United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
LINDA K. CARACAPPA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Presently before this court is the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant McCabe, Weisberg and Conway, P.C. (Docket No. 8), the Joinder in the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant McCabe, Weisberg and Conway, P.C. filed by Defendant MetLife Home Loans, A Division of MetLife Bank, N.A. (Docket No. 11), and Plaintiff’s Responses (Documents Nos. 12, 13). For the following reasons, defendants’ motions are granted.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This action arises out of an allegedly improper in personam judgment taken against plaintiff in response to a Pennsylvania state foreclosure in rem action. The following facts are viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff.
On January 4, 2010, plaintiff’s mother Maxey Lee (“Lee”) executed and delivered a mortgage on the premises located at 183 North 60th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19151 (the “Property”) to Genworth Financial Home Equity Access, Inc., formerly known as Liberty Reverse Mortgage, Inc. (“Genworth Financial”). Pl.’s Compl. ¶ 10. Thereafter, Genworth Financial assigned the mortgage to Defendant MetLife Home Loans, A Division of MetLife Bank, N.A. (“MetLife”). Id. ¶ 11.
On July 23, 2010, Lee passed away, and Lee’s daughter, the plaintiff, was named administrator of her estate. Id. ¶¶ 2, 9. Subsequent to Lee’s passing, the Property’s mortgage entered into default, and on August 3, 2011, MetLife, through its counsel, Defendant McCabe, Weisberg and Conway, P.C. (“McCabe”), filed a foreclosure action in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas against plaintiff as the administrator of Lee’s estate seeking an in rem judgment in the amount of $60, 377.69, plus interest and costs. Id. ¶¶ 12, 14, 15. On October 20, 2011, McCain secured a default judgment on behalf of MetLife in the amount of $61, 755.41. Id. ¶ 16. While the foreclosure action specifically stated that MetLife was seeking an in rem judgment, the default judgment was silent on the issue, and did not specifically state whether the award was an in rem judgment or an in personam judgment.
On March 14, 2012, plaintiff was attempting to purchase a home when she learned that the above-referenced judgment was erroneously reported as a personal judgment against her and appeared on her credit report. Id. ¶ 22. Moreover, plaintiff alleges she was turned down for two loans as a result. Id. ¶ 29.
On November 13, 2012, plaintiff commenced an action in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County against MetLife and McCabe alleging five counts. In Count I, plaintiff alleges that defendant MetLife, acting as a creditor, and defendant McCabe, acting as a debt collector, falsely reported to all three major credit reporting agencies that the above-referenced mortgage foreclosure judgment was a judgment against the personal property of plaintiff, when it was not, in violation of the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (“FCEUA”). Moreover, plaintiff alleges that defendants reported this information to the credit reporting agencies with malice or willful intent to injure plaintiff. In Count II, filed against McCabe only, plaintiff alleges that defendant McCabe, acting as a debt collector, intentionally took a personal judgment against plaintiff, acting with malice or willful intent to injure plaintiff, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). In Count III, plaintiff asserts that defendants McCabe and MetLife engaged in unfair methods of competition and/or deceptive conduct, in violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices & Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”). In Count IV, plaintiff alleges that both defendants defamed her credit by falsely reporting to credit companies that the judgment at issue was a personal judgment against plaintiff. Plaintiff further alleges that MetLife and McCabe acted with malice or willful intent to injure plaintiff. Finally, in Count V plaintiff alleges that MetLife and McCabe were negligent and breached their duty to take reasonable and ordinary care in (i) seeking an in rem judgment against plaintiff and (ii) reporting to the credit companies that the in rem judgment was an in personam judgment against plaintiff.
On November 19, 2012, the defendants timely removed the action to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 1446.
On January 4, 2013, a motion to dismiss was filed by defendant McCabe. On January 11, 2013, defendant MetLife filed a joinder in McCabe’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed responses to defendants’ motions on January 17, 2013. Thereafter, the parties consented to jurisdiction before the undersigned.
II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” To avoid dismissal, the complaint must set forth facts that raise a “plausible inference” that the defendant inflicted a legally cognizable harm upon the plaintiff. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 682 (2009); see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (explaining plaintiff must “identify facts that are suggestive enough to render [his claim] plausible”); Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (“[A] plaintiff must ‘nudge [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible’ in order to survive a motion to dismiss.”) (citations omitted). Conclusory allegations of liability do not suffice. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Courts must disregard “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action . . .”. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
A court confronted with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must accept the truth of all factual allegations in the complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Gross v. German Found. Indus. Initiative, 549 F.3d 605, 610 (3d Cir. 2008). Legal conclusions receive no such deference, and the court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1886) (cited with approval in Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted)). Although a plaintiff may use legal conclusions to provide the structure for the complaint, the pleading’s factual content must independently “permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. In short, when the well-pleaded complaint does not ...