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Jackson v. Ocwen Loan Servicing

August 20, 2010

CHARLES S. JACKSON AND LUCILLE JACKSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OCWEN LOAN SERVICING, LLC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Charles and Lucille Jackson ("Plaintiffs") seek redress from Defendant Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC ("Defendant") based on claims of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, slander of title, unfair business practice in violation of California Business and Professions Code § 17200 ("UCL"), misrepresentation and fraud in violation of California Business and Professions Code § 17500 ("False Advertising Law"), unjust enrichment, and infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiffs have a Notice of Action Pending ("Lis Pendens") on their residence at 2444 Oceanic Drive, Fairfield, CA 94533.

Presently before the Court is a Motion by Defendant to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendant also moves to Expunge the Lis Pendens recorded against Plaintiffs' residence. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Expunge are granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

This action arises out of activity surrounding a residential loan transaction for Plaintiffs' property located in the City of Fairfield, County of Solano, California. On July 18, 2006, Plaintiffs entered into a mortgage loan for $380,700. Defendant was the servicer of Plaintiffs' mortgage.

In July 2009, Plaintiffs entered into a written agreement with Defendant, the Home Affordable Modification Trial Period Plan ("HAMP"). Plaintiffs incorrectly sent the first trial period payment under the HAMP to the wrong address. Plaintiffs later corrected their mistake and sent payment to the correct address, but Defendant refused payment as being late. Plaintiffs were advised by Defendant to reapply for the HAMP, but chose not to do so.

Defendant then proceeded with foreclosure on the residence and recorded a Notice of Default in the Official Records of Solano County on August 17, 2009.*fn2 Defendant indicates that Plaintiffs were $23,356.90 behind on their mortgage payments as of August 14, 2009. Defendant recorded the Notice of Trustee's Sale in the Official Records of Solano County on December 23, 2009. The foreclosure sale was initially scheduled for January 11, 2010 and has been rescheduled on several occasions. On January 11, 2010, Plaintiffs filed the present lawsuit against Defendant and recorded a Lis Pendens on the property.

STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Rule 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" 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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103 (1957)).

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. Id. at 1964-65 (internal citations omitted). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 1965 (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004) ("The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action")).

"Rule 8(a)(2)...requires a 'showing,' rather than a blanket assertion of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirements of providing not only 'fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also 'grounds' on which the claim rests". Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3. A pleading must contain "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face". Id. at 570. If the "plaintiffs...have not nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, their complaint must be dismissed". Id. Nevertheless, "[a] well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and 'that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'" Id. at 556.

A court granting a motion to dismiss a complaint must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. A court should "freely give" leave to amend when there is no "undue delay, bad faith[,] dilatory motive on the part of the movant,...undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of...the amendment, [or] futility of the amendment...". Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Generally, leave to amend is denied only when it is clear the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992).

B. Motion to Expunge Lis Pendens

"A Lis Pendens is recorded by someone asserting a real property claim, to give notice that a lawsuit has been filed which may, if that person prevails, affect title to possession of the real property described in the notice". Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Charlton, 17 Cal. App. 4th 1066, 1069 (1993) (citing Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 405.2, 405.4, 405.20). A Lis Pendens, once filed prevents that property's transfer until the Lis Pendens is expunged or the litigation is resolved. BGJ Assoc., LLC v. Super. Ct. of L.A., 75 Cal. App. 4th 952, 966-67 (1999). The Lis Pendens is expunged if the pleading on which the Lis Pendens is based does not contain a real property claim, or if the evidence fails to establish the probable validity of the real property claims. Orange Cnty. v. H.K. and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd., 52 F.3d 821, 823-24 (9th Cir. 1995).

To constitute a "real property claim", the cause of action, if meritorious, must affect the right of possession of specific real property or affect the title to the specific real property. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code ยง 405.4. The "probable validity" standard means "it is more likely than not that the claimant ...


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