United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
GREGORY J. WALSH, Plaintiff,
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, et al., Defendants.
GEORGE J. HAZEL, District Judge.
Gregory Walsh, a pro se plaintiff, brings this suit against Bank of New York Mellon ("Mellon"), MERSCORP, Inc. ("MERSCORP"), Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. ("SPS"), and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase"), alleging the creation and use of fraudulent documents to attempt to foreclose or take possession of property. ECF No. 1. This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. See ECF Nos. 5, 6, 16. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED.
On November 12, 2004, Gregory Walsh and his wife purchased the property located at 8913 56th Avenue, College Park, Maryland ("Property") for $340, 000. ECF No. 5-7. They obtained two mortgages on the Property from Greenpoint Mortgage Funding Corporation, an entity that is now defunct. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 15-18. Walsh and his wife also signed a Deed of Trust ("Deed") naming MERS as the beneficiary of the Deed and the nominee "for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns." ECF No. 5-8. Plaintiff and his wife transferred the Deed to the 56th Avenue Family Holding and Improvement Trust on May 27, 2005. ECF No. 5-2. The 56th Avenue Family Holding and Improvement Trust is the record owner of the Property. ECF No. 5-3.
Since Plaintiff's purchase of the Property, several banks have asserted rights related to the mortgage, including SPS's claim of authority as the servicer of the loan based on an assignment by Chase. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 19-21. On June 8, 2012. MERS signed an Assignment of Trust ("Assignment") on behalf of Chase, assigning the Deed, "together with all interest secured thereby, all liens, and any rights due or to become due thereon" to Mellon. ECF No. 5-4. The Assignment was signed by Iquisha Criff and Ashley Clegg, both on behalf of MERS. ECF No. 5-4.
While his Complaint is not a model of clarity, Plaintiff appears to allege fraud, and other claims, based primarily on concerns raised in regard to the signatures of Criff and Clegg on the Assignment. Plaintiff seeks $1, 242, 875 in damages and a cease and desist of all collection or foreclosure actions against the Property. ECF No. 1 at 10-11.
A. Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to present a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). "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." Id. at 678.
When assessing a motion to dismiss, courts refer to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) to determine if the complaint adequately states a claim for relief. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554-55, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Rule 8(a)(2) requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if the "actual proof of those facts is improbable and recovery is very remote and unlikely." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal quotation marks omitted). For a motion to dismiss, courts are required to assess "the sufficiency of the 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).
However, "Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3. That showing must consist of more than "labels and conclusions, " "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, " or "naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted." Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). If the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, " the complaint has not shown "that the pleader is entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
In reviewing a complaint, district courts have an obligation to liberally construe the pleadings of self-represented litigants. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). But "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) (citation omitted). A liberal construction of a pro se plaintiff's complaint "does not require those courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented to them." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
Courts are generally not allowed "to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss." Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, Inc., 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). "However, there are limited circumstances in which the court may consider extrinsic documents in the context of a motion to dismiss, " including "documents attached to the complaint, as well as those attached to the motion to dismiss, so long as they ...