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Bills v. BNC Mortgage

May 11, 2007

RONALD BILLS, JR. AND DAPHNE POWELL- BILLS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BNC MORTGAGE, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION; CHASE HOME FINANCE, LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; OPTION ONE MORTGAGE CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION; WELLS FARGO BANK MINNESOTA, N.A., A NATIONAL BANKING ASSOCIATION; AND JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Ronald Bills and Daphne Powell-Bills have brought an amended complaint against defendants BNC Mortgage, Inc., Option One Mortgage Corp., and Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota, N.A., alleging violations of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. ("TILA"), seeking rescission of a mortgage and damages. BNC and Option One have moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), arguing that: (1) Option One, as a loan servicer, is not liable under TILA; (2) plaintiffs' claims for statutory damages against BNC is barred by TILA's one year statute of limitations; and (3) all claims by Daphne Powell-Bills have already been dismissed by this court in Bills v. BNC Mortgage, Inc., 2006 WL 3227887 (N.D. Ill. 2006). Wells Fargo has moved for summary judgment arguing that as assignee of the loan it cannot be found liable for damages because the underlying disclosure violation is not apparent on the face of the disclosure statement. For the reasons set forth below all motions are granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff Ronald Bills obtained a mortgage loan from BNC on July 17, 2003, secured by real property located at 318 Hunter Avenue, Joliet, IL (the "property"). Defendant Option One acted as the servicer of the loan, collecting payments made by plaintiff Ronald Bills. Sometime in November 2003, the note was assigned to Wells Fargo, and Chase Home Finance, LLC acted as its servicing agent. In July 2006, during the pendency of this lawsuit, BNC repurchased the loan from Wells Fargo, and the servicing rights transferred from Chase back to Option One. According to the amended complaint, at the July 17, 2003, transaction closing, Ronald signed or received numerous documents including an adjustable rate note, a mortgage, and three copies of an incomplete Notice of Right to Cancel.

Plaintiffs allege that a failure to provide both Ronald and Daphne with two copies each of a complete Notice of Right to Cancel violates TILA, giving them the right to rescind the note and mortgage. They purported to exercise this right by letter from their attorney dated April 25, 2006, to all defendants. Defendants have not rescinded the loan.

DISCUSSION

TILA gives a consumer the right to rescind a loan against a creditor within three days of the "consummation of the transaction." 15 U.S.C. § 1635(a). That right to rescind extends to three years if the "required notice or material disclosures are not delivered." 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(a)(3). The "required notice" is two "copies of the notice of right to rescind." 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(b)(1). The notice must be on a separate piece of paper and must contain the date the rescission period ends. 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(b)(1), (b)(1)(b). If a consumer has a right to rescind against a creditor, the right will also apply as to any assignee of that creditor. 15 U.S.C. § 1641(c).

BNC's Motion to Dismiss

BNC has moved to dismiss plaintiffs' claim for statutory damages against it for failing to provide the required notice of right to rescind, arguing that the claim is barred by TILA's one year statute of limitations for damage claims. See 15 U.S.C. § 1640(e). Plaintiffs offer no response to this argument. Accordingly, plaintiffs' damage claims against BNC are dismissed.

Additionally, BNC correctly argues that this court has already dismissed any claims brought by Daphne. Bills, 2006 WL 3227887. Again, plaintiff fails to respond to this argument. Accordingly, all claims in the amended complaint that purport to be brought on Daphne's behalf are dismissed.

Option One's Motion to Dismiss

Option One has moved to dismiss the complaint as to it, arguing that TILA expressly disclaims any liability for servicers for disclosure violations. 15 U.S.C. § 1641(f)(1); Payton v. New Century Mortgage Corp., 2003 WL 22349118 at *5 (N.D. Ill. 2003).

Plaintiff agrees that a loan servicer is not subject to monetary damages under TILA, but argues that a loan server may nonetheless be a proper defendant in a TILA rescission action. Plaintiff argues that the complaint seeks a declaration that the subject transaction is void and that plaintiffs have no further obligation to make interest payments. Because at the present time Option One claims a right to collect mortgage payments (including interest), plaintiffs argue that Option One is a necessary party. Additionally, plaintiffs seek an order requiring Option One to delete any adverse information from plaintiffs' credit report. Therefore, plaintiffs argue that Option One is necessary for complete relief.

At least three courts in this district have held that a current servicer should not be dismissed from a suit for rescission because the servicer is a necessary defendant under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a). See Miranda v. University Fin. Group, Inc., 459 F. Supp.2d 760, 765-66 ( N.D. Ill. 2006) (and cases cited therein); Adams v. Nationscredit Fin. Serv., 351 F. Supp.2d 829, 835 (N.D. Ill. 2004). Those cases suggest that "[d]ismissing the servicer could impair the borrower's ability to fully protect his or her interest in rescinding the loan because the servicer could improperly report to credit bureaus or foreclose on the loan." Miranda, 459 F. Supp.2d at 766. As Judge Shadur has pointed out, however, a servicer's interest automatically ceases upon rescission. Walker v. Gateway Financial Corp., 286 F. Supp.2d 965, 969 (N.D. Ill. 2003). Any concern that Option One might thereafter engage ...


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