United States District Court, D. Maryland
MICHELLE A. TURNER, Plaintiff,
JPMORGAN CHASE, N.A., Defendant.
THEODORE D. CHUANG, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("JP Morgan Chase"). ECF No. 10. The issue before the Court is whether Plaintiff Michelle A. Turner ("Turner") has sufficiently stated a claim entitling her to relief. Having reviewed the pleadings and supporting documents, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
On December 20, 2013, Turner, a resident of Maryland proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against JPMorgan Chase in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. See Notice of Removal at 1, ECF No. 1. On February 27, 2014, JP Morgan Chase timely removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Id.
In her Complaint, Turner files suit against JP Morgan Chase for "denying my mortgage payments, repeatedly denying me home loan modifications which forced my home into foreclosure and prevented me from gaining employment, " and "unfairly issu[ing] a derogatory status on my credit report[, ] resulting in an extremely low credit rating [and] making it even more difficult to obtain employment." Compl. at 1, ECF No. 2.
Turner's factual allegations, taken from her Complaint, are as follows. Turner bought her home in 1993 and lived in it with her two daughters for twenty years, during which time, Turner states, "I had excellent credit and prided myself with paying my bills on time." Id. After becoming unemployed, Turner fell behind on her mortgage payments. In October 2010, Turner "tried to pay for three mortgage payments which were due and would have brought [the] mortgage current, but [JPMorgan] Chase returned the check" to Turner and told her that her "home had gone into foreclosure" and that she should apply for a "hardship forbearance" through a home loan modification program. Id.
That same month, when Turner called JPMorgan Chase to inquire about the loan modification process, a JPMorgan Chase representative prequalified Turner for a hardship forbearance for up to one year while Turner sought employment and directed Turner to submit an application, which would be mailed to her within 7-10 days. It took eight weeks for the application to arrive, despite phone calls to JPMorgan Chase in the interim. Once Turner received the application, she scheduled a face-to-face meeting in March 2011 to discuss the paperwork. At that meeting, a JPMorgan Chase representative told Turner that she, in fact, did not qualify for a hardship forbearance despite what she had previously been told, but the representative and Turner nonetheless completed and submitted the application and supporting documents.
In August 2011, Turner received a letter stating that she was denied a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP"), but the letter did not mention whether she was eligible for a hardship forbearance. When Turner called JPMorgan Chase "for assistance and answers, " a JPMorgan Chase representative suggested that Turner need not sell her house if she did not want to, that she had not yet been considered for a hardship forbearance, and that she should reapply for such forbearance and a loan modification. Id. Thus, in September 2011, Turner submitted a second application for forbearance and loan modification, only to be denied several months later. In April 2012, again at the suggestion of a JPMorgan Chase representative, Turner submitted a third application for a loan modification but was denied again.
Turner further alleges that at some time during summer 2013, JPMorgan Chase asked Turner to file a fourth loan modification application. Turner had not yet submitted the application when, on November 19, 2013, Turner received a letter stating that her house was to be auctioned at a foreclosure sale on December 4, 2013. Turner states that she "never received a mediation hearing with Chase foreclosure counselors or an attorney concerning this matter, nor did [she] receive proper advance notice of the sale date." Id. at 2.
On November 19, 2013, Turner called JPMorgan Chase to discuss the foreclosure and was told to file a loan modification application, "which would hopefully postpone or cancel the sale date." Id. Turner filed the application via facsimile the next day. On November 26, JPMorgan Chase postponed the sale. On December 2, "Angela from Chase" informed Turner that the sale date was postponed, but that the modification application that JPMorgan Chase had received from Turner was outdated. Id. Turner alleges that "Angela" told her to resubmit a new, fifth application which JPMorgan Chase had sent to her by Federal Express on November 26, 2013. Turner submitted the fifth application and supporting documents with a hardship letter explaining her circumstances. On December 4, 2013, Turner received another denial letter.
On March 6, 2014, JPMorgan Chase filed its Motion to Dismiss, construing Turner's Complaint as asserting three claims: (1) breach of contract, (2) failure to modify a loan under the HAMP, and (3) violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), and arguing that the Court should dismiss the Complaint because Turner failed to plead sufficiently any of these claims.
As stated above, Turner alleges a cause of action based on her claims that JP Morgan Chase (1) "den[ied] my mortgage payments, " (2) "repeatedly den[ied] my home loan modifications which forced my home into foreclosure and prevented me from gaining employment, " and (3) "unfairly issued a derogatory status on my credit report[, ] resulting in an extremely low credit rating, [and] making it even more difficult to obtain employment." Compl. at 1. For the reasons stated below, the Court, reading Turner's Complaint under the liberal standard appropriate for pro se litigants, finds that Turner sufficiently states a claim for breach of contract arising from JPMorgan Chase's denial of Turner's mortgage payment. JPMorgan Chase's Motion to Dismiss as to the contract claim is therefore denied.
To the extent that Turner alleges a cause of action arising from JPMorgan Chase's repeated representations that she should file loan modification applications which were then repeatedly denied, the Court construes the Complaint as pleading either a claim under the Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP") or a claim under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act ("MCPA"), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 13-303(4)-(5) (West 2014). As there is no cognizable claim available to Turner under HAMP, the Court dismisses the HAMP claim with ...