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Prudential Insurance Co. v. Bank of America, National Association

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 5, 2015

THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION et al., Defendants. PRUDENTIAL INVESTMENT PORTFOLIOS 2 et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION et al., Defendants.

OPINION

STANLEY R. CHESLER, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on two motions to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a valid claim for relief, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The motions have been filed in two related cases: 1) in Civil Action No. 13-1586, the motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint ("FAC") by Defendants Asset Backed Funding Corporation, Banc of America Funding Corporation, Bank of America Mortgage Securities Inc., Bank of America, National Association, First Franklin Financial Corporation, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., Merrill Lynch Mortgage Capital, Inc., Merrill Lynch Mortgage Investors, Inc., Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending, Inc., and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants."); and 2) in Civil Action No. 14-4242, the motion to dismiss the Complaint by the same Defendants. The Court heard oral argument on the motions on December 16, 2014. For the reasons stated below, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

In a nutshell, this case arises from a dispute over the sale of certain residential mortgagebacked securities ("RMBS") by Defendants to Plaintiffs. Civil Action No. 14-4242 is the offspring of the previously-filed Civil Action No. 13-1586. Plaintiffs Prudential Investment Portfolios 2 and the Prudential Series Fund had originally joined in the previously-filed action, but subsequently refiled their claims in state court; that case was removed by Defendants to this Court, and is Civil Action No. 14-4242. The parties agree that, for purposes of this motion, the First Amended Complaint in Civil Action No. 13-1586 and the Complaint in Civil Action No. 14-4242 are virtually identical. The parties have filed the same briefs in both cases in regard to these motions.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

I. Motion To Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts must "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) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss should be granted only if the plaintiff is unable to articulate "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). "The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005).

"Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, 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, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65 (internal citations omitted); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 1965 (internal citations omitted).

Factual allegations must be well-pleaded to give rise to an entitlement to relief:

[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. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider the allegations of the complaint, as well as documents attached to or specifically referenced in the complaint, and matters of public record. Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 259 (3d Cir. 1998); see also 5B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure: Civil 3d ยง 1357 (3d ed. 2007). "Plaintiffs cannot prevent a court from looking at the texts of the documents on which its claim is based by failing to attach or explicitly cite them." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

The Supreme Court has characterized dismissal with prejudice as a "harsh remedy." New York v. Hill, 528 U.S. 110, 118 (2000). Dismissal of a count in a complaint with prejudice is appropriate if amendment would be inequitable or futile. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235 (3d Cir. 2004). "When a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend a deficient complaint after a defendant moves to dismiss it, the court must inform the plaintiff that he has leave to amend within a set period of time, unless amendment would be inequitable or futile." Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).

DISCUSSION

I. Unamended claims

Defendants first argue that certain previously dismissed claims, which have been reasserted in the FAC but not amended, should be ...


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