King et al v. Caliber Home Loans, Inc.

Filing 26

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 9/22/2017. (c/m 9/22/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND SOllthem Dh'iIioll 1011 SEP 22 ~ I: 51: LAZINA KING, et al., * Plaintiffs, * v, Case No.: G,III-I6-3-t89 * CALIBER HOME LOANS, INC., * Defendant. * * * * * * * * * MEMORANDUM This is an action brought by Plaintiffs * * fiJreciosure and subsequcnt foreclosure they were also working with the Kings on a loan modilication proceedings package. Caliber salc of PlaintilTs' ECF NO.1 at 3.1 Plaintiffs allegc that Caliber "dual-tracked" that is. at the same time that Caliber was initiating * OI'INION Lazina amI Ria King against Defendant Ilome Loans. Inc, ("'Caliber'"). arising out ofthc home by Calibcr. * * their mortgage: against the Kings. Plaintiffs seek $50 million from Caliber under a variety of state and federal legal claims. Id. at 10. Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's necessary. Motions to Dismiss. ECF NO.4. ECF No. 172 No hearing is See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted. I Pin cites to documents filed on the Court"s electronic tiling system (CM/ECF) refer to the page Ilumbers generated by that system. ~ Caliber's first Motion to Dismiss. ECF NO.4. was partially granted by the Federal District Court for the District of D.C. and the case was transferred to thisjurisdictioll. However. as discussed below. that court did not address the substantive issues. which Caliher re-raised in its second Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 17. To thc c.xtent the lirst Motion to Dismiss is still pending on the docket. the Court addresses both Illotions together here. I. BACKGROUND A. Factual Back::round In 1996.l'laintilTLazina King purchased the home located at 141 N.lluron Drive. Oxon Hill. MD. ECr: No. 21 at 3. In May 2007. Ms. King relinaneed the mortgage for her homc through Benelieial Ilomeowncr Scrvice Corp. (""l3enelicial"")and added her daughter. Ria King. to the mortgage. Ill. In March 2013. Lazina King became ill and underwent two emergency surgeries: following these surgeries. thc Kings became delinquent on their mortgage payments. /d at 4: ECF No. 17-1 at3.ln February 2014. the Kings. mortgage was transferred to Defendant Caliber Home Loans. Inc. C.Calibcr".). ECr: No. 21 at 5. A few mnnths later. in April 2014. the Kings requested that Caliber assist them with loan modilication. and faxed a list of documents to Caliber on April 9. 2014. ECF No. I at 3. Still waiting for a response. in May 2014. the Kings called Caliber to check on the status of their modilication application. Caliber told them that their lile had been e1osed. because there was a cease and desist order listed on the Kings. account. and Caliber was unable to contact them:' Ill. Caliber subsequently re-opened the Kings. lile. and the Kings submitled additional documents to Caliber. /d at 4. In June 2014. Caliber sent the Kings a letler stating that the Kings ... [aiccount is currently able to apply for in-house modilication. short sale. deed in lieu and repayment plan options:. /d However. on July 15. 2014. the Kings were informed that their application was again e10sed due to the cease and desist order. Ill. at 6. Again. Caliber re-opened the Kings. file. and requested additional documents. which the Kings faxed to Caliber on July 30. 2014. Ill. The Kings did not receive a decision on their loanmodilication. received a letler dated August 22. 2014. informing them that their house was scheduled to be sold./d .\ The Kings maintain thaI they have never sought a cease and desist order against Caliber. nor have they been provided "proof that such order c:\ists:' ECF No. I at 3. 2 but On June 3. 2014. a foreclosure suit was initiated in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County against the Kings. ECF No. 17-4 at I. The Kings' house was sold at auction on September 19.2014. which was subsequently ratilied by the Circuit Court on February 26. 