bears
the burden of proof, then summary judgment is appropriate.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. In such circumstances,
“there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any
material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 322-23; accord Goenaga v. March of Dimes
Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995)
(movant's burden satisfied if he can point to an absence
of evidence to support an essential element of nonmoving
party's claim). In short, if there is no genuine issue of
material fact, summary judgment may be awarded.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
unsuccessfully appealing from a judgment of foreclosure
against her in Connecticut state court,  Alyssa Peterson
filed this action in federal court in October 2014. She
pleaded eight counts: (1) slander of title; (2) quiet title;
(3) negligent misrepresentation; (4) fraud by nondisclosure;
(5) wrongful disclosure; (6) negligence; (7) breach of
implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (8)
declaratory and injunctive relief. The defendants filed a
motion to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.
Because claim preclusion and issue preclusion attached to
most of the claims as a result of the state court litigation,
I granted the defendants' motion in part and dismissed
with prejudice all counts except slander of title.
See Order, Doc. No. 28.
amended complaint, Peterson asserts that she has a claim for
slander of title because the defendants recorded a
certificate of foreclosure on the Hartford Land Records on
February 7, 2013, while enforcement of the judgment of
foreclosure was stayed due to Peterson's appeal. Am.
Compl., Doc. No. 32, at ¶ 84. The defendants acknowledge
that the certificate of foreclosure was published during the
stay and “not withdrawn, ” but deny any
“false filing” and slander of title. Answer, Doc.
No. 33, at ¶¶ 85, 96.
defendants have moved for summary judgment, primarily arguing
that Peterson has not met her burden to evidence the element
of damages. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Summ. J.,
Doc. No. 40, at 9 (contending that Peterson has been
“unable to identify a single dollar of pecuniary
damages attributable to the Certificate of
Foreclosure”). In response, Peterson has cross-moved
for summary judgment, claiming that the defendants
maliciously published a false statement and acted with
“reckless disregard of the truth, ” Pl.'s
Mem. Supp. Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J., Doc. No. 49, at 26, as a
result of which she suffered “personal harm and
humiliation, legal harm, resulting in special damages and
associated pecuniary costs, ” Am. Compl. Doc. No. 33,
at ¶ 97.