United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
KENNETH J. TAGGART, Plaintiff,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., et al., Defendants.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems Inc., MERSCORP Holdings, Inc., and Federal Home Loan
Mortgage Company have filed a motion to dismiss the amended
complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is
Kenneth J. Taggart filed an amended complaint against Wells
Fargo Bank, N.A., Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems
Inc. ("MERS"), MERSCORP, Inc., and Federal Home
Loan Mortgage Corp. ("Freddie Mac"), for various
claims in connection with the property he owns at 709 Schwab
Road, Hatfield, Pennsylvania 19440 ("the
Property"). (Am. Compl. at 2.) Plaintiff seeks generally to
(1) determine the validity of the note and mortgage contract;
(2) determine whether the note and mortgage were ever
perfected under Pennsylvania law, and if any subsequent
parties may make legal claims to enforce the note pursuant to
the Pennsylvania Uniform Commercial Code; and (3) obtain
declaratory relief, "contract relief, " quiet title
relief, and injunctive relief "to strike or vacate all
recordings and claims, and all claims from any parties who
assert claims to mortgage and note now, or at any time in the
future which were simply, void ab initio." (Am. Compl.
at 2-3.) The plaintiff believes that (1) the note and
mortgage were never perfected; (2) the original lender was
not a legal entity on the date they were created; and (3) no
party can make claims under Pennsylvania law to enforce
either the mortgage or the note. (Id. at 4-6.)
February 6, 2009, a mortgage was recorded for the Property in
the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds Office, indicating
that the mortgage was originated by American Partners Bank,
N.A. as the grantor and that the plaintiff is the grantee.
(Id. at 16 ¶ 68.) The mortgage was originated
on December 16, 2008. (Id. at 16 ¶ 69.) The
plaintiff alleges that Freddie Mac never recorded the note
and mortgage that Wells Fargo claims to hold. (Id.
at 16-17.) The mortgage was assigned to Wells Fargo, N.A. on
April 5, 2010. (Id. at 17 ¶ 73.) The plaintiff
alleges that the note was never recorded, but that one
"Assignments [sic] of Mortgage" was recorded in
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. (Am. Compl. at 17 ¶
75.) The plaintiff alleges numerous failures and defects in
connection with the mortgage and note and their creation,
recording, and assignment. (See Am. Compl. at 1-28.)
All of the claims set forth in the amended complaint stem
from these purported failures and defects.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating
that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); see also Hedges v.
United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
the United States Supreme Court recognized that "a
plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his
'entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." Id. at 555.
Subsequently, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009), the Supreme Court defined a two-pronged approach to a
court's review of a motion to dismiss. "First, 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." Id. at 678. Thus, while "Rule 8
marks a notable and generous departure from the
hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era . . . it
does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed
with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at
the Supreme Court emphasized that "only a complaint that
states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss." hi at 679. "Determining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the
Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense." Id. A complaint
does not show an entitlement to relief when the well-pleaded
facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct. Id; see also Phillips v. Cnty.
of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232-34 (3d Cir. 2008)
(holding that: (1) factual allegations of complaint must
provide notice to defendant; (2) complaint must allege facts
suggestive of the proscribed conduct; and (3) the
complaint's '"factual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.'" (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review have
remained static. Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch.
Dist, No. Civ.A.08-626, 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D. Pa.
July 15, 2008). The general rules of pleading still require
only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain
detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at
233. Further, the court must "accept all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff." Buck v.
Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist, 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, under
any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be
entitled to relief." Pinkerton v. Roche Holdings
Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).
defendants move to dismiss the amended complaint in its
entirety for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) and
to dismiss the claims against Wells Fargo because they are
barred pursuant to res judicata. Having considered
the amended complaint and the parties' briefs, I find
that the plaintiffs claims against the defendants fail as a
matter of law. I will therefore grant the motion to dismiss
on that basis. I previously granted the defendants'
motion to dismiss the complaint without prejudice, but I will
grant the motion to dismiss the amended complaint with
prejudice for the reasons discussed below.
Quiet Title, Slander of Title, and Petition to
Quiet Title Claims Against Wells Fargo, MERS, MERSCORP, and
counts one, two, and three of the amended complaint, the
plaintiff sets forth claims for quiet title, slander of
title, and declaratory relief against Wells Fargo, Freddie
Mac, and MERS and MERSCORP, seeking admissions, the surrender
of documents, and declaratory relief in connection with the
mortgage, note, and assignment. (See Am. Compl.
28-37.) In support, the plaintiff alleges that Freddie Mac
purports to be the owner of the note and mortgage, that
American Partners Bank did not exist the day the mortgage and
note were created, that the note was not notarized or
recorded, and that "[t]here have been claims by several
parties to have an interest in the mortgage that was
recorded." (Id. at 4-5, 16-17.) He further
alleges numerous procedural and legal defects in connection
with the mortgage, note, and assignment. (Id. at
Grounds for Dismissal Pursuant to ...