Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Patetta v. Wells Fargo Bank

September 9, 2009

RONALD PATETTA; ROSEMARY PATETTA; PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J.

OPINION

This cause of action arises from a dispute over the terms and obligations of a refinance mortgage issued to Plaintiffs Ronald and Rosemary Patetta ("Plaintiffs") in 2004, and the statutory disclosure requirements imposed on lenders by several federal laws. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants Argent Mortgage Company, LLC ("Argent"), through its fraudulent misrepresentations, and Wells Fargo Bank NA, Ameriquest Mortgage Company ("Ameriquest"), Park Place Securities, Inc. ("Park Place"), HomeEq Servicing Corporation ("HomeEq") (collectively "Defendants"),*fn1 as assignors in interest to Plaintiffs' loan obligation, violated the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), Real Estate Settlement Practices Act ("RESPA"), New Jersey Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("NJRICO"), and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("NJCFA"). In addition, Plaintiffs assert common law claims for fraud, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' TILA and RESPA claims as time barred by the applicable statute of limitations. In the alternative, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. In addition, Defendants seek to dismiss Plaintiff's NJRICO, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty claims. For the reasons that follow, Defendants Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' claims are granted in its entirety as to Counts I, III, VI, IX, and XI.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Since Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the following version of events assumes Plaintiff's allegations to be true.

Plaintiffs are the owners of residential property located at 509 Barton Lane, Neshanic Station, New Jersey. Pl.'s Compl. ¶1. At the time of the Complaint, Mr. Patetta had been employed as a financial planner for over twenty-five years. Desiring to refinance the Barton Lane property, Plaintiffs went to Dana Capital, and its employee Matt Reilly, to secure a lower fixed rate mortgage that did not contain a prepayment penalty. Compl. ¶15. Reilly arranged an appraisal of the Barton Lane Property and provided Plaintiffs with a good faith estimate. Compl. ¶16. After reviewing the relevant documents, Plaintiffs believed they were receiving a mortgage with an interest rate of 8.25%, payable over the thirty year lifetime of the loan in $4,200 a month installment payments. On or about August 6, 2004, Plaintiffs executed a Note in the amount of $648,750, payable to Argent. Compl. ¶¶13-14. At closing, Plaintiffs were represented by an attorney who, upon reviewing the closing documents, informed his clients that the mortgage contained no hidden clauses or prepayment penalties. Compl. ¶¶ 31-32.

Nevertheless, Plaintiffs allege that the loan they received was not what they had originally bargained for, and that Dana Capital, as the mortgage broker, and Argent, as the lender, failed to make proper disclosures under TILA and the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act ("HOEPA"), including notification to Plaintiffs of their Right to Cancel, and purposefully and fraudulently misrepresented the actual nature of the loan in its Truth-In-Lending Disclosure Statement. Compl. ¶¶18-19; 30. In addition, as part of this "predatory lending scheme,"*fn2 Dana Capital switched the fixed rate loan originally promised to an adjustable rate note at closing. Compl. ¶ 20. Plaintiffs also allege that at closing, they were required to pay approximately $13,313 in closing costs, a sum far greater than previously disclosed by Dana Capital in the RESPA statement. Compl. ¶ 24. It was not until after closing that Plaintiffs discovered the terms of their refinance mortgage were radically different than those agreed to before closing, and that the 8.45% interest rate that they believed was their fixed rate was in fact an initial rate for their thirty year adjustable rate mortgage. Compl. ¶40.

Sometime thereafter, in March 2007, Plaintiffs ceased paying their mortgage. As a result, Wells Fargo, as an assignee to Argent's rights,*fn3 initiated a mortgage foreclosure action against Plaintiffs in New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division, Somerset County. On May 9, 2008, the state court entered a Final Judgment of Foreclosure against Plaintiffs. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Vacate Final Judgment on March 3, 2009, which was subsequently denied by the state court on May 1, 2009. Since March 2007, Plaintiffs have continued to live at the Barton Lane property without making any of their mortgage payments.

On April 17, 2009, Plaintiffs initiated this action in New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Somerset County. On June 11, 2009, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, seeking to remove the above-captioned matter to federal court. As a basis for removal, Defendants cited, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, Plaintiffs' federal claims under TILA and RESPA and the diversity between the parties under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.*fn4 On June 19, 2009, Defendants Ameriquest, Argent, and Park Place moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims. Defendants Wells Fargo and Home Eq separately moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint on July 23, 2009, but joined with Ameriquest, Argent, and Park Place in their motion to dismiss on statute of limitation grounds. For the reasons that follow, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs' TILA, RESPA, NJRICO, and negligence claims as time barred under the applicable statute of limitations and Plaintiffs' breach of fiduciary duty claims for failure to state a claim.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

When reviewing a motion to dismiss on the pleadings, courts "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (citation and quotations omitted). In Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), the Supreme Court clarified the 12(b)(6) standard. Specifically, the Court "retired" the language contained in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957), that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id. at 1968 (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46). Instead, the factual allegations set forth in a complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 1965. As the Third Circuit has stated, "[t]he Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating . a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965).

In affirming that Twombly standards apply to all motions to dismiss, the Supreme Court recently explained the principles. First, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948-49 (2009). Second, "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. Therefore, "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at 1949.

B. Truth-In-Lending Act

Before turning to the merits of Plaintiffs' federal claims, the Court must determine whether Plaintiffs' Complaint was timely filed within the relevant limitations period. Plaintiffs concede that the statute of limitations for their TILA and RESPA claims have long expired. See Pls.' Br.p. 2. Nonetheless, Plaintiffs ask this Court to consider Plaintiffs' federal claims because there is a question of fact as to when Plaintiffs became aware of Defendants' statutory violations.*fn5 Because Plaintiffs' prayer for relief under TILA seeks a right of rescission and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.