United States District Court, D. Maryland
MELANIE WRIGHT, Individually and as the Administrator of the Estate of Earl Wright, Plaintiff, pro se
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC, et al., Defendants.
PETER J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
This case is yet another attempt by a party to reverse a properly administered state foreclosure proceeding.
Plaintiff Melanie Wright, pro se, individually and as the Administrator of the Estate of her father, Earl Wright, has sued almost every entity or person even tangentially involved in the foreclosure of property previously owned by her father. Defendants include the mortgage lender Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (Nationstar); Nationstar loan officers or foreclosure specialists; Nationstar’s appointed substitute trustees in the mortgage proceeding (Substitute Trustees) and their counsel; the Substitute Trustees’ law firm, Samuel I. White, P.C.; the entities or persons who purchased or were scheduled to purchase the home after the foreclosure sale (and their attorneys); Federal Title and Escrow Company (and one of its attorneys, Joe Gentile, Esquire); former United States Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner; Richard S. O’Connor, Esquire, the attorney who represented Plaintiff in the mortgage foreclosure proceeding; as well as other individuals or entities whose actual conduct appears to have no bearing on any of the events at issue in the Amended Complaint.
Plaintiff brings twenty numbered Counts against these various Defendants, but the gravamen of her allegations seems to be that Earl Wright’s transfer of the property to her was valid, that she or Earl Wright should have received a loan modification package to prevent the foreclosure, and that, despite the fact that the mortgage loan was in default, nearly all of the Defendants conspired against her to wrongfully foreclose upon the home. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds all of Plaintiff’s claims to be baseless. Accordingly, the Motions to Dismiss brought by all of the Defendants who have entered an appearance in this matter (ECF Nos. 50, 55, 65, 80, 85, 91, 101, and 107) are GRANTED. The Court therefore will DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE the pertinent Counts of the Amended Complaint as to these Defendants, but it will also sua sponte DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE the relevant Counts of Amended Complaint as to all non-moving Defendants, served or unserved.
Here are the facts.
On June 8, 2005, Plaintiff’s father, Earl Wright, purchased a single family home at 419 Lincoln Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland (the Property), financed by a mortgage loan from GMAC Mortgage Corporation (Loan). Am. Compl. ¶ 44. The Loan was secured by a Purchase Money Deed of Trust, which incorporated an Adjustable Rate (of interest) Rider by reference. Id. ¶¶ 44, 61; see also Am. Compl. Exs. A, B. Earl Wright transferred the Deed to Plaintiff in March 2008. Am. Compl. ¶ 67. Around December 2009, Earl Wright suffered a major stroke, spending several months in the hospital. Id. ¶¶ 69, 78. During this period, his family had difficulty keeping the mortgage current. Id. ¶¶ 78-82.
Sometime in early January 2010, Nationstar became the beneficiary under the Loan and Deed for the Property. Id. ¶ 70. On January 6, 2010, Earl Wright (acting through Plaintiff under a power of attorney) signed a loan modification agreement with Nationstar. Id. ¶¶ 73-75. Shortly thereafter, Nationstar assigned a “foreclosure prevention specialist” to the Loan. Id. ¶ 76. Despite allegedly being “notified” of the transfer of Property from Earl Wright to Plaintiff, Nationstar continued to list Earl Wright as the record owner and send him loan default notices. Id. ¶ 71.
Over the next two years Earl’s health deteriorated further, and eventually a significant delinquency in the loan payments developed. Id. ¶¶ 78, 83, 86, 94. Earl Wright moved out of the Property. Id. ¶ 83. Plaintiff paid what she could toward the Loan, but Nationstar ultimately returned her payments (totaling around $8, 000), saying it could not accept partial payments. Id. ¶¶ 89-90, 95. Plaintiff contacted Nationstar for help with the Loan. Id. ¶ 79. In February 2011, Nationstar informed her that she might be personally eligible for the Home Affordable Modification Program, and that it would help her apply. Id. ¶ 96.
In May 2011, Earl Wright passed away. Id. ¶ 104.
Despite numerous communications with Nationstar foreclosure prevention specialists throughout 2011 and 2012, Plaintiff did not receive the modification she had hoped for. Id. ¶¶ 106-23. She says that she sent all documents requested by Nationstar for purposes of the modification process, but on almost every occasion Nationstar informed her that these documents had not been received or were deficient in some manner. Id. ¶¶ 101, 107-08. Eventually, Nationstar made an offer to modify the Loan, but this offer was unacceptable to Plaintiff because, as she alleges, it drastically raised the interest and monthly payments. Id. ¶¶ 109-110. According to Plaintiff, Nationstar also told her that she would not be eligible for a loan modification under HAMP because the Loan was in her father’s name, not hers. Id. ¶ 121.
