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Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 10, 2018

Steven L. Wirtz, Plaintiff,
v.
Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, Defendant.

          Carl E. Christensen, Esq., Daniel M. Eaton, Esq. and Christensen Law Office, PLLC, counsel for plaintiff.

          Calvin P. Hoffman, Esq., James Schoeberl, Esq. and Stinson Leonard Street, LLP, counsel for defendant.

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge

         This matter is before the court upon remand from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and on the cross-motions for summary judgment by defendant Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC (SLS) and plaintiff Steven L. Wirtz.[1] Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants SLS's motion and denies Wirtz's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The full background of this matter is set forth in the court's previous summary judgment order and the Eighth Circuit's decision and will not be repeated here. The court will set forth only those facts necessary to decide the narrow issue presented.

         In an order dated May 9, 2016, the court determined that SLS violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by failing to adequately investigate and remedy an error in Wirtz's mortgage loan payment history. ECF No. 41 at 8-9. The court also determined that SLS violated the Minnesota Mortgage Originator and Servicer Licensing Act (MOSLA) given its RESPA violation. Id. at 10-11. With respect to damages, the court held that Wirtz had incurred $80.00 in actual damages[2] and $4, 137.22 in statutory damages. Id. at 12-13; ECF No. 67 at 3-4. SLS appealed, arguing that it did not violate RESPA or MOSLA.

         The Eighth Circuit agreed with the court that SLS had violated RESPA by failing to conduct a reasonable investigation into Wirtz's loan payment history and by failing to provide requested information about the loan history since its origination. Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 886 F.3d 713, 718 (8th Cir. 2018). The Eighth Circuit concluded, however, that Wirtz had failed to establish actual damages caused by the RESPA violations:

The bank records that Wirtz obtained for 2012 and 2013 were irrelevant to the dispute whether Wirtz's loan payments were past due before June 2011. Wirtz did not pay $80 for bank records from 2012 and 2013 “as a result of” [SLS's] failure to investigate and provide information about the pre-2011 payment history. We therefore conclude that Wirtz did not submit sufficient evidence of actual damages under RESPA.

Id. at 719. Because actual damages are required under RESPA before “additional” damages can be awarded, the Eighth Circuit also reversed the award of statutory damages.[3] Id. at 719-20; 12 U.S.C. § 2605(f)(1)(B).

         As to the MOSLA claim, which is premised on the RESPA violation, the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded for a determination as to whether MOSLA provides a cause of action when a loan servicer violates a federal law regulating mortgage loans, such as RESPA, but where there is no federal cause of action. Id. at 721. The parties now move for summary judgment on that issue.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

          “The court shall grant summary judgment if 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is ...


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