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Marie Luise Miller v. Nationstar Mortgage

August 14, 2012

MARIE LUISE MILLER, PLAINTIFF
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC; ANDREW HARMON; JOSHUA D. SHAKUN; AND GEORGE A. KARAMBELAS, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Steven J. McAuliffe United States District Judge

Opinion No. 2012 DNH 130

ORDER

This action arises out of a dispute between pro se plaintiff, Marie Luise Miller, and her (former) mortgage lender, Nationstar Mortgage. In her original complaint, Miller "petition[ed] this court for review of the N.H. Supreme Court order, dated February 10, 2011, dismissing Miller's appeal, and the lawfulness of a Writ of Possession, dated April 16, 2012." Petition for Review (document no. 1) at 1. Subsequently, Miller amended her complaint, to add three individual defendants and to advance claims that defendants violated several of her federally protected constitutional rights, committed a fraud upon the state court(s), were unjustly enriched at her expense, and conspired among themselves to unlawfully deprive her of her property. Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's claims and, for the reasons discussed, that motion is granted.

Standard of Review

When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the court must "accept as true all well-pleaded facts set out in the complaint and indulge all reasonable inferences in favor of the pleader." S.E.C. v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 441 (1st Cir. 2010). Although the complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), it 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) (citation and internal punctuation omitted).

Here, in support of their motion to dismiss, defendants rely upon written decisions issued by the New Hampshire Superior Court (Strafford County) and the New Hampshire Supreme Court in prior litigation between Miller and Nationstar. Although a court must typically decide a motion to dismiss exclusively upon the allegations set forth in the complaint (and any documents attached to that complaint) or convert the motion into one for summary judgment, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), there is an exception to that general rule:

[C]courts have made narrow exceptions for documents the authenticity of which are not disputed by the parties; for official public records; for documents central to plaintiffs' claim; or for documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint.

Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). See also Trans-Spec Truck Serv. v. Caterpillar Inc., 524 F.3d 315, 321 (1st Cir. 2008); Beddall v. State St. Bank & Trust Co., 137 F.3d 12, 17 (1st Cir. 1998). Since Miller does not dispute the authenticity of the judicial opinions upon which defendants rely, the court may properly consider those documents without converting defendants' motion into one for summary judgment.

Background

Based upon the allegations contained in the amended complaint, as well as the facts set forth in the two written decisions issued by the state courts, the pertinent background is as follows. Nationstar held a mortgage deed to Miller's home, located in Farmington, New Hampshire. That mortgage and the associated promissory note (in the principal amount of $100,300) were duly recorded in the Strafford County Registry of Deeds. In September of 2007, Miller defaulted on the loan. In 2008, after efforts to restructure her loan failed, Nationstar foreclosed on Miller's property. At the foreclosure sale, it purchased the property for approximately $107,300. Subsequently, Nationstar brought an action in Strafford County Superior Court seeking to evict Miller from the property. In response, Miller filed counterclaims against Nationstar, seeking $1,000,000 in damages and a judicial declaration that she retained title to the property.

Nationstar moved for summary judgment, asserting that it had complied with New Hampshire's statutory foreclosure process and was, therefore, entitled to a declaration that it held title to the subject property, as well as an order compelling Miller to vacate the premises. The court agreed and granted Nationstar's motion. As to Miller's counterclaims against Nationstar, the court concluded that:

[E]ven construing Ms. Miller's pleadings liberally and assuming the facts she asserts to be true, she has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Her pleadings do not sufficiently state the factual or legal bases for her counterclaims to put Nationstar and the court on notice of them. Additionally, when given an opportunity during the October 23, 2009 hearing to explain the bases for her claims, Ms. Miller was unable to state a valid claim of any sort.

Exhibit A to Defendant's Memorandum (document no. 14-1), Nationstar Mortgage, LLC v. Marie Miller, Case no. 219-2008-EA-206 (N.H. Sup. Ct. November 23, 2009) ("Nationstar I").

Miller appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which affirmed the superior court's ...


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