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Taccino v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 29, 2019

CAROL J. TACCINO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR CO., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on twelve motions: (1) Defendant OneMain Financial Group, LLC's (“OneMain”)[1] Motion to Compel Arbitration or, in the Alternative, Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint (ECF No. 37); (2) Defendant Mariner Finance, LLC's (“Mariner Finance”) Motion to Compel Arbitration or, in the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 26); (3) Defendant Ford Motor Co.'s (“Ford Motor”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint (ECF No. 13); (4) Defendant BB&T Corp.'s[2] (“BB&T”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 29); (5) Defendant Diehl's Ford Sales, Inc.'s (“Diehl's”) Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (ECF No. 10); (6) Defendant Chessie F.C.U.'s (“Chessie”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 30); (7) Defendant Northwest Bancshares, Inc.'s (“Northwest Bancshares”) Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (ECF No. 23); (8) Defendant WEPCO F.C.U.'s (“WEPCO”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 31); (9) Plaintiffs Carol J. Taccino (“Ms. Taccino”) and William A. Taccino's (“Mr. Taccino”) (collectively, “the Taccinos”) “Motion for Sanctions and Plaintiff[s'] Motion to Join United States of America as Co-Plaintiff” (ECF No. 43); (10) the Taccinos' Motion to Join the United States of America as Co-Plaintiff (ECF No. 44); (11) the Taccinos' Motion for Order of Default or, in the Alternative, Order to Compel (ECF No. 45); and (12) the Taccinos' Motion for Order of Default or, in the Alternative, Motion to Compel (ECF No. 48). This case arises from Ms. Taccino's September 16, 2016 response to a Diehl's advertisement for a new Ford Explorer. The Motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant OneMain's Motion, Mariner Finance's Motion, Ford Motor's Motion, Diehl's Motion, BB&T's Motion, Chessie's Motion, Northwest Bancshares' Motion, and WEPCO's Motion. The Court will deny the Taccinos' Motions.

         I. BACKGROUND [3]

         On September 16, 2016, Ms. Taccino responded to a Diehl's newspaper advertisement for a new Ford Explorer. (Compl. at 2, ECF No. 1). The advertisement promised the buyer $2, 000.00 in “Ford bonus cash, ” and promised any buyers who were active or retired members of the military a $750.00 “service appreciation from Ford.” (Id. at 2). Acting on behalf of his wife, Mr. Taccino gave Ms. Taccino's social security number and income information to a Diehl's employee to “get the transaction started.” (Id.). Several days later, Diehl's informed the Taccinos that Ms. Taccino's loan application had been denied. (Id. at 3). The Diehl's representative told the Taccinos that he had “even tried other local banks on her behalf, without success.” (Id.).

         Over the next few weeks in September and October 2016, Ms. Taccino received loan denials from Ford Motor Credit, WEPCO, Chessie, and BB&T Corp. (Id. at 3-4). Capital One Auto Finance[4] sent a letter stating that they had extended a loan offer, but that it had expired. (Id. at 4). OneMain and Mariner Finance granted Ms. Taccino loans. (Id. at 5). Northwest Bank[5] sent Ms. Taccino a letter “welcoming her to Northwest Bank, ” and indicating that one of her preexisting loans had been transferred to them. (Id.).

         The Complaint also contains facts related to Ms. Taccino's June 10, 2010 arrest for trespassing on Chessie's property. (Id. at 7-8). Ms. Taccino went to Chessie's main office to get information regarding a credit card company's garnishment of wages from her account. (Id. at 8). Chessie refused to provide the information Taccino requested, and she was ultimately arrested and charged with trespassing. (Id.).

         On March 29, 2018, the Taccinos, proceeding pro se, sued Defendants alleging: (1) “violation of federal laws regarding fraud”; (2) “violation of state laws regarding fraud”; (3) “violation of federal laws and regulations regarding banking”; (4) “violation of state laws and regulations regarding banking”; (5) breach of contract; predatory lending; (6) discrimination; violation of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601 et seq. (2018); (7) violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2018); (8) violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; and (9) violation of 28 C.F.R. § 50.15 (2018).[6] (Compl. at 1, 6-11). The Court construes the Taccinos' Fifth and Sixth Amendment claims as being brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Taccinos seek monetary damages. (Id. at 11-13).

         On June 15, 2018 Diehl's filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. (ECF No. 10). The Taccinos filed an Opposition on July 3, 3018. (ECF No. 28). On July 20, 2018, Diehl's filed a Reply (ECF No. 40).

         On June 19, 2018, Ford Motor filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint. (ECF No. 13). On July 6, 2018, the Taccinos filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 32). Ford Motor filed a Reply on July 23, 2018. (ECF No. 42).

         On June 26, 2018 Northwest Bancshares filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. (ECF No. 23). The Taccinos filed an Opposition on July 13, 2018. (ECF No. 36). On July 19, 2019, Northwest Bancshares filed a Reply. (ECF No. 39).

         On July 3, 2018, Mariner Finance filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration or, in the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 26). The Taccinos filed an Opposition on July 20, 2018. (ECF No. 41). Mariner Finance filed a Reply on August 3, 2018. (ECF No. 46).

         On July 5, 2018, BB&T filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 29). On July 27, 2018, the Taccinos filed an Opposition and Motion for Order of Default or, in the Alternative, Order to Compel. (ECF No. 45). BB&T filed a Reply on August 13, 2018. (ECF No. 51).

