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Jennings v. Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corp.

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

February 27, 2018




         This matter is before "he court on the Partial Motion to Dismiss, filed by the Defendant, RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation ("RoundPoint"), on August 18, 2017. ECF No. 6. The Plaintiffs filed their Memorandum in Opposition to the Partial Motion to Dismiss ("Opposition") on September 14, 2017. ECF No. 11. RoundPoint filed its Reply in Support of its Partial Motion to Dismiss ("Reply") on September 19, 2017. ECF No. 12.

         On September 21, 2017, the Partial Motion to Dismiss was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Robert J. Krask, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, if necessary, and to submit to the undersigned district judge proposed findings of fact, if applicable, and recommendations for the disposition of the Partial Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 13. The Magistrate Judge filed the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on December 22, 2017. ECF No. 14. The Magistrate Judge recommended that RoundPoint's Partial Motion to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part. Id. at 1.

         By copy of the R&R, the parties were advised of their right to file written objections to the findings and recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. Id. at 12-13. On December 29, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed two objections to the R&R and requested leave to amend their Complaint. ECF No. 15. RoundPoint responded to the Plaintiffs' objections on January 12, 2018. ECF No. 16. The matter is now ripe for review.


         A. Review of Magistrate Judge's R&R

         Pursuant to Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court, having reviewed the record in its entirety, shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which the plaintiff has specifically objected. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Objections must be "specific and particularized." United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 621 (4th Cir. 2007) . The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to him with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         B. Leave to Amend Complaint

         "It is well-established that leave to amend a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) should be 'freely given when justice so requires.'" Wilkins v. Wells Fargo Bank; N.A., 320 F.R.D. 125, 127 (E.D. Va. 2017) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)). "The Supreme Court has emphasized that 'this mandate is to be heeded.'" Id. (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)); see also Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509-10 (4th Cir. 1986). Accordingly, "unless 'the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment would . . . [be] futile, '" the court should generally grant the plaintiff's request. Steinburg v. Chesterfield Cnty. Planning Comm'n, 527 F.3d 377, 390 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006)).

         "Whether an amendment is prejudicial will often be determined by the nature of the amendment and its timing." Laber, 438 F.3d at 426. "Delay alone . . . is an insufficient reason to deny the plaintiff's motion to amend." Id. at 427. Furthermore, "[a]n amendment is not prejudicial . . . if it merely adds an additional theory of recovery to the facts already pled and is offered before any discovery has occurred." Id. An amendment is "futile if it is apparent that the proposed amendments could not withstand a motion to dismiss." Wilkins, 320 F.R.D. at 127 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         C. Motion to Dismiss

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed when a plaintiff s allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests only the sufficiency of a complaint; it does not resolve contests regarding the facts of the case, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of any defense. Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) . "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         Facial plausibility means that a "plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). It is, therefore, not enough for a plaintiff to allege facts demonstrating a "sheer possibility" or "mere[] consist[ency]" with unlawful conduct. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The Supreme Court, in Twombly and Iqbal, offered guidance to courts ...

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