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United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
November 14, 2006, Submitted ; June 4, 2007, Filed
[*1087] JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.
Rhonda J. Lewallen filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure on her home. Green Tree Servicing, L.L.C., filed a proof of claim against the estate representing the balance on her home equity loan, interest, and various fees. Lewallen objected to Green Tree's claim and ultimately [*1088] filed an adversary proceeding against Green Tree and U.S. Bank in the bankruptcy court alleging that Green Tree, as servicer of the loan, lacked standing to make a claim, that it overestimated her debt, and that its handling of her account violated various consumer protection statutes.
[**2] Green Tree and U.S. Bank filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration, which the bankruptcy court 1 denied. The district court 2 affirmed this denial, holding that Lewallen's claims were core bankruptcy proceedings, the bankruptcy court had discretion to refuse to enforce the arbitration provision in the loan agreement, and Green Tree waived its right to arbitration in any event. Green Tree and U.S. Bank appeal, and we affirm.
Lewallen obtained a consumer loan for $ 50,300 from Conseco Finance Servicing Corp. in May of 2000; the loan was secured by a deed of trust on her trailer home. Conseco consolidated this loan, along with other consumer loans, and transferred its interest in them to a securitization trust. Under a pooling and servicing [**3] agreement entered into between Conseco and U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank obtained legal title to the pooled loans, while Conseco retained the right to service the loans. Lewallen's loan agreement provided that the parties agreed to submit their disputes to arbitration. 3
[**4] Conseco filed for bankruptcy in 2002, and Green Tree purchased the right to service Lewallen's loan from the bankruptcy estate. Lewallen's loan was in default at the time of the transfer. According to her, both Conseco and Green Tree improperly increased her monthly payments, assessed excessive late charges against her, failed to respond to her inquiries on her account, refused to accept payment from her, and sent her erroneous overdue notices. In early 2004, Green Tree began preparations to foreclose on Lewallen's home. Lewallen attempted to refinance the loan with a new lender but her application was denied, which she attributes to Green Tree providing an inflated payoff figure to the prospective lender. On February 23, 2004, the day of the scheduled foreclosure sale, Lewallen filed her petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 to stop the sale. Her bankruptcy schedules listed approximately $ 50,000 owed on the debt serviced by Green Tree and approximately [*1089] $ 6,000 of unsecured debt owed in taxes and credit card charges. Her home was the primary asset in the bankruptcy estate.
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487 F.3d 1085 *; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 12849 **
Rhonda J. Lewallen, Appellee, v. Green Tree Servicing, L.L.C.; U.S. Bank Trust National Association, as Trustee for Conseco Finance Home Equity Loan Trust, Appellants.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Lewallen v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, 343 B.R. 225, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12883 (W.D. Mo., 2006)
arbitration, right to arbitration, bankruptcy court, discovery, compel arbitration, discovery request, proof of claim, adversary proceedings, parties, motion to dismiss, responses, invoke, waived, district court, proceedings, prejudiced, preparing, arbitration provision, filing proof, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, participated, merits
Business & Corporate Compliance, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Waiver, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, De Novo Review, Bankruptcy Law, Claims, Proof of Claim, Effects & Procedures, General Overview