United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
FRANKLYN GOODRIDGE and JUNE P. GOODRIDGE, Plaintiffs,
QUICKEN LOANS, INC.; GOVERNMENT NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION AS TRUSTEE FOR SECURITIZED TRUST GINNIE MAE REMIC TRUST 2013-131; GINNIE MAE; and MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.
J. RANDAL HALL, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendants Quicken Loans, Inc. ("Quicken") and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.'s ("MERS") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Franklyn and June P. Goodridge's Complaint. (Doc. 10.) Also before the Court is the Goodridges' "Order for Entry to Quiet Title and to Strike Defendants [' ] Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing." (Doc. 19.) The Goodridges charge Defendants with a litany of claims arising from their ownership of 3301 Thames Place, Hephzibah, Georgia 30815, including wrongful foreclosure, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander of title, as well as violations of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act ("HOEPA"), and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA"). The majority of the Goodridges' allegations appear to be grounded in the theory that Defendants "unlawfully" securitized their home loan and improperly split the promissory note from the security deed. The Goodridges further contend that Defendants have "conspired to facilitate [a] NON-JUDICIAL coup" and are "engaging in an unrelenting abuse of process... to delay this court and distract plaintiffs" by allegedly failing to cooperate during a Rule 26(f) conference. (Doc. 19 at 4.) Defendants respond simply that no foreclosure has occurred, and on account of severe pleading deficiencies, the Goodridges fail to state any claim upon which relief may be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) and DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiffs' "Order for Entry to Quiet Title and to Strike" (Doc. 19.)
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On July 25, 2013, Plaintiff obtained a mortgage loan for $127, 250.00 ("the Loan") from Quicken, secured by the property located at 3301 Thames Place, Hephzibah, Georgia 30815 ("the Property"), and evidenced by a Promissory Note ("the Note") executed in favor of Quicken and its successors and assigns, promising to repay the Loan amount. (Doc. 1, Ex. A ("Compl."), ¶ 29; Doc. 10, Ex. A ("Deed"), at 2.) The Goodridges also signed a Security Deed ("the Deed") in favor of MERS, as nominee for Quicken and its successors and assigns, granting MERS a first priority security interest in the Property to secure the Goodridges' indebtedness under the Note. (Deed at 2-3.) The Security Deed granted MERS - as nominee for Quicken and Quicken's successors and assigns - and MERS' successors and assigns, power of sale. (Id. at 3.) MERS subsequently assigned the Deed to Government National Mortgage Association, as Trustee for Securitized Trust Ginnie Mae REMIC Trust 2013-131 ("the Trust"). (Compl. ¶ 30; Defs.' Br., Doc. 10-1, at 3.) Despite these transfers, Quicken retained its role as the Loan's service provider. (Defs.' Br. at 3.)
According to Defendants, in March 2014, the Goodridges defaulted on the Loan, a fact which they contest. (Compl. ¶ 100; Defs.' Br. at 3.) The Goodridges, proceeding pro se, then filed a complaint against Defendants in the Superior Court of Richmond County, Georgia, on May 19, 2014, asserting various claims under federal and state law. Two days later, on May 21, 2014, pursuant to the express terms of the Deed, Quicken sent the Goodridges pre-acceleration notices that informed them of their default and gave them thirty days to cure. (Defs.' Br. at 3.) Nearly four months later, on September 30, 2014, the Goodridges received notice that Shapiro, Swertfeger & Hasty LLP will conduct a non-judicial foreclosure sale of the Property on November 4, 2014. (Doc. 19, Ex. A.) According to a separate notice dated September 30, the total indebtedness owed by the Goodridges is $126, 324.82, nearly the entire loan amount. (Doc. 23, Ex. B.)
After service of the complaint in the Richmond County case, Defendants timely removed the action to this Court on July 3, 2014. (Doc. 1.) Defendants now file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Goodridges have failed to state an actionable claim for relief and have failed to meet the requisite pleading standards of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 9(b).
II. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
In considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint, not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail on the merits. Scheuer v. Rhodes , 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The court must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construe all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Hoffman-Pugh v. Ramsey , 312 F.3d 1222, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002). The court, however, need not accept the complaint's legal conclusions as true, only its well-pled facts. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).
A complaint also must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, *to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The plaintiff is required to plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . "The plausibility standard is not akin to a ^probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id.
Additionally, when plaintiffs act pro se, the pleadings are "held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed." Tannenbaum v. United States , 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). "This leniency, however, does not require or allow courts to rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an action." Thomas v. Pentagon Fed. Credit Union , 393 F.App'x 635, 637 (11th Cir. 2010). Indeed, pro se claimants have "no license to harass others, clog the judicial machinery with meritless litigation, and abuse already overloaded court dockets." Patterson v. Aiken , 841 F.2d 386, 387 (11th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Goodridges' Complaint fails to satisfy the pleading standards to a degree the Court cannot reconcile. First, the Goodridges provide a 32-page, 152-paragraph laundry list of events, many of which are irrelevant to the Goodridges' asserted claims and appear to be copied or reworked from a "forensic audit" of their loan documents. In instances such as this, the Eleventh Circuit does not require the district court, or the defendants, to "sift through the facts presented and decide for [itself] which were material to the particular cause of action asserted." Strategic Income Fund, L.L.C. v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp. , 305 F.3d 1293, 1296 (11th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). Although the Goodridges narrate the facts of this case, they also interject their opinions and make vague and conclusory allegations of wrongdoing by Defendants related to the mortgage at issue, the securitization of the mortgage, the assignment of the security deed, and Defendants' acceleration of the Goodridges' obligation upon default. For the most part, the Goodridges fail to specify the actions in which each defendant engaged to support each cause of action. A complaint justifiably may be dismissed on these grounds. See Fullman v. Graddick , 739 F.2d 553, 556-57 (11th Cir. 1984). Simply, the Goodridges' filings are equivalent to a "shotgun" pleading that has been soundly condemned by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Thompson v. RelationServe Media, Inc. , 610 F.3d 628, 650 n.22 (11th Cir. 2010).
Moreover, at the outset, the Court observes:
Plaintiff's allegations are remarkably similar to those in numerous other cases that have been filed by plaintiffs (often unrepresented) in an effort to delay, prevent or even reverse foreclosures and dispossessory actions. Such lawsuits - wherein the plaintiffs often make rambling, incomprehensible and/or conclusory allegations about mortgage industry practices such as the securitization of mortgages, and the MERS assignment and registration system, allege that the promissory note and ...