United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge
11, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Anthony Pearson filed suit,
alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures
Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et seq.,
and its implementing regulation, 12 C.F.R. § 1024, by
Defendants Select Portfolio Servicing (“SPS”) and
Specialized Loan Servicing (“SLS”), and
requesting actual damages of $21.11 and any costs of this
action. Defendants moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See ECF Nos. 7 & 9.
Plaintiff responded and moved to file an amended complaint.
ECF Nos. 13 & 14. 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,
Pearson's motion is DENIED and Defendants' motions to
dismiss are GRANTED.
case arises out of a mortgage secured by property located at
1122 Blue Wing Terrace, Upper Marlboro, Maryland (“the
Property”), presently the subject of a foreclosure case
in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. See
CDM v. Pearson, Docket No. CAEF17- 0672. Defendants
Specialized Loan Servicing (“SLS”) and Select
Portfolio Servicing (“SPS”) are mortgage
servicers who have serviced the loan secured by the mortgage
on the Property. ECF No. 2 at 3. Pearson alleges that he sent
Defendants four separate written requests for information
(“RFI”), and that Defendants' written
responses to Pearson's RFIs “failed to address any
areas of concern set forth in the RFI.” ECF No. 2 at
11, 2017, Pearson filed a Complaint against Defendants in the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland,
alleging that Defendants' responses to his RFIs violated
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
(“RESPA”), 12 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et
seq., and its implementing regulations, 12 C.F.R.
§§ 1024.1 to 1024.41 (known as “Regulation
X”). See ECF Nos. 1 & 2. On June 14, 2017,
SLS properly removed this case to the United States District
Court for the District of Maryland. ECF No. 1. On June 20,
2017, SLS moved to dismiss Pearson's Complaint under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the
alternative, enter summary judgment in its favor.
See ECF No. 7. On August 2, 2017, SPS filed its
motion to dismiss also pursuant to 12(b)(6). See ECF
Standard of Review
reviewing 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).
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), a court cannot ignore a
clear failure 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)). See also Bell v. Bank of
Am., N.A., No. RDB-13-0478, 2013 WL 6528966, at *1 (D.
Md. Dec. 11, 2013) (“Although a pro se
plaintiff is general[ly] given more leeway than a party
represented by counsel . . . a district court is not
obligated to ferret through a [c]omplaint that is so
confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise unintelligible that
its true substance, if any, is well disguised.”).
“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
Motion to Dismiss
state a claim under RESPA regarding a loan servicer's
inadequate or untimely response to a RFI, a plaintiff must
demonstrate that the defendant (1) was responsible for the
servicing of the plaintiff's loan; (2) received a valid
RFI from the plaintiff which requests information regarding a
loan and allows the servicer to identify the mortgage loan
account about which the request is made; and (3) failed to
respond adequately or within thirty days. The plaintiff must
also show that he is entitled to actual or statutory damages.
See 12 C.F.R. § 1024.36; accord Nash v. PNC
Bank, N.A., No. TDC-16-2910, 2017 WL 142317 at *6 (D.
Md. Apr. 20, 2017).
Complaint centers on Defendants' responses to several
letters that he describes as “RFIs.” Pearson
asserts that Defendants' responses did not “address
any area of concern set forth in the RFI” or merely
promised to respond more substantively in the future.
See 12 C.F.R. § 1024.36(d)(2); ECF No. 2 at
¶¶ 13 & 14. Pearson attaches two letters to his
Complaint, which he characterizes as his requests for
information. See ECF No. 2. One letter requests
information from SPS regarding the “Holder in Due
Course” of the Note, and demands production of the
“UNALTERED, ORIGINAL WET INK SIGNATURE, PROMISSORY
NOTE.” ECF No. 2-5. A second letter, titled as a
Qualified Written Request (“QWR”), is also
addressed to SPS and seeks information concerning loan
servicing. In that letter, Pearson disputes “the
identity of a true secured lender/creditor” and
“the existence of debt.” ECF No. 2-3. Pearson
also provides two identical letters from SPS which inform
Pearson that SPS received his correspondence dated October 3,
2016 and “expect[s] to provide a response to you within
the next fifteen days.” See ECF Nos. 2-1 &
on the Complaint and the attachments, Pearson does not allege
any facts specific to SLS. Indeed, all
correspondence is between Pearson and SPS.
See ECF No. 7; see also ECF Nos. 2-1, 2-2,
2-3, 2-4 & 2-5. Because Pearson's Complaint is devoid
of meaningful reference to SLS, no facts support a RESPA
violation as to this defendant. See Schaefgen v.
O'Sullivan, No. PWG-14-2992, 2015 WL 4572238 (D. Md.
July 28, 2015). The Complaint as to SLS therefore must be
Defendant SPS, Pearson alleges generally that he sent four
letters to SPS regarding the servicing of his loan, but
attaches only two letters to the Complaint. See ECF
Nos. 2 at ¶ 11, 2-3, 2-5. One of the attached letters is
unsigned and not notarized. Its contents are best described
as a “show me the note” demand that challenges
the mortgagor's ability to enforce the note and requests
production of the original promissory note and security
instrument. See ECF No. 2-5. Correspondence of this
kind is not regulated by RESPA because it does not relate to
the servicing of the loan. Compare ECF No. 2-5
with § 1024.36; see, e.g. Bullock v. Ocwen
Loan Servicing, LLC, No. PJM-14-3836, 2015 WL 5008883,
at *10 (D. Md. Aug. 20, ...