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Lori S. Watson v. Citimortgage

March 3, 2011

LORI S. WATSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITIMORTGAGE, INC.; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEM; CR TITLE SERVICES, INC.; FIRST AMERICAN TITLE INSURANCE CO.; AMBECK MORTGAGE ASSOCIATES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

SCREENING ORDER

(Doc. 1)

Screening Order

Plaintiff Lori S. Watson, proceeding pro se and informa pauperis, filed her complaint on December 8, 2010. She challenges the foreclosure of certain real property, alleging (1) fraud; (2) wrongful foreclosure; (3) negligence per se; and (4) quiet title. She seeks damages and equitable relief, including multiple declaratory judgments. This matter has been referred to the magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rules 72-302 and 72-304.

I. Screening Requirement

A court has inherent power to control its docket and the disposition of its cases with economy of time and effort for both the court and the parties. Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 915 (1992). In cases in which the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the complaint and must dismiss it at any time if it concludes that the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

II. Pleading Standards

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to § 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), 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). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Plaintiff must set forth sufficient factual matter accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Although accepted as true, "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). A plaintiff must set forth "the grounds of his entitlement to relief," which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555-56 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). To adequately state a claim against a defendant, a plaintiff must set forth the legal and factual basis for his or her claim.

Plaintiff's complaint falls woefully short of meeting these pleading standards. Most allegations are legal conclusions. The few factual allegations are vague and incomplete. Although Plaintiff attempts to set forth her claims using subheadings, the allegations set forth below the subheadings do not all relate to the apparent claim and include apparently unrelated allegations and claims. Accordingly, this order will review the complaint, identifying the manner in which it falls short of satisfying the pleading standards.

III. Parties

This section of the complaint generally identifies five defendants. The caption includes only four of the identified defendants. Plaintiff must either add Defendant Ambeck to the caption or delete references to it as a defendant from the body of the complaint.

The complaint then alleges the legal conclusion that each defendant acted in concert as employees, agents, co-conspirators or members of a joint venture with the other defendants and that the defendants are jointly and severally liable. The complaint must be amended to allege facts from which a fact finder, whether judge or jury, could itself conclude that the defendants acted in concert or pursuant to a conspiracy.

IV. General Allegations

In November 1988, Plaintiff purchased certain real property, identified as 2812 Marvin Gardens, Modesto, Stanislaus County, California. Plaintiff does not identify whether the property was commercial or residential, or, if the property was residential, whether it was her personal residence or an investment property. She does not allege any purchase money or other financing on the property.

On or about November 7, 2003, Plaintiff refinanced the loan through Defendant Ambeck. Plaintiff alleges that she is unaware of both the beneficiary of the deed of trust and the identity of the individual who executed the promissory note. As the borrower, Plaintiff presumably executed the promissory note to the lender. If she did not do so, further factual ...


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