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Alston v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 22, 2013

THOMAS ALSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Ripe and pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint, Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, and Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Discovery Deadline. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, and GRANTS IN PART Plaintiff's Motion to Extend.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Thomas Alston resides in Maryland. Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Defendant" or "Wells Fargo") is a national banking association. The crux of Plaintiff's Complaint is that Defendant violated his federal statutory and common law rights by failing to properly investigate whether he had a delinquent mortgage account.

On May 27, 2004, Plaintiff and nonparty Christian Anderson executed a Note in the amount of $316, 000 ("Note" or "BNC Note"), and an accompanying Deed of Trust, on real property located at 2306 N. Capitol St. NW, Washington, D.C. 2002 ("the Property"). Doc. No. 32-1; Doc. No. 34-2. The Note names BNC Mortgage, Inc. as lender. On November 8, 2004, Plaintiff and Anderson executed a Deed ("Grant Deed") purporting to convey Plaintiff's interest in the Property to Anderson for the amount of $300, 000. Doc. No. 34-3 at 2. Inconsistent with Plaintiff's allegation that he "paid the mortgage loan in full in a sale between himself and [Anderson], " Doc. No. 2 ΒΆ 4, the Deed does not specify whether Plaintiff paid Anderson any part of the $300, 000 sum, let alone the noteholder. See Doc. No. 34-2 at 2.

Indeed, documents produced during discovery flatly contradict Plaintiff's assertion that he paid the BNC Note. In August 2004, Plaintiff (seller) and Anderson (buyer) entered into a sales contract by which Plaintiff purported to sell his interest in the Property to Anderson for $300, 000. Doc. No. 34-4 at 8. Commercial Lending, LLC loaned, or planned to loan, Anderson the money necessary to finance the purchase of the property. See id. at 21-23. In connection with the purported sale, Anderson purchased title insurance from Stewart Title Guaranty Company (Stewart) in the amount of $360, 000. See id. at 9-18.

After closing, no one satisfied the BNC Note. See id. at 26-27. Thereafter, Anderson, Stewart, and Wells Fargo (as servicer) engaged in negotiations. Eventually, a foreclosure sale took place and, in August 2005, Alvin Gross, Jr. purchased the Property. Id. at 40. Gross later released his interest in the Property and the parties continued their negotiations. In February 2006 or thereabouts, Stewart and Wells Fargo reached a settlement by which Stewart paid Wells Fargo $330, 792 and Wells Fargo assigned the Note and Deed of Trust to Stewart. On March 13, 2006, America's Servicing Company (as division of Wells Fargo) filed a Certificate of Satisfaction in the D.C. Recorder of Deeds stating that the BNC Note had been satisfied. Id. at 65.

On July 17, 2011, Plaintiff obtained copies of his credit report. Allegedly, the reports showed that Wells Fargo was instructing the three major credit bureaus ("credit bureaus") to report the BNC account as 120 days past due in January 2005 and as paid/closed in June 2006.

On July 26, 2011, Plaintiff forwarded dispute letters to the credit bureaus. Plaintiff's letters stated that, although Plaintiff's most recent credit report showed that Wells Fargo had reported his account as paid/closed in June 2006, the Certificate of Satisfaction stated that the account had been satisfied in March 2006.

In response, the credit bureaus allegedly forwarded the dispute to Wells Fargo for investigation. Thereafter, Wells Fargo allegedly instructed (1) Transunion to delete the account; (2) Equifax to continue reporting the account as 120 days past due and closed in June 2006; and (3) Experian to continue reporting the account as delinquent and closed in June 2006. After subsequent disputes, Wells Fargo allegedly instructed Experian to modify the reporting of the account to "never late."

In October 2011, Plaintiff alleges that he disputed the Wells Fargo account with Equifax. Equifax allegedly forwarded the dispute to Wells Fargo and Wells Fargo instructed Equifax to continue reporting the account as 120 days past due and closed in June 2006.

Defendant removed this case on December 14, 2012. Doc. No. 1. The Clerk registered the Complaint on the same day. Doc. No. 2. Plaintiff asserts claims for violation of the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) and defamation. Defendant moved to dismiss on December 19, 2012. Doc. No. 8. The Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant's motion, Doc. Nos. 17-18, precluding Plaintiff from basing his FCRA claim on relevant actions occurring before December 14, 2010.

Defendant answered. Doc. No. 22. Then Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint ("Motion to Amend"). Doc. No. 24. Through this Motion, Plaintiff seeks to add a claim for breach of contract. Plaintiff predicates this claim on allegations that, in violation of the "mortgage contract, " Wells Fargo failed to "surrender the note" upon Plaintiff's satisfaction of the underlying debt. Doc. No. 24-2 at 9.

On June 27, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Doc. No. 32. Plaintiff argues that the discovery record establishes that Wells Fargo is not the holder of the BNC Note. Plaintiff thus maintains that Wells Fargo lacked the right to enforce the BNC Note. Consequently, Plaintiff concludes that Wells Fargo's alleged reporting that Plaintiff had a delinquent mortgage ...


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