Marshall v. J.P Morgan Chase & Co.
MEMORANDUM OPINION (c/m to Plaintiff 7/20/15 sat). Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 7/20/2015. (sat, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
FRANK MARSHALL, III
Civil Action No. DKC 14-3339
J.P. MORGAN CHASE & CO.
Presently pending and ready for resolution in this action
to quiet title are two motions filed by JPMorgan Chase Bank,
(1) a motion to intervene, and (2) a motion to dismiss
(ECF Nos. 15 and 17).
The relevant issues have
been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed
Local Rule 105.6.
For the following reasons, the
motion to intervene and the motion to dismiss will be granted.
Plaintiff Frank Marshall III, proceeding pro se, commenced
this action on May 15, 2014 by filing his complaint against
Defendant J.P. Morgan Chase & Company (“JPMC”) in the Circuit
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“Chase” or “Defendant”), though not
originally named in the complaint, was served with a copy of the
complaint and summons on or about September 26, 2014, and filed
a notice of removal in this court on October 24, 2014, citing
diversity and federal question jurisdiction.
(ECF Nos. 1 and
On November 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint.
(ECF No. 13).
The amended complaint seeks to quiet title on
property located at 712 Bonnie Meadow Lane in Ft. Washington,
Maryland 20744 (“the Property”), to declare invalid the Deeds of
Trust encumbering the Property, and to vacate the foreclosure
conducted prior to this case.
The amended complaint alleges
that any liens Defendant has on the Property are deficient.
(ECF No. 13).
First, citing U.C.C. § 3—302, Plaintiff alleges
‘authentic[,] original[,] unaltered Promissory Note’ evidencing
the claimed indebtedness.”
(Id. at 1)
(emphases in original).
sections” of the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1, et seq, but
then only asserts one such violation.
institutions from “enter[ing] into mortgage agreements for real
estate beyond [a] 5—year period[,]” which purportedly renders
Plaintiff “denies the validity of signature on any photocopy of
Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15
U.S.C. § 1692, by illegally acted as a debt collector.
On December 5, 2014, Chase moved to intervene in this suit
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) and to dismiss
JPMC, who purportedly was improperly named as Defendant. (ECF
Chase also moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure
to state a claim.
(ECF No. 17).
motion to dismiss and Chase replied.1
Plaintiff opposed Chase’s
(ECF Nos. 20 and 21).
Motion to Intervene and Dismiss JPMC as a Defendant
Chase moves to intervene as of right pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), arguing that Plaintiff has filed
this suit against the improper defendant, and to dismiss JMPC
from this suit.
Chase attaches the Deed of Trust (“DOT”) for
the Property at issue, which secures Plaintiff’s repayment of
the $480,000 loan from Chase (“the Loan”).
(Id. at 2).
(ECF No. 15-1).
The DOT also bears Plaintiff’s signature
(Id. at 15).
Chase asserts that, as reflected on
the face of the DOT, it is the entity that made the Loan to
Although Plaintiff’s opposition does not address any of
the arguments in Chase’s motion to dismiss.
It merely recites
the standard for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6).
Plaintiff that is secured by the DOT and argues that it should
be allowed to intervene as of right in this case.
intervention as of right when:
On timely motion, the court must permit
anyone to intervene who . . . claims an
transaction that is the subject of the
action, and is so situated that disposing of
the action may as a practical matter impair
or impede the movant’s ability to protect
adequately represent that interest.
In Pennsylvania Nat. Mut. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Perlberg, 268
F.R.D. 218, 224-25 (D.Md. 2010), Judge Blake noted that:
“[T]o intervene as of right, a movant must
interest in the subject matter of the
underlying action; (3) that a denial of the
motion to intervene would impair or impede
interest; and (4) that the movant’s interest
existing parties to the litigation. Houston
Gen. Ins. Co. v. Moore, 193 F.3d 838, 839
“A party moving for
(4th Cir. 1999).
intervention under 24(a) bears the burden of
establishing a right to intervene, and must
do so by satisfying all four requirements.”
U.S. ex rel. MPA Const., Inc. v. XL
Specialty Ins. Co., 349 F.Supp.2d 934, 937
(D.Md. 2004) (citing In re Richman, 104 F.3d
654, 658 (4th Cir. 1997)).
Chase’s motion to intervene will be granted, as it satisfies all
four requirements for intervention as of right.
motion to intervene is timely as it was filed shortly after
Chase was given notice of this suit and while this case is still
protectable interest in the subject matter of this case, as it
is the entity that made the Loan to Plaintiff that is secured by
the DOT, which Plaintiff seeks to have invalidated.
