United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge
2018, Darrin Baker sued Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing
Corporation in state court over a foreclosure dispute.
(Docket Entry No. 1-1). Seeking a temporary restraining
order, damages, and attorney's fees, Baker alleged
contract breach, wrongful foreclosure, and Texas Debt
Collection Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
violations. (Id. at 8-14). Roundpoint removed.
(Docket Entry No. 1). The court held an initial conference
and issued a scheduling and docket control order that set a
dispositive-motion briefing schedule. (Docket Entry Nos. 18,
19). Roundpoint timely moved for summary judgment in May
2019. (Docket Entry No. 21). Baker has not responded or
cross-moved for summary judgment, though his deadline to do
so has passed.
careful review of the motion, record evidence, and the
applicable law, the court grants summary judgment for
Roundpoint and separately enters final judgment. The reasons
are explained in detail below.
August 2014, Baker obtained a $264, 093 home-mortgage loan
from Cornerstone Home Lending, Inc. (Docket Entry Nos. 21-2,
21-3). His promissory note required him to make payments of
$1, 299.18 on the first day of each month for 30 years.
(Docket Entry No. 21-2 at 1). The note stated that if Baker
made a late payment, Cornerstone could collect a late fee
totaling four percent of the overdue amount. (Id. at
2). If Baker defaulted “by failing to pay in full any
monthly payment, ” Cornerstone could demand immediate
payment of the unpaid loan balance. (Id.). The deed
of trust also required Baker to make timely payments under
the note. (Docket Entry No. 21-3 at 2). If Baker missed
payments and did not repay the overdue amounts, even after
receiving notice and an opportunity to reinstate the loan,
Cornerstone had the right to sell Baker's home.
(Id. at 4-7).
November 2014, Cornerstone gave Roundpoint the right to
collect payments under the mortgage. (Docket Entry No. 21-4).
In April 2018, Cornerstone assigned the note and deed to
Roundpoint. (Docket Entry No. 21-5). These transactions were
recorded in Fort Bend County's public records.
stopped making loan payments in May 2017. (Docket Entry No.
21-1 at 2). After Hurricane Harvey hit Greater Houston,
Roundpoint granted Baker's request for a temporary
forbearance, outlining the terms in a September 2017 letter.
(Docket Entry No. 21-6). Even though Baker complied with the
forbearance agreement, he failed to make his December 2017
loan payment. (Docket Entry No. 21-1 at 2). Baker made a
payment in January 2018, but it did not bring the loan
applied for loan modifications in April 2018 and January
2019. (Docket Entry No. 21-8 at 1; Docket Entry No. 21-10 at
1). Roundpoint denied the applications, explaining that his
“earned income [was] not sufficient to repay the total
amount due.” (Id.). A total of $58, 876.71 is
required to reinstate the loan. (Docket Entry No. 21-7).
2018, Baker sued Roundpoint in the 268th Judicial District
Court of Fort Bend County on the same day that it denied his
first loan-modification application. (Docket Entry No. 1-1 at
5). Roundpoint removed, and the court delayed holding an
initial conference or entering a scheduling and docket
control order based on the parties' settlement
negotiations. (See Docket Entry Nos. 1, 10, 11, 12,
15, 16). The parties did not resolve the case, and Roundpoint
moved for summary judgment in May 2019. (Docket Entry No.
The Legal Standard for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate only when ‘the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.'” Shepherd on Behalf of Estate of Shepherd
v. City of Shreveport, 920 F.3d 278, 282-83 (5th Cir.
2019) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). “A material fact is
one that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing
law, ” and “a fact issue is genuine if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party.” Renwick v. PNK
Lake Charles, L.L.C., 901 F.3d 605, 611 (5th Cir. 2018)
(quotations and citations omitted). The moving party
“always bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, ” and
identifying the record evidence “which it believes
demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, ‘the
movant may merely point to the absence of evidence and
thereby shift to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating
that there is an issue of material fact warranting
trial.”” Kim v. Hospira, Inc., 709
Fed.Appx. 287, 288 (5th Cir. 2018) (alteration omitted)
(quoting Nola Spice Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters.,
Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015)). The moving
party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact, but it need not negate the elements of the
nonmovant's case. Austin v. Kroger Tex., L.P.,
864 F.3d 326, 335 (5th Cir. 2017). “If the moving party
fails to meet [its] initial burden, the motion must be
denied, regardless of the nonmovant's response.”
Pioneer Expl., L.L.C. v. Steadfast Ins.
Co., 767 F.3d 503, 511 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Kee
v. City of Rowlett, 247 F.3d 206, 210 (5th Cir. 2001)).
the moving party has met its Rule 56(c) burden, the nonmoving
party cannot survive a summary judgment motion by resting on
the mere allegations of its pleadings.” Duffie v.
United States, 600 F.3d 362, 371 (5th Cir. 2010). The
nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record and
articulate “the precise manner in which” that
evidence supports that party's claim. Willis v. Cleco
Corp., 749 F.3d 314, 317 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir.
1994)). “A party cannot defeat summary judgment with
conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a
scintilla of evidence.” Lamb v. Ashford Place
Apartments L.L.C., 914 F.3d 940, 946 (5th Cir. 2019)
(quotation omitted). “A failure on the part of the
nonmoving party to offer proof concerning an essential
element of its case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial and mandates a finding that no genuine issue of
fact exists.” Adams v. Travelers Indem. Co. of
Conn., 465 F.3d 156, 164 (5th Cir. 2006). Because Baker
failed to respond to Roundpoint's motion, the issue is
“whether the facts presented by [Roundpoint] create an
appropriate basis to enter summary judgment against the