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Christensen v. American Home Mortgage Servicing

October 18, 2010

KIRA B. CHRISTENSEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN HOME MORTGAGE SERVICING, INC., DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY AS TRUSTEE FOR AMERICAN HOME MORTGAGE ASSETS TRUST 2006-1 MORTGAGE-BACKED PASS THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-1 AND DOES 1 THROUGH 100, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on the motion of defendants' American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc. ("AHMSI") and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank"), as trustee for American Home Mortgage Assets Trust, (collectively "defendants") to dismiss plaintiff Kira B. Christensen's ("plaintiff" or "Christensen") first amended complaint ("FAC") pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), 8(a), and 9(b).*fn1

Plaintiff opposes the motion.*fn2 For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is GRANTED.*fn3

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is the owner of a property located in Sacramento, Ca., at 511 Knightsbridge Lane ("the property"). (Pl.'s First Am. Compl. ("Compl."), filed Aug. 23, 2010, ¶ 11). In 2005 plaintiff, through her broker James Becker ("Becker"), submitted an application to American Home Mortgage Acceptance, Inc. ("AHMA") to refinance the existing loan secured by a deed of trust against the property. (Compl. ¶ 12). Plaintiff alleges that, at the consummation of the loan, Becker knowingly entered false information on the application relating to plaintiff's monthly income, misstated the value of the property, and misrepresented, inter alia, the desirability of the loan, the loan's premium, and plaintiff's ability to modify the loan in the future. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-14). Plaintiff characterizes these practices as predatory. (Compl. ¶ 21). Plaintiff alleges that defendants had a duty to verify the accuracy of the information on the loan application, the true value of the property, and the information given to plaintiff by Becker regarding refinancing the loan if she was not satisfied. (Compl. ¶¶ 16, 14(6)).

Plaintiff asserts that AHMA was the original lender and that both AHMSI and Deutsche Bank are assignees, successors, and servicers of the loan and current beneficiaries under the deed of trust. (Compl. ¶¶ 6-8). Additionally, plaintiff contends, on information and belief, that at all relevant times defendants were, and still are, agents for one another, and acting under the course and scope thereof, with knowledge and consent of each other. (Id. ¶ 10). Plaintiff believes that defendants should be liable for Becker's actions based on an agency relationship between the defendants and Becker, and because defendants "participated in," "were aware of," or "should have been aware of" Becker's acts or omissions and because defendants did not verify the plaintiff's correct income prior to the consummation of the loan. (Compl. ¶¶ 13, 15).

Plaintiff originally filed a complaint against defendants in April 2010. On August 3, 2010, the court granted defendants' motion to dismiss because it concluded that plaintiff did not allege any facts to demonstrate the applicability of equitable tolling to her facially time barred claims for relief. Plaintiff filed her FAC on August 23, 2010 seeking damages and injunctive and equitable relief. (Id. ¶ 4).

STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001).

On a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). The court is bound to give plaintiff the benefit of every reasonable inference to be drawn from the "well-pleaded" allegations of the complaint. Retail Clerks Int'l Ass'n v. Schermerhorn, 373 U.S. 746, 753 n.6 (1963). A plaintiff need not allege "'specific facts' beyond those necessary to state his claim and the grounds showing entitlement to relief." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Nevertheless, the court "need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff "can prove facts which it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the... laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

Ultimately, the court may not dismiss a complaint in which the plaintiff has alleged "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Only where a plaintiff has failed to "nudge [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible," is the complaint properly dismissed. Id. at 1952. While the plausibility requirement is not akin to a probability requirement, it demands more than "a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. at 1949. This plausibility inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950.

ANALYSIS

A. Motion to ...


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