United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
JOHN PRIESTER, JR. and BETTIE PRIESTER, Plaintiffs,
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
for consideration the report of the United States Magistrate
Judge in this action, this matter having been heretofore
referred to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636. On November 30, 2017, the report of the
Magistrate Judge was entered containing proposed findings of
fact and recommendations (see Dkt. #73) that
Plaintiffs John Priester, Jr. and Bettie Priester's
(“Plaintiffs”) Opposed Motion for Relief from
Judgment (the “Motion”) (Dkt. #63) be denied.
filed objections to the report (Dkt. #74), and Defendants
Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (“Deutsche
Bank”) and Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc.
(“SPS”) (collectively “Defendants”)
filed a response (Dkt. #75). The Court has made a de
novo review of the objections raised by Plaintiffs and
is of the opinion that the findings and conclusions of the
Magistrate Judge are correct and the objections are without
merit as to the ultimate findings of the Magistrate Judge.
The Court hereby adopts the findings and conclusions of the
Magistrate Judge as the findings and conclusions of the
own the real property located at 1406 Oakwood Drive, Allen,
Texas, 75013 (the “Property”). In November 2005,
Plaintiffs obtained from Long Beach Mortgage
Companya Home Equity Loan (the “Loan”)
encumbering the Property in the amount of $180, 000.00.
See Dkt. #8. Defendant Deutsche Bank asserts it is
the beneficiary of the Security Instrument and Defendant SPS
is the current mortgage servicer. See Dkt. #68.
filed suit in October 2010, seeking declaratory judgment and
asserting claims for defamation, forfeiture of principal and
interest, exemplary damages, and attorney's fees.
See Dkt. #8. The case was dismissed with prejudice
on December 8, 2011. See Dkt. #51. Plaintiffs
appealed, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed the Court's
ruling. See Priester v. JPMorgan Chase, N.A., 708
F.3d 667 (2013), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 196 (2013).
The Court's judgment thus became final.
August 24, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the present Motion, arguing
they are entitled to relief from judgment based on the Texas
Supreme Court's ruling in in Wood v. HSBC Bank USA,
N.A., 505 S.W.3d 542 (Tex. 2016). See Dkt.
#63. The Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiffs'
failure to file their motion for relief from the final
judgment for more than a year after the Wood
decision issued was not reasonable under the circumstances,
and thus, recommended the Motion be denied. See Dkt.
TIMELINESS OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION
incorrectly assert that the Magistrate Judge applied the
wrong time frame for consideration of Plaintiffs' Rule
60(b)(6) Motion for Relief from Judgment. See Dkt. #74 at
1-2. The Report clearly states that Rule 60(b)(6) motions
must be brought “within a reasonable time, ” and
goes on to find, “Plaintiffs' failure to file their
motion for relief from the final judgment for more than a
year after the Wood decision was issued is not reasonable
under the circumstances.” See Dkt. #73) at 4.
Thus, contrary to Plaintiffs' assertion, the Magistrate
Judge did not find that Plaintiffs' Motion was untimely
because they failed to bring their Rule 60 Motion within a
year of Judgment; rather, she found that given the fact that
Plaintiffs were aware of the Wood decision as early
as August 2016, it was unreasonable for them to wait for more
than a year to file their Rule 60 Motion. Id.
Plaintiffs' disagreement with the rationale used in
applying the reasonableness standard is insufficient to
warrant a departure from the Magistrate Judge's finding.
The Court thus finds no error, and Plaintiffs' objection
CHANGE IN DECISIONAL LAW
next object that the Report fails to recognize that the
change in decisional law in Wood necessitates relief
from the final judgment in this case. See Dkt. #74
at 3. In Wood, the Texas Supreme Court held that no
statute of limitations applies to an action to quiet title on
a constitutionally invalid home equity lien. See
Wood, 505 S.W.3d at 547. The Fifth Circuit recently
analyzed Wood and Garafolo in Alexander
v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 867 F.3d 593, (5th Cir.
2017), observing that the two cases examine and construe
different subsections of Section 50 of the Texas
Constitution, and applying Wood to determine the
statute of limitations in a breach of contract case.
Id. at 602.
as true Plaintiffs' uncontested argument that
Wood reflects a change in decisional law regarding
the statute of limitations on claims arising from an alleged
void lien (see Dkts. 63 and 68), the Magistrate
Judge concluded that relief under Rule 60(b) is not
appropriate here. See Dkt. 73 at 5. Citing a number
of Fifth Circuit cases, the Magistrate Judge provided ample
support for her finding that a change in state decisional law
subsequent to a final judgment does not necessarily warrant
relief from the judgment. Id. Plaintiffs' mere
disagreement with this conclusion does not constitute error.
Accordingly, the Court finds the Magistrate Judge did not
err, and this objection is likewise