In January 2013, Nationstar sent notice of the foreclosure proceeding. Id. ¶ 128. On January 18, 2013, Nationstar appointed John E. Driscoll, III, Esquire, Robert E. Frazier, Esquire, Jana M. Gantt, Esquire, Laura D. Harris, Esquire, Kimberly Lane, Esquire, and Deena L. Reynolds, Esquire, as substitute trustees (collectively Substitute Trustees) under the Deed of Trust. See White’s Mot. Dismiss, Ex. G., ECF No. 50-8. On February 21, 2013, the Substitute Trustees filed an Order to Docket Suit of Foreclosure of Deed of Trust in Montgomery County, Maryland Circuit Court. Driscoll, et al. v. Wright, et al., Case No. 373711V, Dkt. No. 1; see also White’s Mot. Dismiss, Ex. C (Foreclosure Docket), Dkt. No. 1, ECF No. 50-4. They also filed affidavits certifying ownership of the Loan, verifying that the default occurred on August 1, 2010, and attesting that Nationstar had conducted a loss mitigation analysis in which it concluded that Earl Wright did not qualify because of missing documents and vacant property. Foreclosure Docket, Dkt. Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 125-29.
Plaintiff hired Richard S. O’Connor, Esquire, to represent her during the foreclosure action. Am. Compl. ¶ 131. She moved for and received a 30-day stay to find re-financing for the Loan. Id. ¶ 132; see also Foreclosure Docket Dkt. Nos. 11, 17, 20. Ultimately, however, her refinancing efforts were hampered by the fact that Nationstar had submitted negative credit reports to consumer reporting agencies. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 133-34.
The Property was eventually sold at an auction on June 10, 2013 to Baltimore Home Alliance. Id. ¶ 136. The Montgomery County Circuit Court ratified the sale on October 11, 2013. Foreclosure Dkt. No. 36. Subsequently, Baltimore Home Alliance substituted in a fourth party purchaser, Eduarda Santiago, Foreclosure Docket, Dkt. No. 52, who completed settlement with the Substitute Trustees on or about October 22, 2014, see Santiago’s Mot. Substitute Party, Ex. A., ECF No. 54-2. Santiago later sold the Property to MD Sant, LLC. Santiago’s Mot. Substitute Party, Ex. B, ECF No. 54-3.
At some point following ratification of the foreclosure sale, Federal Title and Escrow Company and Joe Gentile performed a title search and reported the Property free and clear of all encumbrances. Am. Compl. ¶ 142.
In September 2014, Plaintiff sent Nationstar a Qualified Written Request. Compl. ¶ 144. Nationstar did not respond. Id.
Beginning in October 2014, Plaintiff (on behalf of herself and as administrator of Earl Wright’s estate) filed various actions, including the original Complaint in this matter against Nationstar, BANA, and Samuel I. White, P.C. Nationstar, BANA, and Samuel I. White, P.C. removed the Complaint to this Court on December 22, 2014. ECF No. 1. After several Court granted-extensions, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on July 8, 2015, adding many new Defendants. ECF No. 45. Of the Defendants that have entered an appearance in this case, all have filed Motions to Dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. ECF Nos. 50, 55, 65, 80, 85, 91, 101, and 107.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) prescribes “liberal pleading standards, ” requiring only that a plaintiff submit a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). If pleadings allege fraud or mistake, “a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). Under the heightened pleading standard of Rule 9(b), “[t]hese circumstances are ‘the time, place, and contents of the false representations, as well as the identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what he obtained thereby.’” Weidman v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 776 F.3d 214, 219 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 784 (4th Cir. 1999)).
To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although a court will accept factual allegations as true, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Id. Indeed, the court need not accept legal conclusions couched as factual allegations or “unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” E. Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Associates Ltd. P’ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). In the end, the complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to apprise a defendant of “what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotations and citations omitted).
While federal courts are obliged to liberally construe a pro se litigant’s claims in applying the above analysis, this requirement “does not transform the court into an advocate.” United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citations omitted). The Fourth Circuit has noted that “[w]hile pro se complaints may ‘represent the work of an untutored hand requiring special judicial solicitude, ’ a district court is not required to recognize ‘obscure or extravagant claims defying the most concerted efforts to unravel them.’” Weller v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986)).
Finally, “[a] district court has the discretion to grant a motion to dismiss with or without prejudice.” Hinks v. Bd. of Educ. of Harford Cnty., CIV. WDQ-09-1672, 2010 WL 5087598, at *2 (D. Md. Dec. 7, 2010). Dismissal with prejudice “is proper if there is no set of facts the plaintiff could present to support his or her claim.” Id. (citing Cozzarelli v. Inspire Pharm., Inc., 549 F.3d 618, 630 (4th Cir. 2008)).
The Court addresses each of ...