United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
Memorandum Opinion addresses the pending Motions to Dismiss
filed by Defendants Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc. (ACAI) and
Sara Tussey, ECF No. 7, and Carrie M. Ward, Howard N.
Bierman, Jacob Geesing, Pratima Lele, Joshua Coleman, Richard
R. Goldsmith, Jr., Ludeen McCartney-Green, Jason Kutcher,
Elizabeth C. Jones, John E. Discoll, David K. McCloud, and
Nicholas Derdock (collectively “Substitute
Trustees”); Christina Williamson and Christopher
Haresign (collectively “BWW Law”), ECF No. 10.
The issues are fully briefed, and the Court now rules
pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no hearing is necessary.
For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' motions are
GRANTED and the Court shall DISMISS this case with prejudice.
the ambiguity of Plaintiffs' operative Complaint, this
factual background is based on the Amended Complaint and
supplemented by the attachments to Plaintiffs' original
complaint,  as well as the public record, which
includes cases in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County,
Maryland, and this Court.
Amended Complaint centers on the foreclosure of real property
located at 10406 Damascus Park Lane, Damascus, Maryland 20872
(the “Property”). See ECF Nos. 1-3, 1-4.
Plaintiffs executed a Deed of Trust and Note, secured by the
Property, on December 20, 2006. ECF No. 10-3. Plaintiffs do
not challenge the validity of the Deed of Trust and Note.
Plaintiffs' default on the Note in 2010, BWW Law group,
LLC (“BWW Law”) - then known as Bierman, Geesing,
Ward & Wood, LLC - was retained to foreclose on the
Property. On June 8, 2010, BWW Law, acting as substitute
trustees, initiated a foreclosure action against the Property
in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in
Jacob Geesing, v. Pierre Hicks, et al, Case No.
333446-V (2011). Plaintiffs removed this case to this Court,
but it was remanded, see Jacob Geesing, v. Tanya Hicks,
et al, No. PJM 10-1731 (D. Md. Jan. 18, 2011). The
Montgomery County Circuit Court then dismissed the action
without prejudice. Docket, Jacob Geesing, v. Pierre
Hicks, et al, Case No. 333446-V (2011).
November 17, 2015, BWW Law initiated a new foreclosure action
against the Property in the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County, Maryland. Carrie M. Ward, et al, v. Pierre Hicks,
et al, Case No. 411672-V (2016) (the “State
Foreclosure Action”). Plaintiffs' challenges to the
foreclosure were rejected by the Circuit Court, and a public
foreclosure auction of the Property was effectuated on April
16, 2016 by Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc.
(“ACAI”). ECF No. 4 at ¶ 9.
20, 2016, Plaintiffs attempted to remove the State
Foreclosure Action to this Court based on Federal Debt
Consumer Protection Act (FDCPA) defensive counterclaims, but
the case was remanded to Montgomery Circuit Court on August
1, 2016. BBW Law Group, LLC, et al, v. Pierre Hicks et
al, No. DKC 16-2218, 2016 WL 4078019 (D. Md. Aug. 1,
2016). Soon thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in this
Court before the Honorable Paul W. Grimm. See Pierre
Hicks v. BWW Law Group et al, PWG-16-2859, 2016 WL
5957556 (Oct. 13, 2016). The Complaint in the prior federal
action closely mirrors the Amended Complaint here. In both,
Plaintiffs allege nearly identical claims against similar
September 29, 2016, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County
entered judgment in the State Foreclosure Action awarding
possession of the property to Trustees. Ward v. Tanya
Hicks et al, Case No. 411672V (2016). On October 3,
2016, Plaintiffs moved for injunctive relief before Judge
Grimm, the claimed basis for which related to substantially
similar FDCPA claims that the Plaintiffs now bring in the
Amended Complaint. Id. Hicks et al, 2016 WL 5957556.
On October 13, 2016, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion
because Plaintiffs could not demonstrate on the FDCPA claims
likelihood of success on the merits and the requested relief
would violate the Anti-Injunction Act. Id. (internal
citation omitted). Plaintiffs ultimately withdrew the
Complaint before Judge Grimm prior to his reaching the merits
of the case. See Docket, Hicks et al, 2016
WL 5957556. Plaintiffs then noted an appeal of the State
Foreclosure Action in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals,
which the court dismissed on January 9, 2017 because
Plaintiffs failed to brief the issues. See Hicks v.
Carrie M. Ward et al, No. 1502 (2017).
January 30, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint with this
Court alleging violations of the FDCPA as to Defendants.
See ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs filed an Amended
Complaint, ECF No. 4, on March 6, 2017, adding Defendants
Carrie M. Ward, Howard N. Bierman, Jacob Geesing, Pratima
Lele, Joshua Coleman, Richard R. Goldsmith, Jr., Ludeen
McCartney-Green, Jason Kutcher, Elizabeth C. Jones, John E.
Discoll, David K. McCloud, and Nicholas Derdock (collectively
“Substitute Trustees”); Christina Williamson and
Christopher Haresign (collectively “BWW Law”);
Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc. (“ACAI”) and its
counsel, Sara Tussey; Montgomery County Circuit Court judges
Mary Beth McCormick, Karla Natasha Smith, Richard E. Jordan,
Keith J. Rosa, John W. Debelius III, and Robert A. Greenberg;
the Clerk of the Montgomery County Court, Barbara H.
Meiklejohn; and Darren M. Popkin, Montgomery County Sherriff.
ECF No. 4. The Amended Complaint brings various FDCPA claims
and requests monetary damages and for the Court to vacate the
judgment in the State Foreclosure Action.
March 27, 2017, ACAI, Sara Tssey, Substitute Trustees, and
BWW Law Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint in
its entirety. ECF Nos. 7, 10. Plaintiffs responded on April
13, 2017, to which Substitute Trustees and BWW Law replied on
April 27, 2017. On May 22, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an
additional response and proposed order.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded
allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
“However, conclusory statements or a ‘formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
[suffice].' ” EEOC v. Performance Food Grp.,
Inc., 16 F.Supp.3d 584, 588 (D. Md. 2014) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above a
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“ ‘[N]aked assertions of wrongdoing necessitate
some ‘factual enhancement' within the complaint to
cross ‘the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief.' ” Francis v.
Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
pro se pleadings are construed liberally to allow for the
development of a potentially meritorious case. Hughes v.
Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980), the Court must not ignore a
clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts setting forth
a cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (“The
‘special judicial solicitude' with which a district
court should view such pro se complaints does not transform
the court into an advocate. Only those questions which are
squarely presented to a court may properly be
addressed.” (internal citation omitted)). “A
court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to ...