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Dyer v. Stanislaus

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 30, 2013

ERROL DYER and FAY DYER, Husband and Wife, Plaintiffs,
v.
GREGORY

OPINION

ESTHER SALAS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Bank of America, N.A.'s ("BANA") Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (D.E. No. 20). The Court has considered the parties' submissions in support of and opposition to the instant motion, and decides the matter without oral argument pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On February 6, 2013, Plaintiffs Errol and Fay Dyer ("Mr. Dyer" or "Mrs. Dyer", or collectively "Plaintiffs") filed this complaint against Defendants Gregory "Jacques" Stanislaus, Sebastian Broniarczyk, and BANA. (Compl. ¶ 1). Plaintiffs are an elderly couple who reside in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. ( Id. ¶ 2). Stanislaus is Plaintiffs' step-grandson, and a real estate investor.

While Plaintiffs allege a total of nine Counts, only two of the nine counts concern BANA: (1) Count Six (negligence) and (2) Count Seven (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violation). ( Id. ¶¶ 60-68). The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because the parties have complete diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.

In June 2008, Mr. Dyer met with Stanislaus in West Orange, New Jersey. ( Id. ¶ 18). At that meeting, Mr. Dyer signed an application form for a home equity loan. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-22). After meeting with Mr. Dyer, Stanislaus opened a "home equity line of credit." ( Id. ¶ 29). About one week after Stanislaus and Mr. Dyer's meeting, Mr. Dyer was notified "that the application was approved." ( Id. ¶ 23).

In July 2012, Defendant BANA called Mr. Dyer to ask about unmade payments to a home equity loan. ( Id. ¶ 27-28). However, Mr. Dyer told BANA that he did not owe any money and did not know "what [BANA] was talking about." ( Id. ¶ 28). Mr. Dyer discovered that "Stanislaus opened [a] home equity line of credit" and subsequently drew approximately $250, 000.00 from the home equity line of credit. ( Id. ¶¶ 29-30). Since Plaintiffs believe that "M[r]s. Dyer's signature was forged and illegally notarized on the... loan documents, " Plaintiffs "procured copies of all the [drawn] checks" and initiated this suit against BANA. ( Id. ¶¶ 1, 30). Plaintiffs allege that (1) BANA "negligently negotiated" the checks drawn on Plaintiffs' home equity line of credit; and (2) BANA is "currently dunning Plaintiffs" even after Plaintiffs' counsel sent BANA written Fair Debt Collection Practices Act warnings. ( Id. ¶¶ 31, 34). In lieu of an answer, BANA filed the instant motion to dismiss. (D.E. No. 20-1, Bank of America's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint ("MTD")).

II. Standard of Review

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires a complaint to set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that a pleader is entitled to relief." The pleading standard announced by Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations; however, it does demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). In addition, the plaintiff's short and plain statement of the claim must "give the defendants fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007) (internal citation omitted).

For a complaint to survive dismissal, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "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." Id.

In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Phillips v. Cnty. Of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). But, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions, " and "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

Furthermore, a district court deciding a motion to dismiss generally does not consider materials beyond the pleadings. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997). "[When] deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached [thereto], matters of the public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2011). "[A]n exception to the general rule is that a document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint may be considered without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d at 1426 (emphasis in original) (citation omitted and internal quotation marks omitted). "Otherwise, a plaintiff with a legally deficient claim could survive a motion to dismiss simply by failing to attach a dispositive document on which it relied." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

III. Analysis

A. Count Six: ...


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