United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action arises from a state court mortgage foreclosure action
which went to final judgment on July 31, 2017. Starr Barrett,
as mortgagor/borrower, brings this action against Washington
Mutual Bank, FA ("WaMu"), whose successor is
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase"); Fannie Mae;
Fannie Mae as Trustee for Securitized Trust Fannie Mae
Guaranteed REMIC Pass-Through Certificates REMIC 2003-128
Trust; and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Defendants move under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) to dismiss the complaint on
jurisdictional grounds, and under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss it
for failure to state a claim. (ECF nos. 19, 20) For the
reasons stated below, the motion will be granted and the
complaint will be dismissed without prejudice.
Mortgage and State Foreclosure Action
November 10, 2003, Washington Mutual Bank, FA
("WaMu") made a residential loan to the plaintiff,
Ms. Barrett. The note is secured by a mortgage on the
property, 1472A Liberty Avenue, Hillside, New Jersey. On
September 25, 2008, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
("Chase") purchased certain assets of WaMu from the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") as
receiver. The mortgage was assigned to Chase. (Declaration of
Richard P. Haber ("Haber Decl."), ECF no. 20-2,
¶3) Barrett entered into a loan modification agreement
with Chase on November 5, 2011. (Id. ¶ 4)
Although the complaint alleges that the loan was sold to
Fannie Mae and securitized, Morgan remains the mortgagee of
record. (Id. ¶ 3) Barrett defaulted under the
note and mortgage by failing to make the payment due on
September 1, 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 7)
February 22, 2017, Chase filed a complaint in foreclosure in
the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Union
County. (Docket No. F444917) (Haber Decl. ¶5 & Ex.
D) The Superior Court entered a final judgment of foreclosure
on July 31, 2017. (Id. ¶ 6 & Ex. E)
October 6, 2017, Barrett filed this action in federal court.
The Complaint ("Cplt.", ECF no. 1) asserts nine
causes of action:
1. Lack of standing to foreclose and wrongful foreclosure
2. Fraud in the concealment
3. Fraud in the inducement
4. Unconscionable contract
5. Breach of contract
6. Breach of fiduciary duty
7. Quiet title
8. Injunctive relief as to sheriffs sale
9. Declaratory relief as to sheriffs sale
separate motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of defendant
Wells Fargo. (ECF no. 19) A motion to dismiss was also filed
on behalf of all remaining defendants (including Chase as
successor to WaMu). (ECF no. 20) ("Defendants," as
used herein, will refer to those remaining defendants.)
Standard on a motion to dismiss
have moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction,
citing the Rooker-Feldman doctrine (see infra). Rule 12(b)(1)
governs jurisdictional challenges to a complaint. These may
be either facial or factual attacks. See 2 Moore's
Federal Practice § 12.30 (3d ed. 2007); Mortensen
v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884,
891 (3d Cir. 1977). A facial challenge asserts that the
complaint does not allege sufficient grounds to establish
subject matter jurisdiction. Iwanowa v. Ford Motor
Co., 67 F.Supp.2d 424, 438 (D.N.J. 1999). A court
considering such a facial challenge assumes that the
allegations in the complaint are true, and may dismiss the
complaint only if it nevertheless appears that the plaintiff
will not be able to assert a colorable claim of subject
matter jurisdiction. Cardio-Med. Assoc, Ltd. v.
Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr., 721 F.2d 68, 75 (3d Cir.
1983); Iwanowa, 67 F.Supp.2d at 438.
and Wells Fargo have also moved to dismiss the Complaint for
failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in
whole or in part, if it fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. The defendant, as the moving party,
bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated.
Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir.
2005). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must take
the allegations of the complaint as true and draw reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231
(3d Cir. 2008) (traditional "reasonable inferences"
principle not undermined by Twombly, see infra).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a
complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless,
"a plaintiffs obligation to provide the
'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires
more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do."
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Thus, the complaint's factual allegations must be
sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a
speculative level, so that a claim is "plausible on its
face." Id. at 570; see also Umland v.
PLANCO Fin. Serv., Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008).
That facial-plausibility standard is met "when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
'probability requirement'... it asks for more than a
sheer possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
connection with the motions, defendants have attached records
of the state court foreclosure proceeding. These are cited,
not for the facts contained therein, but only in order to
establish the nature and scope of prior proceedings between
the parties, and the rulings of the state court. Such records
are subject to judicial notice:
[O]n a motion to dismiss, we may take judicial notice of
another court's opinion-not for the truth of the facts
recited therein, but for the existence of the opinion, which
is not subject to reasonable dispute over its authenticity.
See Kramer v. Time Warner Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 774
(2d Cir. 1991); United States v. Wood, 925 F.2d
1580, 1582 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Funk v.
Commissioner, 163 F.2d 796, 800-01 (3d Cir. 1947)
(whether a court may judicially notice other proceedings
depends on what the court is asked to notice and on the
circumstances of the instant case).
S. Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. WahKwong Shipping
Grp. Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426-27 (3d Cir. 1999). See
generally Fed.R.Evid. 201.
have also attached the underlying mortgage documents. Such
documents, as well as the records of the foreclosure action,
may be considered without converting a facial Rule 12(b)(1)
challenge into a factual one, or a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into
one for summary judgment. See Schmidt v. Skolas, 770
F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir. 2014) ("However, an exception to
the general rule is that a 'document integral to or
explicitiy relied upon in the complaint' may be
considered Svithout converting the motion to dismiss into one
for summary judgment.' ") (quoting In re Burlington