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Mark A. Cappos, et al v. Trucchi & Henin

December 5, 2012

MARK A. CAPPOS, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TRUCCHI & HENIN, LLP, ET DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER: (1) GRANTING ST&H'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 17]; AND SUPPA, (2) DENYING WELLS FARGO'S MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT [DOC. 18]

On February 9, 2012, Plaintiffs Mark A. Cappos and Nancy J. Cappos commenced this action against Defendants Suppa, Trucchi & Henein, LLP ("ST&H") and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo") for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("Rosenthal Act"). On April 30, 2012, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint ("FAC") asserting the same claims. Defendants now separately move to dismiss the FAC. Plaintiffs oppose.

The Court found these motions suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). (Doc. 19.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS ST&H's motion to dismiss, and DENIES AS MOOT Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Sometime before November 5, 2010, Plaintiffs incurred certain financial obligations to Wells Fargo. (FAC ¶ 27.) Plaintiffs allege that these "financial obligations were primarily for personal, family or household purposes," and they were "money, property, or their equivalent."

¶¶28--29.) Sometime thereafter, Plaintiffs fell behind in their payments owed on the debt, a home equity line of credit issued by Wells Fargo. (Id. ¶ 30.) Subsequently, Plaintiffs allege that the "debt was assigned, placed, or otherwise transferred, to Defendants for collection." (Id. ¶

Around June 2010, Plaintiffs conducted a short sale of their home. (FAC ¶ 34.) During the short-sale proceedings, Plaintiffs allege that they made a payment of $3,000.00 to Wells Fargo out of the short-sale escrow account. (Id. ¶ 36.)

On November 5, 2010, Wells Fargo filed a state-court collection action against Plaintiffs in the Riverside County Superior Court. (FAC ¶ 32.) ST&H acted as Wells Fargo's agent and legal counsel.*fn1 (Id.) In the state action, Wells Fargo sought to collect the principal balance of $42,426.69 in addition to interest, late charges, attorneys' fees, and costs related to the home

line of credit. (Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiffs allege that the amount Wells Fargo sought in state court did not account for the $3,000.00 escrow payment Plaintiffs allegedly made earlier in June 2010. (Id. ¶ 37.)

On June 28, 2011, Wells Fargo filed a motion for summary judgment in the state-court action, seeking the aforementioned amount of $42,426.69 in addition to interest, late charges, attorneys' fees and costs. (FAC ¶¶ 38--39.) Plaintiffs opposed the motion on the grounds that Wells Fargo had failed to account for Plaintiffs' $3,000.00 escrow payment, "thereby seeking to collect more money than Plaintiffs' [sic] owed to [Wells Fargo]." (Id. ¶ 40.) The state court eventually denied Wells Fargo's motion. (Id. ¶ 42.)

On February 9, 2012, Plaintiffs commenced this action, asserting claims for violations of the FDCPA and Rosenthal Act. On April 30, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a FAC asserting the same claims. (Doc. 15.) The crux of this action are Plaintiffs' allegations that the "state court complaint filed in November 2010 did not account for Plaintiff's [sic] $3,000.00 escrow payment to [Wells Fargo]," and that "Defendants made no reduction in the debt amount sought[.]" (Id. ¶¶ 43, 45.) Defendants now separately move to dismiss the FAC. Plaintiffs oppose.

LEGAL STANDARD

The court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all allegations of material fact as true and construe them in light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cedars-Sanai Med. Ctr. v. Nat'l League of Postmasters of U.S., 497 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2007). Material allegations, even if doubtful in fact, are assumed to be true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). However, the court need not "necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). In fact, the court does not need to accept any legal conclusions as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, - , 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Instead, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that ...


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