United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY
EDWARD M. CHEN, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Patrick Ursomano, Giovanni Canonico, and Ursula Canonico (collectively, "Plaintiffs") brought a proposed class action against Wells Fargo Bank N.A. ("Wells Fargo"), Wells Fargo Insurance, Inc. ("WFI"), Assurant, Inc. ("Assurant"), and American Security Insurance Company ("ASIC") (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging unfair business practices related to "force-placed" hazard insurance.
Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Stay ("Motion") all proceedings in the action, until settlement proceedings conclude in a related action, Fladell v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., et al, pending in the Southern District of Florida. The Court GRANTS a stay of all proceedings in this action until further notice, for the reasons set forth below.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Fladell action was filed in the Southern District of Florida on March 28, 2013. See Docket No. 45-2 Exh. B. The defendants in the Fladell action are the same as here. In essence, the plaintiffs allege that "kickbacks" from Assurant and ASIC ("Assurant Defendants") to Wells Fargo and WFI ("Wells Fargo Defendants") were improperly included in force-placed insurance premiums that the plaintiffs paid. The plaintiffs seek to represent the following class:
All borrowers who, within the applicable statutes of limitation, were charged for a force-placed insurance policy placed on property through the Wells Fargo Defendants and/or these companies' affiliates, entities, or subsidiaries. Excluded from this class are Defendants, their affiliates, subsidiaries, agents, board members, directors, officers, and/or employees.
Id. at ¶ 82. Fladell is one of 23 parallel class action lawsuits against Wells Fargo, WFI, and related entities, in connection with the practice of force-placed insurance. Mot. at 2. On February 3, 2014, the parties in Fladell reached a settlement in principle, and anticipate filing a Motion for Preliminary Approval of the Settlement Agreement by March 12, 2014. Mot. at 4-5.
The class-action complaint in Ursomano was filed on September 20, 2013. Docket No. 1. Plaintiffs allege Defendants engaged in unfair business practices in violation of California Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq. by "charging borrowers for force-placed insurance premiums that included kickbacks to Wells Fargo, and by force-placing borrowers into backdated insurance policies." Docket Nos. 4 (First Amended Complaint) ¶ 159, 43. Plaintiffs propose a nation-wide class and a California subclass "for the maximum time period allowable by law":
All persons who have or had a residential mortgage loan or line of credit owned, originated or serviced by Wells Fargo or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage secured by property located in the United States and, in connection therewith, were required to pay for "force-placed" hazard insurance on the secured property (the "Nationwide Class");
All persons who have or had a residential mortgage loan or line of credit owned, originated or serviced by Wells Fargo or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage secured by property located in the State of California and, in connection therewith, were required to pay for "force-placed" hazard insurance on the secured property (the "California Subclass").
First Amended Complaint ¶ 125.
On December 2, 2013 and January 15, 2014, respectively, Assurant Defendants and Wells Fargo Defendants filed motions to dismiss the First Amended Complaint. See Docket Nos. 25, 38. The motions were set for hearing before the Court on February 27, 2014. The first case management conference was set for the same time.
Defendants filed this Motion to Stay on February 7, 2014. Docket No. 45. According to a stipulated expedited briefing schedule, Plaintiffs filed an opposition on February 12, 2014, and Defendants ...