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Sean Scales and Elizabeth v. First Horizon Home Loans; Ibm

February 16, 2012

SEAN SCALES AND ELIZABETH SCALES,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FIRST HORIZON HOME LOANS; IBM
SERVICES, INC.; METLIFE HOME LOANS; AND DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE,
DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER GRANTING EACH DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING METLIFE'S MOTION TO STRIKE LENDER BUSINESS PROCESS

Defendants MetLife Home Loans, a Division of MetLife Bank, N.A. ("MetLife"), and Seterus, Inc. ("Seterus," and collectively, "Defendants") each move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for dismissal of Plaintiffs' promissory estoppel claims, and Seterus also moves for dismissal of Plaintiffs' negligence claim. Plaintiffs Sean Scales and Elizabeth Scales ("Plaintiffs") oppose the motions. Seterus argues it was erroneously sued as IBM Lender Business Process Service, Inc.

MetLife also moves under Rule 12(f) for an order striking from Plaintiffs' complaint Plaintiffs' requests for injunctive relief and attorneys' fees. Plaintiffs oppose the motion. However, the merits of MetLife's motion to strike will not be reached, since the claims involved in the motion will be dismissed for the reasons stated below.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

"In reviewing the dismissal of a complaint, we inquire whether the complaint's factual allegations, together with all reasonable inferences, state a plausible claim for relief." Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Systems, 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009)). The material allegations of the complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of plaintiffs. Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009). The court is "not, however, required to accept as true allegations that contradict exhibits attached to the Complaint or matters properly subject to judicial notice, or allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010).

Further, "[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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory 'factual content,' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal citation omitted).

II. REQUESTS FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

MetLife and Seterus each supports its dismissal motion with a request that judicial notice be taken of the Deed of Trust for Plaintiffs' real property. (MetLife's Request for Judicial Notice ("MetLife's RJN") Ex. 1; Seterus's RJN Ex. 1.) MetLife also requests that judicial notice be taken of a document entitled, "Home Affordable Modification Trial Period Plan" (hereinafter "Trial Period Plan"), which states in part:

[Plaintiffs] understand that this Plan is not a modification of the Loan Documents . . . . [Plaintiffs] further understand and agree that the Lender will not be obligated or bound to make any modification of the Loan Documents if the Lender determines that [Plaintiffs] do not qualify or if [Plaintiffs] fail to meet any one of the requirements under this Plan.

(Trial Period Plan, attached as Ex. 2 to MetLife's RJN.)

MetLife argues "[a]lthough the Trial Period Plan is not a matter of public record, the complaint is based upon this exhibit and therefore judicial notice is proper." (MetLife's Mot. to Dismiss 5:1-4 & n.1.) The Trial Period Plan is dated March 16, 2010, which is consistent with Plaintiffs' allegation in their complaint that they "received a written loan modification cont[r]act with [Horizon] [in or about March 2010.]" (Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiffs do not oppose the judicial notice requests.

The Court "may consider a writing referenced in a complaint but not explicitly incorporated therein if the complaint relies on the document and its authenticity is unquestioned." Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007). Since Plaintiffs' claims rely on the Deed of Trust and the Trial Period Plan, and Plaintiffs have not questioned the authenticity of either document, the requests for judicial notice are granted.

III. PLAINTIFFS' ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiffs allege in their complaint that "[i]n or about November 2007, Plaintiffs entered the Subject Loan [with] . . . Defendant First Horizon Home Loans ...


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