Bank of America, N.A. v. Regency Village Owner's Association, Inc. et al

Filing 56

ORDER that 34 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction is GRANTED. BANA shall have twenty-one days from the filing date of this Order to file an amended complaint should it elect to do so. Failure to file an amended complaint by this date will result in dismissal of BANA's claims against CSC with prejudice. Signed by Chief Judge Gloria M. Navarro on 6/29/17. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - MMM)

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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 3 BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., 4 Plaintiff, 5 vs. 6 7 REGENCY VILLAGE OWNER’S ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., 8 Defendants. 9 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 2:16-cv-00496-GMN-CWH ORDER Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 34), filed by Defendant 10 11 CSC Acquisitions & Holdings, LLC (“CSC”). Plaintiff Bank of America, N.A., successor by 12 merger to BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP f/k/a Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP 13 (“BANA”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 36), and CSC filed a Reply, (ECF No. 42). For the 14 reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS CSC’s Motion. 15 I. 16 BACKGROUND BANA filed its Complaint on March 8, 2016, asserting claims involving the non-judicial 17 foreclosure on real property located at 104 Sir George Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada (the 18 “Property”). (Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 1). BANA alleges that CSC purchased the Property at the 19 foreclosure sale and later quitclaimed its interest in the Property to Oscar Martinez-Avilez and 20 Miriam Martinez-Avilez (the “Martinez-Avilezes”). (Id. ¶ 27, 29). 21 Specifically, BANA asserts the following causes of action against various parties 22 involved in the foreclosure and subsequent sales of the Property: (1) quiet title with a requested 23 remedy of declaratory judgment; (2) breach of Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) 116.1113; (3) 24 wrongful foreclosure; (4) injunctive relief. (Id.). As against CSC, BANA asserts only its claim 25 to quiet title. (Id.). In the instant Motion, CSC argues that: (1) the Court lacks jurisdiction over Page 1 of 6 1 this case as BANA has failed to allege the amount in controversy is met; and (2) BANA has 2 failed to state a claim against CSC. 3 II. LEGAL STANDARD 4 A. 5 Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits motions to dismiss for Rule 12(b)(1) 6 lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). When subject matter jurisdiction is 7 challenged, the burden of proof is placed on the party asserting that jurisdiction exists. Scott v. 8 Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986) (holding that “[t]he party seeking to invoke the 9 court’s jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists”). Accordingly, 10 courts presume lack of subject matter jurisdiction until the plaintiff proves otherwise in 11 response to the motion to dismiss. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 12 377 (1994). 13 “Ordinarily, a case dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should be dismissed 14 without prejudice so that a plaintiff may reassert his claims in a competent court.” Frigard v. 15 United States, 862 F.2d 201, 204 (9th Cir. 1988) (per curiam). However, where there is no way 16 to cure the jurisdictional defect, dismissal with prejudice is proper. See id. 17 B. 18 Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandates that a court dismiss a Rule 12(b)(6) 19 cause of action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See North Star Int’l 20 v. Ariz. Corp. Comm’n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). When considering a motion to 21 dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is appropriate only when the 22 complaint does not give the defendant fair notice of a legally cognizable claim and the grounds 23 on which it rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In considering 24 whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the Court will take all material allegations 25 Page 2 of 6 1 as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL Indus., Inc. v. 2 Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). 3 The Court, however, is not required to accept as true allegations that are merely 4 conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. See Sprewell v. Golden 5 State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). A formulaic recitation of a cause of action 6 with conclusory allegations is not sufficient; a plaintiff must plead facts showing that a 7 violation is plausible, not just possible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing 8 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (emphasis added). “A claim has facial plausibility when the 9 plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the 10 defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a plaintiff’s 11 complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled 12 to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). “Prolix, confusing complaints” should be dismissed because 13 “they impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges.” McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 14 (9th Cir. 1996). 15 III. DISCUSSION 16 A. 17 A district court has original jurisdiction over civil actions between citizens of different Subject Matter Jurisdiction 18 states where the amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds $75,000.00. 28 19 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Where a claim is originally filed in the federal court, the Court applies the 20 legal certainty standard in determining whether the requisite jurisdictional amount is present. 