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Me Lee, et al v. Lnv Corporation

April 10, 2012

ME LEE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LNV CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

JS-6

ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS [29], [32] AND DENYING ANTI-SLAPP MOTION [33]

I.INTRODUCTION

Three motions are pending before this Court. The first is a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) by Defendants Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS") and EverHome Mortgage Corporation. (Dkt. No. 29.) The second is Defendant LNV Corporation's combined motion under Rules 12(b)(6), 12(e) and 12(f). (Dkt. No. 32.) The third is LNV's special motion to strike and request for attorney's fees under California's anti-SLAPP statute. (Dkt. No. 33.) Having considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant motions, the Court deems the matters appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15.

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Since January 30, 2005, Plaintiffs have owned a property known as 901, 901-1/2, 903, and 903-1/2 South Berendo Street, Los Angeles, California 90006. (FAC

¶ 7.) Plaintiffs allege that the following three transactions occurred.

First, on August 10, 2005, Plaintiff Me Lee transferred the property to Kyung H. Choi and the transaction was recorded on September 23, 2005. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiffs claim that this transaction was fraudulent and that Choi was not a real person but a fictional straw man created for this sham transaction. (Id.)

Second, on September 19, 2005, Choi obtained two loans secured by two Deeds of Trust that listed MERS as the beneficiary. (Id. ¶ 9.) This transaction was recorded on September 23, 2005. (Id.)

Third, on September 11, 2008, MERS executed two Assignments of Deeds of Trust which granted, assigned and transferred all beneficial interest under the two Choi Deeds of Trust to LNV. (Id. ¶ 19.) According to Plaintiffs, the transaction was "robo-signed" by Angie Roberts, who claimed to be the Vice President of MERS. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 43.)

In the meantime, on June 9, 2006, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Choi, seeking to invalidate the 2005 transaction between them. (Id. ¶ 11.) The case was removed to the federal court and later remanded back to the state court. (Id. ¶ 13.) On August 25, 2011, a default judgment was entered against Choi. (Id. ¶ 14.)

Subsequently, Plaintiffs brought this new lawsuit against Defendants for fraud, abuse of process, violation of California's unfair competition law, and declaratory relief. In response, Defendants brought these two motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). LNV's motion alternatively seeks a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) and to strike portions of the FAC under Rule 12(f). Additionally, LNV filed a special motion to strike and request for attorney's fees under California's anti-SLAPP statute. The Court will discuss each motion in turn.

III.MOTIONS TO DISMISS

Defendants' motions to dismiss make similar arguments. For this reason, the Court deems it appropriate to decide these two motions collectively and will address both motions in the order of Plaintiffs' causes of action.

A.Legal Standard

To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint generally must satisfy only the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2). Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). Rule 8(a)(2) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). For a complaint to sufficiently state a claim, its "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While specific facts are not necessary so long as the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which the claim rests, a complaint must nevertheless "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court is generally limited to considering material within the pleadings and must construe all factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). A court is not, however, "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

As a general rule, leave to amend a complaint which has been dismissed should be freely granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). However, leave to amend may be denied when "the court determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency." ...


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