United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), Citigroup
Inc., and PHH Mortgage Corp. move to dismiss Plaintiff Earl
Bryant's complaint. Docs. 7; 9. For the reasons stated
herein, the motion is GRANTED.
May 23, 2005, Bryant entered into a loan agreement with PHH
for $113, 230 and, on the same day, executed a security deed
(the Note) in favor of Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. to 611 Lokchapee Drive, Macon, Georgia (the
Real Property) to secure the Loan. Bryant v. Citigroup,
Inc., 5:15-CV-411 (MTT), Doc. 5 at 20-24, 26-41 (M.D.
Ga.); see also Docs. 7 at 2; 9 at 3-4. On November, 30,
2007, PHH transferred its rights in the Note to CitiMortgage,
Inc. (CMI). Bryant v. Citigroup, Inc., 5:12-CV-61
(MTT), Doc. 18-1 (M.D. Ga.). CMI has held the Note and
serviced the Loan from then on. Bryant, 5:15-CV-411,
Doc. 5 at 47-50; see also Docs. 7 at 2-3; 9 at 4. In
2010, Bryant was notified that his account had an escrow
shortage. Bryant, 5:12-CV-61 (MTT), Doc. 1. Bryant
paid the 2010 escrow shortage in a lump sum but refused to
pay the 2011 shortage. Id. After being notified his
account was in default, Bryant filed the first of his now
five actions related to the Real Property. Bryant v.
Citigroup, Inc., 2012 WL 2375084 at *1 (M.D. Ga.).
22, 2012, this Court dismissed Bryant's first complaint,
which alleged fraud and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (RICO) claims against Citigroup and CMI.
Id. at *1-2. The Court found CMI owned the Note and
that Bryant's challenges to the escrow shortage had no
merit. Id. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the
dismissal of Bryant's claims against CMI but vacated and
remanded the dismissal of his claims against Citigroup,
directing the Court to dismiss those claims for lack of
personal jurisdiction. Bryant v. Citigroup, Inc.,
512 F.App'x 994, 995 (11th Cir. 2013). On April 3, 2014,
Bryant's second complaint, which only alleged claims
against Citigroup, was dismissed by this Court for
insufficient service of process. Bryant v. Citigroup,
Inc., 2014 WL 1347429 at *1-2 (M.D. Ga.). Then, on
August 3, 2014, Bryant, represented by counsel, filed his
third complaint challenging the escrow shortage in Bibb
County Superior Court against PHH and CMI. Bryant v.
Citimortgage, Inc., No. 5:14-CV-348 (MTT), Doc. 1 (M.D.
Ga.). After removal to this Court, Bryant voluntarily
dismissed the complaint with prejudice on October 30, 2014.
Id. at Doc. 6.
2015, CMI foreclosed on the Real Property and Bryant was
notified that Defendant Fannie Mae planned to initiate
dispossessory proceedings. Doc. 1 at 2; see also Bryant
v. Citigroup, Inc., 2016 WL 1056575 at *2 (M.D. Ga.).
Then, on November 2, 2015, Bryant filed his fourth action
related to the Real Property. Id. at *1-2. That
complaint alleged Citigroup and PHH committed "mortgage
servicing fraud, " conspiracy, and various violations of
his constitutional rights. Id. at *2. Along with
again challenging the legality of the escrow shortage, Bryant
also sought to halt both the foreclosure on the Real Property
and the dispossessory proceedings. Id. This Court
dismissed the complaint for insufficient service of process.
Id. at *2-3.
2016, Bryant was evicted from the Real Property. Doc. 1 at 2.
On July 20, 2016, Bryant filed his latest action related to
the Real Property against Defendants PHH, Citigroup, and
Fannie Mae. Id. at 1. Bryant's complaint again
challenges the legality of the escrow shortage, along with
the resulting foreclosure and dispossessory proceedings.
