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Natalya Bezmenova v. Ocwen Financial Corporation et al

March 26, 2013

NATALYA BEZMENOVA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OCWEN FINANCIAL CORPORATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alexander Williams, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a natural person who resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Defendants are corporate entities that operate as mortgage lenders and servicers.

Before March 3, 2011, a company named Saxon serviced Plaintiff's home loan. Plaintiff fell behind in her mortgage payments. Saxon brought a foreclosure action in state court. On March 3, 2011, Plaintiff allegedly entered into a settlement agreement with Saxon. The agreement, which the Complaint incorporates by reference, does not appear to contain Plaintiff's signature. However, Plaintiff has adduced evidence suggesting that a Saxon representative accepted the agreement without her signature. Although this document is extraneous to the Complaint, it serves to clarify Plaintiff's allegations surrounding her relationship with Saxon and whether she executed the settlement agreement. Cf. Pegram v. Herdrich, 530 U.S. 211, 230 & n.10 (2000) (stating that courts may consult parties' legal memoranda to clarify the meaning of ambiguous complaints). As a result of the settlement agreement, Plaintiff's monthly mortgage payments were reduced to around $1,000 a month.

Shortly after Saxon and Plaintiff allegedly entered into the settlement agreement, Saxon assigned its interest in the loan to Defendants. In January 2012, Defendants sent Plaintiff correspondence stating that, effective February 1, 2012, Plaintiff's monthly mortgage payment would increase to $2,220.15. Evidently, Defendants have filed a foreclosure action in state court that has been stayed pending the outcome of these proceedings.

Plaintiff originally filed suit in state court. Defendants removed the case on January 2, 2013. On the same day, the Clerk registered Plaintiff's Complaint. Doc. No. 2. Based on the foregoing allegations, Plaintiff asserts a breach of contract claim and fraud claims under the MCPA. Defendants moved to dismiss on January 9, 2013. Doc. No. 7. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is ripe.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The purpose of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). In two recent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has clarified the standard applicable to Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). These cases make clear that Rule 8 "requires a 'showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). This showing must consist of at least "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court should first review the complaint to determine which pleadings are entitled to the assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949--50. "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950. In so doing, the court must construe all factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999). The Court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, Revene v. Charles County Commissioners, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Breach of Contract

"Under Maryland law, the elements of a breach of contract are 1) a contractual obligation and 2) a material breach of that obligation." Cowan Systems LLC v. Ocean Dreams Transp., Inc., Civil No. WDQ--11--366, 2012 WL 4514582, at *3 (D. Md. Sept. 27, 2012). The elements of a contract, in turn, "are offer, acceptance, and consideration." B-Line Med., LLC v. Interactive Digital Solutions, Inc., No. 1085, 2012 WL 6628922, at *10 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2012) (citation omitted).

In this case, Plaintiff fails to state a facially plausible breach of contract claim. Plaintiff alleges that she entered into a settlement agreement with Saxon on March 3, 2011 and that the settlement lowered her mortgage payment to approximately $1,000. Plaintiff then alleges that, "shortly thereafter," Saxon assigned its interest in the loan to Defendants. Plaintiff continues that, in January 2012, Defendants stated that the new monthly payment was $2,220.15. This amount, according to Plaintiff, violated the terms of her settlement agreement. But Plaintiff does not allege that she paid her loan between the time she entered into the settlement agreement and the time Defendants told her that she owed $2,220.15. Nor does Plaintiff specify any terms of the settlement agreement other than that, at least for the relevant period, her monthly mortgage payment would be in the $1,000 range. Based on these sparse allegations, the Court cannot draw a plausible inference that Plaintiff made any loan payments after Saxon assigned its interest in the loan to Defendants. Nor can the Court plausibly infer that the settlement agreement's terms prohibited Defendants from increasing the ...


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