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Yi v. First Tennessee Bank N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 8, 2019

DOUGLAS K YI a/k/a/, DOUGLAS K. LEE, et al., Plaintiffs,


          Paula Xinis United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief to void an allegedly forged Deed of Trust executed and filed with the land records in 2005. ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 39. Pending before the Court is Defendant's motions to dismiss the Complaint on standing and limitations grounds. ECF No. 10. The motions are fully briefed and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss.

         I. Background[1]

         Douglas K Yi and Jennie S Yi (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) own, as tenants by the entirety, the real property located at 9433 Copenhaver Drive, Potomac, Maryland 20854 (the “Property”). ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 8. In May 2005, Ms. Yi applied to Defendant First Tennessee Bank National Association (the “Bank”) for a Home Equity Line of Credit (the “HELOC”) in the amount of $245, 500, with the assistance of Naomi Kim, a loan broker located in Virginia. Id. ¶¶ 9, 14. On June 30, 2005, the Bank notified Ms. Yi “that the loan application was approved” and that a credit card and check book would be sent to Plaintiffs' home. Id. ¶ 10.

         Plaintiffs aver that even though they secured a HELOC, unbeknownst to them, a Deed of Trust “was closed and finalized” on that same day which placed a lien against their Property as security for the HELOC. Id. ¶¶ 11, 12. Plaintiffs allege that they did not discover the existence of the Deed of Trust until February 15, 2017, when Mr. Yi was preparing to file an individual bankruptcy petition. Id. ¶¶ 15, 22. The Deed of Trust was purportedly signed by Plaintiffs, notarized by David P. Campbell, and recorded among the land records for Montgomery County on July 21, 2005 at Book 30349, Page 0064. Id. ¶¶ 16, 24; ECF No. 10-7.

         Although Ms. Yi applied for and received the HELOC in 2005, Plaintiffs now contend that their signatures on the Deed of Trust were forged and that the notary is false. ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶ 15-18, 23. Plaintiffs specifically allege that the Bank, David Campbell, and Naomi Kim “knowingly, willfully, and intentionally forged and conspired to forge Plaintiffs' signatures to deceive Plaintiffs in their promotion to the” HELOC.[2] Id. ¶ 27.

         On February 27, 2017, Mr. Yi filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. ECF No. 10-2 (Bankruptcy Petition).[3] In his schedule of assets, Mr. Yi included “[a]lleged forgery of signatures on 2nd mortgage Deed of Trust (30349/064) for 9433 Copenhaver Dr.” for $251, 771 under “[c]laims against third parties.” ECF No. 10-4 at 2. Mr. Yi further listed his claims involving the forged signatures as a “claimed exemption” to the bankruptcy estate. Id. at 4. The Chapter 7 trustee objected to this exemption, noting specifically that “Debtor states the second trust on that residence is disputed but has not provided documentation of the dispute.” ECF No. 10-5 ¶ 5.

         On June 1, 2017, the Bankruptcy Court discharged Mr. Yi from bankruptcy. ECF No. 10-6 at 3 (Bankruptcy Court Docket, ECF No. 33).

         Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County on August 1, 2018, based on the purported forgery. See ECF No. 1-1. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the Deed of Trust is forged and thus void. Id. ¶ 34-39. Plaintiffs further allege a violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”), in that “Defendant's forgery or acquiescence of Plaintiff[s]' signature was a deceptive or unlawful practice prohibited” by the MCPA. Id. ¶ 44. Defendant removed the action to this Court on September 17, 2018 based on this Court's diversity jurisdiction. See ECF No. 1 at 1-2.

         Defendant now moves to dismiss the Complaint for lack of standing and failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. See ECF No. 10. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that Mr. Yi lacks standing to bring this suit and that, in any event, the claims as to both Plaintiffs are barred by limitations.


         Standard of Review

          The Court reviews the question of standing as one that invokes this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1); White Tail Park, Inc. v. Stroube, 413 F.3d 451, 459 (4th Cir. 2005); Axel Johnson, Inc. v. Carroll Carolina Oil Co., Inc., 145 F.3d 660, 661-62 (4th Cir. 1998) (affirming the district court's dismissal of the complaint for lack of standing pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)). Whether the Court retains subject matter jurisdiction must be decided before reaching the merits of the case. Jones v. Am. Postal Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417, 422 (4th Cir. 1999).

         A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The Court accepts “the well-pled allegations of the complaint as true, ” and construes all facts and reasonable inferences most favorably to the plaintiff. See Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). The Court may also grant a 12(b)(6) motion on statute of ...

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