United States District Court, D. Maryland
ALLEN RANSOM, JR. and BRENDA B. RANSOM, Plaintiffs,
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC and EQUIHOME MORTGAGE CORP., Defendants.
Xinis United States District Judge
is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) filed by
Defendant Nationstar Mortgage, LLC. The issues are fully
briefed and the Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6
because no hearing is necessary. For the reasons stated
below, the motion is granted in part and denied, as moot, in
26, 2006, Brenda Ransom executed an Adjustable Rate Note in
the amount of $386, 314.00 to Defendant EquiHome Mortgage
Corporation (“EquiHome Mortgage”). ECF No. 29-5.
The Note was secured by a Deed of Trust executed on the same
date by Brenda and Allen Ransom (“Plaintiffs”) to
EquiHome Mortgage and which was recorded among the Land
Records of Charles County, Maryland. ECF No. 29-6. The Deed
of Trust, signed by Plaintiffs, named Mortgage Electronic
Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) the
beneficiary under the security interest as the nominee for
EquiHome Mortgage, its successors, and assigns. ECF No. 29-6
at 2. In August 2013, MERS, executed and recorded a Corporate
Assignment of Deed of Trust in the Land Records of Charles
County, Maryland, which granted all beneficial interest under
the Deed of Trust to Defendant Nationstar Mortgage, LLC
(“Nationstar”). ECF No. 29-7.
February 19, 2014, Nationstar's substitute trustees filed
a foreclosure action against Plaintiffs in the Circuit Court
for Charles County. See Clarke v. Ransom, No.
08-C-14-000397. The substitute trustees sold the property on
November 7, 2014 and filed a Report of Sale. ECF No. 29-11.
The circuit court entered a final order ratifying the
foreclosure sale on February 23, 2015. ECF No. 29-12.
made numerous attempts to stop the foreclosure both before
and after the Circuit Court's final order. On October 6,
2014, Plaintiffs filed an Emergency Motion to Dismiss the
Foreclosure Proceeding in Circuit Court. ECF No. 29-9.
Plaintiffs also filed an Application for Temporary
Restraining Order on September 16, 2015, ECF No. 29-15, and
on March 1, 2016, they filed a Motion to Immediately Dismiss
Foreclosure/Eviction Proceedings for Bank Fraud. ECF No.
29-18. In each, Plaintiffs requested that the Circuit Court
set aside its foreclosure decision. All of their motions were
denied. See ECF Nos. 29-17, -18, -20.
April 20, 2015, Plaintiffs initiated this pro se action
against Nationstar and EquiHome Mortgage in the Charles
County Circuit Court. See ECF Nos. 1, 2. Although
not labeled as such, Plaintiffs sought an action to quiet
title, claiming violation of the National Bank Act of 1864,
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, fraud, and violations
of the Uniform Commercial Code. See ECF No. 2.
Additionally, Plaintiffs' Complaint requested that this
Court declare that Plaintiffs hold clear and clean title to
the Property, declare the assignment of the Deed of Trust as
invalid and unenforceable against Plaintiffs, and vacate
the prior foreclosure decision. See Id. at 2.
summons was issued by the Circuit Court for Charles County,
Maryland as to Nationstar on April 22, 2015, addressed to
“Nationstar Mortgage” at “350 Highland Dr.
Lewisville. TX 75067.” ECF No. 3. Although the docket
in the state court proceeding suggests that a summons was
issued as to EquiHome Mortgage, nothing confirms that
EquiHome Mortgage was served prior to removal. See Ransom
v. EquiHome Mortgage Corp., No. 08-C-15-000996.
5, 2015, Defendant Nationstar filed a Notice of Removal
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446, to
this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. On
July 2, 2015, Nationstar filed its Motion to Dismiss the
Complaint for improper service of process under Rule 12(b)(5)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule
12(b)(6). See ECF 13-1. On March 14, 2016, the Court
denied the motion in light of Plaintiff's pro se status,
but instead quashed service on Nationstar to allow Plaintiffs
the opportunity to effect proper service on the Defendants.
ECF No. 21. The Court also ordered Plaintiffs' to show
cause within fourteen (14) days of the issuance of that Order
why the Complaint should not be dismissed as to EquiHome
Mortgage pursuant to Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil
April 27, 2016, Plaintiffs attempted to serve Nationstar in
the exact manner the Court had previously found deficient.
They also attempted to serve EquiHome Mortgage by sending a
copy of the Complaint and a summons to “EquiHome
Mortgage Corporation, et al” at “150 Morristown
Road Suit 101, Bernardsville, New Jersey, 07924.” ECF
No. 26. The Court notes that the Maryland Department of
Assessments and Taxation lists EquiHome Mortgage's
resident agent as “National Registered Agents, Inc. of
Md.” located at 836 Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland
21201,  and that EquiHome Mortgage is a forfeited
business entity in Maryland. Id. Additionally,
Plaintiffs never responded to the Court's April 27th show
24, 2016, Nationstar renewed its motion to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(5). ECF No.
29. Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Strike (ECF No. 29) and
Nationstar responded to that motion. ECF No. 38. The parties
have agreed that the Court should construe Plaintiffs'
Motion to Strike as their opposition to Nationstar's
motion to dismiss and Nationstar's response to the Motion
to Strike as its reply to Plaintiffs' opposition.
See ECF No. 41. For the following reasons,
Nationstar's motion to dismiss is granted in part and
denied as moot in part.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Court retains subject matter jurisdiction remains a
threshold matter properly addressed before reaching the
merits of the case. Jones v. Am. Postal Workers
Union, 192 F.3d 417, 422 (4th Cir. 1999). When a
defendant challenges subject matter jurisdiction, “the
district court is to regard the pleadings as mere evidence on
the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings
without converting the proceeding to one for summary
judgment.” Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac
R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir.
1991). Moreover, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving
that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Id.