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Uribe v. MortgageIT

January 26, 2009

JAMES URIBE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MORTGAGEIT, INC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS; DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT; GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND [doc. nos. 8, 9]

Defendant MortgageIT, Inc. ("MortgageIT") and defendants Countrywide Financial Corporation, Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS"), and Bank of America, N.A. (collectively "Countrywide") move to dismiss the above-captioned case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). MortgageIT alternatively moves for a more definite statement. The Court notes that under the Civil Local Rules, plaintiffs' response was due on or before January 12, 2009. See CIV. L.R. 7.1(e)(2). To date, plaintiffs neither filed a response nor sought additional time in which to file a response to defendants' motion. On January 16, 2009, MortgageIT filed a reply to its motion noting plaintiffs' lack of a response. On January 21, 2009, the Countrywide defendants filed a notice that plaintiffs had not filed any response to defendants' motion and request that their motion be granted based on plaintiffs' non-opposition.

When an opposing party does not file papers in the manner required by Civil Local Rule 7.1(e.2), the Court may deem the failure to "constitute a consent to the granting of a motion or other request for ruling by the court." CIV. L.R. 7.1(f.3.c). Notwithstanding plaintiffs' failure to file an opposition, the Court will review the motion on the merits to determine whether any legal issue exists that would preclude the granting of defendants' motion to dismiss.

DISCUSSION

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the pleadings. De La Cruz v. Tormey, 582 F.2d 45, 48 (9th Cir. 1978). A complaint may not be dismissed for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), "unless it appears beyond a 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). In ruling on a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and further, must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as any reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. See Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003). But a complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) where the factual allegations do not raise the "right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)

Plaintiffs obtained a home mortgage loan*fn1 on December 16, 2005 and an equity line of credit from Bank of America on February 7, 2006. Plaintiffs allege the following causes of action: to quiet title; fraud; negligent infliction of emotional distress; Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.; Truth In Lending Act ("TILA") 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.; the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA"), 12 U.S.C. § 2614; and for cancellation based on fraud and impossibility of performance. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief in addition to damages.

Defendant MortgageIT

MortgageIT moves to dismiss the complaint on the ground that there are no allegations made against it. Defendant is correct. A single statement in the complaint references MortgageIT: "Defendants [sic] are informed and believe that [the Countrywide defendants] were the actual lender of the MortgageIT loan described below." (Complaint, ¶ 7.) Because there are no allegations of wrongdoing against it, defendant MortgageIT is entitled to dismissal without prejudice of the complaint. Because plaintiffs may amend the complaint, MortgageIT's alternative motion for a more definite statement is denied as moot and without prejudice.

Countrywide Defendants*fn2

1. RICO and Fraud

Defendants first argue that plaintiffs' fraud and RICO causes of action must be dismissed because they have not been pleaded with the particularity required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). The Court agrees.

"Rule 9(b)'s particularity requirement applies to state-law causes of action." Vess v. Ciba-Geigy Corp. USA, 317 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2003). To comply with rule 9(b), "the circumstances constituting fraud . . . shall be stated with particularity." "A pleading is sufficient under rule 9(b) if it identifies the circumstances constituting fraud so that a defendant can prepare an adequate answer from the allegations." Moore v. Kayport Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 540 (9th Cir. 1989). In this regard, it is sufficient to plead items such as the time, place and nature of the alleged fraudulent activities. Id.

Generally, Rule 9(b) requires a plaintiff to attribute particular fraudulent statements or acts to individual defendants. Id. However, in this case, no individual defendants are named.

[T]he rule may be relaxed as to matters within the opposing party's knowledge. For example, in cases of corporate fraud, plaintiffs will not have personal knowledge of all the underlying facts. . . . Instances of corporate fraud may also make it difficult to attribute particular fraudulent conduct to each defendant as an individual. To overcome such difficulties in cases of corporate fraud, the allegations should include the misrepresentations ...


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