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Peckey v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 10, 2015

JIM M. PECKEY, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jim M. Peckey ("Peckey" or "Plaintiff") brings this action against Bank of America, N.A. ("BoA") and Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC ("SLS"), alleging a series of common law and statutory violations.[1] Currently pending is Defendant SLS's Motion to Dismiss Counts Seven, Eight, and Nine of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 32). The parties' submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, Defendant Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 32) is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

This Court accepts as true the facts alleged in Plaintiff's complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). This case arises out of transactions related to a home mortgage loan made by Defendant BoA to Plaintiff Jim M. Peckey in 2006 for a property located at 7 Alexander Court, Owings Mills, MD 21117. ("the Property"). Pl.'s First Am. Compl., ¶ 11-13, ECF No. 29. Plaintiff subsequently defaulted on the loan and began negotiating with BoA in order to avoid foreclosure and/or limit any deficiency he could owe after a forced transfer of the property. Id. at ¶ 16-26. Beginning in March of 2011, BoA offered Mr. Peckey the opportunity to participate (1) in a short sale transfer of the Property or (2) in a deed in lieu of foreclosure ("DIL") transaction conveying the Property to BoA. Pl.'s Ex. 2, 6a-6g.[2]

Mr. Peckey accepted BoA's offer to participate in a DIL transaction, and on June 29, 2012, BoA informed Mr. Peckey that his request for a DIL through the federal government's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives ("HAFA") Program was approved.[3] Pl.'s Ex. 6a. Mr. Peckey was required under the terms of the agreement to take several steps to finalize the DIL transaction. Pl.'s Ex. 6b. Specifically, Mr. Peckey was required to complete certain documents (Assignment of Unearned Insurance Premium, Surrender of Possessions Agreement, Move Out Agreement, Personal Property Release, W-9 form) and to vacate the property by August 9, 2012. Id. The record before this Court indicates that Mr. Peckey fulfilled all requisite steps, and the transaction closed on or around September 14, 2012.[4] Pl.'s Ex. 7-11. In satisfaction of one of its obligations under the DIL agreement, BoA issued a check in the amount of $3, 000 to Mr. Peckey on October 10, 2012. Pl.'s Ex. 10.

BoA subsequently sent Mr. Peckey a letter dated October 12, 2012, stating that his loan for the Property would be serviced by SLS beginning on November 1, 2012. Pl.'s Ex. 12. BoA sent Mr. Peckey another letter on November 9, 2012, asserting that it was unable to offer him a HAFA Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. Pl.'s Ex. 13.

On November 9, 2012, SLS sent Mr. Peckey a "Welcome" letter stating that it had taken over loan servicing for the Property's mortgage. Pl.'s Ex. 14. Three days later, Mr. Peckey received a Monthly Payment Notice from SLS demanding $55, 190.29 for the current payment ($2, 199.48), past due payment ($44, 089.16), and late charges/fees ($8, 901.65). Pl.'s Ex. 16. In response, Mr. Peckey faxed a letter to SLS on November 12, 2012 explaining that he had "SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED A HAFA DEED IN LIEU PROGRAM WITH BANK OF AMERICA." Pl.'s Ex. 17 (emphasis in original). He also requested that SLS cease and desist making debt collection phone calls to his home. Id. SLS continued to demand payment on the loan and related expenses. Pl.'s Ex. 19-21, 23-28. The latest mortgage statement sent by SLS to Mr. Peckey is dated July 18, 2013 and demands $68, 323.17. Pl.'s Ex. 28.

Credit reports on Mr. Peckey dated March 31, 2013 indicate (1) that the BoA mortgage was closed and terminated by the DIL, and (2) that Mr. Peckey had an active deficiency with SLS for the mortgage. Pl.'s Ex. 29, 30. The credit reports also indicate that SLS first made a report in Mr. Peckey's credit file in February 2013. Id.

Mr. Peckey filed suit against BoA and SLS on February 12, 2014, alleging a series of common law and statutory violations arising from the mortgage and DIL transactions. Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 1. With this Court's approval (ECF No. 28), on November 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 29). Defendant SLS subsequently moved to dismiss all claims pending against it (ECF No. 32), while Defendant BoA filed an Answer (ECF No. 31) on December 10, 2014.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is "to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006).

The Supreme Court's recent opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Asbcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), "require that complaints in civil actions be alleged with greater specificity than previously was required." Walters v. McMaben, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). In Twombly, the Supreme Court articulated "[t]wo working principles" that courts must employ when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, while a court must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are not afforded such deference. Id. (stating that "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to plead a claim); see also Wag More Dogs, LLC v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012) ("Although we are constrained to take the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we need not accept legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." (internal quotation marks omitted)).

Second, a complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege "a plausible claim for relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a "plaintiff need not plead the evidentiary standard for proving" her claim, she may no longer rely on the mere possibility that she could later establish her claim. McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, ___ F.3d ___, 2015 WL 1088931, *11-12 (4th Cir. 2015) (emphasis omitted) (discussing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002) in light of Twombly and Iqbal ). Under the plausibility standard, a complaint must contain "more than labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While the plausibility requirement does not impose a "probability requirement, " id. at 556, "[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Robertson v. Sea Pines Real Estate Cos., 679 F.3d 278, 291 (4th Cir. 2012) ("A complaint need not make a case against a defendant or forecast evidence sufficient to prove an element of the claim. It need only allege facts sufficient to state elements of the claim." (emphasis in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). In making this ...


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