UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
February 20, 2013
FERNANDO MIRANDA, PLAINTIFF,
CHASE MANHATTAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SERVICES, INC., AND DOES 1 - 20 INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: VIRGINIA A. Phillips United States District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE AND VACATING HEARING [Motion filed on January 11, 2013]
Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A. ("JPMorgan"), as successor by merger to Chase Manhattan
Corporation ("Chase Manhattan") (Doc. No. 8) ("Motion").*fn1
The Motion was filed on January 11, 2013. The Motion is
While Plaintiff's failure to file an opposition is consent to granting the Motion (see L.R. 7-12), the Court resolves the Motion on the merits.
The Court finds the Motion appropriate for resolution without a hearing, and accordingly vacates the February 25, 2013 hearing. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; Local R. 7-15. After consideration of the papers in support of the Motion, the Court GRANTS the Motion, and DISMISSES the Complaint WITH PREJUDICE.
A. Judicial Notice
Defendants filed a request for judicial notice with their Motion (Doc. No. 8) (the "Request"). Defendants request the Court take notice of the following eight documents: (1) a grant deed, recorded on March 25, 2002 (Ex. 1 to Request) (the "Grant Deed"); (2) a deed of trust, recorded on April 15, 2003 (Ex. 2 to Request) (the "Deed of Trust"); (3) a substitution of trustee, recorded on January 25, 2010 (Ex. 3 to Request) (the "Substitution of Trustee"); (4) a notice of default and election to sell the property at issue, recorded on January 25, 2010 (Ex. 4 to Request) (the "Notice of Default and Election to Sell the Property"); (5) a notice of trustee's sale, recorded on May 3, 2010 (Ex. 5 to Request) (the "Notice of Trustee's Sale I"); (6) a notice of trustee's sale, recorded on April 25, 2012 (Ex. 6 to Request) (the "Notice of Trustee's Sale II"); (7) the complaint filed in the first action ("First Action") by Plaintiff on June 4, 2012 (Ex. 7 to Request) ("First Complaint"); (8) the notice of removal in the First Action (Ex. 8 to Request) ("First Notice"); (9) the pleadings and papers filed in support of JPMorgan's motion to dismiss in the First Action (Ex. 9 to Request) ("First Motion"); (10) the Court's order granting the motion to dismiss in the First Action (Ex. 10 to Request) ("First Order"); and (11) the judgment entered by the Court dismissing the First Complaint (Ex. 11 to Request) ("First Judgment").
A court may take judicial notice of court filings and other matters of public record. See Reyn's Pasta Bella, LLC v. Visa USA, Inc., 442 F.3d 741, 746 n.6 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Auth. v. City of Burbank, 136 F.3d 1360, 1364 (9th Cir. 1998)). Defendants have provided a reference number for each document related to the Property, showing that they were in fact recorded; this demonstrates that the documents are public records. See Grant v. Aurora Loan Servs., Inc., 736 F. Supp. 2d 1257, 1264 (C.D. Cal. 2010); Velazquez v. GMAC Mortg. Corp., 605 F. Supp. 2d 1049, 1057--58 (C.D. Cal. 2008). Accordingly, the Court GRANTS judicial notice of these documents.
B. Factual Background
The real property that is the subject of this action is located in Loma Linda, California (the "Property"). On March 25, 2002, Plaintiff Fernando Miranda obtained title to the Property via the Grant Deed. (Ex. 1 to Request.) On April 15, 2003, Plaintiff obtained a residential loan in the amount of $194,268 (the "Loan") secured by the Deed of Trust, and Chase Manhattan was the lender. (Ex. 2 to Request.) On January 25, 2010, the Substitution of Trustee was recorded. (Ex. 3 to Request.) On January 25, 2010, Northwest (agent for Chase Manhattan) recorded the Notice of Default and Election to Sell the Property. (Ex. 4 to Request.) On May 3, 2010, the Notice of Trustee's Sale I was recorded, notifying Plaintiff that the Property would be sold on May 24, 2010. (Ex. 5 to Request.) On April 25, 2012, the Notice of Trustee's Sale II was recorded, notifying Plaintiff that the Property would be sold on May 16, 2012. (Ex. 6 to Request.)
On or about June 4, 2012, Plaintiff initiated the First Action by filing the First Complaint in California Superior Court. (Ex. 7 to Request.) Plaintiff asserted ten claims, all in connection with the Property.*fn2 (Id.)
On July 6, 2012, JPMorgan removed the First Action to this Court (case number EDCV12-01109). (Ex. 8 to Request.) On July 12, 2012, JPMorgan moved to dismiss the First Complaint. (Ex. 9 to Request.) On September 27, 2012, the Court granted JPMorgan's First Motion on the merits. (Ex. 10 to Request.) On the same day, the Court entered judgment dismissing Plaintiff's First Complaint with prejudice. (Ex. 11 to Request.)
