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Muathe v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 14, 2019

ERIC M. MUATHE, Plaintiff,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., et. al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the court on defendants Wells Fargo Bank, NA, Matt R. Hubbard, Jehan K. Moore, Michael L. Abrams, and Lathrop Gage, LLP's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 11). Plaintiff filed this action against defendants claiming multiple violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in connection with his application for a loan modification. Defendants now move to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the motion and dismisses the amended complaint.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a defendant in a pending foreclosure action in the District Court of Crawford County, Kansas. On August 11, 2014, Wilmington Trust, N.A., as the current holder of plaintiff's mortgage, filed the Petition for Foreclosure of Mortgage. The petition alleges plaintiff failed to pay amounts due.

         On July 11, 2016, plaintiff filed a Second Amended Answer and Counterclaim in the foreclosure action. Attorneys from defendant Lathrop Gage, LLP entered their appearance in the foreclosure action on behalf of Wilmington Trust. Defendants Jehan K. Moore and Michael L. Abrams, partners at Lathrop Gage, currently represent Wilmington Trust in the foreclosure action against plaintiff. Defendant Matt R. Hubbard was formerly a partner with Lathrop Gage and formerly represented Wilmington Trust in the foreclosure action.

         In exhibits attached to plaintiff's amended complaint, it appears that around October 2016, plaintiff began communicating with defendant Hubbard regarding settlement options in the foreclosure action. After Hubbard confirmed that Wilmington Trust authorized him to communicate with plaintiff regarding settlement offers, plaintiff sent Hubbard a settlement offer, and Hubbard agreed to confer with his client. In March 2017, Hubbard informed plaintiff that Wilmington Trust declined his offer of settlement. Litigation continued in the foreclosure action throughout 2017.

         In September 2017, defendant Moore emailed plaintiff to inform him that she was taking over the matter from Hubbard. She forwarded two letters from defendant Wells Fargo regarding plaintiff's request for mortgage assistance and requested plaintiff send any documentation and correspondence regarding the case to her attention. Wells Fargo is the loan servicer for plaintiff's mortgage. As the loan servicer, Wells Fargo “performs services in connection with the mortgage loan on behalf of the owner of [plaintiff's] loan, including collecting loan payments, processing applications for loan modification, and commencing and managing foreclosure proceedings.” (Doc. 12, at n.2.) Between September and December 2017, plaintiff and Moore communicated about documentation needed for plaintiff's requested loan modification. On December 19, 2017, Moore emailed plaintiff with the outstanding documentation needed for his request for mortgage assistance. She informed plaintiff that if the documents were not received by December 26, 2017, his request could not be completed. Plaintiff responded to Moore's email and inquired as to who was requesting the information. Plaintiff expressed his concerns that the requests were not coming directly from Wells Fargo, the loan servicer, and “objected” to Moore's involvement as a “conduit for communications with the servicer.” Moore responded that Wells Fargo was requesting the information, and that as Wells Fargo's attorney, she was acting on behalf of them to collect the documentation. Moore followed up with plaintiff on January 3, 2018 regarding the outstanding documentation, and on January 20, 2018, a Home Preservation Specialist with Wells Fargo sent plaintiff a letter informing him that they were unable to offer any mortgage assistance options because of the incomplete application.

         After filing unsuccessful complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Kansas Office of the Disciplinary Administrator, plaintiff filed this pro se action on February 9, 2018 alleging misconduct in connection with his application for a loan modification.

         II. Legal Standard

         Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing plaintiff has failed to state any claims against them.

         The court will grant a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss only when the factual allegations fail to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the factual allegations need not be detailed, the claims must set forth entitlement to relief “through more than labels, conclusions and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” In re Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practices Litig., 534 F.Supp.2d 1214, 1216 (D. Kan. 2008). The allegations must contain facts sufficient to state a claim that is plausible, rather than merely conceivable. Id. “All well-pleaded facts, as distinguished from conclusory allegations, must be taken as true.” Swanson v. Bixler, 750 F.2d 810, 813 (10th Cir. 1984); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court construes any reasonable inferences from these facts in favor of the plaintiff. Tal, 453 F.3d at 1252.

         Where, as here, the plaintiff proceeds pro se, the court construes the pro se filings liberally. Hall v. Doering, 997 F.Supp. 1445, 1451 (D. Kan. 1998) (citing Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980)). A court may not, however, supply “additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997).

         III. Analysis

         As mentioned above, plaintiff's amended complaint consists of various claims for violations of RESPA and the FDCPA. RESPA is a “consumer protection statute enacted to regulate real estate settlement processes.” Berneike v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 708 F.3d 1141, 1144 (10th Cir. 2013). And the FDCPA is designed to “eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e). The court will address each of plaintiff's claims individually. ...

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