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Shannon L. anderson; Jonathan C. v. U.S. Bank

April 15, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez United States District Judge


Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendant U.S. Bank, National Association ("Defendant") to dismiss the complaint of Plaintiffs Shannon L. Anderson and Jonathan C. Anderson (collectively "Plaintiffs") for failure to state a claim. [Doc. No. 3, Def.'s Mot.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS in part Defendant's motion to dismiss and REMANDS Plaintiffs' state law claims.


This case concerns a July 7, 2005 mortgage loan to Plaintiffs. [Doc. No. 1, Compl. ¶ 23.] On November 11, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendant asserting six causes of action: (1) declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202; (2) negligence; (3) quasi contract; (4) violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq.; (5) violation of California Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq.; and (6) accounting. [Doc. No. 1, Compl.] Plaintiffs' claims are based on their allegations that Defendant has no right, title, or interest in the promissory note ("Note") or mortgage. [Id. ¶ 41.] Defendant subsequently filed the present motion to dismiss. [Doc. No. 3, Def.'s Mot.]


I. Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true, and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir.1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

However, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] 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 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)) (alteration in original). A court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In spite of the deference the court is bound to pay to the plaintiff's allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged or that defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). "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, 556 U.S. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 678).

In determining the propriety of a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a court may not look beyond the complaint for additional facts. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003). Further, a court generally may not consider materials beyond the pleadings when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. However, a court "may take judicial notice of matters of public record . . . as long as the facts noticed are not subject to reasonable dispute." Skilstaf, Inc. v. CVS Caremark Corp., 669 F.3d 1005, 1016 n.9 (9th Cir. 2012).*fn1 The Court will first address Plaintiffs' first cause of action for declaratory relief and fourth cause of action for violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., which supply federal question jurisdiction.

A. First Cause of Action: Declaratory Relief

Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief to "determine the status of Defendant's claims." [Doc. No. 1, Compl. at 23.] More specifically, "Plaintiffs requests [sic] the Court make a finding and issue appropriate orders stating the named Defendant an [sic] none of the Doe Defendants, have any right or interest in Plaintiffs' Note, Deed of Trust, or the Property which authorizes them, in fact or as a matter of law, to collect Plaintiffs' mortgage payments or enforce the terms of the Note or Deed of Trust in any manner whatsoever." [Id. ¶ 77.]

"Declaratory relief is appropriate: (1) when the judgment will serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue, and (2) when it will terminate and afford relief from the uncertainty, insecurity, and controversy giving rise to the proceeding." Guerra v. Sutton, 783 F.2d 1371, 1376 (9th Cir. 1986).

"While the existence of another adequate remedy does not preclude a declaratory judgment that is otherwise appropriate, the availability of other adequate remedies may make declaratory relief inappropriate." Fimbres v. Chapel Mortg. Corp., 2009 WL 4163332, at *5 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 20, 2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). A federal court may decline to address a declaratory relief claim "[w]here the substantive suit would resolve the issues raised by the declaratory judgment action, . . . because the controversy has 'ripened' and the uncertainty and anticipation of litigation are alleviated." Tina v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 2008 WL 4790906, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 30, 2008) (quoting Tempco Elec. Heater Corp. v. Omega Eng'g, Inc., 819 F.2d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1987)).

In the present case, the Complaint does not suggest that declaratory relief would entitle Plaintiffs to relief beyond what is requested in their substantive claims. Furthermore, the Complaint does not suggest that the substantive suit would not resolve the issues raised by the claim for declaratory relief. For example, Plaintiffs' fifth cause of action for violation of Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq. requests that Defendant be enjoined from undertaking certain actions, including accepting payments. [Doc. No. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 104, 110.] Plaintiffs also request an order that any Defendants claiming an interest in the Property "take any and all actions necessary to remove the cloud they have placed upon [the] title and an order enjoining such Defendants from taking such action in the future." [Id. ¶ 112.] Plaintiffs' third and sixth causes of action for quasi contract and an accounting, respectively, request that any money paid to Defendant be returned ...

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