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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Carnell

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 19, 2018

WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFREY A. CARNELL, ANNA M. CARNELL, RYAN P. JAY, and LARRY E. JAY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before this Court is the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or, in the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted ("the Motion") filed by Defendants Ryan P. Jay and Larry E. Jay ("the Jays") as to the crossclaim of Defendant Jeffrey A. Carnell ("Mr. Carnell).[1] (ECF No. 48.) Although Mr. Carnell has not responded to the Jays' Motion (ECF No. 48) and brief in support thereof (ECF No. 49), the deadline for Mr. Carnell's response -i.e., April 3, 2018-passed over two weeks ago and, thus, the Jays' Motion is ripe for disposition.

         The Jays argue that Mr. Carnell's crossclaim against them should be dismissed for failure to request a legally cognizable remedy. (See ECF No. 49 at 3-4.) This Court agrees with the Jays' argument.

         Accordingly, for the reasons that follow, the Jays' Motion is GRANTED. Thus, Mr. Carnell's crossclaim against the Jays is DISMISSED.

         II. Relevant Background

         This Court detailed the procedural and factual background of the instant case in multiple prior memorandum opinions and orders. See Wells Fargo Bank, MA. v. Carnell, No. 3:16-cv-130, 2017 WL 1498087, at *l-*2 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 25, 2017); Wells Fargo Bank, MA. v. Carnell, No. 3:16-cv-130, 2018 WL 840141, at *l-*2 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 12, 2018); Wells Fargo Bank, MA. v. Carnell, No. 3:16-cv-130, 2018 WL 988352, at *l-*2 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 15, 2018). The Court will not further expand upon this previously-provided background in the current Memorandum Opinion. However, the Court will provide a brief background as to those issues particularly pertinent to the instant Motion.

         As this Court previously summarized, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo") brought this case against two mortgagors-Mr. Carnell and Anna M. Carnell[2]-and the two notary publics who notarized the underlying mortgage documents-the Jays-after the Carnells allegedly defaulted on their mortgage payments. See Wells Fargo, 2018 WL 840141, at *1. Wells Fargo primarily seeks an order quieting title to the property underlying the mortgage. Id.

         Most relevant for the purposes of the present Motion, Mr. Carnell filed his Answer and Affirmative Defenses, Counterclaim, [3] and Crossclaim on May 8, 2017. (ECF No. 39.) In this Answer, Mr. Carnell denies that he signed the two mortgages with Wells Fargo in 2008 and 2009. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 25.) Mr. Carnell's Answer also stated that he served a prior answer upon Wells Fargo on May 29, 2012 in a related state foreclosure action, in which he previously averred that he did not sign these two mortgage instruments. (Id. ¶ 35.)

         Additionally, Mr. Carnell's Answer included a crossclaim against Anna M. Carnell and the Jays. (See ECF No. 39 at ¶¶ 79-92.) Mr. Carnell's crossclaim alleges that Anna M. Carnell and the Jays "caus[ed] or otherwise allow[ed] his signature to be forged upon two Wells Fargo Mortgages." (Id. ¶ 80.) The remainder of the allegations under the crossclaim heading of Mr. Carnell's Answer relate to Wells Fargo's alleged wrongdoing in promoting hasty, unsupervised "take home" mortgages that enabled Anna M. Carnell to forge Mr. Carnell's signature. (Id. ¶¶ 79-92.) Mr. Carnell's Answer asserts that Anna M. Carnell "forged her husband's name on the paperwork and found a willing and able notary to notarize the signatures." (Id. ¶ 88.) The Answer further alleges that Mr. Carnell "never signed anything with regard to the two Wells Fargo Mortgages and as such, could not have signed in front of the two notaries." (Id. ¶ 89.)

         In response to this crossclaim, the Jays filed the instant Motion (ECF No. 48) and their brief in support thereof (ECF No. 49) on March 13, 2018. Mr. Carnell has not filed any documents in opposition to the instant Motion. Any responses were due on or before April 3, 2018. See Practices and Procedures of Judge Kim R. Gibson, Rule II.D.4 (Aug. 23, 2017), http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/sites/pawd/files/JG-Practices-Procedures.pdf (providing 21 days to respond to motions to dismiss and motions for judgment on the pleadings).

         III. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that "[a]fter the pleadings are closed- but early enough not to delay trial -a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); see also Hadeed v. Advanced Vascular Res. of Johnstown, LLC, 3:15-cv-22, 2017 WL 4998663, at *4 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 30, 2017). "The standard for deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is not materially different from the standard for deciding a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)." Zion v. Nassau, 283 F.R.D. 247, 254 (W.D. Pa. 2012); see Harleysville Ins. Co. of New York v. Cerciello, No. 3:08-CV-2060, 2010 WL 11534317, at *2 (M.D. Pa. 2010) ("The standard of review used for a motion for judgment on the pleadings is substantively identical to that of a motion to dismiss."); Minnesota Lawyers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ahrens, 432 Fed.Appx. 143, 147 (3d Cir. 2011).

         Either motion may be used to seek the dismissal of a complaint based on a plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); id. at 12(h)(2)(B). The only difference between the two motions is that a Rule 12(b) motion must be made before a "responsive pleading" is filed, whereas a Rule 12(c) motion can be made "[a]fter the pleadings are ...


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