In Sims v. JPMC Specialty Mortgage, LLC, No. 2150437, a borrower had been involved in two previous lawsuits arising out of a mortgage servicer’s foreclosure upon the borrower’s property. The servicer obtained summary judgment in the trial court based on the doctrine of res judicata. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reversed, finding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment based on res judicata.
In 2009, JPMC Specialty Mortgage, LLC (“JPMC”) foreclosed on Carolyn Sims’ property and filed an ejectment action against Sims (the “2009 action”). After the foreclosure, Sims conveyed the property to her sister Marian Tipp, and Tipp intervened in the 2009 action. JPMC moved to dismiss Tipp’s claims for lack of standing, which the trial court granted. JPMC then voluntarily dismissed its ejectment action against Sims because the property was vacant. In 2011, Tipp initiated a separate action (the “2011 action”) asserting essentially the same claims as she had asserted in the 2009 action. JPMC and JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (“Chase”) moved for summary judgment based on lack of standing and res judicata. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, and the trial court’s judgment was affirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court.
In 2013, Sims filed another action against JPMC and Chase, asserting essentially the same claims that had previously been asserted by Tipp. JPMC and Chase moved for summary judgment, arguing that Sims’ claims were barred by res judicata and were compulsory counterclaims to the 2009 action. Sims argued that her claims were not barred by res judicata because the merits of her claims had not been adjudicated in the 2009 action and she was not a party to the 2011 action. Further, Sims argued that her claims were not compulsory because they had accrued after the 2009 action was voluntary dismissed. Sims also amended her complaint to add new claims against both JPMC and Chase. Sims moved for summary judgment, but the trial court denied Sims’ motion, finding that res judicata alone precluded summary judgment in her favor, but also denied the motion on its merits. The trial court then granted JPMC and Chase summary judgment.
Sims appealed, arguing her claims were not barred by res judicata, among other things, and the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals agreed. The Court reasoned that JPMC was successful against Tipp in the 2009 and 2011 action but that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether privity existed between Sims and Tipp. Further, the Court held that it was not apparent from the record whether the 2009 and 2011 actions were adjudicated on the same merits as Sims’ claims in the 2013 action, particularly given Sims’ 2013 amendment to her complaint adding new, previously unasserted claims. The Court held that Sims was also not entitled to summary judgment due to those same issues of material fact. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment insofar as it denied Sims’ summary judgment motion, reversed the portion of the judgment entering summary judgment in favor of JPMC and Chase, and remanded the action for further proceedings.