United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon motion by Defendant, Bank of
America, N.A. (“BANA”), for abstention (DN 5) and
by Plaintiff, Joshua Hunt, to amend his complaint (DN 8).
Both motions are ripe for review. Having reviewed the
parties' submissions, and being otherwise sufficiently
advised, Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint (DN 8)
is GRANTED and Defendant's motion for abstention (DN 5)
factual allegations as set out in the Complaint, [DN 1], and
taken as true are as follows.Plaintiff, Joshua Hunt, is an
active-duty member of the U.S. military currently stationed
at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. (DN 8-1 at 1). Defendant, Bank
of America, N.A. (“BANA”), is a national bank
headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. Id.
Although Plaintiff currently resides in Christian County,
Kentucky, he owns a house in North Carolina. Id. at
1-2. Defendant holds the first mortgage on Plaintiff's
North Carolina house. Id. at 2. Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant agreed to defer or suspend Plaintiff's
payment obligations on the North Carolina property until
January 2020 pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act,
50 U.S.C. § 3901 et seq. and Defendant's
Supplemental Military Benefits. Id. Plaintiff
further alleges that Defendant's representatives
repeatedly assured him that Plaintiff did not need to make
any payment on the property until January 2020. Id.
August 9, 2017, Defendant brought a foreclosure action
against Plaintiff in North Carolina state court. Id.
at 3. In addition to the foreclosure proceeding, Defendant
reported negative credit information concerning Plaintiff to
one or more consumer reporting agencies. Id. Upon
learning of the negative credit reporting, Plaintiff sent
dispute letters to the three major consumer reporting
agencies: Equifax Information Services, LLC; Experian
Information Solutions, Inc.; and Trans Union, LLC.
Id. Plaintiff argues that-because of these dispute
letters-Defendant was required to conduct a reasonable
investigation of Plaintiff's disputes but failed to do
so. Id. at 4. Plaintiff's consumer reports
continue to include the negative information that Defendant
reported to the credit reporting agencies. Id.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
(“FCRA”) by, inter alia, failing to conduct a
proper investigation of Plaintiff's disputes filed with
Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Id.
Motion to Amend.
seeks to amend his complaint to eliminate all of
Plaintiff's state-law claims, leaving only the
federal-law claim for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting
Act (“FCRA”). Defendant has filed a notice with
the Court that it does not oppose Plaintiff's motion to
amend. (DN 11). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2)
provides: “a party may amend its pleading only with the
opposing party's written consent or the court's
leave” and “[t]he court should freely give leave
when justice so requires.” Because Defendant does not
oppose the motion, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion
for leave to file his amended complaint. (DN 8).
Court also grants Defendant's request that the Court
extend the time for it to respond to the amended complaint.
Defendant shall have twenty-one days from the date that
Plaintiff effectuates service of the First Amended Complaint
to respond. Furthermore, the Court will rule on
Defendant's motion for abstention as if it were filed
against the amended complaint because Defendant requests the
Court to do so and because Plaintiff limited his opposition
to the motion to the FCRA claim.
Motion for Abstention.
moves the Court to abstain from exercising jurisdiction over
this case pursuant to the Younger and Colorado River
abstention doctrines. As a general rule, federal courts are
“obliged to decide cases within the scope of federal
jurisdiction. Abstention is not in order simply because a
pending state-court proceeding involves the same subject
matter.” Sprint Commc'ns, Inc. v. Jacobs,
571 U.S. 69, 72, 134 S.Ct. 584, 187 L.Ed.2d 505 (2013).
Although there are circumstances that warrant abstention,
such circumstances represent a narrow exception to the
“virtually unflagging obligation of the federal courts
to exercise the jurisdiction given them.” Romine v.
Compuserve Corp., 160 F.3d 337, 339 (6th Cir. 1998)
(citation omitted). The Court will address each abstention
abstention derives from a desire to prevent federal courts
from interfering with the functions of state criminal
prosecutions and to preserve equity and comity.”
Doe v. University of Kentucky, 860 F.3d 365, 368
(6th Cir. 2017) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S.
37, 44, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971)). The Supreme
Court has explained, however, that Younger abstention is not
limited to state criminal proceedings. Younger abstention may
only apply to the following three categories of proceedings:
(1) when there is an ongoing state criminal prosecution, (2)
when state civil enforcement proceedings that “are akin
to criminal prosecutions” are ongoing, and (3) when
“civil proceedings that are uniquely in furtherance of
the state court's ability to perform their judicial
functions, ” such as contempt orders, are ongoing.
Sprint, 571 U.S. at 73; New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v.
Council of City of New Orleans, 491 U.S. 350, 368, 109
S.Ct. 2506, 105 L.Ed.2d 298 (1989) (“NOPSI”).
proceeding falls within one of the three NOPSI categories,
then the Court must evaluate the matter using the
three-factor test provided by Middlesex County Ethics
Committee v. Garden State Bar Ass'n,457 U.S. 423,
102 S.Ct. 2515, 73 L.Ed.2d 116 (1982). “The Middlesex
test states that abstention may occur when three criteria are
met: (1) state proceedings are currently pending; (2) the
proceedings involve an important state interest; and (3) the
state proceedings will provide the federal plaintiff ...