United States District Court, D. Maryland
KYUNG H. KANG, et al., Plaintiffs,
CHARLES S. CHAS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Xinis United States District Judge.
case arises from Defendants' sale of a dry cleaning
facility to Plaintiffs on or about July 15, 2006.
See ECF No. 2. Plaintiffs contend that they have
overpaid for the property and bring common law claims of
unjust enrichment and fraud. Id. Plaintiffs request
compensatory and punitive damages of $170, 307.00.
Id. at ¶15. Now pending before the Court is
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
Claim, ECF No. 13. See ECF No. 13. For the following reasons,
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
2006, KS Kang, Inc., a Maryland corporation, and Kyun Han
Kang (“Plaintiffs”) purchased a property located
at 8809 Woodyard Road, Clinton, Maryland 20735 from Charles
S. Chas and In Sook Chas (“Defendants”) for $345,
000.00. ECF No. 2 at ¶ 1. The terms of the agreement
allowed Plaintiffs to pay Defendants monthly for the property
over five years, with 8% annual interest. Id. at
¶ 3. Plaintiffs claim that they continued to make
payments through July 27, 2016 because they had not received
written verification of the monthly payments made to
Defendants or that the note was satisfied, resulting in
overpayment on the debt of $120, 307. Id. at
¶¶ 7 & 12. Plaintiffs now bring claims against
Defendants for unjust enrichment and fraud.
Standard of Review
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) 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).
“A court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to
begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are not
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 665
when a plaintiff alleges fraud or “the gravamen of the
claim is fraud even though the theory supporting the claim is
not technically termed fraud, ” Rule 9(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that such claims be
pleaded with particularity. Haley v. Corcoran, 659
F.Supp.2d 714, 721 (D. Md. 2009) (quoting Adams v. NVR
Homes, Inc., 193 F.R.D. 243, 250 (D. Md. 2000);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b)). To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff
“must, at a minimum, describe the time, place, and
contents of the false representations, as well as the
identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what
he obtained thereby.” United States ex
rel. Wilson v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 525 F.3d
370, 379 (4th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). “These facts are often referred to
as the ‘who, what, when, where, and how' of the
alleged fraud.” Id. (quoting United States
ex rel. Willard v. Humana Health Plan of Tex.
Inc., 336 F.3d 375, 384 (5th Cir. 2003)). This
requirement affords the defendants notice of the basis for
the plaintiff's claim, safeguards against frivolous
suits, and minimizes the risk of unwarranted damage to the
defendant's reputation. Harrison v. Westinghouse
Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999)
(citation omitted). Fraud allegations that fail to comply
with Rule 9(b) must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
Id. at 783 n.5.
Unjust Enrichment Claims
survive dismissal, Plaintiffs must plausibly allege that (1)
they conferred a benefit on the Defendants; (2) Defendants
knew of or appreciated the benefit; and (3) Defendants'
acceptance or retention of the benefit under the
circumstances was inequitable absent payment of for the value
of the benefit. See, e.g., Hill v. Cross Country
Settlements, LLC, 402 Md. 281, 295 (2007). Unjust
enrichment claims are subject to a three year statute of
limitations. See, e.g., Jason v. Nat'l Loan
Recoveries, LLC, 227 Md.App. 516, 527-29 (2016).
from a bare-bones assertion that Plaintiffs “grossly
overpaid” Defendants for the property at an unspecified
period of time, Plaintiffs do not plead any details
as to the events giving rise to this claim. Id. at
¶¶ 7 & 12. In lieu of averring facts to support
their claim, Plaintiffs cite - without explanation - a series
of forms allegedly related to the dry cleaner sale in July
2006 and a handwritten note that purports to show a payment
in July 2006 to a Myung Hee Kang, who is not a named
Defendant in this action. See ECF No. 2.
liberally construing the claimed “overpayment” as
a “benefit” conferred on Defendants, Plaintiffs
do not plausibly allege that Defendants knew of or
appreciated the benefit. Nor do Plaintiffs state facts
showing that under the circumstances, Defendants'
acceptance or retention of the benefit was inequitable.
See Hill, 402 Md. at 295. Plaintiffs' claim is
little more than vague, conclusory allegations that do not
assert a particularized injury by Defendants. See
ECF No. 2. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' unjust enrichment
claim must be dismissed.
also generally claim fraud arising from false representations
by the Defendant in an unspecified judicial proceeding, ECF
No. 2 at ¶ 14, but the Complaint falls far short of the
heightened pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 9(b). Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b); see also Phillips v.
Brock & Scott, PLLC, Case No. PX-16-3899, 2017 WL
3226866 at *2 (D. Md. Jul. 28, 2017); Maryland v.
Territory of Maryland, Case No. PX-16-3426, 2017 WL
1807157 at *5 (May 5, 2017). Plaintiffs merely assert that
“Defendants' violation of Maryland Rule
3-346(j)(2) was a willful violation for the purpose of
utilizing the judicial system to defraud the Plaintiff and
obtain far more money than he was entitled to under the
original agreement and the subsequent judgment.” ECF
No. 2. at ¶ 14. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Further, to the
extent that Plaintiffs attempt to challenge the sanctity of a
separate judicial proceeding, which this Court infers is the
judgment entered for Defendants against Plaintiffs by the
Circuit Court for Montgomery County, ...