The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Anthony J. BattagliaU.S. District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND ) DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS FIRST AMENDED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS MOOT (Doc. 13 and 47)
Pending is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, filed February 18, 2011. (Doc. No. 13).
In October 2004, Plaintiffs obtained a $455,000 mortgage loan from Washington Mutual Bank ("WaMu"). (Compl. Ex. 3). The mortgage note was secured by a Deed of Trust. (Compl. Ex. 4). The Deed of Trust identifies WaMu as the lender and beneficiary and California Reconveyance Company ("California Reconveyance") as the trustee. (Id.). Plaintiffs subsequently defaulted on the mortgage loan. (Compl. Ex. 1). California Reconveyance recorded a Notice of Default on February 3, 2010.
The Notice of Default indicates that the Plaintiffs had accumulated $13,563.09 in arrears. (Id.). .
Plaintiffs filed this action pro se onJanuary 24, 2011. The Complaint does not provide a numbered list of causes of action. It appears that Plaintiffs allege the following claims against all Defendants: 1) violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 2) violation of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq, 3) claim to quiet title, 4) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, 5) breach of fiduciary duty by broker, 6) breach of fiduciary duty by appraiser, 7) breach of fiduciary duty by lender, 8) breach of fiduciary duty by closing agent, 9) negligence/negligence per se, 10) common law fraud, 11) fraud by non-disclosure, 12) intentional infliction of emotional distress, 13) unfair business practices under California Business and Professions Code § 17200, and 14) civil conspiracy. (See generally Compl.). Plaintiffs did not name the broker, appraiser, closing agent, or underwriter in this action, but seek to impose conspiracy liability for their actions upon the named Defendants. It is unclear from the Complaint what role Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank") played in this action beyond allegedly conspiring with the other named Defendants to defraud Plaintiffs
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). The court must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true, and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337--38 (9th Cir.1996). A complaint may survive a motion to dismiss only if, taking all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, it contains enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). However, because Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, their complaint "must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers," as the Supreme Court has reaffirmed since Twombly. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). Iqbal incorporated the Twombly pleading standard and Twombly did not alter courts' treatment of pro se filings; accordingly, the Court construes pro se filings liberally when evaluating them under Iqbal. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010); see also McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640-42 (7th Cir. 2010); Bustos v. Martini Club Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461-62 (5th Cir. 2010); Casanova v. Ulibarri, 595 F.3d 1120, 1124 n. 2, 1125 (10th Cir.2010); Capogrosso v. Sup. Ct. of N.J., 588 F.3d 180, 184 & n. 1 (3d Cir. 2009); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71-72 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that even following Twombly and Iqbal, "we remain obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally"). While the standard is higher, our "obligation" remains, "where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt." Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n. 1 (9th Cir.1985) (en
A. Sufficiency of Plaintiffs' Claims Generally
Even when construing the Complaint liberally in the Plaintiffs' favor, it poses significant obstacles to the Court's consideration of the Motion to Dismiss. The Complaint identifies each of the Defendants by name at the outset and then states that the "Defendants are hereinafter referred to as 'Lender,' or 'Defendant(s),' 'Defendant Lender.'" (Compl. ¶ 1). The Complaint's Statement of Facts then lists the numerous allegedly wrongful actions taken by "Lender." For example, Plaintiffs allege that "Lender" failed to make certain disclosures, failed to make the required TILA disclosures, impermissibly changed the terms of the contract at the last minute, and willfully breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (Compl. ¶¶ 26, 27, 28, 59). While this may have been convenient for purposes of drafting the Complaint, referencing the Defendants individually and as a group simply as "Lender" makes it impossible to discern which allegations relate to which Defendant. Not only does this prevent the Court from gathering a clear view of the factual history of Plaintiffs' claims, it also fails to give the individual Defendants the notice necessary to defend against the particular acts of wrongdoing alleged.
Similarly, as noted by Judge Sammartino in her denial of Plaintiffs' request for a temporary restraining order (Doc. No. 11), "Plaintiffs fail to explain what statutory provisions were violated or which violations could be attributed to the Defendants." (Doc. No. 11 at 3). "As a whole, Plaintiffs' complaint contains only conclusory allegations of wrongdoing." (Id. at 2). While pro se plaintiffs are entitled to a more liberal construction of their pleadings, the Complaint must make some showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Accordingly, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs' Complaint with leave to amend in order to provide clarification as to the nature of the violations alleged and identify the alleged violators.
Assuming that the Plaintiffs may remedy these issues by amending the Complaint, the Court will address Defendants' alternative arguments in ...