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United States v. R.K.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 6, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
R.K., a Minor, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Factual Background

         This mortgage foreclosure action has been assigned to the undersigned on the consent of the parties. The well-pleaded facts in the complaint disclose that on July 30, 2010 a certain real property mortgage was entered into and acknowledged by the mortgagor and record owner of the real estate at issue in this lawsuit, Lesley V. Scott ("Mortgagor"). (Doc. 6.) The mortgage was given to secure a promissory note signed by the Mortgagor. The Mortgagor subsequently fell deeply into default on this note, loan and mortgage, a circumstance which justified foreclosure under the terms of this note, loan agreement and mortgage. (Id.)

         The Mortgagor died on January 12, 2017, intestate, and is survived by her heir-at-law, the minor defendant named in this lawsuit, R.K. (Id.) R.K. has now filed a motion to dismiss, or strike, the complaint in this case. (Doc. 7.) This motion raises a specific and narrow claim, arguing that R.K., the minor heir to the Mortgagor's estate is not a proper nominal party defendant in this lawsuit. Thus, R.K. does not dispute the default, or the plaintiff's entitlement to proceed with a foreclosure action. Rather R.K. simply asserts that he should not be named as the nominal defendant in this case. This motion is fully briefed by the parties, (Docs. 8 and 12), and is therefore ripe for resolution.

         For the reasons set forth below, this motion to dismiss will be denied, but we will establish a process to fully protect the rights of the minor nominal defendant, R.K.

         II. Discussion

         A. Motion to Dismiss-Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss is designed to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Thus, Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, if the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated, Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005), and dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all of the facts alleged in the complaint as true, the plaintiff has failed to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (abrogating “no set of facts” language found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). The facts alleged must be sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555. This requirement “calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” of necessary elements of the plaintiff's cause of action. Id. at 556. Furthermore, in order to satisfy federal pleading requirements, the plaintiff must “provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief, ” which “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (brackets and quotation marks omitted) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, “[a]t the motion to dismiss stage, we accept as true all factual assertions, but we disregard threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, legal conclusions, and conclusory statements.” James v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 700 F.3d 675, 681 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57; Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011)).

         As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has observed:

The Supreme Court in Twombly set forth the “plausibility” standard for overcoming a motion to dismiss and refined this approach in Iqbal. The plausibility standard requires the complaint to allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955. A complaint satisfies the plausibility standard when the factual pleadings “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955). This standard requires showing “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A complaint which pleads facts “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, [ ] “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement of relief.'”
Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011).

         Thus, in assessing a motion to dismiss the court engages in a three-step analysis:

First, the court must “tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1947. Second, the court should identify allegations that, “because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at 1950. Finally, “where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their ...

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