United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOYCE M. McNEIL
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.
Presently pending and ready for resolution in this action to quiet title is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Bank of America, N.A. ("Bank of America") (ECF No. 5). The issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted.
On July 26, 2013, Plaintiff Joyce M. McNeil, proceeding pro se, filed the instant complaint to quiet title on certain real property located at 106 Colton Street, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20774 ("the property"). (ECF No. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff asserts that her title to this property derives from a Deed of Trust, dated June 29, 2009, and recorded in the land records of Prince George's County, Maryland on August 7, 2009. ( Id. at 1; see also ECF No. 1-1). She alleges that the June 29, 2009 Deed of Trust relating to the property is invalid and unenforceable for the following reasons: (1) "Bank of America is no longer the holder of the note associated with this Deed of Trust"; (2) "[s]ubject [m]ortgage was separated from the note at least once and remains separated, making the mortgage unenforceable, null, deficient, and illegal"; (3) a Certificate of Release recorded on July 16, 2009 in the land records of Prince George's County, Maryland by [the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS")] is fraudulent because MERS was in a forfeited status in Maryland at the time of the recording; (4) MERS could not legally assign the Note to the current holder of the note because at the time the debt was satisfied, Provident Funding Group was the lender or holder of the Note, and not MERS; (5) Reconstruct Company N.A. was appointed trustee in the 2009 Deed of Trust; (6) unspecified "[f]raud vitiates the most solemn contracts"; and (7) Defendant does not have "legal standing to enforce the Note because the Deed of Trust and Note have been separated as a result of the securitization of the loan, making the subject Deed of Trust invalid and unenforceable." (ECF No. 1, at 2-3).
Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on September 30, 2013. (ECF No. 5). Plaintiff opposed the motion on October 15, 2013 (ECF No. 7), and Defendant replied on October 31, 2013 (ECF No. 8).
II. Standard of Review
The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A plaintiff's complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 n.3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" or "naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted).
At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) ( citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted. Revene v. Charles County Commis., 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but it has not show[n]... that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 ( quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.
Plaintiff seeks to quiet title and requests that the court declare null and void the Deed of Trust dated June 2009. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's complaint contains only conclusory statements, devoid of any factual support. Under Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 14-108(a), a person in "actual peaceable possession of property" may sue to quiet title when "his title to the property is denied or disrupted, or when any other person claims... to own the property... or to hold any lien encumbrance on it." In Maryland:
[a] quiet title action is a suit in which a plaintiff seeks a decree that some allegedly adverse interest in his property is actually defective, invalid or ineffective prior to and at the time suit is brought either because the lien was invalidly created, or has become invalid or has been satisfied.
Kasdon v. G.W. Zierden Landscaping, Inc., 541 F.Supp. 991, 995 (D.Md. 1982). To state a successful quiet title action, the plaintiff must show his claim to title and allege an invalid or defective adverse interest. Hood v. Aurora Loan Servs., Civil Action No. CCB-10-11, 2010 WL 2696755, at *5 (D.Md. July 6, 2010).
As Defendant argues, Plaintiff does not allege any specific facts showing that the mortgage on her property was invalidly created or that it has become invalid. Plaintiff does not dispute that she received the loan proceeds under the 2009 Deed of Trust, nor does Plaintiff allege that the refinanced loan has been paid or satisfied. Plaintiff makes several arguments challenging the validity of the 2009 Deed of Trust, none of which have merit. She first argues that, based on her research, Bank of America is no longer the holder of the promissory note secured by the Deed of Trust. (ECF No. 1, at 2). The 2009 Deed of Trust identifies Defendant Bank of America, N.A. as the lender and Reconstruct Company, N.A. as the trustee. The loan is in the amount of $289, 800. (ECF No. 1-1, at 1). Plaintiff asserts in the opposition that the June 29, 2009 Deed of Trust secures a refinanced loan on the property. ( See ECF No. 7, at 2). This Deed of Trust secures a promissory note, dated June 29, 2009. Plaintiff's vague assertion that Bank of America does not hold the Note is insufficient. As Defendant points out, "Plaintiff does not identify the purported new holder of the note, nor provide any specific facts as to when and how the note was allegedly transferred." (ECF No. 5-1, at 6).
Second, Plaintiff argues that subject mortgage was separated from the note at least once and remains separated, invalidating the mortgage on the property. Although the 2009 Deed of Trust appears to be the subject of Plaintiff's complaint as it relates to the refinanced loan on her property, many of her allegations concern purported defects in the Deed of Trust she executed on November 9, 2007 securing the original loan. (ECF No. 1-3). The November 9, 2007 Deed of Trust identifies Provident Funding Group, Inc. as the lender and MERS as acting "solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns. MERS is the beneficiary under this Security Instrument." (ECF No. 1-3, at 1) (emphasis added). Plaintiff argues that "[t]he Note and Mortgage were separated at settlement when the lender, Provident ...