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Laura Bianchi v. Bank of America

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


May 17, 2012

LAURA BIANCHI,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. ANELLOUnited States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. No. 3]

Plaintiff Laura Bianchi, proceeding pro se, filed suit on March 28, 2012 against Defendants Bank of America, N.A., et al., alleging various causes of action arising out of non-judicial foreclosure proceedings against real property located at 652 Wilmington Drive, Chula Vista, California, 91914 ("the subject property"). Defendants move to dismiss this action in its entirety on the ground that Plaintiff lacks standing to assert her claims. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion, to which Defendants replied. See Doc. Nos. 4,5. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the motion.

DISCUSSION

The Court must determine as a threshold matter whether Plaintiff has standing to pursue her claims. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975) (holding that standing is a "threshold issue in every federal case, determining the power of the court to entertain the suit."). Defendants argue that Plaintiff lacks standing because she was neither a party to the loan at issue, nor is she a record owner of the property.

Article III standing exists only when the plaintiff has suffered an injury-in-fact, i.e., an "invasion of a legally protected interest" that is "concrete and particularized." Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). Courts have considered the issue of standing in similar contexts and have determined that a plaintiff who is not a party to a mortgage loan cannot assert a claim against the lender for statutory violations, wrongful foreclosure, or fraud arising out of the origination of the loan, the loan settlement process, or related foreclosure proceedings. See, e.g., Thomas v. Guild Mortg. Co., No. CV 09--2687--PHX--MHM, 2011 WL 676902, at *4 (D.Ariz. Feb. 23, 2011) ("A homeowner who is not a party to a mortgage loan cannot assert TILA, RESPA, Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, or fraud claims against a lender for improper disclosures."); Kruso v. Int'l Telephone & Telegraph Corp., 872 F.2d 1416, 1427 (9th Cir.1989) (holding that the plaintiffs lacked standing for claims that arose out of the transactions at issue because the plaintiffs were not parties to those transactions).

Here, Plaintiff states that she is "the rightful owner of the property identified in the San Diego County land records commonly known as 652 Wilmington Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91914." Complaint ¶ 6. Based thereon, she alleges multiple claims against all Defendants for fraud, violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2605, ("RESPA"), wrongful foreclosure, and quiet title. However, documents attached to Plaintiff's complaint belie her assertion that she is the owner of the subject property, and demonstrate conclusively that she has no interest in the subject property. According to the Deed of Trust executed on July 16, 2003, the borrower to the loan and the sole signatory on the mortgage contract is "Lewis S. Bianchi, a single man." Complaint, Ex. A. Substitutions of Trustee recorded on November 24, 2009 and December 10, 2010 show that "Lewis S. Bianchi, a single man, was the original Trustor." Id., Ex. B1, B2. Likewise, the Notice of Default recorded on April 15, 2011 notes that "Lewis S. Bianchi, a single man" executed the Deed of Trust in July 2003. Id., Ex. E.

Despite any injuries Plaintiff alleges to have suffered, she has no standing to pursue relief for those injuries as a result of Defendants' alleged wrongdoing arising from a loan transaction Defendants entered into with someone else.*fn1 See Kruso, 872 F.2d at 1472 ("The plaintiffs may have suffered financial losses stemming from their participation in the [underlying transactions], but they cannot allege injury to themselves by reason of alleged wrongdoing by defendants in the entering, execution or termination of the underlying agreements to which plaintiffs were not parties.").

Plaintiff argues she has standing to pursue her claims because she is the current spouse of Lewis S. Bianchi, and therefore has a community property interest in the subject property. This argument is misplaced. As the Ninth Circuit recently explained, "the presumption under California law that property acquired during marriage is community property does not apply" in circumstances "where a spouse acquires property in his name alone." In re Jacobson, ___ F.3d ___ 2012 WL 1382979, 5 (9th Cir. 2012), citing Cal. Fam. Code § 760 and In re Marriage of Brooks, 169 Cal.App.4th 176, 186--87 (2008). Here, the relevant loan and title documents show Lewis Bianchi was the sole buyer of the subject property prior to his marriage, and remains the sole owner of the property to date. "In California, record title is presumptively correct." Id., citing Cal. Evid.Code § 662. As such, even if a community property interest was sufficient to confer standing to pursue these claims, there is no presumption that the subject property is community property. Regardless of her marital status, Plaintiff does not have standing to pursue the causes of action alleged in her complaint.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion and dismisses this action with prejudice based on Plaintiff's lack of standing to pursue her claims. See Nat'l Licensing Ass'n, LLC v. Inland Joseph Fruit Co., 361 F. Supp. 2d 1244, 1258 (E.D. Wash. 2004), quoting H.R. Techs., Inc. v. Astechnologies, Inc., 275 F.3d 1378, 1385 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (dismissal with prejudice appropriate when it is "plainly unlikely that the plaintiff [will be] able to cure the standing problem"). The Clerk of Court is instructed to enter judgment accordingly and terminate the case.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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