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Freddie V. Salmo v. Phh Mortgage Corporation

July 11, 2011

FREDDIE V. SALMO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHH MORTGAGE CORPORATION, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

O

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. P. 12(c) [19] [Filed 04/14/11]

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Defendants PHH Mortgage Corporation ("PHH"); U.S. Bancorp D/B/A U.S. Bank, National Association, as trustee for J.P Morgan Alternative Loan Trust 2006-A6 ("U.S. Bank"); and NDEx West, L.L.C.'s ("NDEx") (collectively, "Defendants")*fn1 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), or alternatively, for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Dkt. No. 19.) Plaintiff Freddie Salmo ("Plaintiff") filed an Opposition on May 5, 2011, to which Defendants filed a Reply on June 20, 2011. (Dkt. Nos. 22, 33.) Having considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant Motion, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND*fn2

This case arises out of a mortgage loan in the amount of $500,000 obtained by Plaintiff and secured by Plaintiff's property located at 6499 Broken Star Court, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701 (the "Subject Property"). (Compl. ¶ 55, Exh. D.) In connection with the loan, Plaintiff executed a Note ("Note") and Deed of Trust ("DOT"), which named Plaintiff as the borrower, PHH as the lender and beneficiary, and First American Title ("First") as the trustee.*fn3 (Id.) After Plaintiff defaulted and was served with a Notice of Default ("NOD"), the Originating Defendants executed a series of transfers and substitutions, whereby their interests in the Subject Property were assigned to various other entities. (Compl. ¶ 59; RJN, Exh. 3.)

Plaintiff asserts that, in conjunction with these transfers and substitutions, Defendants violated several federal and state laws. Consequently, on February 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Complaint, in which he brings six claims against Defendants and contends that the Court has federal question jurisdiction over his case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331. (Dkt. No.1). Plaintiff's assertion of jurisdiction is based solely on his TILA claim against U.S. Bank in its capacity as a trustee. (Compl. ¶¶ 211-25.) Consequently, for purposes of the instant Motion, the Court recounts only the facts relevant to the substitutions of trustee. As the original trustee, First transferred its interest to NDEx, as evidenced by the August 4, 2010 NOD. (Compl. ¶¶ 55, 59-61; RJN, Exh. 3.) Thereafter, on September 2, 2010, U.S. Bank was named as the trustee in the Assignment of the Deed of Trust ("ADOT"). (Compl.¶ 63; RJN, Exh. 4.) Finally, the September 17, 2010 Substitution of Trustee ("SOT") once again named NDEx as the trustee. (Compl. ¶ 62; RJN, Exh. 5.) Against this backdrop, the Court analyzes the merits of Defendants' Motion.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for judgment on the pleadings is "functionally identical" to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6); the only major difference is that a Rule 12(c) motion is properly brought "after the pleadings are closed and within such time as not to delay the trial." Fed. R. Civ .P. 12(c); Mag Instrument, Inc. v. JS Prods., Inc., 595 F. Supp. 2d 1102, 1106-07 (C.D. Cal. 2008) (quoting Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989)).

If the aforementioned criteria is met, "[j]udgment on the pleadings . . . is proper only when there is no unresolved issue of fact, and no question remains that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Butler v. Resurgence Fin., L.L.C., 521 F. Supp. 2d 1093, 1095 (C.D. Cal. 2007) (quoting Torbet v. United Airlines, Inc., 298 F.3d 1087, 1089 (9th Cir.2002)). Therefore, for a court to grant a Rule 12(c) motion, "[i]t must appear beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Butler, 298 F.3d at 1089 (quoting Sun Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Dierdorff, 825 F.2d 187, 191 (9th Cir.1987)). If the court does grant the motion, the court, in its discretion, may grant the non-moving party leave to amend or enter a final judgment. See Lonberg v. City of Riverside, 300 F. Supp. 2d 942, 945 (C.D. Cal. 2004) ("[A]lthough Rule 12(c) does not mention leave to amend, courts have discretion both to grant a Rule 12(c) motion with leave to amend and to simply grant dismissal of the action instead of entry of judgment.") (citations omitted).

IV. DISCUSSION

Before addressing Plaintiff's state claims, the Court begins its analysis with Plaintiff's federal claim. As a matter of course, the Court starts at this junction to determine if Plaintiff has correctly alleged federal question jurisdiction in his Complaint.

A.PLAINTIFF'S SOLE FEDERAL CLAIM UNDER TILA

U.S. Bank is the only defendant against whom Plaintiff brings a claim for violating 15 U.S.C. § 1641(g). For Plaintiff to successfully allege a § 1641(g) claim, he must prove that U.S. Bank did ...


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