United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MICHAEL VAZQUEZ, U.S.D.J.
se Plaintiffs Margaret and Michael Noel bring this
action against Defendant The Bank of New York Mellon f/k/a
The Bank of New York as Trustee for the Certificate Holders
of the CWABS, Inc., Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2006-14
("BNYM") and fictitious individuals. Plaintiffs
seek declaratory judgment and damages resulting from a 2016
state court foreclosure judgment on their property. ECF No.
1. BNYM moves to dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
and for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). ECF No.
7. The motion was decided on the papers without oral
argument. L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the following reasons,
Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.
2006, Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. ("Countrywide")
issued Plaintiffs a mortgage secured by their property.
See McKenna Cert., Ex. A, ¶¶ 1-3, 12, ECF
No. 7-1. In January 2015, BNYM, as the assignee of the loan,
filed a foreclosure action in the Superior Court of New
Jersey (the "Foreclosure Action"). Id.
Plaintiffs filed an uncontested answer, asserting no defenses
or counterclaims but denying defaulting on their mortgage and
asserting they lacked information as to BNYM's standing
to foreclose. Id., Ex. B, ¶¶ 6, 7, 10.
After answering, Plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss,
id., Ex. C, which was denied, id., Ex. D.
Ultimately, in April 2016, the state court entered a final
judgment in BNYM's favor. The court found that
Plaintiffs' Answer "does not dispute the priority or
validity of the Plaintiffs mortgage" and thus issued
BNYM a writ of possession and ordered the mortgaged property
be sold through a sheriffs sale. Id., Ex. E. This
federal action followed.
March 2018, the Noels filed the current matter, bringing four
causes of action. In Count I, the Noels contend BNYM violated
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
("RESPA"), 12 U.S.C. § 2601 etseq.,
and its implementing regulations upon "failing to
properly respond to three different [Notices of Error]"
("NoEs") and Requests for Information
("RFIs"). Compl. ¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiffs
claim that these "willful violations are part of a
pattern and practice of behavior in conscious disregard for
the rights of borrowers." Id.¶W. In Count
II, the Noels accuse BNYM of wrongful debt collection, in
violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.
Compl. ¶¶ 13-17. In Count III, the Noels assert
that BNYM violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
("NJCFA"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:8-1 et
seq., Compl. ¶¶ 18-26, when it "continued
to try to acquire possession of the property via Sheriffs
Sale, even while knowing that there were many irregularities
regarding the alleged loan to Plaintiffs," id.
¶¶ 22. In Count IV, the Noels replead the
previously alleged counts in an implied covenant of good
faith and fair dealing claim. Id. ¶¶
27-35. Plaintiffs accuse BNYM of "stringing [them] along
for a loan modification, failing to respond to the Notices of
Error and Requests for Information," id. ¶
30, "refusing [and "blatantly refusing"] to
provide any follow up information," id.
¶¶ 31-32, and "proceeding to [a] Sheriffs Sale
while Plaintiffs awaited promised responses,"
id. 33, all in "an attempt to evict Plaintiffs
from the subject property," id. ¶ 34.
12(b)(1) compels a court to dismiss an action if it lacks a
statutory or constitutional basis to adjudicate a
controversy. See ErieNet, Inc. v. Velocity Net,
Inc., 156 F.3d 513, 515 (3d Cir. 1998) (citations
omitted). Challenges for want of jurisdiction may be facial
or factual. Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 346
(3d Cir. 2016). In a factual attack like the one presented
here, the movant "attacks the factual allegations
underlying the complaint's assertion of
jurisdiction." Id. (citation omitted). Unlike
in facial attacks when the court reviews only allegations in
the complaint, courts are free in reviewing a factual attack
to weigh competing evidence, and the party filing suit has
the burden to show jurisdiction exists. See Id.
(citing Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass
'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Ail. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In
deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must accept all
plausible allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor. See Bell
Ail. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. But a court cannot
"accept unsupported conclusions and unwarranted
inference, or a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation." Castleberry v. STI Grp., 863 F.3d
259, 263 (3d Cir. 2017) (citation and quotation marks
moves to dismiss the Complaint on two grounds. First, BNYM
argues this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs'
claims, compelling dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1). Def.'s
Br. 6-13, ECF No. 7. Second, BNYM contends Plaintiffs fail to
plausibly plead any claims for relief under Rule 12(b)(6).
Id. at 13-21. As to BNYM's
failure-to-state-a-claim arguments, Plaintiffs reply with
conclusory statements that the allegations conform with
"notice pleading" under the Federal Rules.
Pis.' Opp'n 2, ECF No. 8. Plaintiffs also argue this
Court has jurisdiction because "[a]ny violation of
constitutional rights is clearly an issue to be dealt with in
a federal court." Id. at 4. Plaintiffs add that
"[a]t no point in time were [the] claims in this
foreclosure action adjudicated 'on the merits.'"
Id. at 6.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
contends the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, res judicata,
and New Jersey's entire controversy doctrine deprives the
Court of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court agrees, in
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents federal courts
'"from exercising appellate jurisdiction over final
state-court judgments' because such appellate
jurisdiction rests solely with the United States Supreme
Court." Madera v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co., 586
F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Lance v.
Dennis,546 U.S. 459, 463 (2006) (per curiam)). The
doctrine is limited to "cases brought by state-court
losers" contesting "state-court judgments rendered
before the district court proceedings commenced."
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544
U.S. 280, 284 (2005). Thus, the doctrine applies when:
"(1) the federal plaintiff lost in state court; (2) the
plaintiff complains of injuries caused by the state-court
judgments; (3) those judgments were rendered before the
federal suit was filed; and (4) the plaintiff is inviting the
district court to review and reject the state court
judgments." Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox
Rothschild LLP,615 F.3d 159, 166 ...