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Purnell v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

January 3, 2017




         This pro se action is before the Court on Defendant Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC's Motion to Dismiss [10]. Because Plaintiffs fail to state a plausible claim, the motion is granted.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         On May 16, 2006, Plaintiffs Leroy and Brenda Purnell obtained a mortgage loan. Sub. Tr.'s Deed [10-1] at 1. The note was secured by a Deed of Trust covering Plaintiffs' property at Rural Route 1 Box 38 in Coila, Mississippi. Id. The Deed of Trust listed Mitchell L. Heffernan as trustee for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for Mortgage Lenders Network USA, Inc., beneficiary. Id. The Deed of Trust was ultimately assigned to U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”), as Trustee, for Residential Asset Securities Corporation, Home Equity Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certifications, Series 2006-EMX7. Id.

         At some point thereafter, Plaintiffs defaulted on their loan payments, and on December 15, 2014, U.S. Bank appointed Emily Kaye Courteau, an attorney with Morris & Associates, as the Substitute Trustee on the Deed of Trust. Id. On May 14, 2015, Courteau conducted a foreclosure sale at which U.S. Bank purchased Plaintiffs' property. A Demand for Possession of Property was mailed to Plaintiffs on June 24, 2015, and Ocwen Loan Servicing (“Ocwen”), as a servicer for U.S. Bank, filed a Complaint for Possession in the Justice Court of Carroll County two months later. The court entered judgment against Plaintiffs on November 12, 2015, and issued a Writ of Possession on December 17, 2015.

         Aggrieved by the foreclosure and eviction, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on April 1, 2016, against Ocwen as servicer for U.S. Bank, the eviction attorneys, and the judge who presided over the eviction. Ocwen filed the instant Motion to Dismiss [10] on October 26, 2016. Following the issuance of a Show Cause Order [13], Plaintiffs filed a one-sentence response. Ocwen did not reply. The Court has personal and subject-matter jurisdiction and is prepared to rule.

         II. Standards

         In considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the “court accepts ‘all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'” Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (citations and footnote omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Ordinarily, in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court should look only to the face of the complaint to assess whether the plaintiff states a claim. However, the Court may consider documents outside the complaint that are “(1) attached to the motion; (2) referenced in the complaint; and (3) central to the plaintiff's claims.” Maloney Gaming Mgmt., L.L.C. v. St. Tammany Par., 456 F. App'x 336, 341 (5th Cir. 2011). Here, much of the factual background was gleaned from documents submitted by Ocwen in support of its motion. These documents are central to Plaintiffs' claims and are therefore properly before the Court.

         Finally, Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se. “It is well-established that ‘pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Miller v. Stanmore, 636 F.2d 986, 988 (5th Cir. 1981)). “However, regardless of whether the plaintiff is proceeding pro se or is represented by counsel, ‘conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss.'” Id. (citing S. Christian Leadership Conference v. Supreme Court of the State of La., 252 F.3d 781, 786 (5th Cir. 2001) (additional citation omitted)).

         III. Analysis

         Ocwen characterizes the Complaint as possibly asserting one or both of the following two claims: (1) violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and (2) violation of section four of the Clayton Act. The Court's review of the Complaint does not suggest any additional claims, and Plaintiffs do not clarify their claims ...

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