2015. !d. B. I'roccdural Background The Kings have raised their allegations and legal claims at every 1e"e1of the Maryland court system available to them: in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County (the "Circuit Court"). at the Court of Special Appeals. and at the Court of Appeals. The Court brielly summarizes those proceedings. I. Circuit Cnurt On September 3. 2014. the Kings submitted a letter to the Circuit Court requesting a hearing to halt the ti)reclosure proceedings on their property. as Caliber had allegedly been moving forward with the foreclosure proceedings at the same time they were requesting information from the Kings for a loan modilieation package:~ the court denied that request on September 16.2014. Iii. at 2. Following the sa!e of their house. on March 25. 2015. the Kings tiled anothcr Ictter in the Circuit Court requesting an appeal from the foreclosure decision. lOCI' No. 17-6 at 3-4. On April 17.2015. the Kings Iiled a Notice of Appeal. ECF No. 17-4 at 4. The Kings tiled an emergency motion to stay their eviction order with the Circuit Court on July 24. 2015. and the motion was denied on August 4. 2015 "for I~lilingto state a valid dcfense or present a meritorious argumenl." ECF No. 17-4 at 5. On January 20. 2016. the Kings liled another Emergency Motion to Stay with the Circuit Court. alleging the facts stated above. lOCI' .J Although the complaint in this case is not a model of clarity. Plaintiffs raise the same allegation here. contending that their house would not have heen subjected to ..the auction stages of the foreclosure procc.:ss" were it not for Defendant's "mismanagement"" and "perjury" related to the loan modification documents. EeF No. I at 9. , .' No. 17-6 at 5. On March 4. 2016. the Cireuit Court stayed the case pending the Kings' appeal. lOCI'No. 17-4 at 65 2. Court of Special Appeals While continuing to tile motions in Circuit Court. the Kings tiled a notice of appeal to the Court of Special Appeals on April 16.2015. lOCI'No. 17-8 at 5. On September 23.2015. the Kings filed a brief with the Court of Special Appeals. raising the arguments that they raise herc. ECF No. 4-4 at 13. On February 9. 2016. the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland dismissed the Kings' appeal. without reaching the merits of the complaint. concluding that thc Kings' notice of appeal was not liled "within thirty days of the order ratifying the foreclosure sale'" ECF No. 17-8 at 4-5. 3. Court of Appeals Additionally. on October 21. 2015. the Kings liled a "Motion to Appeal thc Denial of the Stay of the Execution of Eviction" with thc Maryland Court of Appeals. also raising the same arguments they raise here. lOCI'No. 4-4 at I. On November 23.2015. thc Court of Appeals of Maryland denied the Kings' requests. lOCI'No. 17-7 at 2. 4. Present Case The Kings tiled their Complaint in this case in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ("D.D.C") on November 25. 2015. ECF NO.1. Caliber tiled a Motion to Dismiss in that case. arguing that (J) the Complaint was barred by !"esiudicala and the Rooker-Feldmall doctrine. (2) venue was improper. and (3) the Complaint failed to state a claim upon which rclief eould be granted. ECF NO.4. On September 28. 2016. the D.D.C ruled that venue was improper and ordered the ease transferred to this Court. ECF No. 10. The D.D.C did not reaeh the remaining merits ofCaliber"s Motion to Dismiss. hi. at 11. which Caliber subsequently re-raised 'following the Kings' appea!.the Circuit COUJ1lilied the stay on March 22. 2016. ECf No. 17-4 at 7. 4 be/l)rc this Coul1 as a renewed Motion to Dismiss. ECf No. 17-1. The Kings opposed Calibcr's Motion. ECf No. 20. and Caliber lilcd a Reply. ECF No. 24." II. STANDARD OF REVIEW To survivc a motion to dismiss under Fcd. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). "a complaint must contain sufficient lactual mattcr. acccpted as true. to 'state a claim to relicfthat is plausiblc on its l(lCe:" Asherofi \'. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662. 678 (2009) (citing Be!! Allal/lie elll/). \'. T\I'oll1bZ\'. 550 U.S, 544. 570 (2007)). "A claim has lacial plausibility whcn thc plaintiffplcads 1(lctual contcnt that allows thc court to draw the rcasonable infcrencc that the dcfcndant is liable Il)f thc misconduct alleged:' Iqbal. 