United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. Gibney, Jr United States District Judge
Jane Suggs lost her home to foreclosure in June 2013. To
avoid eviction, she sued in state court with the help of a
lawyer, and then sued in this Court with the help of the
internet. Through her downloaded complaint, Suggs asserts ten
causes of action against three defendants. Two defendants
escaped the case because Suggs did not serve them as required
by the applicable rules. The remaining defendant, M&T
Bank ("M&T"), has moved to dismiss the case.
Because her complaint contains few facts, many legal
conclusions, and misguided legal theories, the Court will
grant the motion and dismiss the case.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a plaintiffs
complaint to contain "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In cases where the plaintiff appears
pro se, courts do not expect the pro se plaintiff to frame
legal issues with the clarity and precision expected from
lawyers. Accordingly, courts construe pro se complaints
liberally. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d
1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) This principle of liberal
construction, however, has its limits. Id. Courts do
not need to discern the unexpressed intent of the plaintiff
or to conjure up issues on the plaintiffs behalf. See
Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 413 n.3 (4th Cir. 2006);
Beaudett, 775 F.2d at 1276.
has moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion gauges the
sufficiency of a complaint. Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs.
Bd, 822 F.3d 159, 165 (4th Cir. 2016). Accordingly, in
evaluating such a motion, courts typically focus only on the
complaint, documents attached to the complaint, and documents
explicitly incorporated into the complaint by reference.
Id. at 166. In appropriate cases, however, courts
may also (1) take judicial notice of public records, such as
state court records, and (2) consider documents submitted by
the movant if the documents are integral to the complaint and
indisputably authentic. Id.; Witthohn v. Fed. Ins.
Co., 164 F.App'x 395, 396 (4th Cir. 2006). When
considering the complaint itself, courts must accept all
allegations as true and must draw all reasonable inferences
in favor of the plaintiff. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir.
2009) (citing Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d
231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)). The principle that a court must
accept all allegations as true, however, does not apply to
legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
the facts gleaned from these principles, to survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain
sufficient facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face. Id. "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. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 565 (2007)). In motions where the defendant
raises an affirmative defense for its misconduct, courts may
rule on the affirmative defense at this stage only where the
necessary facts appear on the face of the complaint.
Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th
January 2001, Suggs obtained a mortgage loan from Mortgage
Amenities Corporation ("MAC") secured by her home.
The parties executed a Note and a Deed of Trust. The Deed of
Trust permits the lender to foreclose on the property if the
borrower goes into default. MAC assigned the Note to M&T.
in 2001, after the mortgage closing, Suggs's mortgage
went through the securitization process. Securitization is
the process of converting assets-typically a group of
illiquid assets, such as mortgages-into negotiable securities
for resale in the financial market. See Securitize,
Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). Securitization
agreements between the parties to the securitization process
govern the transaction. According to Suggs, her loan became
part of the Ginnie Mae REMIC Trust 2001-10, for which Ginnie
Mae served as trustee.
point, Suggs fell behind on mortgage payments and went into
default. M&T appointed Surety Trustees, LLC ("Surety
Trustees"), as substitute trustee of the Deed of Trust
and instructed Surety Trustees to foreclose on the home. In
June 2013, Surety Trustees conducted a foreclosure
proceeding, at which it sold the home to M&T. Surety
Trustee then conveyed title of the home to M&T.
2014, M&T filed an action in state court seeking to evict
Suggs (the "Eviction Action"). Suggs hired a lawyer
who, in October 2014, filed a complaint against M&T
seeking to rescind the foreclosure for failure to meet all
the necessary requirements prior to foreclosure (the
"Foreclosure Action"). In December 2014, counsel
for Suggs and M&T signed an Agreed Final Order in the
Eviction Action in which the M&T agreed not to evict
Suggs until after the parties resolved the Foreclosure
Action. Suggs alleges that her lawyer signed this Order
without her consent. Displeased, Suggs got rid of her lawyer.
In September 2016, the state court dismissed the Foreclosure
Action. Suggs has appealed this dismissal.
2015, Suggs filed this case against MAC, M&T, and Ginnie
Mae (collectively, the "Defendants"). Suggs failed
to serve MAC or Ginnie Mae, so after multiple warnings, the
Court dismissed these two defendants from the case. M&T
has filed a motion to dismiss.
asserts ten claims against the Defendants: (I) lack of
standing to foreclose; (II) fraud in the concealment; (III)
fraud in the inducement; (IV) intentional infliction of
emotional distress; (V) quiet title; (VI) slander of title;
(VII) declaratory relief; (VIII) violation of the Truth in
Lending Act ("TILA") and the Home Ownership and
Equity Protection Act ("HOEPA"); (IX) violation of
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
("RESPA"); and (X) rescission. Suggs seemingly
downloaded this complaint from the internet and filled in the
blanks with the information about her property and the
entities involved with her mortgage.
has moved to dismiss the case. It first argues that res
judicata bars this case. If a court has issued a final
judgment on the merits, res judicata bars the same parties
from bringing another action on claims arising from the same
conduct that the parties litigated in the first action.
Raley v. Haider, 286 Va. 164, 170, 747 S.E.2d 812,
815 (2013). M&T argues that the Agreed Final Order in the
Eviction Action should operate to bar this case. The Court
will not decide the motion on this ground, as it seems
dubious that the agreement to let the Foreclosure Action
dictate the outcome of the Eviction Action qualifies as a
final judgment on the merits, especially where the
Foreclosure Action is on appeal. Additionally, Suggs alleges
that she did not consent to her lawyer signing the Agreed
Final Order on her behalf. Accordingly, the Court turns to
M&T's alternative arguments, that all of the counts
fail to state claims on which the Court could grant relief.
Lack of "Standing" to Foreclose
Count I, Suggs alleges that the Defendants lacked
"standing" to foreclose on her home because of
various aspects of the securitization of her mortgage. She
asserts that the Defendants did not comply with the
securitization agreements, (Compl. ¶ 56), that the
securitization impermissibly "split" the Deed of
Trust from the Note, (Compl. ¶ 61), and that the
Defendants could not "show ...