Ventura et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Memorandum Opinion and Order: Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiffs, Luz and Walter Ventura, filed a response to which defendan t replied. Having considered the motion, the response, the reply, plaintiffs' original petition, and applicable legal authorities, the court concludes that defendant's motion should be granted. (Ordered by Judge John McBryde on 3/30/2017) (hth)
U.S:. D1STRICT COURT
~fimRN T;TS1T;:TCT OF TEXAS
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT CO RT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
FORT WORTH DIVISION
MAR 3 o2017
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.,
Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, Wells
Fargo Bank, N.A., to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
Plaintiffs, Luz and Walter Ventura,
filed a response to which defendant replied.
the motion, the response, the reply, plaintiffs' original
petition, and applicable legal authorities, the court concludes
that defendant's motion should be granted.
Plaintiffs asserted four claims against defendant:
breach of contract,
(2) quiet title,
and (4) permanent injunction.
(3) declaratory judgment,
The breach of contract·claim arose
from claimed defects in a home equity lien executed between
plaintiffs and defendant that allegedly fails to comply with
section SO(a) (6) of the Texas Constitution.
plaintiffs asserted that the home equity lien was
(a) [pl;:lintiffs] did not ;receive a copy of the
final loan documents; (b) an appraisal report was not
prepared; (c) [plaintiffs] did not receive an
acknowledgemet of the three-day right to rescind
document; and (d) [defendant] failed to properly
acknowledge the fair market value on the day the
extension of credit was made.
Doc. 1 at Ex. D,
Also, plaintiffs alleged that defendant
clouded plaintiffs' title to the property secured by the home
equity lien by claiming a valid lien and the power to foreclose
on the property.
Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive
relief, and prayed that defendant forfeit all principal and
interest owed and reimburse plaintiffs for all previous payments
Grounds of the Motion to Dismiss
Defendant moved to dismiss all of plaintiffs' claims for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Specifically, defendant argued that plaintiffs' breach of
contract claim is barred by the applicable four-year statute of
Regardless of limitations, defendant asserted that
the breach of contract claim should otherwise be dismissed
because each of the alleged violations of the Texas Constitution
'The "Doc. _" references are to the number of the item on the docket in this action.
fails as a matter of law.
Defendant also contended that
plaintiffs' quiet title claim fails because the claim is not
based on the strength of plaintiffs' title to the propert)', but
instead is based on the alleged weakness of defendant's title.
Finally, defendant argued that plaintiffs' requests for
declaratory and injunctive relief should be dismissed, as such
requests are dependant upon the assertion of a viable cause of
Applicable Pleading Principles
Rule S(a) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides, in a general way, the applicable standard of pleading.
It requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,"
Fed. R. Civ. P. S(a) (2),
"in order to give the defendant fair
notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,"
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
quotation marks and ellipsis omitted).
Although a complaint need
not contain detailed factual allegations, the "showing"
contemplated by Rule 8 requires the plaintiff to do more than
simply allege legal conclusions or recite the elements of a cause
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3.
Thus, while a court
must accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as
true, it need not credit bare legal conclusidns that are
unsupported by any factual underpinnings.
SSG U.S. 662, 679
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
("While legal conclusions can provide
the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual
Moreover, to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the facts pleaded
must allow the court to infer that the plaintiff's right to
relief is plausible.
Iqbal, SS6 U.S. at 678.
To allege a
plausible right to relief, the facts pleaded must suggest
liability; allegations that are merely consistent with unlawful
conduct are insufficient.
In other words, where the facts
pleaded do no more than permit the court to infer the possibility
of misconduct, the complaint has not shown that the pleader is
entitled to relief.
Id. at 679.
"Determining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief . .
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw
on its judicial experience and common sense."
Further, when a successful affirmative defense such as
limitations is apparent on the face of the pleadings, dismissal
is appropriate on that ground.
Kansa Reinsurance Co. v. Cong.
Mortg. Corp. Of Texas, 20 F. 3d 1362, 1366 (5th Cir. 1994).
laintiffs' llrESach of Contrsct Cl;;lim is Barred by
A breach of contract claim for failure to comply with
section SO(a) (6) of the Texas Constitution is bound by a fouryear limitations period.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.051;
see Priester v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 708 F.3d 667, 673-74
(5th Cir. 2013).
The period runs when the legal injury occurs,
which, in actions challenging the creation of unconstitutional
liens, takes place at the creation of the lien.
