United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Carol J. Helvig and Michael J. Helvig, Plaintiffs,
Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Morgan Stanley ABS Capital, I, Inc. Trust 2003-NC8, Defendants.
Langsdorf, Esq. and Christensen Law Office, PLLC, counsel for
Kristina Kaluza, Esq. and Dykema Gossett, PLLC, counsel for
S. Doty, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the court upon the motion to remand by
plaintiffs Carol J. Helvig and Michael J. Helvig. Based on a
review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for
the following reasons, the court denies the motion.
mortgage-foreclosure dispute arises out of the foreclosure of
Carol and Michael Helvig’s home by defendant Ocwen Loan
Servicing, LLC. On March 2, 2017, defendant Deutsche Bank
National Trust Company bought the home at a sheriff’s
sale for $193,900.56. Compl. ¶ 74. At the time of
foreclosure, plaintiffs had an outstanding balance on their
mortgage of $179,889.96, and the fair market value of the
property was approximately $116,200. See Kemper
Decl. Ex. 2 at 2; ECF No. 1, Ex. 1 at 65.
March 24, 2017, plaintiffs filed suit in Dodge County
alleging that defendants violated Minnesota law by failing to
(1) properly serve and provide notice to plaintiffs of the
foreclosure and (2) properly evaluate all loss mitigation
options prior to foreclosure. Plaintiffs, among other things,
seek an order voiding the sale of their home and restoring
them as fee title owners. Defendants timely removed, and
plaintiffs now move to remand, arguing that the case does mot
meet the amount in controversy threshold required by 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a).
Standard of Review
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and subject-matter
jurisdiction is a threshold inquiry for all actions.
Thomas v. Basham, 931 F.2d 521, 522 (8th Cir. 1991).
Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires
that the matter in controversy exceed $75,000, exclusive of
interest and costs, and that complete diversity of
citizenship exist between the parties. “[I]n a suit for
declaratory or injunctive relief the amount in controversy is
the value to the plaintiff of the right that is in
issue.” Usery v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., 606
F.3d 1017, 1018 (8th Cir. 2010). Although referred to as the
“plaintiff’s viewpoint rule,” the
subjective value of the right at issue is irrelevant; rather,
the court must look to the objective value of the object of
the suit. Id. at 1019. Therefore, in a quiet title
action the amount in controversy is “what the property
interest at issue is worth in the marketplace.”
Motion to Remand
argue that the “property interest at issue” is
measured by their present interest in the home, namely the
market value of the home less the outstanding balance on the
mortgage. If true, the amount in controversy would be less
than $75,000. Other courts, however, have rejected this
approach, holding that the amount in controversy is either
the fair market value of the property or the outstanding debt
on the property. See Marhetti v. U.S Bank N.A., No.
13-1978, 2013 WL 6577298, at *2 (D. Minn. Dec. 16, 2013)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Garland v.
Morg. Elec. Registration Sys., No. 09-71, 2009 WL
1684424, at *2 (D. Minn. June 16, 2009)) (“Where there
is a dispute about the validity of a foreclosure, the amount
in controversy will either be the amount of the underlying
debt for the fair market value of the property.”);
Parteh v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, No.
11-2932, 2012 WL 983681, at *1 (D. Minn. Mar. 6, 2012)
rely heavily on Gretsch v. Vantium Capital, Inc.,
No. 11-2328, 2011 WL 6754079 (D. Minn. Dec. 23, 2011), which
noted that “the amount in controversy ... would be the
value of the delay in foreclosure proceedings ... that should
have occurred had [defendant] assessed [plaintiff’s]
eligibility for a HAMP loan modification.” Id.
at *3. But that statement is mere dicta and fails to
adequately consider the Eighth Circuit’s holding in
Usery. Additionally, because the majority of courts
have rejected such an approach, Gretsch is
it is undisputed that both the fair market value of the
property and the outstanding debt on the mortgage exceed
$75,000. As a result, the court has diversity ...