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Hegedus v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

December 11, 2018

JAMES A. HEGEDUS, et ah Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs James and Virginia Hegedus ('Plaintiffs" or "the Hegeduses"), appearing pro se, brought this action against Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC (Defendant" or "Nationstar"), alleging misconduct related to Nationstar's servicing of a mortgage and the subsequent foreclosure on a residence previously owned by Plaintiffs in Sussex County, Delaware. Nationstar filed the present Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim on April 4, 2018. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), the court referred both motions to United States Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe for a report and recommendation. After hearing oral argument from the parties on June 26, 2018, the magistrate judge recommended granting Nationstar's motion in full. The Hegeduses filed objections to the report and recommendation on October 29, 2018.

         For the reasons stated below, the court will OVERRULE the Hegeduses' objections, ADOPT the report and recommendation to the extent consistent with this opinion, and GRANT Nationstar's motion to dismiss.

         I.

         Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to "serve and file specific, written objections" to a magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations within fourteen days of being served with a copy of the report. See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Fourth Circuit has held that an objecting party must do so "with sufficient specificity so as reasonably to alert the district court of die true ground for the objection." United States v. Midgette. 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Or. 2007), cert denied. 127 S.Ct. 3032 (2007).

To conclude otherwise would defeat the purpose of requiring objections. We would be permitting a party to appeal any issue that was before the magistrate judge, regardless of the nature and scope of objections made to the magistrate judge's report. Either the district court would then have to review every issue in the magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations or courts of appeals would be required to review issues that the district court never considered. In either case, judicial resources would be wasted and the district court's effectiveness based on help from magistrate judges would be undermined.

Id. The district court must determine de novo any portion of the magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which a proper objection has been made. "The district court may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). "General objections that merely reiterate arguments presented to the magistrate judge lack the specificity required under Rule 72, and have the same effect as a failure to object, or as a waiver of such objection." Moon v. BWX Techs.. Inc., 742 F.Supp.2d 827, 829 (W.D. Va. 2010) (citing Veney v. Astrue. 539 F.Supp.2d 841, 845 (W.D. Va. 2008)), affd, 498 Fed.Appx. 268 (4th Cir. 2012); see also Thomas v. Am. 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985(3)) ("[I]he statute does not require the judge to review an issue de novo if no objections are filed.").

         Further, objections that only repeat arguments raised before the magistrate judge are considered general objections to the entirety of the report and recommendation. See Veney, 539 F.Supp.2d at 845. As the court noted in Veney:

Allowing a litigant to obtain de novo review of her entire case by merely reformatting an earlier brief as an objection "mak[es] the initial reference to the magistrate useless. The functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrates Act." Howard [v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.], 932 F.2d [505], 509 [(6th Cir. 1991)].

539 F.Supp.2d at 846. A plaintiff who reiterates his previously raised arguments will not be given "the second bite at the apple []he seeks." Id. Instead, his re-filed brief will be treated as a general objection, which has the same effect as a failure to object. Id.

         II.

         Nationstar's Brief in Support of its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Pleading argues that the Delaware Court's ruling precludes the Hegeduses' claims on both res judicata (claim preclusion) and collateral estoppel (issue preclusion) grounds.[1] The Hegeduses' amended complaint alleges that Nationstar breached its contractual and good faith obligations by failing to apply their payments to the loan interest and principal pursuant to the terms of the agreement.[2] Their original complaint included a claim for conversion, arising from similar facts, which survived Nationstar's first motion to dismiss. Nationstar brings the pending motion to dismiss both claims under Rule 12(b)(6).

         A.

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to move for dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must plead sufficient facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Ad. Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). A plaintiff establishes "facial plausibility" by pleading "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 ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable factual inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ibarra v. United States. 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see Wag ...


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