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Linda M. Ruivo v. Wells Fargo Bank

November 19, 2012

LINDA M. RUIVO
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul Barbadoro United States District Judge

Opinion No. 2012 DNH 191

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This case concerns a mortgage loan that Linda Ruivo obtained from a predecessor of Wells Fargo Bank in July 2008.*fn1

Ruivo complains that a broker working for Wells Fargo misrepresented the terms of the loan and that Wells Fargo itself later wrongfully refused her requests to modify the loan. She asserts that Wells Fargo is liable for: (1) violating N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 97-A:2(VI) by making false and misleading statements concerning the terms of the loan (Count I); (2) breaching a loan servicer agreement between Wells Fargo and the Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae") that requires Wells Fargo to follow loan modification guidelines established pursuant to the Home Affordable Mortgage Program ("HAMP") (Count II); (3) breaching the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by refusing to modify the terms of the loan (Count III); and (4) negligently refusing to consider her request for a loan modification (Count IV). Ruivo also asserts a claim for promissory estoppel based on her contention that she relied on Wells Fargo's promise that it would consider her request for a loan modification in good faith (Count V).

Presently before the court is Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss all claims.

I. BACKGROUND

Ruvio owns property in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. In the late summer or early spring of 2008, Ruvio spoke to a mortgage broker working as an agent for Wells Fargo about the possibility of refinancing her $500,000 mortgage on the property. Following this discussion, she understood that she might be able to refinance her existing mortgage and obtain an unspecified amount of cash out through a 7% fixed rate loan.

Ruvio planned to use the additional cash from the refinancing to construct a modular home on her property. After speaking with the broker, she made improvements to the property and installed the modular home. She used $27,000 of her own money and various lines of credit to fund the construction costs.

The broker informed Ruivo in June 2008 that her loan application had been approved and that she would be receiving a 7% fixed rate loan with $50,000.00 cash out at the time of closing. At the closing, however, Ruvio learned that the loan terms had been changed to an interest-only adjustable rate loan with no cash back. Ruvio nevertheless agreed to proceed with the refinancing because the broker told her that she had no other option and that she could refinance the loan again at a later date.

Ruivo began to experience economic difficulties in November 2009. After concluding that she would not be able to refinance her home again, she began the process of seeking approval for a loan modification under HAMP. In February 2011, a loan modification officer affiliated with Wells Fargo informed Ruvio that her loan modification request had been approved. Shortly thereafter, however, the same officer told her that her request had been denied because she had a negative Net Present Value*fn2

("NPV") "due to too much equity." Ruivo attempted to convince Wells Fargo that the NPV determination was inaccurate because it was based on a faulty appraisal. Wells Fargo, however, ignored her pleas and refused to modify its loan.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must make factual allegations sufficient to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when it pleads "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations omitted).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, I employ a two-pronged approach. See Ocasio--Hernandez v. Fortuno--Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). First, I screen the complaint for statements that "merely offer legal conclusions couched as fact or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations, internal quotation marks, and alterations omitted). A claim consisting of ...


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