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Green v. BWW Law Group, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 3, 2018

ALBERT GREEN, JR., ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
BWW LAW GROUP LLC, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro Se Plaintiffs Albert Green, Jr., Ida Green, and Ephonia Green have sued Carrie M. Ward, Joseph Delozier, and the law firm that employs or employed them, BWW Law Group, LLC, alleging a single violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”), relating to a foreclosure proceeding in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County initiated against their residence at 4611 Palomino Crossing, Upper Marlboro, Maryland (the “Property”).[1]

         Several motions are pending before the Court. Defendants have filed a Second Motion to Dismiss.[2] ECF No. 18. In opposition, Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Amend and to Respond to Defendants' Opposition (ECF No. 16) and a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23). Plaintiffs have also filed several motions requesting discovery. These include: a Motion to Produce Discovery Materials (ECF No. 12) and a Motion for Overruling Objections (ECF No. 17). In response, Defendants filed a Motion to Stay Discovery (ECF No. 22) as well as a Motion to Stay Determination of Summary Judgment (ECF No. 25). Also pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion Requesting a Jury Trial. ECF No. 26.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS WITH PREJUDICE the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18) and DENIES Plaintiffs' request for leave to amend the Complaint (ECF No. 16). All other motions are MOOT.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 12, 2011, Plaintiffs entered into a mortgage loan agreement with Monarch Bank in connection with their purchase of the Property. ECF No. 3-2 at 16-34.[3] The loan agreement included a Promissory Note which was subsequently transferred to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Id. On December 2, 2013, Plaintiffs defaulted on their loan repayment obligations. Id. at 55. As a result, on September 30, 2014, BWW Law Group sent them a letter concerning the debt. ECF No. 3-4. This letter contains a debt collector warning and includes information about the lien, current creditor, and loan balance. Id. Shortly after the issuance of this letter, Carrie M. Ward, among other individuals who are not named in the present suit, was appointed as Substitute Trustee under the Deed of Trust. ECF No. 3-2 at 43-44.

         On April 9, 2015, the Substitute Trustees filed an Order to Docket Foreclosure against the Property in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. WBGLMC v. Green, No. CAEF15-08484. The Property was sold at a foreclosure sale and, on January 31, 2017, the state court entered an order ratifying the sale. ECF No. 3-5.

         On March 6, 2017, Plaintiffs sent Defendants a request to validate the debt. ECF No. 1 ¶ 9; ECF No. 1-2. On March 21, 2017, Plaintiffs contested the foreclosure sale by filing a Motion to Overturn Foreclosure for Mortgage Fraud, which the state court denied on April 14, 2017, construing the motion to be exceptions to the sale.[4] ECF No. 3-7. Plaintiffs continued to file various motions challenging the foreclosure sale, all but one of which the state court has denied. See WBGLMC v. Green, No. CAEF15-08484.

         After an unsuccessful attempt to remove the state foreclosure proceeding to this Court, Plaintiffs then filed a new Complaint here, alleging a single violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on October 30, 2017. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that they first received the Notice to Vacate on February 10, 2017, as a result of the foreclosure proceeding. ECF No. 1 ¶ 8. In response, they sent a letter requesting a validation of the debt, which Defendants failed to respond to in violation of §1692g(a) and (b). Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Instead, Plaintiffs received a Motion for Judgment to Award Possession of the Property and several other court documents. Id.

         Plaintiffs request an injunction, compensatory damages in the amount of $4.5 million, and punitive damages in the amount of $10 million. Id. at 4.

         Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint as barred by res judicata and in any event for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 18. Plaintiffs oppose the Motion and, in response, ask the Court grant summary judgment in their favor or grant them leave to amend the Complaint. ECF Nos. 16, 23.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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).

         While 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)). Accordingly, although the facts alleged in a plaintiff's complaint must be taken as ...


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