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Saldi v. American National Bank

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

March 23, 2017

ANTHONY SALDI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN NATIONAL BANK, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          John M. Gerrard United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on defendant American National Bank's motion for partial summary judgment (filing 22) and the corresponding motion for partial summary judgment (filing 31) filed by defendants Rodney L. Laible; RD Industries, Inc.; the RD Family Partnership; and RDI Building, LLC (collectively, Laible). The Court will grant the motions for summary judgment and, absent a federal question, will dismiss the plaintiffs' remaining state-law claims without prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiffs are Anthony Saldi, his wife Debra, and TBD Enterprises, an LLC managed by Anthony (collectively, Saldi). Filing 1; filing 23 at 2.[1]Saldi was attempting to develop property in Omaha, so Saldi and Laible borrowed money from American National, including a $2.3 million construction loan in 2006. Filing 23 at 3. Saldi signed a deed of trust granting American National a security interest in at least some of the development property. Filing 23 at 4. The parties' dispute about which properties were subject to a security interest is at the heart of their dispute. According to Saldi, he and his wife allowed American National to perfect a security interest in Lots 2 and 3 of the development property, but not Lot 1. Filing 37-34 at 3-4.

         By 2009, the debt was past due and American National advised that it would not entertain an extension. Filing 37-10 at 2. Saldi and Laible sued one another. Filing 37-11 at 2. Saldi and Laible entered into a settlement agreement under which Laible agreed to assume all liability on the American National debts. Filing 37-11 at 3. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, American National and Laible restructured the loans to release Saldi from any personal guaranties and establish an extended payment schedule for Laible. Filing 37-14 at 3-4; see filing 37-15. But the deeds of trust against the property continued to stand as collateral. Filing 37-14 at 4.

         In May 2011, American National agreed to extend the deadline for Laible to pay. Filing 37-21. In July, American National extended the deadline again. Filing 37-23. On August 1, American National sent Saldi a letter advising him of the extension. Filing 37-24. On November 8, American National sent Saldi another letter, noting that Saldi had sued Laible again. Filing 37-35. The letter advised that taxes and special assessments had not been paid on the development properties, and instructed Saldi that it was his obligation under the trust deed to keep current on taxes and special assessments. Filing 37-35. The letter provided "initial notice to you that a default exists under the Deed of Trust for failure to timely pay taxes and assessments and accrued interest" and that if those matters were not addressed, "a formal Notice of Default will be filed of record and [American National] may initiate foreclosure proceedings based upon this default." Filing 37-35.

         On November 21, 2011, American National issued a notice of default, specifically referencing a security interest in Lot 1. Filing 23 at 5. In February 2012, American National held a trustee's sale and issued a trustee's deed to itself for Lot 1, among other property. Filing 23 at 5. In March, American National recorded the deed. Filing 23 at 5. Saldi filed a lis pendens for Lot 1, which American National moved in state district court to cancel. Filing 23 at 5. In January 2013, the state court found that American National held a deed of trust for property including Lot 1, and ordered cancellation of the lis pendens. Filing 23 at 6. In February, American National transferred certain properties, including Lot 1, to Laible. Filing 23 at 6.

         Saldi sued Laible again in state district court, alleging that Lot 1 had been lost because Laible did not pay the debt to American National. Filing 23 at 6. Saldi then filed a separate suit against Laible and American National in state court, asserting claims similar to those presented in this case, but without a federal claim. Filing 23 at 7. Saldi voluntarily dismissed that case on the same day that this one was filed, adding a claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. Filing 23 at 7; see filing 1 at 7-8. American National and Laible move to dismiss the RICO claim. Filing 22; filing 31.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is proper if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for the motion, and must identify those portions of the record which the movant believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). If the movant does so, the nonmovant must respond by submitting evidentiary materials that set out specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.

         On a motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a genuine dispute as to those facts. Id. Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the evidence are jury functions, not those of a judge. Id. But the nonmovant must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Id. In order to show that disputed facts are material, the party opposing summary judgment must cite to the relevant substantive law in identifying facts that might affect the outcome of the suit. Quinn v. St. Louis County, 653 F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2011). The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could conceivably find for the nonmovant. Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d 782, 791-92 (8th Cir. 2011). Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042.

         DISCUSSION

         Saldi's allegations, generally speaking, are that American National and Laible engaged in a scheme to unlawfully steal Lot 1, by altering records to fabricate a security interest pursuant to which American National conducted a "sham foreclosure" after Laible deliberately defaulted on the underlying loan. See filing 36 at 14. The question is whether any of that, even if true, would violate RICO.

         To prove a RICO violation, a plaintiff must produce evidence (1) that an enterprise existed; (2) that the enterprise affected interstate or foreign commerce; (3) that the defendant associated with the enterprise; (4) that the defendant participated, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise; and (5) that the defendant participated in the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity by committing at least two racketeering (predicate) acts. Aguilar v. PNC Bank, N.A., No. 15-3514, 2017 WL 490410, at *7 (8th Cir. Feb. 7, 2017). American National and Laible both argue that they did not engage in any predicate acts, and that there is no pattern of racketeering activity. Filing 23;filing ...


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