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Ragler v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Alaska

July 11, 2018

Kathleen M. Ragler, Plaintiff,
v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION [RE: MOTION AT DOCKET 9 AND REQUEST AT DOCKET 18]

          JOHN W. SEDWICK SENIOR JUDGE

         I. MOTION PRESENTED

         At docket 9 plaintiff Kathleen M. Ragler (“Ragler”) moves to remand this case to the Superior Court for the State of Alaska. Her motion is supported by a memorandum at docket 10. Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells”) opposes at docket 16 with a supporting memorandum at docket 17. Ragler replies at docket 24. Oral argument was not requested, and it would not be of assistance to the court.

         At docket 18, Wells asks the court to judicially notice two documents recorded in the Anchorage Recording District, a notice of default and a trustee's deed. Ragler has not responded to the request, and it meets the criteria for judicial notice. Accordingly, the court judicially notices these two recorded documents.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Ragler filed her complaint in state court alleging, “This is an action for relief and damages against [Wells]. . . .. [Wells] is threatening a wrongful foreclosure against an elder. This foreclosure must be stopped until [Wells] complies with the law and its obligations.”[1] The complaint was filed on January 18, 2018. A foreclosure sale had already been scheduled for January 19, 2018. Anticipating that the foreclosure sale would proceed, the complaint asserted: “The threatened foreclosure auction of January 19, 2018, should be halted and/or rescinded until a full accounting can be done on Ms. Ragler's account.”[2] The foreclosure sale was held on January 19, 2018. Wells removed the case to this court based on diversity jurisdiction.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal law requires that if at any time prior to entry of judgment “it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”[3] The law authorizing removal must be strictly construed against removal, and any question concerning the right to remove must be resolved in favor of remand to state court.[4]“The presumption against removal means ‘that the defendant always has the burden of establishing removal is proper.'”[5]

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Ragler contends that the amount in controversy is less than the $75, 000 required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Her argument is premised on the propositions that the amount by which she fell behind on her mortgage payments was less than $75, 000, and that as a matter of law the amount in controversy may not be measured by the value of the foreclosed property.

         Ragler relies on two of this court's decisions, Dalby v. Ditech Fin., LLC, et al.[6]and Baker v. Robinson Tait, et al.[7] Baker turned on issues not present here and provides no guidance for resolving the pending motion. Dalby, on the other hand, is instructive. In Dalby, Judge Holland cited a recent California district court decision.[8]The California court first recognized that generally when an action seeks injunctive relief the amount in controversy is measured by the value of the lawsuit's object. Here, that would be the value of the foreclosed property. Nonetheless, the California court and Judge Holland both recognized an exception to the general rule which applies when a plaintiff does not ask to prevent the ultimate sale of the property at a foreclosure sale.[9]

         In Dalby, the defendants argued that plaintiff Dalby sought to rescind the foreclosure sale and restore title to him. Judge Holland agreed that Dalby did not explicitly ask for a temporary delay of the foreclosure proceeding. But, Judge Holland emphasized that Dalby did not ask the court to restore his title free and clear the mortgage obligation. He elaborated:

Rather, in his complaint [Dalby] acknowledges that there would still be a mortgage on the property, and he asks the court to determine how much is still owed on the mortgage. Plaintiff has alleged that he was not credited for some loan payments he made * * * *.[10]

         The situation in the case at bar is essentially the same. Ragler's complaint alleges that Wells did not credit her for all payments she made. Like Dalby, Ragler does not ask the court to award her title free and clear of whatever actually remains due on the mortgage.[11] Her request for injunctive relief is limited to halting or rescinding the ...


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