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In re Cameron

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 27, 2019

IN RE CAMERON
v.
PHH MORTGAGE CORPORATION, Appellee. NORMAN GEORGE CAMERON, Appellant,

          RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS APPEAL (DOC. NO. 11)

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Norman George Cameron (“Mr. Cameron”) filed this appeal pro se from an Order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut (“the Bankruptcy Court”). See generally Notice of Appeal from Bankruptcy Court (“Appeal”) (Doc. No. 1). The Order denied Mr. Cameron's Motion for Reconsideration of the Bankruptcy Court's prior Order, which prior Order granted appellee PHH Mortgage Corporation (“PHH”) in rem relief from an automatic stay as to property located at 631 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, Connecticut 06002 (“the Property”).[1] See Order Denying Motion to Reconsider (Doc. No. 40), In re Cameron, No. 18-20369 (Bankr. D. Conn.) (“Second Bankruptcy Action”); Ruling on Motion for In Rem Relief from Stay (“Order Lifting Stay”) (Doc. No. 27), Second Bankruptcy Action. PHH now moves to dismiss Mr. Cameron's Appeal. See Motion to Dismiss Appeal (Doc. No. 11).

         For the reasons discussed below, PHH's Motion to Dismiss is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On June 24, 2010, PHH filed a foreclosure action in Connecticut Superior Court against Mr. Cameron and his wife (“Mrs. Cameron”) (collectively, “the Camerons”), seeking to foreclose on the Property (“the Foreclosure Action”). See PHH Mortg. Co. v. Cameron, No. HHDCV106012369S, 2017 WL 4508613, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Aug. 29, 2017) (summarizing the history of the Foreclosure Action). After addressing numerous motions, including motions to strike, motions to dismiss, motions for nonsuit, and motions for summary judgment, the Superior Court held a two-day trial on October 6 and October 17, 2015. See id. On April 29, 2016, the Superior Court ruled in favor of PHH, concluding that:

[T]he plaintiff [PHH] has established its prima facie case for foreclosure: the plaintiff is the current owner and holder of the underlying Note; the Note is endorsed in blank; the plaintiff and/or their agents have been in possession of the original note since prior to the start of this foreclosure action; when this suit was commenced, the owner of the Note, Fannie Mae, authorized the plaintiff to act as servicer of this loan including bring [sic] a foreclosure action in servicer's name; the plaintiff is the current mortgagee of record; the plaintiff issued a written notice of default to the defendant; the defendant failed to cure the underlying default; and the loan is in default and currently due for the October 1, 2007, mortgage payment.

PHH Mortg. Corp. v. Cameron, No. HHDCV106012369S, 2016 WL 2935570, at *9 (Conn. Super. Ct. Apr. 29, 2016). The Superior Court also rejected all eighteen special defenses raised by the Camerons, as well as all of their counterclaims. Id. at *10.

         On June 14, 2016, the Superior Court entered a Judgment of Strict Foreclosure and set the law day for August 1, 2016. See Judgment of Strict Foreclosure (Doc. No. 283.50), PHH Mortg. Corp. v. Cameron, No. HHD-CV10-6012369-S (Conn. Super. Ct.) (“Foreclosure Action”); Order (Doc. No. 276.10), Foreclosure Action. Under Connecticut law, if the law day runs without the mortgagor redeeming legal title to the mortgaged property, the absolute title to the property passes to the mortgagee on that date. See Sovereign Bank v. Licata, 178 Conn.App. 82, 97 (2017).

         On August 1, 2016, the date of the law day, Mrs. Cameron filed for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7. See generally Chapter 7 Voluntary Petition (Doc. No. 1), In re Cameron, No. 16-21256 (Bankr. D. Conn.) (“First Bankruptcy Action”). Pursuant to section 362(a)(1) of title 11 of the United States Code, Mrs. Cameron's filing of a bankruptcy petition created an automatic stay against the Foreclosure Action. See Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 527 (2d Cir. 1994) (“[T]he filing of a bankruptcy petition creates an automatic stay against the commencement or continuation of a judicial, administrative, or other action or proceeding against the debtor that was or could have been commenced before the commencement of the case.”) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted) (quoting 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(1)). Accordingly, the law day in the Foreclosure Action was reset for after the completion of the bankruptcy proceeding. See Order (Doc. No. 302.86), Foreclosure Action, at 1 (rescheduling the law day in the Foreclosure Action for March 19, 2018).

