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Maddox v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 2, 2015

PAMELA MADDOX, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DISMISSAL

MARVIN J. GARBIS, District Judge.

The Court has before it Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or in the Alternative Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Document 12] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

On August 24, 2005, Plaintiff Pamela Maddox, f/k/a Pamela Nelson ("Maddox"), signed a promissory note refinancing her home at 2586 Carrington Way in Frederick, Maryland for $313, 600.00 through Union Federal Bank of Indianapolis. [Document 12-2] at 2-4. The Deed of Trust securing the refinance loan also is dated August 24, 2005 and signed by Maddox. The Deed of Trust names Maddox as the Borrower, Union Federal Bank of Indianapolis as the Lender, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS"), "[a]cting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns, " as the Beneficiary.

On May 19, 2014, MERS "sold or otherwise transferred" the Deed of Trust to Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo"). Compl. ¶ 2. Maddox subsequently defaulted on the loan. She discovered the assignment of the Deed of Trust to Defendant in the course of the foreclosure action.

On March 6, 2015, Maddox brought a Complaint against Wells Fargo in the District Court for Frederick County, Maryland for violation of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. Wells Fargo timely removed to this Court.

By the instant motion, Wells Fargo Bank seeks dismissal of the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure[2] 12(b)(6), or alternatively, judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c).

II. DISMISSAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. A complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations omitted). When evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. However, conclusory statements or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not [suffice]." Id . A complaint must allege sufficient facts "to cross the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Inquiry into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id . (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). Thus, if "the well-pleaded facts [contained within a complaint] 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.'"[3] Id . (alteration in original)).

III. DISCUSSION

Maddox contends that Wells Fargo violated 15 U.S.C. § 1641(g), which states that when a mortgage loan is sold or assigned to a third party, the new creditor owner or assignee of the debt must provide the borrower with written notice.

Wells Fargo contends that it is entitled to dismissal because: (1) "the transfer or assignment of a deed of trust alone fails to implicate any liability under 15 U.S.C. § 1641(g);" and (2) even if § 1641(g) did apply, "Wells Fargo is the servicer of [Maddox]'s mortgage and is shielded from liability pursuant to the safe-harbor provision in § 1641(f)." [Document 12-1] at 2.

In her Response to the instant motion, Maddox states that she "expects that [Wells Fargo] will argue that the [§ 1641(g)] notice provisions only apply to the sale of transfer of the actual debt (i.e., the Note), " but that "such a holding would gut and ...


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