United States District Court, D. Maryland
LARAY J. BENTON et al., Plaintiffs,
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION et al., Defendants.
Xinis United States District Judge
case arises out of the alleged foreclosure of two properties
owned by LaRay and Georgia Benton (“Plaintiffs”)
in Newport News, Virginia and Prince George's County,
Maryland. See Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 6. On June 8,
2015, Plaintiffs, appearing pro se, filed a
complaint in the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia against eleven defendants: Bank of
America Corporation; Bank of America, N.A.; PRLAP, Inc.; ARLP
Trust 4; Keith Yacko; Brock & Scott, PLLC; Christiana
Trust; Wilmington Savings Fund Society, F.S.B.; Ocwen
Financial Corporation; Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC; and Seterus
Inc. (the “Defendants”). The complaint is
eighty-one pages long, asserts thirty-five separate counts,
and has 384 pages of exhibits. Complaint, ECF No. 1. At base,
Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants improperly foreclosed
upon their properties using deceit, misrepresentation, fraud,
and other forms of misconduct in violation state and federal
laws. See, e.g., id. at 7-8, 17-18.
Defendants filed motions to dismiss while the case was
pending in the District of Columbia. See ECF Nos. 2,
4, 17, and 21. On February 9, 2016, the D.C. district court
granted these motions in part, holding that the case was
filed in the wrong venue in violation of Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(3), and ordered the case to be transferred to this
Court. See Memorandum Opinion and Order, ECF Nos. 45
and 46. An exhaustive recount of the facts is unnecessary,
but the history of the case since it was transferred to this
Court bears review.
April 4, 2016, this Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for
leave to amend their original complaint on or before May 4,
2016. See ECF No. 59. The Court reminded Plaintiffs
that the amended complaint must comply with D. Md. Local Rule
103.6, and noted that in light of the Court granting leave to
amend, any amended claims that fail to state a plausible
claim for relief will be dismissed with prejudice.
Id. On April 28, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to
File Electronically and Motion for Extension of Time. ECF No.
60. The Court granted the motion in part, extending
Plaintiffs' time to file to June 13, 2016. ECF No. 61.
the Court's instructions, Laray Benton waited until
June 16, 2016 to file his amended complaint. The
amended complaint is 102 pages long and lacks numbered
paragraphs. See Amended Complaint, ECF No. 64.
Moreover, Mr. Benton failed to attach a redlined copy of the
amended complaint in violation of Local Rule
103.6. Although categorized as an amended
complaint, Mr. Benton also states that it serves as a motion
for summary judgment and a response to the Defendants'
previous motions to dismiss the original complaint that had
been filed in D.C. District Court. See ECF No. 64 at
Court held a conference call with the parties on July 13,
2016 to address Bank of America's intention to file a
motion to strike the amended complaint. For the reasons
discussed during that conference call, the Court ordered the
Defendants by August 8, 2016 to file any motions regarding
Mr. Benton's alleged failure to comply with the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and/or this Court's Local Rules.
See ECF No. 69. Mr. Benton was ordered to respond to
any motion filed by August 29, 2016, and Defendants'
replies were due by September 15, 2016. Id.
August 8, 2016, Defendants Bank of America, N.A., Bank of
America Corporation, and PRLAP, Inc. filed a motion to strike
and/or motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint in
accord with the Court's scheduling order at ECF No. 69.
See ECF No. 72. On the same day, Defendants Ocwen
Loan Servicing, LLC, Ocwen Financial Corporation, Wilmington
Trust (as Trustee of ARLP Securitization Trust, Series
2014-2), Wilmington Savings Fund Society, Christiana Trust,
and ARLP Trust 4 filed a similar motion. ECF No. 73.
