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Davisson v. Bank of New York Mellon

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 13, 2014

JOSEPH DAVISSON,
v.
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, Section

ORDER AND REASONS

JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (R. Doc. 31). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On November 28, 2006, Plaintiff Joseph Davisson purchased property and executed a promissory note in the amount of $840, 000. Defendant, The Bank of New York Mellon, became the holder of the note, and the parties entered into a mortgage. The mortgage contained three relevant provisions: (1) a provision requiring Plaintiff to maintain wind and hail insurance on the property, (2) a provision requiring Plaintiff to promptly give Defendant proof of paid premiums and renewal notices on all insurance policies, and (3) a provision allowing Defendant to obtain insurance coverage at Plaintiff's expense if he failed to maintain the required coverage.

In February of 2010, Plaintiff received notice from Defendant that he must provide Defendant with proof of insurance coverage for wind and hail by April 1, 2010, or Defendant would force-place insurance on the property.[1] In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his insurance agent provided Defendant with valid proof of continuous insurance coverage "within the deadline." To support this claim, Plaintiff attached an undated letter from his insurance agent establishing continuous coverage.

At some point after the deadline to prove coverage, Defendant force-placed insurance on Plaintiff's property, causing a $19, 329.75 negative balance in Plaintiff's escrow account. This deficiency caused Defendant to return Plaintiff's timely monthly mortgage payments. In November of 2010, Defendant corrected its mistake and demanded immediate payment of the amounts that had been erroneously returned to Plaintiff. Plaintiff was unable to make his account current, and Defendant foreclosed on his home.

Plaintiff brings claims against Defendant for breach of contract and negligence, alleging that Defendant mishandled his escrow account by improperly force-placing insurance and ultimately causing foreclosure on his home.[2] After answering, Defendant filed this instant Motion, claiming that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint fails to state a claim for breach of contract or negligence.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(c) provides that a party may move for judgment on the pleadings, after pleadings are closed but early enough not to delay trial.[3] The standard for determining a Rule 12(c) motion is the same as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.[4] To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead enough facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[5] A claim is "plausible on its face" when the pleaded facts allow the court to "draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."[6] A court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and must "draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor."[7] The court need not, however, accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.[8] To be legally sufficient, a complaint must establish more than a "sheer possibility" that the plaintiff's claims are true.[9] The complaint must contain enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim.[10] If it is apparent from the face of the complaint that an insurmountable bar to relief exists and the plaintiff is not entitled to relief, the court must dismiss the claim.[11]

In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court considers only the contents of the pleadings, including their attachments.[12] In addition, "documents that a defendant attaches to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to her claim."[13] Accordingly, in deciding this Motion, this Court considers the exhibits attached to both the Complaint and Answer, namely the letter from Plaintiff's insurance agent and the mortgage contract.[14]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

In its Motion, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint does not establish a claim for breach of contract or negligence. The Court will address each of these claims in turn.

A. Breach of Contract

Under Louisiana law, the essential elements of a breach of contract claim are (1) the obligor's undertaking of an obligation to perform, (2) the obligor's failure to perform the obligation, and (3) damages caused by the failure to perform.[15] Accepting all of Plaintiff's allegations as true, as this Court must on a 12(c) ...


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