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Larson v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 13, 2018

NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC, et al. Defendants.


          Paula Xinis, United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendants Diane S. Rosenberg and Rosenberg & Associates, LLC's motion to dismiss the Complaint filed by Plaintiff Edna Marie Larson (“Larson”). ECF No. 12. Also pending is Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC, d/b/a Champion Mortgage Company of Texas' (“Nationstar”) motion to dismiss Larson's Amended Complaint. ECF No. 27. Larson has opposed both motions to dismiss. ECF Nos. 18 and 29. Also pending are Larson's motions for leave to file an Amended Complaint (to which Nationstar has filed its motion to dismiss), ECF No. 24, and for leave to file a surreply. ECF No. 33. 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, Larson's motion to file an Amended Complaint is GRANTED, the motion to file a surreply is DENIED and Defendants' motions to dismiss are GRANTED.

         I. Background[1]

         This case arises out of a reverse mortgage obtained by Larson on July 6, 2009, for the property at 3973 Wendy Lane, Silver Spring, Maryland (“the Property”). ECF No. 27-2. On May 6, 2015, the loan was assigned to Nationstar, ECF No. 27-3, the current holder of the reverse mortgage. ECF No. 2-21. On March 31, 2016, Diane S. Rosenberg and Rosenberg & Associates (collectively, “Rosenberg”), as substitute trustees, filed a foreclosure action against the Property in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. ECF No. 2-2. On May 23, 3016, Rosenberg dismissed the foreclosure case. Id. The Property was not sold, and Larson continues to live there.

         On January 19, 2018, Larson filed suit in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, asserting a variety of statutory and common law claims stemming from the prior foreclosure proceedings and requesting millions of dollars in damages. ECF No. 2. Nationstar removed the case to this Court, ECF No. 1, to which Rosenberg consented. ECF No. 10. Thereafter, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint. ECF Nos. 12, 14. Larson responded and also moved for leave to file an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 24. Nationstar then moved to dismiss the pending Amended Complaint, which Larson opposed. ECF Nos. 27 & 29. Larson also moved for leave to file a surreply. ECF No. 33.

         Despite the somewhat tangled procedural history, the substance of the initial and Amended Complaints is the same, save for Plaintiff's withdrawal of Count II, “Wrongful Future Foreclosure.See ECF 24-6 (manually redlined version of Amended Complaint). The Court will therefore grant Larson's motion to amend and treat the motions to dismiss as challenging the sufficiency of the Amended Complaint.

         II. Standard of Review

         When 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). “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 (2009).

         III. Analysis

         Nationstar argues that Larson's seventy-eight page Amended Complaint should be dismissed under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 12(b)(6) because it is “so lengthy, confusing, and rambling that it is . . . impossible to answer.” ECF 27-1 at 5. Larson proceeds pro se which requires this Court to construe her Amended Complaint liberally, “however inartfully pleaded” and hold her to a less stringent standard than that which applies to attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, at 106 (1976)). The Court declines to dismiss a pro se complaint simply because it is long and, at times, confusing. Nevertheless, the 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.”). With these principles in mind, the Court reviews Larson's claims.

         A. Wrongful Foreclosure (Counts I and V)

         Larson alleges that Rosenberg and Nationstar took steps to foreclose wrongfully on the Property, that she was not properly served with notice of the foreclosure action, and that Defendants and their agents made false representations in affidavits. Larson asserts that these actions amounted to a “wrongful fraudulent and tortious attempted foreclosure, ” (Count I) and “wrongful foreclosure violations of [several Maryland foreclosure regulations]” (Count V).

         This Court has previously determined that no such claim for “Wrongful Foreclosure” exists in Maryland. Davis v. Wilmington Fin., Inc., No. PJM 09-1505, 2010 WL 1375363, at *7 (D. Md. Mar. 26, 2010). Moreover, no foreclosure sale took place, and Plaintiff still occupies the Property. See Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claim fails as a matter of law.

         B. Predatory Loan ...

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