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Martin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

January 19, 2016

Michael Martin and Julie Martin
v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and North American Savings Bank, FSB No. 2016 DNH 016

ORDER

LANDYA McCAFFERTY, District Judge.

In a case that has been removed from the New Hampshire Superior Court, Michael and Julie Martin, proceeding pro se, seek to enjoin Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo") from selling their home at a foreclosure sale. The Martins also seek damages from Wells Fargo and North American Savings Bank, FSB ("NASB"), alleging claims that arose from the defendants' conduct in handling the Martins' promissory note and mortgage and in attempting to foreclose on their home. Before the court is Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[1] See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Martins object. For the reasons that follow, Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss is granted.

Standard of Review

Under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, construe reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and "determine whether the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint set forth a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted." Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 71 (1st Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads 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). Analyzing plausibility is "a context-specific task" in which the court relies on its "judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679.

Because the Martins are proceeding pro se, the court is obliged to construe their complaint liberally. See Erikson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (internal citations omitted) ("a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"). However, "pro se status does not insulate a party from complying with procedural and substantive law. Even under a liberal construction, the complaint must adequately allege the elements of a claim with the requisite supporting facts." Chiras v. Associated Credit Servs., Inc., 12-10871-TSH, 2012 WL 3025093, at *1 n.1 (D. Mass. July 23, 2012) (quoting Ahmed v. Rosenblatt, 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st Cir. 1997) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted)).

Where, as here, written instruments are provided as exhibits to a pleading, the exhibits are "part of the pleading for all purposes."[2] Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c); see also Trans-Spec Truck Serv. v. Caterpillar, Inc., 524 F.3d 315, 321 (1st Cir. 2008). When "a written instrument contradicts allegations in the complaint to which it is attached, the exhibit trumps the allegations." Clorox Co. P.R. v. Proctor & Gamble Commercial Co., 228 F.3d 24, 32 (1st Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

With its motion to dismiss, Wells Fargo submitted a copy of the assignment of the Martins' mortgage. See Ex. A to Mot. to Dismiss (doc. no. 6-2). When the moving party presents matters outside the pleadings to support a motion to dismiss, the court must either exclude those matters or convert the motion to one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). An exception to Rule 12(d) exists "for documents the authenticity of which [is] not disputed by the parties; for official public records; for documents central to the plaintiffs' claim; or for documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint." Rivera v. Centro Medico de Turabo, Inc., 575 F.3d 10, 15 (1st Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Because the mortgage assignment is central to certain of the Martins' claims against Wells Fargo, the court may consider it without converting the motion to one for summary judgment.

Background

On November 25, 2009, Michael Martin executed a promissory note in favor of NASB, in exchange for a loan of $217, 979. That same date, Michael and Julie Martin granted a mortgage to NASB to secure the loan. The mortgage encumbered the Martins' home at 79 Ford Farm Road in Milton, New Hampshire.

The mortgage states that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS") is the mortgagee as nominee for the lender, NASB. On November 2, 2012, MERS, acting as nominee for NASB, assigned the mortgage to Wells Fargo.

At some point in 2015, Wells Fargo notified the Martins that they were in default and that it was instituting foreclosure proceedings. Before the scheduled date of the foreclosure auction, the Martins brought this action.

The Martins allege that NASB misrepresented itself to the Martins prior to Michael Martin's execution of the promissory note, and that NASB took other unlawful actions to induce the Martins to enter into the mortgage. The Martins also allege that sometime in December 2009, NASB sold its interest in the note and attempted to sell its interest in the mortgage to an entity other than Wells Fargo, which, they allege, is unlawful. They further allege that Wells Fargo lacks standing to foreclose on their home.

Discussion

The Martins assert six claims: Fraud in the Concealment (Count I); Unconscionable Contracts (Count II); Breach of Fiduciary Duty (Count III); Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count IV); ...


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