ATLANTA -- The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed a ruling to dismiss allegations against Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, Bank of America and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.
James Rudolph Cooley, who purchased real estate in Georgia in 2005, filed the allegations.
The purchase was financed by a loan from Greenpoint Mortgage Funding, Inc., while Mortgage Electronic Registration was chosen as the loan’s nominee, according to the 11th Circuit. Cooley alleged he received a loan from MERS, agreeing that the lender or MERS can force foreclosure if Cooley defaulted.
“Over the next several years, through a series of purchases, Bank of America became GreenPoint’s successor to the loan,” the court said.
In 2010, Cooley negotiated with Bank of America and adjusted payments on the loan, according to the appeals court.
Three years later, when there was confusion about how much Cooley owed on his loan, Bank of America turned the loan servicing to Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, the court said. Alleging breach-of-contract claims in 2014, Cooley sued Bank of America and Ocwen, but the court said that suit was dismissed without prejudice.
Cooley’s current suit was filed in 2015.
According to the appeals court, Cooley alleged that Bank of America breached the 2010 loan modification agreement, Ocwen violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and MERS didn’t follow proper state-law procedures in assigning his loan to either Ocwen or Bank of America.
Cooley was looking for $250,000 in damages, the court said.
Bank of America argued the allegations brought against it, saying Cooley didn’t serve them a proper notice. The 11th Circuit agreed with the district court’s decision to dismiss allegations against Bank of America.
“The district court did not err when it dismissed Cooley’s amended complaint,” the 11th Circuit said. “Bank of America was never properly served with process after Cooley filed this action in June 2015.”
The appeals court cited Rule 4 of civil procedure which requires a “a plaintiff to serve each defendant with a copy of both the summons and the complaint unless the defendant waives service.”
“Cooley both filed this lawsuit and attempted to serve Bank of America in Georgia,” the appeals court said. “But Georgia law, like the federal rules, requires in-person service and makes no provision for service by mail.”
According to the law cited by the court, a plaintiff must deliver copies of the summons and the complaint “to the president or other officer of the corporation, secretary, cashier, managing agent, or other agent.”
The appeals court also agreed with the district court’s decision to dismiss allegations against Ocwen, saying “claims under the FDCPA must be brought within one year of the alleged violation.”
Because more than a year passed between the alleged incident against Ocwen and the time Colley filed his complaint, the appeals court said “Cooley’s FDCPA claims fell outside the statute of limitations.”
“Cooley filed his initial complaint in June 2015, in which he alleged that Ocwen violated the FDCPA when it failed to verify his debt within thirty days after he disputed it in writing on April 1, 2014,” the court said.
In regards to allegations against MERS, the appeals court said a plaintiff can only make a case as a promisor, the promisee or beneficiary of a contract. In this case, the court didn’t categorize Cooley under either party.
“The court correctly found that Cooley did not have standing to challenge the deed assignment by MERS because Cooley was neither a party to it nor a beneficiary,” the appeals court said.