JLS, Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm’n of W. Virginia, 321 Fed.App’x
286, 289 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Rule 24 does not specify what type of
interest a party must have to intervene as a matter of right,
but the Supreme Court has recognized that “‘what is obviously
meant . . . is a significantly protectable interest.’” (quoting
Teague v. Bakker, 931 F.2d 259, 261 (4th Cir. 1991)).
denying Chase’s motion to intervene would impede its ability to
protect its interest in the DOT.
Because Plaintiff’s quiet
title action seeks to invalidate the DOT and any liens on the
Property, the outcome of the case could affect Chase’s interests
in the Property.
Finally, Chase has met its burden in showing
that its interests may not adequately be represented by the
current parties in this litigation, as JPMC is a separate entity
with no relation to the DOT, Loan, or Property at issue.
(noting that an intervenor’s burden in showing that the existing
parties will not adequately represent its interests is “minimal”
and the intervenor need only show that “representation of his
citations and quotation marks omitted).
In its motion to intervene, Chase also moves to dismiss
JPMC as Defendant pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).2
Chase argues that,
as reflected by the DOT, “JPMC is not the entity that made the
(ECF No. 15, at 4-5).
Chase contends that because
Plaintiff’s claims arise from the Loan, DOT, and the Property,
and because JPMC has no connection to any of these, it should be
plausible claims against it.
Chase attached the DOT to its motion, which shows that it,
Property and therefore the proper Defendant.3
Plaintiff has not
opposed this motion, nor provided any facts showing that any of
his claims relate to JPMC.
Accordingly, JMPC will be dismissed
III. Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
Standard of Review
The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is
to test the sufficiency of the complaint.
Presley v. City of
The standard of review for assessing a 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss is provided below.
In reviewing a motion to dismiss, courts may consider
documents referenced or relied upon in the complaint.
v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 976 F.Supp.2d 660, 662 n.1 (D.Md.
2013) (citing Phillips v. LCI Int’l, Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th
plaintiff’s complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule
8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing,’ rather than
a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.”
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007).
Bell Atl. Corp.
That showing must
consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of
a cause of action” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal citations omitted).
At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint
must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266,
268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir.
1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134
(4th Cir. 1993)).
In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal
Comm’rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989).
couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any
reference to actual events.
United Black Firefighters v. Hirst,
604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).
drafted by lawyers,” they may nevertheless dismiss complaints
sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Turner v. Kight, 192 F.Supp.2d
391, 398 (D.Md. 2002), aff’d, 121 F.App’x. 9 (4th Cir. 2005).
requests that the court declare “any lien interests and rights
thereof . . . be forever declared invalid.”
(ECF No. 13, at 2).
defendant’s claim “to hold any lien encumbrance” on that same
Quattlebaum v. Bank of Am., N.A., No. TDC-14-2688,
2015 WL 1085707, at *4 (D.Md. Mar. 10, 2015).
To state a quiet
title claim under Maryland law, a plaintiff must show his “claim
to title and allege an invalid or defective adverse interest” in
Levine v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. RWT 13WL
Plaintiff advances four theories as to why Defendant’s liens are
Plaintiff’s complaint is nearly identical to that filed in
Levine, 2014 WL 4628554.
Accordingly, much of Judge Titus’
analysis from that case will be relied on here.
Defendant is Not the Holder in Due Course
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is not a holder in due
course of the note evidencing Plaintiff’s indebtedness.
No. 13, at 1).
U.C.C. § 3—302 provides the requirements for the
holder of a negotiable instrument to be considered a “holder in
(1) the instrument when issued or negotiated
to the holder does not bear such apparent
evidence of forgery or alteration or is not
otherwise so irregular or incomplete as to
call into question its authenticity; and
(2) the holder took the instrument (i) for
value, (ii) in good faith, (iii) without
notice that the instrument is overdue or has
been dishonored or that there is an uncured
default with respect to payment of another
instrument issued as part of the same
signature or has been altered, (v) without
notice of any claim to the instrument
described in Section 3-306, and (vi) without
notice that any party has a defense or claim
in recoupment described in Section 3-305(a).
Here, Plaintiff does not provide any facts plausibly to
allege that Defendant is not a holder in due course of the note
There are no allegations of forgery, alteration,
or any irregularities regarding the note.
Plaintiff asserts no
facts that call into question the authenticity of the note.
holder in due course is the sort of “naked assertion” that is
insufficient to meet the pleading standard articulated in Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678.
Violation of the National Bank Act
sections” of the National Bank Act, but then only specifies one
such violation: that Defendant’s 30–year mortgage with Plaintiff
is a violation of the five year limitation the National Bank Act
places on the length of mortgages entered into by financial
As Defendant points out correctly, the National
Bank Act places no such limitation on financial institutions
with regard to the length of mortgages.
