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Abelman v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 30, 2013

STEVEN ABELMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Defendant

For Steven Abelman, Plaintiff: Mitchell I Batt, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sullivan Talbott and Batt, Rockville, MD.

For Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Defendant: Joleen Okun, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart PC, Washington, DC; Paul Lancaster Adams, PRO HAC VICE, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart PC, Philadelphia, PA.

OPINION

Page 661

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Mark A. Barnett, Judge.

Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. now moves to dismiss Plaintiff Steven Abelman's complaint for breach of contract and violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (" MWPCL" ). Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-505, et. seq. The parties have fully briefed the issues, and the court now rules without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, the court DENIES Defendant's motion.

I. Background & Procedural History

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (" Wells Fargo" ) employed Steven Abelman (" Plaintiff" ) as a Private Mortgage Banker from September 30, 2010 through April 24, 2012. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 6-7.) During Plaintiff's employment, Wells Fargo agreed to pay him commissions pursuant to the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage 2011 Incentive Compensation Plan for Private Mortgage Bankers (" Compensation Plan" ). (Compl. ¶ 8.) Under the Compensation Plan, Wells Fargo was to credit him for commissions on the last day of the month in which each of his loans funded. (Compl. ¶ 11.) Wells Fargo would then pay him the commissions on the last pay date of the month following the month in which the commissions were credited. (Compl. ¶ 11A.)

When Plaintiff's employment with Wells Fargo ended, he was working on thirty-seven loan applications that had not yet closed, and he alleges that these loan applications closed after he left Wells Fargo's employment. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 12, 14.) Plaintiff pleads that he had " performed all, or virtually all, of the tasks required of a Private Mortgage Banker in order to bring these loans at issue to close." (Compl. ¶ 13.) On this basis, Plaintiff asserts that he had earned his commissions on the thirty-seven loans. (Compl. ¶ 13.) However, Wells Fargo has not paid commissions to Plaintiff on any of these loans. (Compl. ¶ 15.)

Plaintiff filed this action in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County on January 17, 2013, alleging that Wells Fargo breached its contract by failing to pay him commissions for loans that closed after he left Wells Fargo's employment and that the MWPCL prohibits any terms in the Compensation Plan that serve as a forfeiture of earned wages. Wells Fargo removed the action to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction on March 4, 2013.

On March 7, 2013, Wells Fargo moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In its Motion to Dismiss, Wells Fargo avers that, under the Compensation Plan, it has no obligation to pay commissions to Plaintiff for any of the loans in question because Plaintiff's employment ended before the loans at issue closed and, therefore, he could not have completed all of his obligations with respect to those loans. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 3, 5.) Wells Fargo further argues the requirement that, in order for the Plaintiff to receive commissions he be employed by Wells Fargo on the date the loans closed, is valid under the MWPCL. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 6.)

II. Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville,464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The court must consider ...


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