21 Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 402 (1996); compare id. at 404 (indicating 22 that the preponderance of the evidence standard applies only when a defendant removes a 23 plaintiff’s state court complaint that does not specify a particular amount of damages). Under 24 the legal certainty standard, a claim in the complaint made in good faith satisfies the 25 jurisdictional requirement for diversity unless “from the face of the pleadings, it is apparent, to Page 3 of 6 1 a legal certainty, that the plaintiff cannot recover the amount claimed.” St. Paul Mercury 2 Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288–89 (1990); see Crum v. Circus Circus Enters., 3 231 F.3d 1129, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000) (holding that the amount in controversy alleged by the 4 proponent of federal jurisdiction controls so long as the claim is made in good faith). In short, 5 where the plaintiff originally files in federal court, the amount in controversy is determined 6 from the face of the pleadings, and to justify dismissal, it must appear to a legal certainty that 7 the claim is really for less than the jurisdictional amount. Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. 8 Estate of Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010). 9 CSC argues for dismissal on the grounds that the BANA’s alleged damages do not 10 exceed $75,000.00. CSC contends that “the maximum relief [BANA] can obtain in this quiet 11 title action is measured by the value of the Property securing the loan, not the amount of the 12 loan itself.” (Mot. to Dismiss (“MTD”) 4:19–20, ECF No. 35). Further, CSC asserts that the 13 value of the Property is far less than $75,000.00. (Id. 5:18–27). 14 The Court concludes that BANA’s damages claim was made in good faith and cannot 15 say with legal certainty that the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000.00. From the 16 face of the Complaint, BANA alleges that the “amount in controversy requirement is met as 17 BANA seeks a declaration that its deed of trust, which secures a loan with a principal balance 18 of $156,787.07 was not extinguished by a homeowner’s association non-judicial foreclosure 19 sale.” (Compl. ¶ 7). CSC cites no authority that the amount in controversy in such a case 20 cannot be established by the balance of the deed of trust alone. Indeed, many courts in this 21 district have found such allegations sufficient to demonstrate jurisdiction in similar cases. See, 22 e.g., Long v. Aurora Bank, FSB, No. 2:12-cv-00721-GMN-CWH, 2012 WL 2076842, at *1 (D. 23 Nev. June 8, 2012) (“[T]he value of this lawsuit [to quiet title is] at least the value of the 24 underlying loan.”); Chavez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 3:11-cv-0660-LRH-WGC, 2012 25 WL 1328824, at *1 (D. Nev. Apr. 17, 2012); see also Schultz v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, Page 4 of 6 1 LP, No. CV-11-00558-PHX-NVW, 2011 WL 1771679, at *2 (D. Ariz. May 10, 2011) (finding 2 that when a party seeks to quiet title, the amount in controversy “is at least the value of the 3 subject property and, more likely, the value of the loan”). In light of the foregoing, the Court 4 cannot say with legal certainty that the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000.00. 5 Therefore, the Court must deny CSC’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. 6 B. 7 Next, CSC asks Court to dismiss the quiet title/declaratory judgment claim against it Failure to State a Claim 8 because it asserts no interest in the Property adverse to BANA.1 (MTD 7:13–14); (see also 9 Compl. ¶ 29) (“CSC transferred its interest in the property to the Martinez-Avilezes by virtue of 10 a quitclaim deed.”). In response to CSC’s argument that it has no interest in the litigation, 11 BANA argues that CSC “must be joined to this claim in order to ensure any judgment is 12 binding on any person who received an ownership interest following the HOA foreclosure 13 sale.” (MTD 8:7–9). Assuming, without deciding that CSC’s Motion can be treated as a Rule 14 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, BANA’s argument falls short. 15 BANA does not argue that CSC is a necessary party under Federal Rule of Civil 16 Procedure 19(a). Rather, BANA points to an attenuated hypothetical to support its claim that 17 dismissal of CSC is improper: “if CSC was not a party to this lawsuit and judgment was entered 18 in favor of BANA as to all claims, CSC could claim an ownership interest in the property 19 because its prior interest was not adjudicated as invalid.” (Resp. 8:9–11, ECF No. 36). As CSC 20 has disclaimed all interest in the property, BANA fails to explain how this circumstance could 21 22 23 24 25 1 BANA correctly points out that CSC has already submitted an Answer to the Complaint before bringing its Motion to Dismiss. (See Resp. 7:21–24). The Court finds that CSC asserted the defense that BANA failed to state a claim in its Answer, (ECF No. 9), and thus, did not waive that defense by filing its Answer before filing the Motion to Dismiss. See Hillis v. Heineman, 626 F.3d 1014, 1019 (9th Cir. 2010) (“We endorse the general rule that the assertion of alternative defenses in an answer, or the assertion of claims in a counterclaim or a thirdparty claim, will not waive a defense that has been asserted previously or contemporaneously in an answer.”). Moreover, the result of this case would not change if the Court treated this Motion as a motion made under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) rather than Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Page 5 of 6 1 arise. Other courts in this district have held that “parties facing a quiet title claim may be, at 2 least nominally, necessary parties when the court’s potential invalidation of the foreclosure sale 3 could alter their possible liability to other entities in the case.” Bank of Am., N.A. v. Sunrise 4 Ridge Master Homeowners Ass’n, No. 2:16-cv-0381-JCM-VCF, 2017 WL 1293977, at *4 (D. 5 Nev. Mar. 10, 2017). BANA has not adequately explained how a result in its favor would alter 6 CSC’s liability to the remaining parties. The Court therefore dismisses BANA’s claims against 7 CSC without prejudice. 8 IV. 9 CONCLUSION IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 34), is 10 GRANTED. BANA shall have twenty-one days from the filing date of this Order to file an 11 amended complaint should it elect to do so. Failure to file an amended complaint by this date 12 will result in dismissal of BANA’s claims against CSC with prejudice 13 29 DATED this _____ day of June, 2017. 14 15 16 ___________________________________ Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Judge 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Page 6 of 6

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