In Levine, Judge Titus addressed an identical argument made
by plaintiffs in that suit, noting that:
Plaintiffs are apparently referring to 12
U.S.C. § 29.
However, that provision only
limits the length of time a financial
institution may hold possession in its own
name of real estate under a mortgage, and
Plaintiffs make no allegation that Defendant
is currently in possession of 7920 Brink
See id.; see also Hennington v. Bank
of America, 1:10-CV-1350-WSD-JFK, 2010 WL
The Complaint alleges that the 30-year mortgage is
“fraudulent” by operation of law. (ECF No. 13, at 1). Based on
Plaintiff’s singular use of this term, Chase has moved to
dismiss a purported fraud claim by Plaintiff.
When read in
context, however, Plaintiff does not appear to be asserting a
fraud claim, but rather, merely a violation of the National Bank
Even if Plaintiff were asserting a separate fraud claim,
he has provided no factual allegations to support a fraud claim
against Chase. See Md. Envtl. Trust v. Gaynor, 370 Md. 89, 97
(2002) (discussing the elements of a fraud or deceit claim under
5860296 at *5 n.5 (N.D.Ga. Dec. 28, 2010)
(12 U.S.C. § 29 “does not prevent a banking
association from making a loan to another
person or entity and obtaining a mortgage or
security interest of more than five years to
secure the loan.”). It is well-settled that
this provision does not limit the length of
business. See id. (characterizing a similar
claim as “frivolous”).
2014 WL 4628554, at *3 (emphasis in original).
Plaintiff’s argument regarding the purportedly illegal duration
of the mortgage is unsupported by law.
Validity of Signatures
Plaintiff next “denies the validity of signature on any
photocopy of a Promissory Note,” citing U.C.C. § 3-308.6
No. 13, at 1).
In Levine, plaintiffs raised this identical
As aptly noted by Judge Titus:
[U]nder [U.C.C. § 3-308], while the person
claiming the validity of a signature bears
signature is presumed to be authentic.
U.C.C. § 3–308(a). Thus, the person denying
its validity must introduce some evidence to
support a finding of invalidity.
No. 1 to U.C.C. § 308. Plaintiffs allege no
signatures appearing on photocopies of the
notes are invalid.
The general, conclusory
denial of validity, without any allegation
of facts to support that denial, is plainly
insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.
Plaintiff appears to be denying the validity of his own
Like plaintiffs in Levine, Plaintiff has provided no facts
supporting an inference that the signatures on the photocopies
of the promissory note are invalid.
Accordingly, to the extent
that Plaintiff attempts to argue that the signatures are forged,
his allegations are insufficient to state a plausible claim.
Defendant Illegally Acted as a Debt Collector
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, “in its communication to
Plaintiff was acting as a debt collector, which violates” the
(ECF No. 13 at 1).
In Givens v. Citimortgage, Inc.,
Civil Action No. 10-1249, 2011 WL 806463, at *2 (D.Md. Feb. 28,
2011), Judge Messitte notes that:
collector” to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege facts
that make it plausible to believe that the
defendant is in fact a debt collector as
defined by the FDCPA.
See 15 U.S.C. §
1692a(6); Sparrow v. SLM Corp., No. RWT 08–
00012, 2009 WL 77462, at *2 (D.Md. Jan.7,
In the present case, to properly
allege that Citi is a debt collector under
the FDCPA, [plaintiff] would have to assert
that Citi was attempting to collect “debts
owed or due or asserted to be owed or due
15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6) (emphasis
Moreover, the FDCPA expressly
exempts creditors and mortgagees from its
definition of a debt collector.
U.S.C. § 1692(a)(6); Sparrow, 2009 WL 77462,
Here, by all appearances, Citi was
at all relevant times acting as a creditor
and mortgagee to collect a debt owed to
itself, not to a third party; in other
words, it does not fall under the FDCPA's
definition of a debt collector.
Here, Plaintiff’s allegation that Defendant was acting as a
debt collector is wholly unsupported.
Plaintiff does not allege
that Chase attempted to collect debts on behalf of another, or
provide any other explanation as to why Chase qualifies as a
“debt collector” under the FDCPA.
On the contrary, based on the
therefore, any actions taken by Chase would have been to collect
a debt owed to itself, not to a third party.
a violation of FDCPA may give rise to civil relief, see 15
U.S.C. § 1692k, it does not provide any basis for invalidating
Defendant’s lien on the Property and therefore does not support
Plaintiff’s claim to quiet title.
For the foregoing reasons, Chase’s motions to intervene as
a Defendant and dismiss JPMC will be granted.
Chase’s motion to
dismiss the complaint will also be granted.
A separate order
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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