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Johnson v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 15, 2018

BETTY JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., et al., Defendants.

          PAULA XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court in this property loan action is the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Bank of America, N.A., and Brian Moynihan. (ECF No. 7.) The matter is fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. Upon consideration of the parties' arguments, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is the fourth case Plaintiff Betty Johnson (“Johnson”) has initiated against Defendant Bank of America, N.A. (“BANA”) arising from the same loan and the same property. ECF No. 7-1 at 1. The facts and circumstances surrounding that loan and property need not be repeated here, as they were fully set out by United States District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Johnson v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 12-3808, 2013 WL 3989104, at *1 (D. Md. Aug. 1, 2013).

         The present case began on October 12, 2017, when Johnson filed suit against BANA and BANA CEO Brian Moynihan (collectively, “Defendants”), which reads in full:

“I Betty J. Johnson am filing this Complaint against Bank of America N/A for overcharging my loan; which was a [sic] equity line of credit. The payments were 531.23 a month on a $7, 500.00 loan. I am attaching the receipts of these transactions. The interest rate was high for me because iam [sic] a black women [sic] and iam [sic] elderly. To resolve this matter of the overcharged payments, the chief judge of the Orphans Court for Prince Georges County issued a subpoena in the estate of Clarence E. Johnson to Bank of America Brian Moynihan CEO, to show cause account, on December 10, 2015 at 9:30. I Betty J. Johnson appeared at the hearing with my four adult children. We waited for two hours after the scheduled hearing time. Know [sic] one from Bank of America appeared to testify. For these reason I Betty J. Johnson am filing in Civil Court a $126, 000, 000, 000.00 lawsuit for pain suffering.”

ECF No. 1 at 1-3.

         Johnson has filed three prior lawsuits related to this loan. On September 29, 2009, Johnson filed her first suit against BANA in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, naming BANA's then-CEO Kenneth Lewis and BANA's foreclosure attorney Allen Feigelson as defendants. ECF No. 7-1 at 3; ECF No. 7-8. The case was dismissed on December 22, 2009. See ECF No. 7-8 at 4.

         On March 22, 2010, Johnson filed her second suit, this time in Prince George's County Circuit Court, naming BANA, Feigelson, and BANA employee Michael Robles as defendants. ECF No. 7-1 at 4, ECF No. 7-9. The case, following removal to this Court and subsequent remand, was dismissed with prejudice. See ECF No. 7-9 at 3-4.

         Then, on December 28, 2012, Johnson filed her third lawsuit against BANA, this time before Judge Messitte, naming BANA and BANA employees Lashaun Holland and April Connolly as defendants. ECF No. 7-1 at 5-6, ECF No. 7-14. The case was dismissed with prejudice on both res judicata and statute of limitations grounds. Johnson, 2013 WL 3989104, at *2, *3; see ECF No. 7-1 at 6.

         Summonses in this case were issued on February 1, 2018. See ECF No. 6. On February 26, 2018, Defendants filed their timely motion to dismiss, arguing that Johnson's claims are barred under the doctrine of res judicata; the Complaint failed to state a claim sufficient to satisfy Rules 8(a) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and that the claims fall outside the applicable statutes of limitations. See ECF No. 7-1 at 1. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendants' motion.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court construes the Complaint liberally to ensure that potentially meritorious claims survive challenge. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). That said, the Court cannot ignore a pro se plaintiff's 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.”). A court, when reviewing pro se complaints, must not abdicate its “legitimate advisory role” to become an “advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (1985).

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the Complaint includes facts sufficient to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). A plaintiff must plead facts to support each element of the claim to satisfy the standard. See McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Dep't of Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th Cir. 2015). In so assessing, the Court takes as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and makes all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem. Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. ...


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