556 U,S. at 678, "Threadbare recitals ofthc elements ofa causc of action. supportcd by mcre conclusory statements. do not sutlice:' Id, (citing TIl'iJ/l/bly. 550 U.S. at 555) ("[Al plaintiJrs obligation to provide thc 'grounds' of his 'cntitle[mentj to relief rcquircs more thanlabcls and conclusions. and a formulaic rccitation ofa cause of action's elemcnts will not do:'), The purposc of Fcd. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) "is to test the sufficiency ofa complaint and not to resolve eontests surrounding the facts. the merits of a claim. or the applicability of dclenscs:' Presley \'. Cily o!"ClllIrIO/le.ll'i!!e, 464 f,3d 480. 483 (4th Cir. 2006) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Whcn deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12 (b)(6). a court "must accept as truc all of the 1(lctual allegations contained in the eomplaint:' and must "draw all (, Also pending on the docket is Caliber's Motion for Extension ofTilllc to tile their Reply. EeF No. 22. and the Kings' Motion to Strike that Reply. ECF No. 25. Caliber's Reply was initially due on or before December 30.2016, but Caliber requested an extension on December 29. 2016. asking for more time given ..the intervening Christmas and New Year"s holidays. the fact that no scheduling order has been entered. and that neither party will be prejudiced ... :. ECF No. 22 at 2. In their Motion to Strike Caliber's Reply. the Kings argue that there was no extension given to Caliber at the time they filed their Reply. and that the Court should strike the reply as noncompliant with this COUI1"s rules. ECF No. 25 at 2. The Court will grant Caliber"s Motion for Extension. and deny the Kings" Motion to Strike. Given the timing oflilings (with Christmas and Nev.' Year's intcrvening). and the fact that the Kings do not allege any prejudice. the Court finds that good cause existed to grant an cxtension. Ilm•... ever. the Court notes that Caliber's Reply merely reiterated their previous arguments regarding th~ doctrinc ofr!.',\' judicata. Thus. even if the Court granted the Kings' Motion to Strike. the holding of this opinion would be the same. 5 reasonable inferences [from those facts 1 in favor of the plainti fr:o £.1. dll /'ol7! dl' NI'II/o/ll's & Co, \., Kolonlndlls .. Inc,. 637 F.3d 435. 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court need not. however. accept unsupported legal allegations. SI'I' RI'\'l'nl' ,., Charll's COlll7!y COII/II/'rs. 882 F.2d 870. 873 (4th Cir. 1(89). legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. /'apasan v, Allain. 478 U,S, 265. 286 (1986). or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any rcference to actual events, Unill'd Black Firl'/ightl'rs ojNorjillk ", /Iirst. 604 F,2d 844. 847 (4th Cir. 1(79). Because the Kings arc sell~represented. their lilings arc liberally construed, SI'I' Erickwn \., /'a,.,llIs. 551 U.S, 89.94 (2007), But the Court must also abide by its "aflinnative obligation, .. to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial:' BOllchat v. Baltimorl' Rm'l'ns Foothall Cillh, Inc .. 346 FJd 514. 526 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal citations omitted). Accepting the facts as alleged in the Complaint as true. SI'I' A~iz \., Alwlac. 658 F,3d 388. 390 (4th Cir. 2011). when reviewing a motion to dismiss. the Court "may consider documents attached to the complaint. as well as documents attached to thc motion to dismiss. if they are intcgral to the complaint and their authenticity is not disputed:' Sposato v. First MarinI'!' Bank. No. CCB-12-1569. 2013 WL 1308582. at *2 (D. Md, Mar. 28. 2013). The Court mav take judicial notice of state court documents pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 20 I and 803(8)('1)(1), Whcn a delendant asscrts that facts outside of the complaint deprive thc court of jurisdiction. the Court "may considcr evidencc outsidc the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one lor summary judgment:' Vl'iasco \.. Gov't oj'/lIllone.l'ia. 370 F.3d 392. 398 (4th Cir. 2(04). Specilically. in considering a rl'.I'jlldicata defense at thc motion to dismiss stage. a court may consider the "documents Irom the underlying ease:' Andrews \', Dml'. 201 F,3d 521. 