Pittman v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, 2007 WL 2156395 (N.D. Ohio 2007).

Do you remember your first day at the University when your professor started class with “Welcome to Advanced Radiation Transport Theory” and you were suppose to be in History 101? I imagine that is how Chase felt when the court told it relied on the wrong class in its CAFA removal.

Javon Pittman brought an action against Chase claiming that Chase did not timely record a mortgage satisfaction in violation of Ohio law. The statute in question allows a prevailing plaintiff damages of $250. Pittman brought his action on behalf of a class made up of persons who paid off a residential mortgage recorded in Ohio, as to which Chase was the mortgagee, and as to whose mortgages Chase did not timely record the mortgage satisfaction.

Chase removed the complaint to federal court under CAFA. Initially, Pittman sought remand, but was denied. However, the court decided sua sponte to review subject matter jurisdiction again. After its review, the Court agreed with Chase’s contentions regarding minimal diversity and numerousity; however, the court found that Chase could not establish that the stakes in the case exceeded $5,000,000.00.

Chase initially argued that it satisfied CAFA because it serviced more than 125,000 loans secured by Ohio residential property which borrowers paid off. Thus, if 125,000 was multiplied by the $250 statutory damage, CAFA’s $5,000,000.00 was easily met. Pittman contested Chase’s argument. He alleged that the class Chase described was not the one he filed. His class dealt with persons whose mortgage was paid but that the cancellation was not timely recorded. To counter, Chase presented evidence that it was the named mortgagee for more than 20,000 loans. Multiplied out and Chase hits the CAFA requirement on the nose. 

The court, just like that freshman professor, told Chase that the class at issue is not persons whose loans were serviced during the relevant time, nor persons as to whose residential mortgages Chase was mortgagee. The class is made up of persons as to whose residential mortgage loans Chase was both the mortgagee and failed to record the mortgage satisfaction with the appropriate county recorder’s office in a timely fashion. The court found it unlikely that Chase would argue that it failed to record the mortgage for all 20,000 loans that would be necessary to satisfy CAFA’s amount in controversy requirement.