A A A 

Tentative Ruling
Judge Pauline Maxwell
Department 6 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107


Michael T Bennett vs US Bank National Association

Case No: 17CV00876
Hearing Date: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:30

Nature of Proceedings: Consolidation

Tentative Ruling: The court denies plaintiff Michael T. Bennett’s motion for consolidation of cases. The court grants plaintiff Michael T. Bennett’s motion for a stay of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., v. Bennett, Case No. 17CV04921, pending completion of this action as to defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.


Background: This action arises out of a non-judicial foreclosure. Plaintiff is Michael T. Bennett. Defendants are U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for Structured Adjustable Rate Mortgage Loan Trust, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-6 (“US Bank”); Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (erroneously sued as Wells Fargo Bank Home Mortgage, hereinafter “Wells Fargo”); First American Title Company (“FAT”); and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“Chase), formerly “Doe 1.”

On July 12, the court granted, in part, defendants US Bank and Wells Fargo’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, with leave to amend. The court also denied Bennett’s application for a preliminary injunction and dissolved the temporary restraining order entered on March 2. On July 26, Bennett filed his first amended complaint (“FAC”). On November 1, the court sustained Chase’s demurrer to the second, fourth, and fifth causes of action in the FAC, without leave to amend; and overruled the demurrer to the first, third, sixth, and seventh causes of action. All the causes of action in the FAC remain as to the other defendants. US Bank and Wells Fargo’s motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh causes of action is scheduled for hearing on January 31.

The remaining causes of action against Chase in the FAC are 1) cancellation of instruments (Assignment, SOT, NOD, any subsequent Notice of Sale); 3) declaratory relief; 6) wrongful foreclosure; and 7) to set aside trustee’s sale. Chase filed its answer to the remaining causes of action in the FAC on November 13.

Motion: Bennett moves to consolidate this case with or, alternatively, to stay the unlawful detainer action, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., v. Bennett, Case No. 17CV04921 (the “UDA”), which is pending in Department 4. Chase opposes the motion.

Bennett had previously moved to consolidate or to stay the UDA. The court denied that motion for procedural noncompliance. Bennett has cured those deficiencies except that the notice of motion does not list all named parties in each case, the names of those who have appeared, and the names of their respective attorneys of record. CRC 3.350(a)(1)(A). Because the proof of service contains all that information and Chase does not object to the motion on that ground, the court finds Bennett in substantial compliance with the rule.

CCP § 1048(a) provides: “When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.” Consolidation for purposes of trial only maintain two separate actions, as opposed to consolidation for all purposes, where the two actions are merged into a single proceeding under one case number and result in only one verdict or set of findings and one judgment. Hamilton v. Asbestos Corp., 22 Cal.4th 1127 (2000). Consolidation is a matter for the court’s discretion. Todd-Stenberg v. Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust, 48 Cal.App.4th 976, 978 (1996).

Bennett contends that his due process rights would be violated by having title decided in the summary procedure applicable to the UDA. As discussed in this court’s ruling on the demurrer in November, Bennett contends that the foreclosure sale is void because US Bank, which initiated the foreclosure, did not have an interest in the note or deed of trust. US Bank purportedly acquired an interest in the note and deed of trust from Wells Fargo on October 1, 2015. But Wells Fargo had sold the Note to Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB (“LBB”), on or about April 1, 2006, pursuant to a Seller’s Warranties and Servicing Agreement, and LBB held the beneficial interest in the deed of trust.

“[W]hen complex issues of title are involved, the parties’ constitutional rights to due process in the litigation of those issues cannot be subordinated to the summary procedures of unlawful detainer.” Martin-Bragg v. Moore, 219 Cal.App.4th 367, 391 (2013).

Chase counters that consolidation is not appropriate because, in the UDA, the issue of title is limited. “[W]here the purchaser at a trustee’s sale proceeds under section 1161a of the Code of Civil Procedure he must prove his acquisition of title by purchase at the sale; but it is only to this limited extent, as provided by the statute, that the title may be litigated in such a proceeding. … [T]he plaintiff need only prove a sale in compliance with the statute and deed of trust, followed by purchase at such sale, and the defendant may raise objections only on that phase of the issue of title.” Evans v. Superior Court, 67 Cal.App.3d 162, 170-171 (1977). “Matters affecting the validity of the trust deed or primary obligation itself, or other basic defects in the plaintiff’s title, are neither properly raised in this summary proceeding for possession, nor are they concluded by the [UDA] judgment.” Cheney v. Trauzettel, 9 Cal.2d 158, 160 (1937).

Chase contends that the UDA can go forward and Bennett can seek damages for any wrongful foreclosure. But, if Bennett is successful, the sale would be set aside as void and Chase would have no title and no right to judgment in the UDA. “The legal remedy of damages is generally inadequate in real property disputes.” Fonteno v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 228 Cal.App.4th 1358, 1380 (2014).

The court is not convinced that consolidation is warranted given the other issues raised in the FAC and the other causes of action pending against parties who have no connection to the UDA. Nevertheless, a stay of the UDA is warranted. Bennett would suffer irreparable injury by an eviction from the home prior to the determination of whether the sale was void. Mehr v. Superior Court, 139 Cal.App.3d 1044, 1050 (1983).

Chase argues that, if the court grants a stay, it should require an undertaking equal to the rental value of the home for a year. Chase says the rental value is $5,800 per month and the undertaking should be $69,600. But Chase provides no evidence in support of these figures. The court will not order an undertaking at this time.

The court denies plaintiff Michael T. Bennett’s motion for consolidation of cases. The court grants plaintiff Michael T. Bennett’s motion for a stay of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., v. Bennett, Case No. 17CV04921, pending completion of this action as to defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

© Superior Court of the County of Santa Barbara
Locations & Contact Info | Court Security | Human Resources | Privacy Policy | ADA