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Morris v. Homecomings Financial

August 4, 2008

SHAMELLE R. MORRIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HOMECOMINGS FINANCIAL, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS [doc. #2]; DENYING MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT AS MOOT; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [doc. #5] and GRANTING LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT

Defendant Homecomings Financial, LLC's*fn1 moves to dismiss the above-captioned complaint or alternatively, for a more definite statement. [doc. #2]. The Court notes that plaintiff, who is appearing pro se, neither filed an opposition to defendant's motion to dismiss or for a more definite statement, nor sought an extension of time in which to respond to the motion. Civil Local Rule 7.1.f.3 provides that "[i]f an opposing party fails to file the papers in the manner required by Civil Local Rule 7.1.e.2, that failure may constitute a consent to the granting of a motion or other request for ruling by the court."

Although the Court could grant summarily defendants' motion for plaintiff's failure to oppose it, the Court will conduct a review of the motion on the merits.

DISCUSSION

1. Motion for More Definite Statement

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), if a complaint is so vague or ambiguous that the opposing party cannot reasonably frame a responsive pleading, the party may move for a more definite statement before interposing a responsive pleading. A Rule 12(e) motion for a more definite statement must be considered in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8's liberal pleading standards in federal court. See, e.g., Bureerong v. Uvawas, 922 F. Supp. 1450, 1461 (C.D. Cal. 1996) (citing Sagan v. Apple Computer, Inc., 874 F. Supp. 1072, 1077 (C.D. Cal. 1994). Under Rule 8, complaints are required to set forth (1) the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction rests, (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing entitlement to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief plaintiff seeks. Rule 8 requires only "sufficient allegations to put defendants fairly on notice of the claims against them." McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506 (2002). A "[p]leading must be sufficiently intelligible for the court to be able to make out one or more potentially viable legal theories on which the claimant might proceed, and it must not be so vague or ambiguous that the opposing party cannot respond, even with a simple denial, in good faith or without prejudice to himself." CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE (2d ed.) § 1376. When the factual detail is so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8, dismissal is proper.

Even if the factual elements of the cause of action are present, but are scattered throughout the complaint and are not organized into a "short and plain statement of the claim," dismissal for failure to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2) is proper. McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir.1996) (stating that a complaint should set forth "who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery" (emphasis added)). A complaint that fails to comply with rules 8(a) and 8(e) may be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b). Rule 8; Nevijel v. North Coast Life Ins. Co., 651 F.2d 671, 673 (9th Cir. 1981)). Further, "[t]he propriety of dismissal for failure to comply with Rule 8 does not depend on whether the complaint is wholly without merit." McHenry, 84 F.3d at 1179.

As defendant properly notes, plaintiff's allegations are so vague, broad-sweeping and largely unintelligible that defendant does not have notice of the claims against it. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957); Richmond v. Nationwide Cassel L.P., 52 F.3d 640, 645 (7th Cir. 1995) (amended complaint with vague and scanty allegations fails to satisfy the notice requirement of Rule 8). Plaintiff does nothing more than offer a wide array of disconnected, legal-sounding concepts untethered to any specific factual allegations. To obtain compensation for the indignities plaintiff contends she endured, she must articulate viable, legally recognized claims against the defendant. Because of this failure to provide notice of her claims to defendant, the Court will dismiss the complaint based on Rule 8 and defendant's motion for a more definite statement will be denied as moot.

2. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Novarro v. Black, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). "A district court should grant a motion to dismiss if plaintiffs have not pled 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Williams ex rel. Tabiu v. Gerber Products Co., 523 F.3d 934, 938 (9th Cir. 2008), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). "'Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Id. "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombley, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-1965. Dismissal of a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate only where "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or where the complaint presents a cognizable legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir.1984). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must construe all inferences from them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002). But legal conclusions need not be taken as true merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003).

As discussed above, the nature of plaintiff's complaint is largely incomprehensible but it appears that plaintiff's complaint may be based upon defendant's foreclosure of real property under a deed of trust or promissory note. Plaintiff peppers her complaint with various legal claims including: quiet title; Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"); the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978; 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986; criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 4; domestic mixed war; fraud; conspiracy; treason; and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. Plaintiff also contends that "there was a commercial dishonor, for which I exercised my rights by using the guidelines of the United Nations Convention." (Complaint at 4). Plaintiff accuses defendant of the "following crimes against humanity, and violation of the rights of the people of this California Republic/International Communities/ Universal Declaration of Human Rights or obligation are secured, preserve or defined by the Constitution." Id. at 5. Finally, plaintiff lists several Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC") sections.

A. Quiet Title

The caption of plaintiff's complaint indicates that she seeks to assert a quiet title claim to certain real property located in San Diego. As set forth in defendants' motion to dismiss, plaintiff has not verified properly the complaint and/or alleged the basic factual elements of a quiet title claim under California Code of Civil Procedure ยง 761.020. For example, plaintiff must allege the legal description and street address of real property; the title plaintiff seeks and the factual basis for the title; the adverse claims against the title; the date as of which the determination is sought; and a prayer for ...


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