The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry Alan Burns United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT AS MOOT
This is a foreclosure case. The plaintiff, Arturo Sicairos ("Plaintiff"), is a homeowner who faces foreclosure. The crux of his argument is that the loan trustee threatening to sell his house does not have the proper paperwork. The defendant in this matter is Wells Fargo ("Defendant"), the loan servicer. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED and Defendant's motion for a more definite statement is DENIED AS MOOT.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on September 24, 2008 in the San Diego Superior Court. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 et seq., Defendants removed to this Court on October 30, 2008. Because Plaintiff has asserted claims over which this Court has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, removal was appropriate. All named defendants have joined in the removal as well. Defendant filed a comprehensive motion to dismiss as well as a request for judicial notice on November 4, 2008. Plaintiff did not respond to either. The Court found there to be no need for oral argument on the motion and took it under submission on December 19, 2008.
Alongside its motion to dismiss, Defendant filed a request for judicial notice asking the Court to take judicial notice of several documents in support of the motion. In ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which is what Defendants have filed here, "a court may generally consider only allegations contained in the pleadings, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters properly subject to judicial notice." Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007).
Defendant first asks the Court to take judicial notice of 38 similar lawsuits filed by Plaintiff's counsel between April 28 and October 23, 2008. (Req. Judicial Notice ¶ 1.) The Court will notice these filings. The Court is also aware that Plaintiff's counsel has come under substantial criticism for filing thousands of these "Produce the Note" suits -- suits one judge found to be frivolous and generic -- and subsequently failing to litigate them.*fn1
Defendant also submits for judicial notice the Deed of Trust ("Deed") and Assignment of Deed of Trust ("Assignment") that were recorded in the San Diego County Recorder's Office. The Deed was recorded in November 2006 and the Assignment in November 2007. The Deed is not even "outside" the complaint such that judicial notice of it needs to be taken. In fact, it is referenced in the Plaintiff's complaint -- as the "security instrument" identified in the Notice of Sale, which isattached to the complaint as an exhibit. "[D]ocuments whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss." Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994), overruled on other grounds by Galbraith v. County of Santa Clara, 307 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2002). The same can safely be said of the Assignment. Although it is not referenced in the complaint proper, it is referenced repeatedly in an initial letter from Plaintiff's counsel to Defendant NDEX West ("NDEX"), which is attached as a second exhibit to Plaintiff's complaint. "Even if a document is not attached to a complaint, it may be incorporated by reference into a complaint if the plaintiff refers extensively to the document or the document forms the basis of the plaintiff's claim." United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003). In any event, the Court also finds that judicial notice of the Deed and Assignment would be appropriate under Fed. R. Evid. 201(b)(2).
A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The facts alleged can be limited to those necessary "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). The Court will grant a motion to dismiss only when a complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory -- or sufficient facts to support one. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). "All allegations of material fact in the complaint are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Stoner v. Santa Clara County Office of Educ., 502 F.3d 1116, 1120 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted). A complaint cannot, however, merely recite in a formulaic manner the elements of each cause of action. Bell Atlantic Corp., 127 S.Ct. at 1965.
On November 17, 2006, Plaintiff borrowed $472,000 from Axiom Financial Services ("Axiom") to buy a home at 1215-17 Denver Lane, El Cajon, CA, 92021.*fn2 In exchange for the loan, Plaintiff executed a promissory note and the Deed, which was filed with the San Diego Recorder's Office days later. In addition to Axiom being the lender, Capitol One Escrow was the original trustee, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS") was Axiom's nominee to receive the benefits of the Deed. This is all apparent in the Deed itself. Most ...