708 F.3d at 675-76.
Here, the limitations period began on November 15, 2006, the
date the parties executed the home equity lien.
waited until December 29, 2016, more than six years after the
limitations period expired, to challenge the·validity of the
Their breach of contract claim has long been foreclosed.
Nothing in the original petition suggests that there are
facts that could be alleged in an amended pleading that would
cure the pleading deficiencies as to plaintiffs' breach of
The record indicates that if plaintiffs were to
put in an amended complaint allegations of fact that would be
inconsistent with the dates supplied in the original petition,
they would be at risk of the imposition of sanctions under Rule
11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
In other words, the
record suggests .that plaintiffs cannot honestly plead facts by an
brlng their breach of contract clalm
within the applicable limitations period.
Plaintiffs Fail to State a Quiet Title Claim
Under Texas law, to prevail on a quiet title claim
plaintiffs must show that: "(1)
[they have] an interest in a
(2) title to the property is affected by a
claim by the defendant, and (3) the claim, although facially
is invalid or unenforceable."
Hurd v, BAC Home Loans
Servicing, 880 F. Supp. 2d 747, 766 (N.D. Tex. 2012).
"plaintiff[s) must prove and recover on the strength
of [their) own title, not on the weakness of [their) adversary's
Fricks v. Hancock, 45 S.W.3d 322, 327 (Tex. App. 2001,
(citing Alkas v. United Sav. Ass'n of Tex., Inc., 672
S.W.2d 852, 857 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1984, writ ref'd
To support their quiet title claim, plaintiffs alleged that:
22. Plaintiffs are the undisputed owner of the
Property by virtue of Plaintiff's recorded deed.
23. Defendant has clouded Plaintiffs' title by
claiming that Defendant has a lien for security
purposes on Plaintiff's Property and that Defendant has
the power to foreclose on said Property.
24. The [home equity lien) upon which Defendant
asserts an interest, although facially valid, is in
fact invalid and of no force or effect because
Defendant's uncured constitutional violations have
rendered Defendant's underlying lien void ab initio.
Thus, Defendant's claim interferes with Plaintiff's
Doc. 1 at Ex. D, , , 22-24 (citations omitted).
Plaintiffs' quiet title claim fails because plaintiffs have
not shown that defendant's claim of a valid lien and the power to
foreclose is invalid or unenforceable.
For the reasons explained
in the preceding section, plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently
allege facts showing that the home equity lien is void.
Moreover, plaintiffs' allegations are not based on the strength
of their own title, but instead are based on the alleged weakness
of defendant's title.
Plaintiffs should not be permitted to amend their complaint
because doing so would be futile.
Nothing in the original
petition suggests that there are facts that could be alleged in
an amended pleading that would cure the pleading deficiencies as
to plaintiffs' quiet title claim.
Further, plaintiffs' response
to the motion to dismiss lacks any indication that an amended
complaint would be beneficial.
Plaintiffs' Declaratory Judgment Claim is Duplicative of
Their Breach of Contract And Quiet Title Claims
Federal courts have broad discretion whether to decide a
declaratory judgment claim.
193, 194 (5th Cir. 1991).
Torch, Inc. v. LeBlanc, 947 F.2d
Here, plaintiffs requested a
declaration that "(a)
 Defendant has failed to cure
Constitutional defects in the loan documents,
mortgage lien is noncompliant with the Texas Constitution and
thereby VOID, and (c)
. . . title be quieted in Plaintiffs'
Doc. 1, Ex. D at , 30.
Plaintiffs' requests simply
mirror their claims for breach of contract and quiet title;
adjudication of those claims will resolve all of the issues
present in this action.
Thus, plaintiffs' declaratory judgment
claim is unnecessary.
Plaintiffs Are Not Entitled to Injunctive Relief
"Under Texas law, a request for injunctive relief is not
itself a cause of action but depends on an underlying cause of
Cook v. Wells Fargo Bank, N,A., No. 3:10-CV-592-D, 2010
WL 2772445, at *4
(N.D. Tex. July 12, 2010)
Ping Xie, 260 S.W.3d 118, 122
(citing Brown v. Ke-
(Tex. App. 2008, no pet,)); see
Butnaru v. Ford Motor Co., 84 S.W.3d 198, 204
Plaintiffs have failed to state any claim upon which relief
can be granted.
Consequently, they are not entitled to any
The court ORDERS that defendant's motion to dismiss be, and
is hereby, granted, and that all claims and causes of action
asserted by plaintiffs against defendant in the above-captioned
action be, and are hereby, dismissed.
SIGNED March 30, 2017.
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