         On July 5, 2018, Chessie filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (ECF No. 30). The Taccinos filed an Opposition and a Motion to Join on July 27, 2018. (ECF No. 44). On August 10, 2018, Chessie filed a Reply. (ECF No. 49).

         On July 5, 2018, WEPCO filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. (ECF No. 31). On July 27, 2018, the Taccinos filed an Opposition and Motion for Sanctions and Plaintiff[s'] Motion to Join United States of America as Co-Plaintiff. (ECF No. 43). WEPCO filed a Reply on August 10, 2018. (ECF No. 50).

         On July 16, 2018, OneMain filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration or, in the Alternative, Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint. (ECF No. 37). The Taccinos filed an Opposition on August 3, 2018. (ECF No. 47). OneMain filed a Reply on August 16, 2018. (ECF No. 52).

         On August 3, 2018, the Taccinos filed a Motion for Order of Default or, in the Alternative, Motion to Compel. (ECF No. 48). To date, the Court has no record that any of Defendants filed an Opposition.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motions to Compel Arbitration

         1. Standard of Review

         The standard of review on a motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) is “akin to the burden on summary judgment.” Novic v. Midland Funding, LLC, 271 F.Supp.3d 778, 782 (D.Md. 2017) (quoting Galloway v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc., 819 F.3d 79, 85 (4th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation omitted)). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing all justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Summary judgment is proper when the movant demonstrates, through “particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A). Significantly, a party must be able to present the materials it cites in “a form that would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2), and supporting affidavits and declarations “must be made on personal knowledge” and “set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). In the context of a motion to compel arbitration under the FAA, “the party seeking a jury trial must make an unequivocal denial that an arbitration agreement exists-and must also show sufficient facts in support.” Chorley Enters., Inc. v. Dickey's Barbecue Rests., Inc., 807 F.3d 553, 564 (4th Cir. 2015) (citing Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. v. Neidhardt, 56 F.3d 352, 358 (2d Cir. 1995)).

         The FAA provides, with limited exceptions, that agreements to arbitrate “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable.” 9 U.S.C. § 2 (2018). To compel arbitration, the moving party must demonstrate: (1) “the existence of a dispute between the parties”; (2) “a written agreement that includes an arbitration provision which purports to cover the dispute”; (3) “the relationship of the transaction, which is evidenced by the agreement, to interstate or foreign commerce”; and (4) “the failure, neglect or refusal of the defendant to arbitrate the dispute.'” Galloway, 819 F.3d at 84 (quoting Rota-McLarty v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc., 700 F.3d 690, 696 n.6 (4th Cir. 2012)).

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Choice Int'l Hotels, Inc. v. BSR Tropicana Resort, Inc., held, “[n]otwithstanding the terms of § 3 [of the FAA] . . . dismissal is a proper remedy when all of the issues presented in a lawsuit are arbitrable.” 252 F.3d 707, 709-10 (4th Cir. 2001). This Court has uniformly dismissed cases where all of the claims are arbitrable. See, e.g., Bey v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., No. GJH-15-1329, 2016 WL 1226648, at *5 (D.Md. Mar. 23, 2016) (granting defendant's motion to dismiss when it moved to stay or in the alternative dismiss, holding that “because all of the Plaintiff's claims . . . are subject to arbitration, dismissal of this action is appropriate”).

         2. Analysis

         a. OneMain's Motion

         OneMain requests that the Court compel arbitration of the Taccinos' claims against it or, alternatively, to dismiss the Complaint. OneMain contends that all the requirements to compel arbitration under the FAA are met: (1) this suit is evidence of a dispute between the parties; (2) the parties executed a loan agreement in July 2017, which contains an arbitration provision that governs this dispute; (3) OneMain's business transactions involve interstate commerce; and (4) the Taccinos have failed to arbitrate this dispute. The Taccinos state that they agree to arbitrate the dispute. Accordingly, the Court will grant OneMain's Motion and dismiss the Complaint against OneMain. See Bey, 2016 WL 1226648, at *5.

         b. Mariner Finance's Motion

         Mariner Finance argues that the Note, Security Agreement & Arbitration Agreement (the “Note”) that the Taccinos executed when they took out a loan with Mariner Finance is binding and compels arbitration of the claims in this lawsuit. The Court agrees with Mariner Finance and addresses the factors for compelling arbitration.

         First, there is a dispute between the parties. The Taccinos allege that Mariner Finance “committed fraud by charging . . . an illegal interest rate of 25.99%, ” by defrauding Ms. Taccino out of a $200.00 refund for life insurance, and by defrauding Mr. Taccino out of his ownership share in the 1996 Jeep that Ms. Taccino pledged as collateral for her loan. (Compl. at 10). Mariner Finance argues that the Taccinos have not provided any evidence of fraud or other illegal actions.

         Second, the Note requires the parties to submit this dispute to arbitration. Mariner Finance submitted a copy of the Note, signed by Ms. Taccino, as Exhibit A to its Motion. (Mariner's Mot. Compel Arbitration Ex. A [“Arbitration Agreement”] at 4-5, ECF No. 26-2). The Note states that “[b]y signing below, [Ms. Taccino] agree[s] to all of the terms of [the Note] and the arbitration agreement.” (Id. at 5). The Arbitration Agreement defines arbitrable claims broadly as: “any claim, dispute or controversy [ ]whether based upon contract, tort, intentional or otherwise, constitutional, statute ...


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