their motions, the Defendants argue that the amended
complaint should be stricken because Mr. Benton failed to
comply with Local Rule 103.6 after the Court explicitly
instructed him to do so. ECF No. 72-1 at 6-7; ECF No. 73-1 at
3-5. In the alternative, the Defendant's argue that the
amended complaint is deficient under Rules 8(a), 12(b)(6),
and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 72-1
at 7-9; ECF No. 73-1 at 4-5. Rule 8(a) requires a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleading is entitled to relief, ” while Rule 10
outlines the form the pleadings must take. Mr. Benton's
amended complaint is 102 pages long, does not contain
numbered paragraphs, does not clearly label the causes of
action, and references the eleven defendants as a collective
group. Clearly, the amended complaint does not comply with
even if the amended complaint conformed to the rules, the
Defendants argue the case should be dismissed pursuant to the
Younger doctrine because a related state court action is
still pending. Defendants alternatively argue that the
amended complaint, as pleaded, is so unclear that they can
neither frame an adequate answer nor be confident that their
response would sufficiently address each allegation.
September 14, 2016, approximately two weeks after the
deadline for Mr. Benton's response, he sought an
extension of time, claiming travel delays prevented timely
filing. See ECF No. 74. He also informed the Court
that he had secured legal counsel to represent him going
forward. Id. The Court granted Mr. Benton's
motion, and he was ordered to file his response on or before
October 24, 2016. See ECF No. 75. The letter order
also informed Mr. Benton that “[n]o further
continuances absent extraordinary circumstances will be
now February 14, 2017 and Mr. Benton has failed respond to
Defendants' motions to dismiss. See Md. Local
Rule 105.2(a); Fed.R.Civ.P. 6. As a result, when a plaintiff
fails to oppose a motion to dismiss, a district court is
“entitled, as authorized, to rule on the . . . motion
and dismiss [the] suit on the uncontroverted bases
asserted” in the motion. Pueschel v. United
States, 369 F.3d 345, 354 (4th Cir. 2004); see also
Ferdinand-Davenport v. Children's Guild, 742
F.Supp.2d 772, 777 (D. Md. 2010) (“By her failure to
respond to [defendant's] argument” in a motion to
dismiss, “the plaintiff abandons [her] claim.”);
Mentch v. Eastern Sav. Bank, FSB, 949 F.Supp. 1236,
1247 (D. Md. 1997) (holding that failure to address
defendant's arguments for summary judgment in opposition
brief constituted abandonment of claim); White v. Wal
Mart Stores, Inc., No. ELH-13-00031, 2014 WL 1369609, at
*2 (D. Md. Apr. 4, 2014) (dismissing pro se
plaintiff's case after he failed to oppose
defendant's motion to dismiss). Moreover, a district
court has “the inherent authority . . . to dismiss a
lawsuit sua sponte for failure to prosecute.”
United States v. Moussaoui, 483 F.3d 220, 236 (4th
Cir. 2007); see Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S.
626, 629 (1962).
sure, a plaintiff's failure to oppose a motion to dismiss
is no guarantee of victory for the Defendants where the
motion itself is meritless. United States v.
Sasscer, No. Y-97- 3026, 2000 WL 1479154, at *2 n.6 (D.
Md. Aug. 25, 2000). This is not the case here. Defendants
persuasively argue that the mortgage in question is in
default and foreclosure proceedings are ongoing in the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County. See
72-1 at 3-4. In light of Mr. Benton's failure to oppose
the motions, the Court will assume that Mr. Benton concedes
that his amended complaint is deficient for the reasons
stated by the Defendants.
the Court notes that Mr. Benton has failed to comply with
numerous orders, local rules, and federal rules of civil
procedure, despite the Court's generous guidance. See
Coulibaly v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. DKC
10-3517, 2011 WL 3476994, at *24 (D. Md. Aug. 8, 2011)
(explaining that even pro se litigants must comply
with a court's orders and the local rules). Therefore,
Mr. Benton's amended complaint is dismissed. This
dismissal will be with prejudice based on the parties'
previous agreement, discussed supra.
amended complaint is also dismissed to the extent that Mr.
Benton intended it to serve as a response to the
Defendants' previous motions to dismiss presented to the
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, at ECF Nos.
2, 4, 17, and 21. That court already granted Defendants'
motions in part by transferring this case here, ...