United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
Sandra Fowler ("Fowler" or "Plaintiff”)
brought this action against Defendants Wells Fargo Home
Mortgage, Inc. and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (collectively
"Wells Fargo" or "Defendants"), alleging
that Defendants' failure to respond to Plaintiffs loan
modification applications violated federal and Maryland laws,
and led to Plaintiffs inability to qualify for mortgage
relief opportunities. Fowler requests injunctive relief to
stop the sale of her home, as well as monetary damages. This
Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address Defendants1
Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 57. A hearing is unnecessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons
stated below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted,
in part, and denied, in part.
March 30, 2006, Plaintiff purchased a home in Prince
George's County, Maryland located at 2410 Moores Plains
Boulevard, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, 20774. See ECF
No. 55 ¶¶ 5, 13. Plaintiff paid $91, 437.00 at
closing and obtained two mortgages totaling $952, 130.32 from
Southern Trust Mortgage Company, Inc. ("Southern
Trust") and Dennis Sullivanl Id. ¶ 21.
Immediately after closing and the Plaintiffs first mortgage
payment, Southern Trust transferred Plaintiffs mortgage to
Wells Fargo. ld. ¶ 27. Wells Fargo then
sold Plaintiffs loan to a Mortgage Backed Security
("MBS"). Id. ¶ 28. [n her Second
Amended Complain,, Plaintiff alleges that Wells Fargo and
Defendants named in Plaintiffs original Complaint engaged in
a predatory lending scheme specifically targeting minorities
"that would eventually strip minority buyers of their
down payments, mortgage payments and ultimately their
home." ld. ¶ 15.
September 28, 200,, Plaintiff lost her job when the company
where she was employed ceased operations. ld. ¶
29. After exhausting $300, 000.00 of her personal savings,
Plaintiff fell behind on her mortgage payments. ld.
¶ 30. As a result, Plaintiff "made Application
for Loan Modifications approximately 26 times to Defendant,
Wells Fargo" and Defendant's "grossly ignored
its responsibility to respond." ld.
¶¶ 31, 68. Plaintiff alleges she submitted at least
three completed loan modification applications in 2012, at
least two completed applications in 2013, and at least five
completed applications in 2015. Id. ¶¶ 34,
acknowledges receiving responses from Wells Fargo for two of
her loan modification applications. On February 27, 2012,
Wells Fargo sent Plaintiff a letter offering her a
"piggy back" loan modification, which the Plaintiff
rejected and argues was a ruse to cover Defendants'
practice of making predatory loans. Id. ¶ 32.
Additionally, on December 18, 2014, Plaintiff received a call
from a Wells Fargo representative who, again, informed
Plaintiff that she only qualified for a "piggy
back" loan modification and that she did not qualify for
a government backed mortgage modification. ld.
¶¶ 39-41. Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy in October
2013 and then again in March 2014. Id. ¶ 37.
Both bankruptcy claims were dismissed because Plaintiff was
not able to make the monthly payments to the bankruptcy
trustee. Id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff now alleges
damages including damaged credit, legal fees, severe
insomnia, anxiety, and sleeplessness. ld. ¶ 45
Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA")
and multiple Maryland state laws, when it failed to respond
to her loan modification applications. Id. ¶
24. On February 4, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim and Plaintiffs response to the Motion was due by
February 22, 2016. ECF No. 57. To date, Plaintiff has not
responded to the Motion?
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction that "may not
exercise jurisdiction absent a statutory basis, "
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545
U.S. 546, 552 (2005), and "have an independent
obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even when no party challenges it, " Hertz
Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010). Under the
"well-pleaded complaint" rule, the facts showing
the existence of subject matter jurisdiction "must be
affirmatively alleged in the complaint." Pinkley,
Inc. v. City of Frederick 191 F.3d 394, 399 (4th Cir.
1999) (citing McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance
Corp., 298 U.S. 178 (1936)). The Court must
"presume, therefore, that a case lies outside its
limited jurisdiction unless and until jurisdiction has been
shown to be proper"' United Slales v.
Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 274 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375,
case originated in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County and was removed to this Court on April 16, 2015 based
on federal question jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. In Count I,
Plaintiff asks the Court for injunctive relief to prevent the
sale of her home. ECF No. 55 ¶ 47. The Plaintiffs
federal question is found in Count II,
violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act as defined by
15 U.S.C. § I691(d)(1)-(2). ECF No. 55 ¶¶
59-75. The additional counts, including violation of the
Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (Count III), violation
of Maryland's Consumer Protection Act (Count IV), and
violation of Maryland Mortgage Fraud Protection Act (Count
V), arise under Maryland state law. ECF No. 57 at 21-24. The
Court can exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
Plaintiffs state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) permits a
defendant to present a motion to dismiss for failure to state
a clam 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, (2009)(citation omitted); see also Conn. Gen. Life
Ins. Co. v. Advanced Surgery Ctr. of Bethesda, LLC, No.
DKC 14-2376, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91689, at *13 (D. Md. July
IS, 20IS) ("At this stage, all well-pled allegations in
a complaint must be considered as true and all factual
allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff"). "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.
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 (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 o/Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
"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
complain,, unsupported legal allegations need not be
accepted." Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs,882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Similarly, "[L]egal
conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient
as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference
to actual events " Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co.,
2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91689 at * 13-14 (internal citations
omitted). If the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the
court to ...