524 n.1 (4th Cir. 2(00) ("Although an aflinnative defense such as resjlldicata (, may be raised under Rule 12(b)(6) only if it clearly appears on the lace of the complaint. when entertaining a motion to dismiss on the ground of resjlldicaw. judicial proceeding \\henthe a court may take judicial notice of facts from a prior resjlldica/a defense raises no disputed issue of tac!.""): /.a/'ll I'. .'11111/1'11.1'/ ,\for/gage /IIC.. No DKC-16-0145. 2016 WL 3753155. at*1 n.1. *6 (D. Md. July 14. 2016) (considering ""relevant documentation regarding the Property and the liJreclosure procecding and sale""attached by Defendants to a motion to dismiss to substantiate a claim of res jlldicata). III. DISCUSSION In their pending Motion to Dismiss. Caliber argues that the Kings' Complaint must be dismissed because: (I) it is barred by resjlldica/a and the Rooker-Feld/1/ol1 doctrines: (2) the Complaint tails to meet the pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. 1'. 8(a) and 12(b)(6): (3) Plaintiff Ria King does not have standing: (4) the claims tiJr violation of the Truth-in-Lending Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are time-barred: and. (5) Plaintiffs' claim tiJr negligence fails because Caliber does not owe them a duty of care. ECF No. 17-1 at 1-2. The Court agrees that the Kings' claims are barred by the doctrine ofresjlldicaw. grants the Motion to Dismiss on that basis. See McA/illolI LLC. No. WMN-II-2048. I'. and therefore Bier/1/an. Geesillg. Ward & Wood 2012 WL 425823. *5 n.6 (D. Me!' Feb. 8, 2012) (""Asthe doctrine of res judicata operates to bar all claims. the Court need not address the applicability of these [other] defenses.""). Res.jlldica/a . is an affirmative defense. which usuallv does not offer resolution at the motion-to-dismiss stage. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c)( I): see a/so Georgia I'ac. COIISII/1/erI'rod. I'. U' VOII IJrehie Corp .. 710 F.3d 527. 533 (4th Cir. 20f 3). Ilowever. if ""facts suflicient to rule on 7 an affirmative defense are alleged in the complaint" the Court may reach the issue. Goodll/an Resjudicata prohibits I'. or in documents allaehed to the complaint. !'l'lIxair. /IIC.. 494 r.3d 458. 464 (4th Cir. :W07). the relitigation of mailers pre\'iously litigated. as well as those e1aims that could have been asserted and litigated in the original suit. AII)'al1ll'/ltaku \'. Fleet Mort. Group. 85 F.Supp.2d 'Iitigants 566. 570 (D. Md. 2000). "The doctrine was designed Irom the burden ofrelitigating [to promote I judicial economy lVilsoll. 519 F.3d 156. 161-162 322. 326 (1979». an identical by preventing When considering rederal courts apply that state's judgment the same preelusive in which thc judgmcnt litigation .... Laurel Sal/(/ & Grm'el. /IIC, I'. !'arklalle errect of a prior state judgment law as"a requircs that "( I ) the parties in the prcsent litigation are eurrcnt action is identical to that dctermincd. Motion to Dismiss. thc plaintifrs I'. stay her eviction. alleging violations in the or that \\'hich could have been raiscd and LLC I', on the merits:' il/cA/i/lall. Rice. 938 A.2d 839. 848 (Md.2008». Bierll/an, Geesilll!,. lVard & lVood U.C. cited by Caliber in its ECF No. 17-1 at 10. is directly on point. and instructivc house was foreelosed Court or Baltimore (2) thc e1aim presented and (3) thcre has becn a linaljudgment 2012 WL 425823 at *3 (citing II & D lOO/. The case or McMillian undcr the law or the Statc Migra \'. Warrell City School Dist. Bd of Educ .. 465 U.S. resjudicata in prior litigation: under res federal court must give to a state-court thc samc or in privity with thc partics to the earlier litigation: determincd. Hosie!)' Co. \'. Shore. 439 U.S. effect as would be givcn that judgment was rendered:' 75. 8 I (1984). In Maryland. (quoting the preelusive judicata. issue with the same party or his privy and needless (4th Cir.2008) to protect by the defendants. here. /d In that ease. sold at auction. and ratified in the Circuit County. !d. at * I. The plaintifT filed several motions with the Circuit Court to with no success. !d. The plaintiff subsequently ofthc Fair Debt Collection filcd a complaint Practiecs Act. and several Maryland 8 in this court. state consumer protection statutes. Ill. