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Richard W. and Michelle Moran v. American General Finance

February 28, 2011

RICHARD W. AND MICHELLE MORAN,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AMERICAN GENERAL FINANCE,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorablelarryalanburns United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION; AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

On June 29, 2010, Plaintiffs Richard and Michelle Moran filed their complaint, styled "ORIGINAL PETITION AND PETITION FOR RESTRAINING ORDER," along with a motion for a "restraining order." The court denied a temporary restraining order and construed the motion as a motion for preliminary injunction. The parties then participated in an early neutral evaluation and extensive follow-up settlement discussions, which have failed to result in resolution of the disputes.

Defendant American General Finance then moved to dismiss, arguing essentially that the complaint didn't state any claims or even make any factual allegations against it.

I. Similar Complaints

During the Court's review of decisions in similar cases, it became apparent that the Morans' complaint is substantially identical to complaints filed in several district courts around the United States. On February 24, 2011, in a separate case, Lefton v. GMAC Mortgage, 10cv1781-LAB (NLS) (filed August 25, 2010), the Court issued an order screening such a complaint and dismissing it as frivolous. This order repeats much of the reasoning set forth in the Lefton screening order. Besides this case and Lefton, the Court has been able to identify at least six cases filed during the summer of 2010:

* Wyatt Geans v. Oxford Bank, 10cv13160-BAF (E.D. Mich., filed August 10, 2010).

* Heather Kirschen Rippere v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 10cv3532-WHA (N.D.Cal., filed August 11, 2010).

* Edward & Renee Fisher v. Bank of America Home Loans, 10cv3079-PA (D.Or., filed August 18, 2010).

* Thomas Ray v. HSBC Bank, N.A., 10cv175-MR (W.D.N.C., filed August 20, 2010).

* Ned & Kelly Carlsen v. One West Bank FSB, 10cv80986-WPD (S.D.Fla., filed August 24, 2010).

* Sullivan v. Quality Loan Service Corp., 10cv436-BLW (D.Id., filed August 27, 2010.)

These lengthy complaints (all also styled "ORIGINAL PETITION") have, in part, been individualized by filling in different plaintiffs' and defendants' names, contact information for the parties, and amount of damages sought, and adding or omitting some sections.

At least four other courts have already addressed the complaints' adequacy. In Ray, Judge Reidinger denied a motion for a temporary restraining order, noting "In essence, the complaint is a harangue against the lending industry with no specific allegations against HSBC." Ray v. HSBC Bank, 2010 WL 3528554, slip op. at *1 (W.D.N.Y., Sept. 3, 2010). Judge Reidinger aptly described the complaint as containing "rambling, inarticulate accusations against the banking industry in general," id., and making factually inconsistent allegations. For example, the order points out that the complaint makes accusations against an "Agent" but doesn't identify who or what the "Agent" is. Id. It inexplicably refers to "defendants" without identifying who, other than HSBC, was a defendant. Id. Judge Reidinger concluded the complaint was "most likely frivolous," cautioned the plaintiffs about sanctions under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, and concluded "The Plaintiff is heartily encouraged to consult an attorney before continuing with this litigation." Id. at *2.

Similarly, in Fisher, Judge Panner issued a detailed order dismissing the complaint for failing to meet the standard set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. Fisher v. Bank of America Home Loans, 2010 WL 4296609 (D.Or., Oct. 21, 2009). The order pointed out the complaint fell far short of the pleading standard set forth in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). 2010 WL 4296609, slip op. at *2 ("The sparse factual allegations, taken as true, simply do not raise any viable claims.") Among other things, the order pointed out that the ...


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