Id. Bryant alleges that (1) all three Defendants
committed "mortgage servicing crimes"; (2) PHH and
Citigroup were involved in a "partnership of
collusion"; and (3) Fannie Mae and Citigroup were
involved in a "joint conspiracy" to seize the Real
Property. Id. at 1-2. Bryant alleges these actions
were in violation of his Due Process rights under the U.S.
Constitution. Doc. 1 at 2. Defendants filed Motions to
Dismiss. Docs. 7, 9. Defendants PHH and Citigroup argue
Bryant failed to establish personal jurisdiction. Docs. 7 at
8; 9 at 11. All three Defendants argue Bryant failed to state
a claim for relief. Docs. 7 at 9; 9 at 14. Bryant did not
file a response but instead filed various other motions.
and PHH are nonresident defendants: Citigroup is a Delaware
corporation headquartered in New York and PHH is a New Jersey
corporation headquartered in New Jersey. Docs. 9 at 13; 7 at
9. A plaintiff has the burden to prove the court has personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Diamond
Crystal Brands, Inc. v. Food Movers, Int'l, Inc.,
593 F.3d 1249, 1257 (11th Cir. 2010). The Court must apply a
two-step inquiry to determine if personal jurisdiction
exists: (1) whether jurisdiction comports with the
state's long-arm statute; and, then, (2) "whether
sufficient minimum contacts exist between the defendants and
the forum state so as to satisfy traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice under the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment." Sculptchair, Inc. v. Century
Arts, Ltd., 94 F.3d 623, 626 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Robinson v. Giarmarco & Bill, P.C., 74 F.3d.
253, 256 (11th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Court need not analyze the applicability of Georgia's
long-arm statute because Bryant has not established
sufficient "minimum contacts" to satisfy Due
Process requirements. The Court will, therefore, only address
the minimum contacts prong of the personal jurisdiction
plaintiff can establish minimum contacts through a
defendant's contacts within the forum state unrelated to
the litigation-general jurisdiction-or a defendant's
contacts related to the litigation-specific jurisdiction.
Diamond Crystal, 593 F.3d at 1267; Consol. Dev.
Corp. v. Sherritt, Inc., 216 F.3d 1286, 1291-92 (11th
Cir. 2000). General jurisdiction requires continuous and
systematic contacts between the defendant and the forum
state. Meier v. Sun Int'l Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d
1264, 1274 (11th Cir. 2002). Meanwhile, specific jurisdiction
requires the defendant to have "purposefully directed
his activities at residents of the forum . . . and the
litigation results from alleged injuries that arise out of or
relate to those activities." Diamond Crystal,
593 F.3d at 1267 (citation omitted). "Put differently,
the defendant must have 'purposefully availed' itself
of the privilege of conducting activities-that is,
purposefully establishing contacts-in the forum state and
there must be a sufficient nexus between those contacts and
the litigation." Id.
does not allege any contacts by PHH and Citigroup that could
rise to the level of continuous and systematic contacts
within Georgia. Moreover, Bryant does not allege sufficient
facts to establish the "litigation results from alleged
injuries that arise out of or relate to" the
Defendants' activities within Georgia. Diamond
Crystal, 593 F.3d at 1267.
to the allegations against Citigroup in his first complaint,
Bryant's allegations against PHH are conclusory and
unsubstantiated; therefore, they cannot support the exercise
of personal jurisdiction. See Doc. 1 at 1-2;
Bryant, 512 F.App'x at 995; Bryant,
2012 WL 2375084 at *2; compare Doc. 1, with
Bryant v. Citigroup, Inc., 5:12-cv-61 (MTT), Doc. 1.
Bryant does not allege PHH was involved in servicing the
Loan. Indeed, in his complaint, the only alleged contact
between PHH and Georgia is a 1996 contract between Bryant and
PHH for the Real Property. Doc. 1 at 1. However, Bryant's
claims stem from the Loan, in 2005, and not this 1996
contract. See Id. Bryant does not mention the 2005
Loan in his complaint, much less any connection ...