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Adams v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 13, 2017

FRANK ADAMS and CHRISTIE A. ADAMS, Ind. & as H/W, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., and PHELAN, HALLINAN, DIAMOND & JONES LLP, formerly known as PHELAN, HALLINAN & SCHMIEG, LLP, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          SCHMEHL, J. JLS

         Before this court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) filed by Defendant Wells Fargo Bank (“Wells Fargo”), and the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Phelan, Hallinan, Diamond & Jones, LLP (“Phelan”) on May 2, 2016. Plaintiffs Frank and Christie A. Adams (hereinafter “Plaintiffs”) filed opposition to both motions. Having read the parties' briefing, I will deny the motion of Wells Fargo (Docket No. 12) as to all claims except the wrongful use of civil proceedings claim (Count I), and I will deny the motion of Phelan in its entirety (Docket No. 13).

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

         Defendant Wells Fargo extended a loan to plaintiffs in the amount of $89, 000, in which, to secure repayment of the loan, plaintiffs executed and delivered to Wells Fargo a mortgage that granted a lien and security interest in certain real property owned by plaintiffs at 58 Lillian Lane, Bangor, Northampton County, Pennsylvania 18013. (Def.['s] Mot. Dismiss 2.)

         Plaintiffs missed their regular payments for April, June, and July of 2009 and subsequently fell into arrears on the mortgage loan. (FAC, ¶ 6.) At the time of these missed payments, the principal balance on plaintiffs' outstanding loan amount was approximately $66, 000. (Id. at ¶ 7.) In or about August 2009, plaintiffs entered a twelve (12) month “Special Forbearance” plan with Wells Fargo. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Plaintiffs completed the special forbearance plan in September 2010 and resumed regular monthly mortgage payments to Wells Fargo through December 2010. (Id. at ¶¶10-11.)

         In or about December 2010, Wells Fargo sent plaintiffs an Act 91 foreclosure notice detailing the four (4) regularly monthly payments plaintiffs missed between September and December 2010. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Wells Fargo sent additional Act 91 notices to Plaintiffs in January and February 2011, after having returned the previously made payments by plaintiffs under the special forbearance plan. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-21.) Following the Act 91 notices, Wells Fargo referred plaintiffs to its foreclosure counsel, defendant Phelan. (Def.['s] Mot. Dismiss 3.) At the time of the Act 91 notices, plaintiffs were no longer in arrears. (FAC, ¶ 20.)

         In or about October 2011, defendants brought a foreclosure action against plaintiffs in the Northampton Court of Common Pleas. (Id. at ¶ 23.) In December 2015, Wells Fargo voluntarily withdrew its complaint and discontinued the foreclosure action without prejudice. (Def.['s] Mot. Dismiss 4.)

         Plaintiffs bring claims against both defendants for alleged violations of Wrongful Use of Civil Proceedings (“Dragonetti Act”) (Count I), Pa. Act 6 (Count II), Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (Count III), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Count IV), and Loss of Consortium (Count V).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard when the facts alleged “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). While the plausibility standard is not “akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” there nevertheless must be more than a “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The Court of Appeals requires us to apply a three-step analysis under a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) “it must ‘tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim;'” (2) “it should identify allegations that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth;'” and, (3) “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.” Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679); see also Burtch, 662 F.3d at 221; Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d. Cir. 2011); Santiago v. Warminster Township, 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d. Cir. 2010).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants Wells Fargo and Phelan both move to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, with each addressing separate claims in their respective motions. For the reasons that follow, I will deny defendants' motions, except as to the Dragonetti claim (Count I) against defendants.

         A. MOTION TO DISMISS OF DEFENDANT WELLS FARGO

         Defendant Wells Fargo sets forth numerous arguments in support of its motion to dismiss Count I (Dragonetti Act), Count II (Pa. Act 6), Count III (UTPCPL), and Count V (Loss of Consortium). As will be discussed below, I will deny Wells ...


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