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Herring v. Wells Fargo Home Loans

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

October 24, 2013

WELLS FARGO HOME LOANS et al., Defendants.


ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

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.


Pro se Plaintiff Marva Jean Herring is a Maryland resident. Plaintiff has sued the following corporate entities: (1) Wells Fargo Home Loans (Wells Fargo); (2) Countrywide Home Loans (Countrywide); and (3) Bank of America Home Loans (Bank of America). Defendants are in the business of mortgage lending and servicing. "[I]t is well-established that Countrywide has merged into Bank of America." Lawson v. MERS, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:13-cv-02149-AW, 2013 WL 4482953, at *1 (D. Md. Aug. 20, 2013) (citing cases).

The Court draws the following facts from Plaintiff's Complaint and her Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Generally, "[f]actual allegations contained in legal briefs or memoranda are... treated as matters outside the pleading for purposes of Rule 12(b)." Ross v. Prince George's County, Md., Civil Action No. DKC 11-1984, 2012 WL 1204087, at *2 (D. Md. Apr. 10, 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). However, courts have discretion to consider allegations made in a legal brief or memorandum when ruling on a motion to dismiss where, as here, the complaint is unclear and deficient and doing so does not prejudice the plaintiff. See Jones v. Stafford, Civil Action No. 8:12-cv-00891-AW, 2012 WL 5882588, at *1 (D. Md. Nov. 20, 2012) (citations omitted).

Plaintiff alleges that, in 2005, she refinanced her home with Wells Fargo. At closing, Plaintiff alleges, although the settlor or title company agent asked her to read refinance agreement ("Agreement"), this person did not read the Agreement to her line by line. Doc. No. 11 at 2. Plaintiff also seems to allege that Countrywide and/or Wells Fargo misrepresented that Wells Fargo was the true lender because Countrywide represented itself as both the servicer and lender. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that she was not informed of the merger between Wells Fargo and Countrywide.

At some point, Plaintiff fell behind on her mortgage payments. In 2008, Plaintiff asked Defendants for a modification of her home loan. Plaintiff received a temporary decrease in the amount of her mortgage payments. Then, one or more unspecified representatives of one or more of the Defendants told her that she was ineligible for a permanent modification as per the terms of the Agreement. Plaintiff alleges that she repeatedly contacted Defendants to request reconsideration and/or an explanation for their decision and that they failed to respond. Plaintiff further alleges that one can infer from Defendants' failure to contact her and other irrelevant considerations that the term prohibiting modification does not exist.

Based on these sparse allegations, Plaintiff requests the following relief: (1) that Defendants "immediately cease and desist all discriminatory, fraudulent, breaches of contract, negligent and harassing acts" [sic]; (2) that Defendants "pay Plaintiff $250 million dollars [sic] in punitive and compensatory damages"; and (3) that Defendants "award Plaintiff her home on a total mortgage free basis."

Plaintiff filed her Complaint in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Defendants removed the case on July 15, 2013. On July 22, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. Doc. No. 7. The Clerk mailed Plaintiff a Rule 12/56 letter on July 23, 2013. In response, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. The Court granted this Motion and gave Plaintiff until October 22, 2013 to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. Doc. No. 10. One day after this deadline, Plaintiff filed a Response. Doc. No. 11. Plaintiff's Response is a slightly more detailed variant of her Complaint that contains no legal argumentation. Notably, Plaintiff fails to address the argument that res judicata bars her claims.


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).


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