United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Boyd, pro se
Patrick Kennedy, Esq.
N. Laplante United States District Judge.
mortgage-related action, a third party to the mortgage
challenges the foreclosure on her home in Somersworth, New
Hampshire. Plaintiff Leah Boyd, proceeding pro se, sued the
mortgage-holder and servicer of the mortgage secured by her
home, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., doing business as Wells Fargo
Mortgage, in Strafford County Superior Court. The defendant
removed the action to this court, see 28 U.S.C. § 1441,
which has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332
following facts, construed in Boyd's favor, are drawn
from her complaint and documents sufficiently referenced
therein. See, e.g., Martino v. Forward Air, Inc.,
609 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2010) (The court must “accept
as true all well-pleaded facts in the complaint and make all
reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor.”);
Rederford v. U.S. Airways, Inc., 589 F.3d 30, 35
(1st Cir. 2009) (The court “may consider not only the
complaint but also facts extractable from documentation
annexed to or incorporated by reference in the complaint and
matters susceptible to judicial notice.”). Boyd and her
mother, Glenda Castleberry, purchased the four-unit house in
question in August, 2009. To obtain more favorable financing
terms, and in light of the status of Boyd's credit at the
time, Castleberry alone took out the mortgage on the house
and signed the accompanying note. A warranty deed conveying
the property from the seller to Castleberry was recorded with
the Strafford County Registry of Deeds contemporaneously with
the mortgage instrument. About a month later, Castleberry
conveyed the property to herself and Boyd via warranty deed,
which was also recorded. Under an agreement between Boyd and
Castleberry, Boyd lived in one unit in the house, collected
rent from the tenants of the three other units, paid the
bills related to the house, and made the mortgage payments to
Wells Fargo. Castleberry had nothing further to do with the
property for the next few years.
2014, Castleberry began collecting the rent from the tenants
without Boyd's knowledge. She did not, however, make any
payments against the mortgage loan obligation. Boyd filed for
bankruptcy protection in November 2015 in an effort to save
the house, but the Bankruptcy Court (Harwood, B.J.) dismissed
her petition after she failed to file requisite paperwork.
Though the complaint does not suggest precisely when, Wells
Fargo eventually initiated foreclosure proceedings. Boyd
alleges that she tried to engage Wells Fargo in discussions
in connection with the mortgage, but that Wells Fargo refused
because Boyd was “on the deed not the loan.”
Compl. at 2. On March 31, 2016, Boyd filed a
complaint in Strafford County Superior Court to enjoin a
foreclosure sale scheduled for the next day. The Superior
Court enjoined the foreclosure sale.
Fargo removed the case to this court and now moves to dismiss
the complaint, arguing (1) that Boyd fails to state a
cognizable claim for relief, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and
(2) that Boyd, a third party to the mortgage, lacks standing
to challenge the foreclosure, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).
Though Boyd filed no written objection, the court carefully
analyzed the defendant's arguments and afforded Boyd the
opportunity to articulate her objections at oral argument,
held on August 11, 2016.
court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) if the
plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to “state a
claim to relief” by pleading, in her complaint,
“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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Even construing
Boyd's pro se complaint liberally, see Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), the court concludes that
she has not done so here.
the court can tell from Boyd's complaint, she seeks two
forms of relief. First, she sought--and obtained--an
injunction so that she could collect rent from her tenants,
which she would use to make the mortgage payments. Compl. at
2-3. Second, as a final resolution, Boyd seeks an order
“[t]hat the house belongs to her and all tenants'
rent needs to be paid to [her], Leah Boyd, [and] [t]hat [she]
is the rightful owner . . . .” Compl. at 4. Neither
amounts to a claim for relief against Wells Fargo.
Boyd concedes that Castleberry defaulted on the mortgage. She
does not challenge Wells Fargo's right to foreclose under
those circumstances, nor the validity of the foreclosure
itself. Nor does she contend that Wells Fargo violated any
statutory or regulatory requirements during the foreclosure
proceeding. The court accordingly concludes that Boyd has
failed to state a claim against Wells Fargo with respect to
Boyd requests an order that the house belongs to her. Read
generously, this may amount to a petition to quiet title to
the property. Through an action to quiet title, the plaintiff
“essentially seeks a declaratory judgment from the
court regarding the parties' land interests.”
Porter v. Coco, 154 N.H. 353, 357 (2006). Boyd has
alleged no facts that would allow the court to draw a
reasonable inference that she is entitled to this relief.
While the deed conveying the property to Castleberry and Boyd
may well give Boyd an interest in the property, any such
interest was subject to the pre-existing mortgage and its
conditions, which included the possibility of foreclosure in
the event of default. See Cadle Co. v. Bourgeois,
149 N.H. 410 (2003) (a subsequent transfer of mortgaged
property “does not release the real estate from the
mortgage, unless the mortgage is unrecorded . . . .”
(quoting Restatement (Third) of Property (Mortgages) §
5.1 comment b at 330 (1997)). Boyd bears the burden of
demonstrating otherwise, see Fadili v. Deutsche Bank Nat.
Trust Co., 772 F.3d 951, 954 (1st Cir. 2014)
(“Under New Hampshire law, the party seeking to quiet
title bears the burden of establishing [her] good title to
the property against the interests of all others.”).
Boyd has alleged no facts that would establish that she has
good title to the property; in fact, the facts she alleges,
and those extricable from the public record and documents
referenced in the complaint, would establish the contrary,
that she lacks good title against all others. Accordingly,
Boyd's complaint fails to state a claim upon which this
court can grant relief.
defendant also moves to dismiss Boyd's complaint for lack
of subject-matter jurisdiction, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), on
the grounds that Boyd lacks standing to challenge the
validity of the foreclosure as a non-party to the mortgage
agreement. See Mot. to Dismiss (document no. 6) at
5-6. This court has, as the defendant points out,
acknowledged that language of the Real Estate Settlement
Procedure Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., precludes a
non-borrower from obtaining relief for a loan servicer's
violation of that statute and that a non-party to a mortgage
agreement lacks standing to challenge the mortgage
assignment. See Fortin v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC,
2015 DNH 185, 12-14. This court has not, however, held that a
non-party to a mortgage agreement lacks standing to challenge
a mortgage foreclosure under all circumstances. Other courts
in this Circuit have suggested that a non-party may have such
standing, possibly as a third-party beneficiary of the
agreement, under certain circumstances. See Rice v.
Santander Bank, N.A., No. CV 16-10478-FDS, 2016 WL
3676123, at *5 n.6 (D. Mass. July 6, 2016) (Saylor,
J.) (plaintiff property owner would have standing to
contest validity of mortgage agreement, though not party
thereto, where mortgage may impact property's
marketability and value); Fryer v. B of A & PHH
Mortgage Servs., 2015 DNH 137, 4-6 (Diclerico,
J.) (third-party beneficiary of mortgage agreement may
have standing to challenge defendant's actions under
mortgage agreement). This court need take no position on that
question here, however, having concluded that Boyd fails to
state a claim for relief against Wells Fargo.
reasons discussed above, the defendant's motion to
dismiss the complaint is GRANTED. The clerk shall enter judgment
accordingly and close the case.