On December 3, 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint in California Superior Court (the "Second Complaint"), initiating this action (the "Second Action"). (Ex. 1 to Declaration of Patrick R. Mahoney ("Mahoney Declaration") (Doc. No. 3).) Plaintiff asserts six claims in the Second Complaint: (1) violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 2923.5 ("First Claim"); (2) fraud ("Second Claim"); (3) intentional misrepresentation ("Third Claim"); (4) violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 2923.6 ("Fourth Claim"); (5) violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 1572 ("Fifth Claim"); and (6) violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 ("Sixth Claim").
On January 4, 2013, JPMorgan removed the action to this Court. (See Not. of Removal (Doc. No. 1) ("Second Notice").) On January 11, 2013, JPMorgan filed the instant Motion. Plaintiff, appearing pro se, has not filed an opposition.*fn3
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to bring a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 12(b)(6) is read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) (holding that the Federal Rules require that a plaintiff provide "'a short and plain statement of the claim' that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.") (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept all material allegations in the complaint - as well as any reasonable inferences to be drawn from them - as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Doe v. United States, 419 F.3d 1058, 1062 (9th Cir. 2005); ARC Ecology v. U.S. Dep't of Air Force, 411 F.3d 1092, 1096 (9th Cir. 2005); Moyo v. Gomez, 32 F.3d 1382, 1384 (9th Cir. 1994).
"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 of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). Rather, 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 plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Recently, the Ninth Circuit clarified that (1) a complaint must "contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively," and (2) "the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing the party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation." Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011).
Although the scope of review is limited to the contents of the complaint, the Court may also consider exhibits submitted with the complaint, Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990), and "take judicial notice of matters of public record outside the pleadings," Mir v. Little Co. of Mary Hosp., 844 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1988).
Defendants argue that the Complaint should be dismissed on the basis of res judicata. (Mot. at 5.)
Res judicata prohibits lawsuits on "any claims that were raised or could have been raised" in a prior action. Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 2001). "Res judicata applies when there is: '(1) an identity of claims; (2) a final judgment on the merits, and (3) identity or privity between parties.'" Stewart v. U.S. Bancorp., 297 F.3d 953, 956 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Owens, 244 F.3d at 713)).
Courts consider four factors in determining whether there is an identity of claims: "(1) whether rights or interests established in the prior judgment would be destroyed or impaired by prosecution of the second action; (2) whether substantially the same evidence is presented in the two actions; (3) whether the two suits involve infringement of the same right; and (4) whether the two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts." Turtle Island Restoration Network v. U.S. Dep't of State, 673 F.3d 914, 917-18 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Costantini v. Trans World Airlines, 681 F.2d 1199, 1201-02 (9th Cir. 1982)). The fourth factor ---whether the two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts --- is the "central criterion." Frank v. United Airlines, Inc., 216 F.3d 845, 851 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted); see also Owens, 244 F.3d at 714.
Here, the First and Second Actions arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts. Both suits concern the alleged wrongdoings by Defendants regarding foreclosure of the Property. (Compare, e.g., First Complaint ¶ 2 ("Plaintiff . . . disputes the title and ownership of the [Property] . . . in that the originating mortgage lender [Chase Manhattan], and others alleged to have ownership, have unlawfully sold, assigned and/or transferred their ownership and security interest"), id. at 23 (Defendants "do not have the right to foreclose on the Property because [they] have failed to perfect any security interest in the Property") and id. at ¶ 45 (Defendants "fraudulently attempt[ed] to foreclose on a property in which they have no right, title, or interest") with Second Complaint ¶ 9 ("none of these alleged beneficiaries or representatives on the Notice of Default and/or Notice of trustee sale can prove that they have the authority to conduct the foreclosure"), id. at 29 ("Defendants have no standing to enforce a non-judicial foreclosure") and id. at 37 (Defendants "intentionally and fraudulently converted Plaintiffs' right, title and interest to this property, and any equity therein").)
The rights and interests allegedly infringed in both actions are the same: Plaintiff's rights and interest in the Property. Moreover, the rights established in the First Order would be destroyed by prosecuting the Second Complaint. Specifically, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims, which involved the legitimacy of the foreclosure. If the Second Action was allowed to proceed, Defendants would be forced to re-litigate the same issues as the First Action. Specifically, the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Claims seek to invalidate the foreclosure proceedings in connection with the Property, an issue that was litigated and resolved in the First Action. (See Ex. 7 to Request at 11-12.) The Second and Third Claims are similar to the fraud claims brought in the First Action. (See id. at 10-11.) All six of these claims could have been raised in the First Action.
Accordingly, there is an identity of claims between the First and Second Actions.
Next, there is a final judgment on the merits as the Court dismissed the First Complaint, with prejudice, on September 27, 2012. (See Exs. 10-11 to Request.)
Finally, there is privity between the parties as the same Plaintiff is suing the same two defendants in both actions.
Accordingly, res judicata applies, and the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion, and DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE Plaintiff's Complaint, without leave to amend.