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Ramsey v. Branch Banking & Trust Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 17, 2017

HELEN RAMSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANCH BANKING & TRUST COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          M. Hannan Lauck United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Branch Banking & Trust Company's ("BB&T") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint (the "Second Motion to Dismiss"), (ECF No. 16), for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff Helen Ramsey has responded, (ECF Nos. 18, 19), and BB&T has replied, (ECF No. 20). This matter is ripe for disposition. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[1] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant BB&T's Second Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Standard

         "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5 A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] 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."' BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (omission in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must assert facts that rise above speculation and conceivability to those that "show" a claim that is "plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "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. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Therefore, in order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

         "If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) ..., matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, " and "[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth, 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998); Gay v. Walk, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985). However, "a court may consider official public records, documents central to plaintiffs claim, and documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint [without converting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into one for summary judgment] so long as the authenticity of these documents is not disputed." Witthohn v. Fed. Ins. Co., 164 F.App'x 395, 396-97 (4th Cir. 2006) (citing Alternative Energy, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 267 F.3d 30, 33 (1st Cir. 2001); Phillips v. LCI Int'l, Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999); Gasner v. Cty. of Dinwiddle, 162 F.R.D. 280, 282 (E.D. Va. 1995)).

         Ramsey incorporates by reference four documents attached to her Complaint, [2] and she attaches to her First Amended Complaint a "Mortgage Loan Coupon Book, " (First Am. Compl. Ex. E, ECF No. 15-1). The Court will consider these documents because they are central to the claims, are sufficiently referred to in the First Amended Complaint, and neither party contests their authenticity. See Witthohn, 164 F.App'x at 396-97 (citations omitted).

         II. Factual and Procedural Background [3]

A. Summary of Allegations in the Complaint [4]

         On December 13, 2005, Ramsey signed a sales contract with the Sellers to purchase real property located at 7101 Old Dickersons Road in Spotsylvania County, Virginia ("the Property"). The Property "was listed and described as a one (1) bedroom house." (First Am. Compl. ¶ 15, ECF No. 15.) The sales contract listed a $220, 000 purchase price. On December 19, 2005, Ramsey applied for a mortgage loan with BB&T in the amount of $209, 000. During this process, BB&T loan officer Susan Cadow told Ramsey that BB&T "could not approve her for a loan for a one (1) bedroom home." (Id. ¶ 23.) Following a private conversation between Cadow and Jimmy Hedge, a brokerage firm representative from Remax Supercenter, BB&T approved Ramsey for a $209, 000 mortgage loan. Ramsey believed BB&T approved her for a mortgage loan for a one-bedroom home. Cadow, however, did not specifically inform Ramsey "that she had qualified and been approved for a mortgage loan for a one (1) bedroom house." (Id. ¶29.)

         On January 5, 2006, Ramsey and the Sellers closed the sale. Ramsey did not receive a copy of an appraisal report prior to or during closing. On January 6, 2006, Ramsey executed a Deed of Trust "and possibly a promissory note" that gave BB&T an interest in the Property. (Id. ¶ 33; Compl. Ex. B, ECF No. 1-2.)

         In approximately January or February 2009, three years after closing, Ramsey sought to refinance her mortgage and obtain lower insurance coverage or sell the Property. During this process, Ramsey learned the Property was identified as a two-bedroom property. Ramsey requested, and BB&T ultimately provided, at least a partial copy of the appraisal report. The appraisal report indicates A Appraisals, Inc. completed the appraisal on approximately December 30, 2005, and identified the Property as a two-bedroom property with an appraised market value of $220, 000.

         In March 2009, a fire destroyed the Property, and Ramsey made a claim with her insurance carrier, State Farm. State Farm "refused to pay [Ramsey] a claim for a two (2) bedroom property" and instead paid her $157, 566, "the replacement cash value for a one (1) bedroom property." (First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 53-55.)

         Ramsey applied the insurance proceeds to her BB&T mortgage loan. Although Ramsey "believed that the [insurance proceeds] should have completely satisfied the mortgage loan, " "BB&T claimed that [Ramsey] still owed approximately [$42, 900.31]." (Id. ¶¶ 57, 60.) Ramsey contends the mortgage loan for a two-bedroom home would have been higher than the loan for a one-bedroom home.

         In late 2009, "BB&T forced [Ramsey] to sign a Modification Agreement" to her Deed of Trust. (Id. ¶ 62.) The Modification Agreement stated that, beginning March 1, 2010, Ramsey owed a monthly mortgage payment of $281.87.

         Ramsey contends the appraisal of the Property as a two-bedroom home, rather than a one-bedroom home, resulted in an appraised market value "likely tens of thousands of dollars greater than the actual market value" of the Property. (Id. ¶ 65.) Additionally, Ramsey "believes that the fair market value of the [P]roperty, if it would have been properly appraised as a one (1) bedroom property in December of 2005, would have been less than the $157, 566.00 payment that [Ramsey] received from State Farm." (Id. ¶ 68.)

         Prior to purchasing the Property, Ramsey did not know, and BB&T did not inform her of, the Property's appraised value or its appraisal as a two-bedroom home. Ramsey has paid over $230, 000 to BB&T since January 2006 based upon the belief that BB&T is lawfully entitled to receive and collect these payments. BB&T has represented to Ramsey that its collection of the payments is lawful. About once a year, a BB&T representative delivers to Ramsey BB&T's Mortgage Loan Coupon Book, which reflects the mortgage loan allegedly owed. As summarized in the First Amended Complaint, the Mortgage Loan Coupon Book states that BB&T "will foreclose on [Ramsey's] property, assess late charges, and/or take other action adverse to [Ramsey's] interests, if [Ramsey] ...


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