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Kenneth J. Taggart v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

September 27, 2012

KENNETH J. TAGGART, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE, INC., ET. AL.
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

This is the mortgage foreclosure case that pro se plaintiff, Kenneth Taggart, filed against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. ("Wells Fargo"), American Partners Bank, and Eagle Nationwide Mortgage Company ("Eagle Nationwide"). Pending before this court is Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint (Doc. No. 103), to which Eagle Nationwide and Wells Fargo filed responses (Doc. Nos. 107 & 108). For the reasons set forth, I will deny Plaintiff's Motion to Amend.

I.Background

In December, 2008 Kenneth Taggart applied to refinance his mortgage loan on property located at 709 Schwab Road, Hatfield, Pennsylvania.*fn1 Eagle Nationwide Mortgage Company acted as a broker and American Partners Bank funded the loan. Complaint at ¶¶ 8-9. The mortgage loan closed on December 16, 2008. Wells Fargo now services the loan, which is owned by a securitized trust. Complaint at ¶ 11.

On March 1, 2010, Kenneth Taggart filed a cause of action alleging various federal and state law claims. The complaint alleges various violations of the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices & Consumer Protection Laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In addition, the complaint raises breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims.*fn2 Plaintiff now seeks leave to add Mortgage Electronic Systems ("MERS") as a defendant because Plaintiff claims that MERS was the original lender of the mortgage loan in question.

Wells Fargo filed a motion to dismiss Taggart's complaint on June 4, 2010. (Doc. No. 5). On September, 27, 2010, I granted Wells Fargo's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 40). On December 10, 2010, Taggart filed an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 51). Again, Wells Fargo filed a second motion to dismiss on December 20, 2010 (Doc. No. 52), which was granted on April 19, 2011, and dismissed Wells Fargo from Taggart's amended complaint with prejudice.*fn3 (Doc. No. 70). That same day Eagle Nationwide's Motion to Dismiss was denied as untimely. *fn4 (Doc. No. 79).

On January 16, 2012, without filing a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, Plaintiff filed another Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 99). On January 19, 2012, I entered an Order permitting Plaintiff to file a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint on or before Thursday, January 26, 2012. On January 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion, which added claims against the previously-dismissed Wells Fargo and attempts to substitute Mortgage Electronic Registration systems ("MERS") with a John Doe alleged in the initial complaint. Eagle Nationwide responded on February 9, 2012 and Wells Fargo was permitted to file a response on February 12, 2012.

II.Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), "[a] party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course. . . . Otherwise, a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court . . . and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a). "While this Rule also states that leave to amend should be 'freely given,' a district court has discretion to deny a request to amend if it is apparent from the record that (1) the moving party has demonstrated undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motives, (2) the amendment would be futile, or (3) the amendment would prejudice the other party." Fraser v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 352 F.3d 107, 116 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 83 S. Ct. 227, 9 L. Ed. 2d 222 (1962)). Thus, an amendment must be permitted unless it would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 109 (3d Cir. 2002).

Futility

"Futility means that the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In assessing 'futility,' the District Court applies the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6)." Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). Under this standard, a court must take all the well pleaded allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief. See Vallies v. Sky Bank, 432 F.3d 493, 494 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988)).

Bad Faith, Undue Delay, and Prejudice

"Mere delay alone is not enough to deny leave to amend, but 'at some point, the delay will become undue, placing an unwarranted burden on the court, or will become prejudicial, placing an unfair burden on the opposing party.'" McKenna v. City of Phila., 511 F. Supp. 2d 518, 527 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196, 204 (3d Cir. 2006)). In deciding whether to grant leave to amend, "prejudice to the non-moving party is the touchstone for the denial of the amendment." Bechtel v. Robinson, 886 F.2d 644, 652 (3d Cir. 1989) (quoting Cornell & Co., Inc. v. Occupational Health and Safety Review Comm'n, 573 F.2d 820, 823 (3d Cir. 1978)).

Prejudice has been defined as "undue difficulty in prosecuting a lawsuit as a result of a change of tactics or theories on the part of the other party." Hesling v. Avon Grove Sch. Dist., 428 F. Supp. 2d 262, 278 (E D. Pa. 2006) (Deakyne v. Comm'rs of Lewes, 416 F.2d 290, 300 (3d Cir. 1696)). To establish prejudice, the non-moving party must make a showing that allowing the amended pleading would (1) require the non-moving party to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial, (2) significantly delay the resolution of the ...


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