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Francis v. TD Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 30, 2013

JANET FRANCIS, Plaintiff,
v.
TD BANK, N.A., Defendant.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

This matter comes involves Plaintiff Janet Francis's ("Plaintiff") claims against Defendant TD Bank, N.A. ("Defendant") arising out of a mortgage foreclosure proceeding. Currently before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (Doc. No. 8). See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

TD Bank filed a foreclosure action against Ms. Francis on May 24, 2011.[1] Am. Compl. ¶ 1. On June 16, 2011, Ms. Francis filed an action against TD Bank in New Jersey state court. See Francis v. TD Bank, No. BUR-DC-007552-11 ( N.J.Super. Ct. Law Div. 2011).[2] In an opinion and order dated August 19, 2011, the Honorable Susan L. Claypoole, J.S.C., dismissed the action for failure to state a claim. See Decl. of Janine Lloyd ("Lloyd Decl."), Exh. A (Order and Opinion). Judge Claypool's opinion noted that Ms. Francis's claim was legally insufficient when all it did was allege that the Bank "violated its ethical, legal and moral' obligations and that Defendant failed to give credit for payments made to her [mortgage]." Id.

Meanwhile, in the state foreclosure proceeding, Ms. Francis filed four separate motions to dismiss the Bank's case against her, all of which were denied. Lloyd Decl. ¶¶ 6-7, 9. She then filed a number of counterclaims. The Honorable Ronald Bookbinder, A.J.S.C., denied all of Ms. Francis's counterclaims and granted TD Bank summary judgment. See TD Bank v. Francis, No. F-3657-11 ( N.J.Super. Ct. 2012). Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration on the dismissal of her counterclaims was also denied.

Finally, on December 20, 2012, Ms. Francis filed suit against TD Bank in this Court (Doc. No. 1). Because Ms. Francis's original complaint was essentially devoid of any factual allegations necessary to satisfy basic pleading standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, the Court entered an order directing her to amend her pleadings (Doc. No. 6). In accordance with the Court's order, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint in February 2013 (Doc. No. 7). The Bank filed the instant motion to dismiss shortly thereafter (Doc. No. 8).

Ms. Francis's Amended Complaint states seventeen separate causes of action: Failure to Serve Complaint and Summons; Negligence[3]; Fraud; Violation of Truth in Lending Act; Quiet Title; Violation of Fair Foreclosure Act; Misimplied Payments; Breach of Contract; Assessed Incorrect Interest Rate and Taxes at Closing; Wrongful Foreclosure; Noncompliance of Rescission; Set Aside Foreclosure Sale; Void Trustee's Deed Upon Sale; Void Attempt of Assignment of Deed of Trust; Negligent Intentional [sic] Infliction of Emotional Distress; Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. Following a brief recitation of the applicable legal standard, the Court will address each of these claims.[4]

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Where, as here, a complaining party comes to this Court pro se, the Court must construe the complaint liberally in that plaintiff's favor. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir.1992). In such cases, the Court must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.1997). Seen in this light, a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

To make this determination, a court conducts a three-part analysis. Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010). First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at 131 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680).[5] Finally, "where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief." Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680). This plausibility determination is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A complaint cannot survive where a court can only infer that a claim is merely possible rather than plausible. Id.

III. DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS

There are four bases upon which the Court dismisses Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

A. Claim Preclusion

The doctrine of claim preclusion may bar a party from asserting claims that were already brought in a previous action. In re Mullarkey, 536 F.3d 215, 225 (3d. Cir. 2008). The doctrine will apply when three requirements are met: "(1) a final judgment on the merits in a prior suit involving (2) the same parties or their privies and (3) a subsequent suit based on the same ...


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