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Mehta v. Wells Fargo Bank

March 29, 2011

JIMIT H. MEHTA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.; WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE; FIRST AMERICAN TITLE INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge

ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANT WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.’S REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE; (2) GRANTING DEFENDANT WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.’S MOTION TO DISMISS; (3) GRANTING DEFENDANT FIRST AMERICAN TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY’S MOTION TO DISMISS

(Doc. Nos. 24, 25)

Presently before the Court are motions to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint by Defendants Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (collectively, Wells Fargo) (Doc. No. 24 (Wells Fargo Mot.)), and Defendant First American Title Insurance Company (Doc. No. 25 (First Am. Mot.)). Wells Fargo's request for judicial notice supplements its motion. (Doc. No. 24-2 (RJN).) Also before the Court are Plaintiff's oppositions (Doc. Nos. 31 (Opp'n to Wells Fargo Mot.), 32 (Opp'n to First Am. Mot.)), Defendants' replies (Doc. Nos. 33 (Wells Fargo Reply), 34 (First Am. Reply)), Plaintiff's supplemental opposition (Doc. No. 38 (Suppl. Opp'n)), and Wells Fargo's surreply (Doc. No. 39 (Surreply)). Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Wells Fargo's request for judicial notice and GRANTS both motions to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff owned real property in Encinitas, California. (Doc. No. 23 (SAC) ¶ 2.) In 2007, he refinanced a loan secured by his property. (Id. ¶ 7.) Two years later, he defaulted, and as a result, First American scheduled a sale of the property for January 5, 2010. (Id. ¶¶ 7--10.) Plaintiff then attempted to modify his loan by negotiating with Wells Fargo before the sale. (Id. ¶ 11.) During negotiations, on December 30, 2009, a Wells Fargo representative told Plaintiff that the sale would be postponed. (Id. ¶ 28.) After much ado, however, the sale occurred on January 5, 2010. (Id. ¶ 45.)

Plaintiff then filed the present action, alleging that Defendants acted fraudulently during the negotiation process. (Id. ¶¶ 11--47.) Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 8, 9.) The Court granted the motions. (Doc. No. 22 (Order).) Plaintiff then filed a second amended complaint, asserting five causes of action: (1) intentional misrepresentation, (2) quiet title, (3) negligent misrepresentation, (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and (5) promissory estoppel. (SAC ¶¶ 48--72.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the defense that the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," generally referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although Rule 8 "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' . . . it [does] demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ---- U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A claim is facially plausible if the facts pleaded "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). That is not to say that the claim must be probable, but there must be "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Facts "'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" fall short of a plausible entitlement to relief. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, the Court need not accept as true "legal conclusions" contained in the complaint. Id. This review requires context-specific analysis involving the Court's "judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950 (citation omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged----but it has not 'show[n]'----'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id.

ANALYSIS

1. Wells Fargo's Request for Judicial Notice

Wells Fargo requests that the Court judicially notice the trustee's deed upon sale of Plaintiff's property. (RJN 2.) In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court may consider a document not physically attached to the plaintiff's pleading if its contents are alleged in the complaint and its authenticity is not disputed. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322--23 (2007). The complaint in this matter references the trustee's deed and Plaintiff does not challenge its authenticity. Accordingly, the Court takes judicial notice of the deed.

2. Intentional and Negligent Misrepresentation

Plaintiff's claims for intentional and negligent misrepresentation share two common threads. The first is their factual basis: on December 30, 2009, Wells Fargo agreed to postpone the January 5, 2010, sale of Plaintiff's property. (SAC ¶¶ 49, 59.) The second is Plaintiff's allegations of "reliance," which apply, as they must, ...


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