         On May 31, 2017, PHH moved the Bankruptcy Court to lift the automatic stay as to the Property. See generally Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay (Doc. No. 29), First Bankruptcy Action. After holding a hearing on the matter, in which both Mr. and Mrs. Cameron participated, the Bankruptcy Court lifted the automatic stay as to the Property, reasoning that:

Res judicata, collateral estoppel and the Rocker [sic] Feldman doctrine bar the Debtor's re-litigation of the Debtor's alleged defenses and claims and bind this Court to the judgment of the Superior Court. The claims and defenses of the Debtor and her husband were previously raised and fully adjudicated at trial at [t]he Superior Court and are spurious, dilatory and utterly without merit. To the extent [that] such defenses and claims are further prosecuted, the Court will entertain appropriate requests for sanctions.

Order Granting PHH Mortgage Corporation Relief from Stay (Doc. No. 46), First Bankruptcy Action, at 1. Mrs. Cameron subsequently filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Bankruptcy Court's decision to lift the automatic stay. See Motion to Reconsider (Doc. No. 53), First Bankruptcy Action. After holding a hearing on the matter, the Bankruptcy Court denied the Motion, noting that:

The Court, having reviewed the docket and rulings in this matter (and the State Court decisions) and considered the arguments advanced at its hearings and in the papers related to the Debtor's myriad requests for reconsideration, hereby denies any reconsideration of its ruling on the Motion for Relief from Stay. The abusive, dilatory and misguided efforts and arguments of Mr[.] and Mrs[.] Cameron have fueled interminable, wasteful, duplicative and dilatory proceedings. Neither the Debtor nor her husband have been credible in these matters or the State Court and their repetitive and strained arguments have been found to be meritless after plenary proceedings in the State Court.

Order on Motion to Reconsider (Doc. No. 75), First Bankruptcy Action. On December 19, 2017, Mrs. Cameron appealed the Bankruptcy Court's denial of reconsideration to this District Court (Thompson, J.), which appeal was ultimately dismissed for failure to pay the requisite filing fee or obtain a fee waiver. See Order (Doc. No. 7), In re Cameron, No. 17-cv-02142-AWT (D. Conn.).

         On July 12, 2017, while PHH's Motion for Relief from Stay was still pending before the Bankruptcy Court, Mrs. Cameron initiated an Adversary Proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court against PHH and various other entities. See generally Complaint (Doc. No. 1), Cameron v. PHH, No. 17-02033 (Bankr. D. Conn.) (“Adversary Proceeding”). In her Complaint, she requested an injunction prohibiting these defendants from foreclosing on the Property; a determination that all liens encumbering the Property were unsecured and void; and compensatory and punitive damages. See id. at 7. Mrs. Cameron argued that she was entitled to this relief because, inter alia, the assignment of the mortgage to PHH was a fraudulent conveyance and the defendants lacked standing to bring the Foreclosure Action. See id. at 4-6.

         On February 1, 2018, the Bankruptcy Court granted the defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Adversary Proceeding, reasoning that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, res judicata, and collateral estoppel barred Mrs. Cameron from asserting her claims. See Rulings and Order on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint (Doc. No. 42), Adversary Proceeding, at 12, 13, 15, 24. In addition, the Bankruptcy Court granted the defendants' Motion for Sanctions, awarding the defendants “twice their reasonable fees and expenses, incurred in connection with these bankruptcy proceedings[.]” Id. at 24. In awarding sanctions, the Bankruptcy Court noted that “the unabashed vigor of the Camerons and their repetitive assaults upon the Movants have remained undeterred despite multiple judicial admonitions.” Id. at 23. The Bankruptcy Court also highlighted “the Debtor's elusive, false, misleading and spurious filings and her repeated use of the Court system to delay an inevitable and fully litigated foreclosure.” Id. Mrs. Cameron subsequently appealed the Bankruptcy Court's dismissal of her Adversary Proceeding, which dismissal was ultimately affirmed by this District Court (Thompson, J.). See Ruling on Bankruptcy Appeal (Doc. No. 14), In re Cameron, No. 18-cv-00289-AWT (D. Conn.), at 3.

         After the Bankruptcy Court lifted the automatic stay as to the Property, the State Trial Court set a new law day in the Foreclosure Action for March 19, 2018. Order (Doc. No. 302.86), Foreclosure Action. However, on March 19, 2018, Mr. Cameron filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, thereby staying the running of the law day for a second time. See Chapter 7 Voluntary Petition (Doc. No. 1), In re Cameron, No. 18-20369 (Bankr. D. Conn.) (“Second ...


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