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Patti Ann Coppes v. Wachovia Mortgage Corporation and Wells Fargo Bank

April 13, 2011

PATTI ANN COPPES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WACHOVIA MORTGAGE CORPORATION AND WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., AND DOES 1 THROUGH 40, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS*fn1

Wachovia Mortgage ("Wachovia") moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for dismissal with prejudice of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC"); and for an order issued under Rule 12(f) that would strike portions of Plaintiff's FAC. Plaintiff opposes the dismissal motion. For the reasons stated below, Wachovia's dismissal motion is granted and its motion to strike is denied since it is mooted by the ruling below on the dismissal motion.

Wachovia argues it is "a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., formerly known as Wachovia Mortgage, FSB, formerly known as World Savings Bank, FSB[.]" (Notice of Mot. 1:27-2:1.) Wachovia contends it is erroneously sued separately as "Wachovia Mortgage Corporation" and "Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.," and therefore brings this motion as one entity, "Wachovia Mortgage, a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.". Id. 1:27-2:1-2.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. 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, ---U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Moss v. United States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1951).

In analyzing whether a claim has facial plausibility, "[w]e accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of material fact, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 5141247, at *3 (9th Cir. 2010). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

"In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory 'factual content,' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss, 572 F.3d at 969 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). ///

II. REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Wachovia's motion includes a request that judicial notice be taken of documents. Wachovia also requests that a document be considered under the incorporation by reference doctrine. (Def.'s Req. for Judicial Notice in Supp. of Mot. ("RJN") Exs. A-J.)

"As a general rule, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). However, a court may consider matters properly subject to judicial notice. Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007). A matter may be judicially noticed if it is either "generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court" or "capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Fed.R.Evid. 201(b).

"[T]he 'incorporation by reference' doctrine [applies] to situations in which the plaintiff's claim depends on the contents of a document, the defendant attaches the document to its motion to dismiss, and the parties do not dispute the authenticity of the document, even though the plaintiff does not explicitly allege the contents of that document in the complaint." Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005).

1. Plaintiff's Loan

Wachovia requests that the Adjustable Rate Mortgage Note signed by Plaintiff on April 6, 2007 be considered under the incorporation by reference doctrine. (RJN 2:11-21; Ex. A.) Wachovia also requests that the following three documents be judicially noticed because they are publicly recorded documents: 1) Deed of Trust dated April 6, 2007, and recorded with the Official Records of the Office of the Solano County Recorder on April 16, 2007; 2) Notice of Default dated March 11, 2010 and recorded in the Official Records of the Office of the Solano County Recorder on March 12, 2010, and 3) Notice of Trustee's Sale dated June 13, 2010 and recorded in the Official Records of the Office of the Solano County Recorder on June 15, 2010. (RJN 2:8-10, 4:5-10; Exs. B, H-I.)

The Adjustable Rate Mortgage Note is referenced in the FAC, is central to Plaintiff's claims, and its authenticity is unisputed. Since this document is incorporated into the FAC by reference, it may be considered in deciding Wachovia's dismissal motion under the incorporation by reference doctrine.

Further, since the Deed of Trust, Notice of Default, and Notice of Trustee's Sale are publicly recorded documents, they may be judicially noticed; and, therefore, the request is granted. See W. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Heflin Corp., 797 F. Supp. 790, 792 (N.D. Cal. 1992) (taking judicial notice of documents in a county's public record, including deeds of trust).

2. Wachovia's Name Change and Status

Wachovia also requests that judicial notice be taken of the following documents: 1) its Certificate of Corporate Existence dated April 21, 2006 issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision, Department of the Treasury; 2) a letter dated November 19, 2007 from the Office of Thrift Supervision, Department of the Treasury; 3) Wachovia's charter dated December 31, 2007; 4) Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") profile and history of Wachovia dated December 29, 2010, from the FDIC's official website; and 5) a letter dated November 1, 2009 from the Comptroller of the Currency confirming Wachovia's conversion to a national bank with the name Wells Fargo Bank Southwest, National Association. (RJN 3:17-4:2; Exs. C-G.) Wachovia argues judicial notice should be taken of these documents since they are copies of official acts or records of departments of the United States or because they were obtained from government websites. Id. 3:7-13. Wachovia further contends these documents show that Wachovia was a federal savings bank, whose name was changed from World Savings to Wachovia on or about December 31, 2007, and that it is currently a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.. Id. 3:1-6.

Judicial notice is taken as requested for Wachovia's name change and status as a federal savings bank. See Ibarra v. Loan City, No. 09-CV-02228-IEG (POR), 2010 WL 415284, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2010) (finding judicial notice of documents related to defendant's status as an operating subsidiary of a federal savings association proper); see also Gens v. Wachovia Mortgage Corp., No. CV10-01073 JF (HRL), 2010 WL 1924777, at *2 (N.D. Cal. May 12, 2010) (taking judicial notice of a letter issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision confirming World Savings' request to change its name to Wachovia); Biggins v. Wells Fargo & Co., No. 09-01272, --- F.R.D. ----, 2009 WL 2246199, at *4 (N.D. Cal. July 27, 2009) (taking judicial notice of an order from the Office of Thrift Supervision); Paralyzed ...


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