United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
CHARLES L. WOTANIS and, RENEE B. WOTANIS, Plaintiffs,
PNC BANK, N.A., Defendant.
Richard Caputo United States District Judge
before me is a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 12) filed by the
Defendant PNC Bank, N.A. (“PNC”). PNC contends
that the Plaintiffs Charles L. Wotanis and Renee B. Wotanis
(“Mr. and Mrs. Wotanis” or
“Wotanis's”) have failed to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted on two separate claims under
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
(“RESPA”). Because the Wotanis's have
adequately pled violations of RESPA in Count I of their
complaint but have failed to adequately plead violations in
Count II, PNC's Motion to Dismiss will be granted in part
and denied in part. The Plaintiffs will be given leave to
facts from the Wotanis's Complaint (Doc. 1), taken as
true and viewed in the light most favorable to Mr. and Mrs.
Wotanis are as follows:
L. and Renee B. Wotanis, husband and wife, are the owners of
real property located at 950 Taylor Avenue, Scranton,
Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County (“the Property”).
(Doc. 1 at ¶ 7). In May 2006, Mr. and Mrs. Wotanis
entered into a real-estate secured Direct Installment Loan
with PNC for the Property in the amount of $153, 694.00 at an
interest rate of 7.9%, to be paid in monthly installments of
$1, 463.86. (Id. at ¶ 9).
December 9, 2012, Plaintiffs received a document from PNC
which purported to be a loan modification agreement, offering
a reduced interest rate on the loan (4.19%) if Plaintiffs
paid a one hundred dollar loan modification processing fee.
(Id. at ¶ 10). In response, on January 18,
2013, Plaintiffs signed and submitted this loan modification
offer at their local PNC branch and further authorized PNC to
debit one hundred dollars from their PNC checking account to
satisfy the modification processing fee. (Id. at
2018, Mr. and Mrs. Wotanis noticed that they had nonetheless
been paying the initial 7.9% interest rate. (Id. at
¶ 12). On May 16, 2018, they notified PNC of this
“error” and requested more information about the
servicing of their loan including what they referred to as
the “servicing notes.” (Id. at ¶
12; Doc. 3 Ex. C). On June 22, 2018, PNC responded to this
letter stating that the loan modification offer was never
properly accepted due to either the bank never actually
receiving the agreement, or, even if received, an omission of
the account number on the modification processing fee
agreement. (Id. at ¶13; Doc. 3, Ex. D.). In
this same response, PNC provided Mr. and Mrs. Wotanis with
various records of payment history, but did not attach any
“servicing notes” instead stating that they were
“outside the scope of what can be requested as, to the
extent such information exists, it is confidential,
irrelevant, or privileged, and the request was overly broad
and unduly burdensome.” (Id. at ¶15; Doc.
3, Ex. D).
Mrs. Wotanis initiated this action on April 5, 2019, alleging
two violations of RESPA, 12 U.S.C. § 2601 et
seq: failure to adequately respond to a Notice of Error
on behalf of themselves (Count I); and failure to adequately
respond to a Request for Information on behalf of a larger
class of those similarly harmed (Count II). (See
generally Doc.1). Mr. and Mrs. Wotanis named PNC as the
lone Defendant. (Id. at ¶ 26). Plaintiffs seek
various forms of actual and statutory damage awards for
themselves and, as to Count II, for the class they
purportedly represent plus costs. (Id. at
¶¶ 35-36, 44).
filed its Motion to Dismiss on June 21, 2019, contending that
the Wotanis's fail to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted because their claims fall outside the scope of the
RESPA statute as they do not involve loan servicing, and, in
any event, PNC responded to the Wotanis's request for
information adequately. (See Docs. 12, 13). PNC
further contends that no claim has been stated because Mr.
and Mrs. Wotanis failed to adequately plead actual and
statutory damages under the applicable statute such that they
are not entitled to relief. (See Doc. 12).
Parties have fully submitted briefs in support of their
positions and the Motion is ripe for review. (See
Docs. 13, 17, 19).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. When considering a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to
determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in
support of her claims. See Semerenko v. Cendant Corp.,
223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). The Court does not
consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail.
Id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing
that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim.
See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178
(3d Cir. 2000).
pleading that states a claim for relief must contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2) must
“‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . .
. claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per
curiam) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not
required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. However, mere
conclusory statements will not do; “a complaint must do
more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to
relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Instead, a complaint must
“show” this entitlement by alleging sufficient
facts. Id. While legal conclusions can provide the
framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664
(2009). As such, “[t]he touchstone of the pleading
standard is plausibility.” Bistrian v. Levi,
696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012).
inquiry at the motion to dismiss stage is “normally
broken into three parts: (1) identifying elements of the
claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory
allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded
components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the
elements identified in part one of the ...