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it was harred hv res jlldic({{a. as thc claims had bcen (or could have been) raised in the Circuit Court suit. Id. at *3. The court agrced. reasoning that the plaintilThad "vigorously opposed the foreclosure" in the Circuit Court. and even "altempted to tile an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. but the appeal was dismissed because it was not timely liled:' Id. at *3. The court found that each of the clements for res jlldicata was met as: (1) ..the parties are the same as. or in privity with. the parties in thc loreclosure action:' ill. at *4: (2) "the causes of action in this casc all relate to actions allegedly taken hy the [d]efcndants with rcspect to the loreclosurc" and that the plaintilThad "raised some of these issues in the Opposition to Ratification she filed in the Circuit Court:' ill. at *4: and. (3) ..the foreclosure proceeding is indisputably a final judgment on the merits of the foreclosure" as the plaintiff"filed cxceptions. was afforded multiple hearings. and appealed her case to the Court of Special Appeals:' ill. at *3. The court further explained that even claims that were nOI raised in the foreclosure proceeding were harred by resjlldicata. as "Maryland has adopted a 'transaction test" lor use in determining what constitutes the same claim for res judicata purposes:' Id. at *4 (quoting Kelll COllllly 1311. O{ Edllc. V. l3ilhrollgh. 525 A.2d 232 (Md. 1987». Under this test. claims that arise out of the samc transaction are considered part of the same cause of action. Id. "In detel1l1ining whether the causes of action stem from the same transaction or series of connected transactions. courts consider such pragmatic factors as 'whether the facts are rclated in time. space. origin. or motivation. whether they form a convenient trial unit. and whether their treatment as a unit confi.mns to the parties' expectations or husiness understanding or usage:" Allyal1ll"lIIakll \'. Fleet ,I/orlg. Grollf'. IlIc .. 85 F. Supp. 2d 566. 571 (D. Md. 2000) (quoting Rcstatcment (Second) of Judgments * 24(2) (1982)). In McMillall. the court found that the consumer protection claims 9 brought against the foreclosing defendants were part of the same transaction. as they all arose out of the defendants' conduct leading up to the lorcclosure. McMillall. 2012 WL 425823 at *5. Herc. as in Ak:vlil/all. the Kings vigorously opposed the foreclosure proceedings onthcir property by submitting multiple filings with the Circuit Court. thc Court of Special Appeals. and the Maryland Court of Appeals.7 and raising the same arguments they raise here. As in :vlcMillall. there was a final dccision by a statc court regarding the Kings' foreclosurc and subsequent eviction. the panics were thc same or in privity. and the claims being brought here arise out of the same transaction (the actions by Caliber leading up to and including the foreclosure of the Kings' home). The Kings argue that the claims being brought herc "could [notJ have becn brought in the forcclosure case" as those claims werc not ripe bccause they had not yet "lost thc property'" Id. at 11. Notwithstanding thc possibility that the Kings may have sulTcred additional damages since the filing of the state actions. the legal issues have remained the same. The Court linds that thc claims brought here arise out of the same transaction as the forcclosure proceedings. and state the samc allegations. As such. the Kings' claims arc barred by the doctrine of resjuili('(l/a. and will be dismissed. IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons. DelCndant's Motions to Dismiss. lOCI'NO.4. ECF No. 17. is granted. The Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply. ECF No. 22. is also granted. and the Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion to Strike the Defendant's Rcply. lOCI'No. 25. is denied. A separate Ordcr shall issue. Datc: Septcmber /1 (v '\' 11. 2017 GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge 7 In McMil/all. the plaintiff did not seek review by the Court of Appeals. 10

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?