United States District Court, D. Maryland
KIMBERLY M. ADKINS, Plaintiff,
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
facing foreclosure in an action filed in state court,
Plaintiff Kimberly Adkins filed suit against Defendants Bank
of New York Mellon (“BNYM”), Select Portfolio
Servicing, Inc. (“SPS”), Sandler Title &
Escrow LLC (“Sandler Title”), and David Sandler.
Compl., ECF No. 1. BNYM is the current owner of a Deed of
Trust to Adkins's property at 3404 Grayvine Lane in
Bowie, Maryland, which is the focus of the state foreclosure
proceedings. Am. Compl. 5, ECF No. 35; Deed of Trust,
Defs.' Jt. Mot. Ex. A, ECF No. 52-3; Assignment of Deed,
Defs.' Jt. Mot. Ex. B. ECF No. 52-4. SPS services the
2007 loan associated with the Deed. Am. Compl. at 5. David
Sandler of Sandler Title served as the closing agent when
Adkins purchased the property at issue and also represented
her in 2011 bankruptcy proceedings. Am. Compl. 3-5;
Bankruptcy Docket, Defs.' Jt. Mot. Ex. F, ECF No. 52-8.
According to Adkins's Amended Complaint, she
“believe[s]” that Sandler forged her signature on
a document that initiated a supposed 2010 refinancing of
which no public record exists. Am. Compl. 4; Maryland Land
Records Search, Defs.' Jt. Mot. Ex. E., ECF No. 52-7. She
also claims that the 2011 bankruptcy proceedings discharged
her obligations under the 2007 loan. Am. Compl. 5. Adkins
alleges that the Defendants have violated the Equal Credit
Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691-1691f
(Count II); the Maryland Equal Credit Opportunity Act
(MECOA), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 12-701 to -708,
and the “Consumer Debt Collection Act, ” which I
presume refers to the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act
(MCDCA), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 14-201 to -204
(Count IV). In addition, she alleges fraud and
misrepresentation (Count I) and wrongful foreclosure and
injurious falsehood (Count V) and seeks declaratory relief
move to dismiss the Amended Complaint, arguing that Adkins
fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted.
Defs.' Jt. Mot., ECF No. 52; Sandler Mot., ECF No. 53.
The Motions are fully briefed, Defs.' Jt. Mem., ECF No.
52-1; Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 54-1; Defs.' Reply,
ECF No. 55, and no hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md.). Because Adkins does not state an ECOA claim-the sole
basis for this Court to exercise jurisdiction over the case-
I will dismiss her ECOA claim with prejudice, and, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), I will decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over her state-law
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the
dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Velencia v.
Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md.
Dec. 13, 2012). This rule's purpose “is to test the
sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” Id. (quoting
Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480,
483 (4th Cir. 2006)). To that end, the Court bears in mind
the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), when considering a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim
for relief, ” as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678-79. See Velencia, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4
(discussing standard from Iqbal and
Twombly). “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.
case is in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
due to Adkins's ECOA claim, the Amended Complaint's
sole federal claim. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 4. Thus, I will
first consider whether Adkins states an ECOA claim. ECOA
prohibits discrimination in the extension of credit on the
basis of protected characteristics including race. 15 U.S.C.
§ 1691(a). A prima facie case of ECOA discrimination
includes the following elements: (1) that the plaintiff is a
member of a protected class; (2) that she “applied for
and [was] qualified for an extension of credit”; (3)
that despite her qualifications, her application for credit
was rejected; (4) that the creditor “continued to
extend credit to others of similar credit stature outside of
[the plaintiff's] protected class.” Wise v.
Vilsack, 496 F. App'x 283, 285 (4th Cir. 2012).
Nowhere in her Amended Complaint does Adkins ever allege that
she applied for credit or that she was denied credit, let
alone any facts suggesting that she was denied credit on a
discriminatory basis. As a result, she has not stated an ECOA
remaining claims are all state-law claims. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 10-14, 19-49. If Adkins stated a viable ECOA
claim, then I could exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
these claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). But when a district
court “dismisse[s] all claims over which [it] enjoys
original jurisdiction, ” it “may decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction” over remaining
state-law claims. Id. § 1367(c)(3).
“[T]rial courts enjoy wide latitude in determining
whether or not to retain jurisdiction over state claims when
all federal claims have been extinguished.”
Shanaghan v. Cahill, 58 F.3d 106, 110 (4th Cir.
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
remaining state-law claims, especially in view of the
already-pending and related foreclosure proceedings in state
court. But with an eye towards sparing the state courts some
of the confusion that has plagued the case in federal court,
I will observe that the Amended Complaint provides scant
details upon which fraud can be alleged as a standalone claim
or as an element of other claims. Much of the Amended
Complaint centers on Adkins's “belie[f]” that
David Sandler forged her signature on documents initiating a
2010 refinancing of the loan that is secured by the Deed of
Trust owned by BNYM and serviced by SPS. Am. Compl. 4. The
Amended Complaint provides no basis for this belief aside
from Sandler's “total access” to her
“personal transactions” as a result of his role
as closing agent when Adkins purchased the property subject
to potential foreclosure and his later representation of her
in bankruptcy proceedings. Am. Compl. 3, 5. In addition to a
lack of factual specificity supporting the fraud allegation,
the claim is further undermined by the fact that the Maryland
Land Records contain no evidence of a 2010 refinancing of any
of Adkins's loans. Maryland Land Records Search, Defs.'
Jt. Mot. Ex. E., ECF No. 52-7. Judging by the paucity of
facts alleged in the Amended Complaint, I suspect that Adkins
will struggle to establish a fraud claim in state court or
any state-law claim that relies on the alleged forgery as an
element of the claim.
Amended Complaint also appears to suggest that BNYM and SPS
lack the right to collect from her because her debt was
discharged in the 2011 bankruptcy proceedings. Am Compl.
¶ 24. Defendants dispute that the debt owed to BNYM was
discharged; however, they acknowledge that Adkins listed the
2007 loan on her bankruptcy petition. Defs.' Jt. Mem. 5;
see also Voluntary Pet. sched. D, at 1, In re
Adkins, No. 11-31834-TJC (Bankr. D. Md. Feb. 1, 2012),
ECF No. 1. It does appear that the United States Bankruptcy
Court for the District of Maryland granted Adkins a discharge
in 2012. Discharge of Debtor, In re Adkins, No.
11-31834-TJC (Bankr. D. Md. Feb. 1, 2012), ECF No. 26. So,
without more information, it is not clear to me on what basis
the Defendants believe that the 2007 debt was not discharged.
If Adkins elects to pursue some or all of her state-law
claims in state court, the Parties would be wise to provide a
clearer explanation for why they do or do not believe that
the 2007 loan was discharged.
for the reasons stated, it is this 18th
day of May, 2017, hereby ORDERED that:
1. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 52, 53, ARE
2. Count II (ECOA) of the Amended Complaint IS DISMISSED with