United States District Court, D. Maryland
PATRICK J. HUGHES Plaintiff,
J.P. MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., et al. Defendants.
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Patrick J. Hughes (“Hughes” or
“Plaintiff”) brings this action against J.P.
Morgan Chase Bank (“Chase”), Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., and DOES I through Xalleging a breach of the parties'
Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) and,
relatedly, asserting a series of contract-based defenses to
avoid enforcement of the Agreement. (Complaint, ECF No. 2.)
Originally filed as two separate actions (RDB-16-806 and
RDB-16-2311), the cases were consolidated and the RDB-16-806
case was dismissed by Memorandum Order dated November 2,
2016. (ECF No. 13.)
pending before this Court are two Motions to Dismiss. (ECF
Nos. 5, 11).The parties' submissions have been
reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow,
defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED, and this case
is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
parties' dealings may be traced to a mortgage for an
investment property located in Baltimore between plaintiff
and defendants' predecessor-in-interest, Washington
Mutual Bank, F.A. (ECF No. 11-1 at 2.) After plaintiff
defaulted on the loan, Chase began foreclosure proceedings.
(Id.) During the course of these proceedings,
plaintiff filed several lawsuits against defendants,
including in this Court, in the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the Circuit Court of
Fairfax County, Virginia, and in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City. (Id.)
parties subsequently entered into a Settlement Agreement
which was intended to serve as a full and final settlement of
all claims between the parties. (ECF No. 20.)Pursuant to this
Agreement, Chase would provide monetary consideration to Mr.
Hughes in exchange for his release of all claims against them
in the several lawsuits he had filed. (Id. at ¶
5.) Mr. Hughes also agreed to permit the Substitute Trustee
in the foreclosure action to file all pleadings necessary to
complete the foreclosure sale of the property subject to the
mortgage. (Id. at ¶ 4.2.) To that end, Mr.
Hughes agreed that he “will not move to cancel,
postpone or otherwise object to the judicial foreclosure
sale.” (Id.) The Settlement Agreement further
provides that Chase “may be required to issue a Form
1099 or other tax form reporting the consideration flowing to
[Mr. Hughes] under this [agreement] to the Internal Revenue
Service and/or other taxing authority.” (Id.
at ¶ 17.)
the plain language of the Settlement Agreement,
Hughes alleges in the RDB-16-806 case that Chase breached
that contract by notifying him that they would be issuing him
an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099-C (“Form
1099-C”). (RDB-16-806, ECF No. 1 at ¶ 6.) In
the RDB-16-2311 case, by contrast, Mr. Hughes asserts several
contract-based defenses in order to prevent defendants from
issuing him a Form 1099-C pursuant to the Settlement
Agreement. (RDB-16-2311, ECF No. 2.)
filed Motions to Dismiss in both cases prior to this
Court's Order consolidating cases. (ECF Nos. 5, 14.)
These matters are ripe for the Court's
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a plaintiff is
required to plead “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
The purpose of this requirement is to “to give the
defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation and internal
quotations omitted). Consequently, “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Id. (citation omitted). Similarly,
“an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation” is insufficient. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).
Rather, to withstand 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,
” meaning the court could draw “the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the conduct
alleged.” Id. (internal quotations and
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
Plaintiff's Complaint in the RDB-16-806 Case
Complaint in the RDB-16-806 case alleges that Chase breached
the parties' Settlement Agreement when it notified Mr.
Hughes that Chase would be issuing him an IRS Form 1099.
(RDB-16-806, ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 6-7.) Plaintiff seeks
a preliminary injunction to bar the issuance of the Form
1099. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.)
raises two primary arguments in support of its Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 14). First, Chase argues that plaintiff
seeks only an advisory opinion, in violation of Article III
of the U.S. Constitution. (Id. at 1). Second, Chase
argues that the Complaint fails to state a plausible claim
for relief in light of the plain language of the Settlement
Failure to State a Claim
argues that the Complaint fails to state a plausible claim
for breach of contract based on the plain language of the
Settlement Agreement, which expressly authorizes Chase to
issue tax reporting forms to the Internal Revenue Service
(“IRS”). (ECF No. 14 at 7-9.)
opposition, plaintiff argues that Chase has no right to file
a Form 1099-C because the Settlement Agreement relieved
plaintiff of all claims made by Chase. (ECF No. 15 at 3.)
Settlement Agreement provides in pertinent part:
“17. Tax Consequences. Borrower acknowledges
and agrees that he is solely responsible for the payment of
any and all federal, state, city or local taxes which might
be due and owing as a result of any term contained in this
Agreement. The Parties acknowledge that no tax advice has
been offered or given by either party, their attorneys,
agents, or any other representatives, in the course of these
negotiations, and each party is relying upon the advice of
its own tax consultant with regard to any tax consequences
that may arise as a result of the execution of this
Agreement. Borrower acknowledges that Borrower may be
required by Chase to submit a Form W-9 and that Chase may be
required to issue a Form 1099 or other tax form reporting the
consideration flowing to the Borrower under this to the
Internal Revenue Service and/or other taxing
(ECF No. 20 at ¶ 17) (emphasis added).
Settlement Agreement plainly and unambiguously authorizes
Chase to issue a Form 1099-C and any other tax reporting
documents required by law. “[F]iling a Form 1099-C is a
creditor's required means of satisfying a reporting
obligation to the IRS.” F.D.I.C. v. Cashion,
720 F.3d 169, 179 (4th Cir. 2013). Thus, plaintiff's
allegation that Chase's intended reporting breaches their
Settlement Agreement is without merit. Accordingly,
plaintiff's Complaint in the RDB-16-806 case fails to
state a plausible claim for relief and must be DISMISSED.
Plaintiff's Complaint in ...