United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff Brenda Rufus has sued Seneca Mortgage
Servicing, LLC (Seneca), U.S. Bank National Association (U.S.
Bank), Michael Radziewicz, and Gerald Dupree (collectively,
Defendants). In her original Complaint and Request for
Injunction (ECF No. 1), Rufus seemingly alleged that her
right to due process and other constitutional rights were
violated in relation to her interest in real property at
10502 Cedarwood Lane, Fort Washington, Maryland 20744 (the
Property). Seneca filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
(ECF No. 10), then Rufus filed an Amended Complaint and
Request for Injunction (ECF No. 15), nearly identical to the
original, save one puzzling additional allegation and an
increase in the amount of money damages sought. Seneca
subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (ECF
No. 16) to which Rufus responded on June 7, 2017.
following reasons, Seneca's Motion to Dismiss Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 16) is GRANTED IN PART
and DENIED IN PART.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
originally filed suit on February 6, 2017. Compl., ECF No. 1.
Her Complaint and Request for Injunction (original Complaint)
alleged diversity of citizenship based on the fact that
Seneca was citizen of New York and that the amount of in
controversy was $500, 000. Id. at 3-4. She stated
that the events giving rise to her claim occurred
“within the past few years, following the crises and
debacles stemming from the Mortgage Meltdown disaster circa
2008.” Id. at 4. She claimed that Defendants
violated her right to due process and other constitutional
rights by implementing improper mortgage company procedures.
Id. These improper procedures included
“servicing through an independent broker / realtor, and
. . . improper noticing for mortgage note and deed activities
([i].e., divergent paths for both.” Id. at 5.
According to Rufus, this constituted fraud, negligence, and
misrepresentation. Id. She sought an injunction
cancelling Defendants' claims to any deed in the
Property. She also suggested that she faced irreparable
injury because Defendants' have claimed an estate or
interest in the Property adverse to her own interest without
valid right, title, interest, or deed. Id. at 5.
of Process receipts were filed with respect to Michael
Radziewicz (served by restricted delivery, certified mail on
March 27, 2017), Seneca (served by restricted delivery,
certified mail on March 29, 2017), and U.S. Bank (served by
restricted delivery, certified mail on April 3, 2017). ECF
No. 12. A summons was returned unexecuted as to Gerald
Dupree. ECF No. 13.
April 19, 2017, Seneca filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure
to State a Claim and for Lack of Jurisdiction. ECF No. 10. On
May 5, 2017, Rufus filed an Amended Complaint and Request for
Injunction (Amended Complaint). ECF No. 15. The Amended
Complaint is nearly identical to the original, but
“escalated” the amount in controversy to $1, 400,
000 and added the following allegation: “Causes(s) of
action exist from divergent paths taken by both the mortgage
note and the deed of trust; E.g., A cloud on all title
activity exists due to no definitive claimant of ownership of
the note(s), due to divergent paths taken by both the
mortgage note and by the deed of trust.” Id.
at 5. On May 16, 2017, Seneca filed a Motion to Dismiss
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 16), in which it contends that the
Amended Complaint should be dismissed because Rufus has not
pleaded facts sufficient to support a cause of action, has
not pleaded fraud and misrepresentation with particularity,
and has not pleaded facts sufficient to establish that the
Court has subject-matter jurisdiction. See generally
Id. Rufus responded on June 7, 2017, and Seneca replied
on June 12, 2017.
STANDARDS OF LAW
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) prescribes “liberal
pleading standards, ” requiring only that a plaintiff
submit a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that [he or she] is entitled to relief.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007)
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). To survive a motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a plaintiff
must plead facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007). But this standard
requires “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although a court will
accept factual allegations as true, “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Id. Indeed, the court need not accept legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations or
“unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments.” E. Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D.
Associates Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir.
2000). In the end, the complaint must contain factual
allegations sufficient to apprise a defendant of “what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal
quotations and citations omitted).
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
(1986)). Accordingly, although the facts alleged in
plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true, bare
conclusory statements “are not entitled to the
assumption of truth.” Aziz v. Alcolac,
Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 391 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679)) (internal quotation marks
complaint which “fails to articulate claims with
sufficient clarity to allow the defendant to frame a
responsive pleading . . . or [one in which] it is virtually
impossible to know which allegations of fact are intended to
support which claims for relief” constitutes a
“shotgun pleading.” SunTrust Mortgage, Inc.
v. First Residential Mortgage Servs. Corp., No.
3:12CV162, 2012 WL 7062086, at *7 (E.D. Va. Sept. 11, 2012),
report and recommendation adopted, No. 3:12CV162,
2013 WL 505828 (E.D. Va. Feb. 8, 2013). Rule 8(a)(2)
“prohibit[s]” “[p]leadings of this
nature.” Lampkin-Asam v. Volusia Cty. Sch.
Bd., 261 F. App'x 274, 277 (11th Cir. 2008). Not
only do pleadings of this sort fail to apprise the opposing
party of the particular claims against it (and the potential
extent of its liability), see Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555; they also “water down the rights of parties to
have valid claims litigated efficiently” and waste
scarce judicial resources, see Byrne v. Nezhat, 261
F.3d 1075, 1130-31 (11th Cir. 2001), abrogated on other
grounds by Douglas Asphalt Co. v. QORE, Inc., 657 F.3d
1146 (11th Cir. 2011).
Amended Complaint fails to identify a statutory basis for her
suit. She simply alleges that Defendants violated her right
to due process and constitutional rights, citing their
alleged fraud, negligence, and misrepresentation. She
suggests that Defendants implemented improper mortgage
noticing procedures and inappropriately handled the relevant
mortgage note and deed of trust. The crux of her claims seems
to relate to Defendants' allegedly wrongful claim of
interest in the Property despite their lack of legal right,
title or interest. However, Rufus alleges no facts suggesting
that Defendants have actually pursued such a claim or
attempted to enforce such a claim.
Amended Complaint is, in the Court's view, almost
entirely incomprehensible, consisting of scatter shot,
conclusory, and formless allegations without appropriate
specific factual ...