United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Deutsche Bank
National Trust Company, as Trustee for FFMLT Trust 2004-FF3,
Mortgage-Pass Through Certificates, Series 2004-FF3's
(“Deutsche Bank”) and Ocwen Loan Servicing,
LLC's (“Ocwen”) (together, the
“Removing Defendants”) Notice of Removal .
1997, Plaintiff Mary Gordon (“Plaintiff”)
purchased real property located at 82 Bates Avenue, Atlanta,
Georgia (the “Property”). (Compl. [1.1] at 3).
Plaintiff alleges that the Property “was solely held in
[P]laintiff's name until 2004, subject to a Note and Deed
of Trust solely in [P]laintiff's name.”
(Id. at 4).
1998, Plaintiff married Claudio Larumbe
(“Larumbe”) and, she alleges, the Property
“thereafter was treated as jointly held and
owned.” (Id. at 3).
2004, Plaintiff “intended to refinance [the
mortgage]” on the Property. (Id. at 4).
Plaintiff alleges that the “new note and mortgage
called for the title holder under the warranty deed to be
Claudio Larumbe, only as of 2004. Plaintiff was not obligated
under the refinance agreement.” (Id.).
Repayment of the refinanced loan was secured by a deed
(“Security Deed”) to the Property. Larumbe
executed the Security Deed in favor of First Franklin
Financial Corp. (“First Franklin”). (Security
Deed [1.3] at 1-3). Plaintiff is not a party to the Security
2006, Larumbe again refinanced the mortgage “as the
exclusive note holder under warranty deed, excluding again
[P]laintiff Gordon from title or obligation.” (Compl.
at 19). Plaintiff does not identify the lender or
servicer of the refinanced loan.
and Larumbe later divorced. On August 15, 2006, Plaintiff and
Larumbe executed a Marital Settlement Agreement
“calling for [Plaintiff] to take ownership, and payment
duties and obligations under the Note and [S]ecurity
[Deed].” (Id. at 19-20). Plaintiff and Larumbe
agreed that Plaintiff “thereafter would become the
obligor under the existing Note and mortgage in place of
Larumbe who . . . divested himself of all title ownership and
duties under the Note and Mortgage in place and instead
assigning and transferring those rights to
[Plaintiff].” (Id. at 4). The Marital
Settlement Agreement was approved by the Superior Court of
DeKalb County, Georgia. (Id. at 20).
asserts that “final payment [on the mortgage for the
Property] was tendered by [Plaintiff] in or about July, 2007
when the final payoff was tendered to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank,
N.A., who acknowledged the payment was received and credited
in its books and records and by letter to [P]laintiff Gordon
dated on or about July 15, 2007.” (Id. at
5-6). Plaintiff alleges, however, that beginning in 2012,
Deutsche Bank claimed that Plaintiff “was in
arrears thousands of dollars, which she was not.”
(Id. at 6).
October 17, 2016, Plaintiff, a citizen of Georgia, proceeding
pro se, filed her Complaint in the Superior Court of
DeKalb County, Georgia. Plaintiff asserts state-law claims
for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and
fair dealing, fraud and deceit, demand for accounting, quiet
title, specific performance, and negligence against Larumbe,
the Removing Defendants, GS Mortgage Securities Corporation,
Manhatten Mortgage Corporation and First Franklin
(collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff also
asserts against Deutsche Bank and Larumbe a claim for
specific performance to enforce the Marital Settlement
Agreement and declare Plaintiff “the true title holder
of the [P]roperty and no one else.” (Id. at
20). Plaintiff seeks, among others, to “reform all
deeds in favor of Plaintiff's name” and to quiet
title to the Property. (Id. at 23).
January 3, 2017, Deutsche Bank and Ocwen removed the DeKalb
County action to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction.
They assert that complete diversity exists among the parties
because Larumbe, the only in-state defendant, was
fraudulently joined to defeat federal subject matter
jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal  ¶¶ 11-13).
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
courts “have an independent obligation to determine
whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v.
Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 501 (2006). The Eleventh
Circuit consistently has held that “a court should
inquire into whether it has subject matter jurisdiction at
the earliest possible stage in the proceedings. Indeed, it is
well settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire
into subject matter ...