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Nationstar Mortgage, LLC v. Lewis

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 24, 2017

NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC, AS LOAN SERVICER FOR THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON CORPORATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR CWABS, INC. ASSET-BACKED CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2003-1
v.
NELDON LEWIS

         SECTION: "S" (5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. #8) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on defendant's motion to dismiss. Defendant, Neldon Lewis, argues that plaintiff, Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, cannot state an interpleader claim because Lewis is the sole adverse claimant. Lewis contends that Nationstar cannot count itself as a claimant to the funds for the purposes of the interpleader action.

         On October 1, 2002, Lewis, a citizen of Louisiana, executed an original promissory note payable to "America's Wholesale Lender" in the principal amount of $55, 400.00 with a per annum interest rate of 6.875%. The principal and interest were payable at the rate of $494.09 per month, beginning on November 1, 2002. The promissory note was secured by a mortgage on Lewis's property on Flanders Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. The mortgage was recorded on October 11, 2002, in the Parish of Orleans State of Louisiana. Nationstar, [1] as the loan servicer for the last holder of the promissory note, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, as Trustee for CWABS, Inc. asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2003-1, procured a lender-placed insurance policy on the property with Assurant Group.

         On January 21, 2015, Bank of New York Mellon filed a Petition for Executory Process with Benefit of Appraisal in the Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans seeking to execute on the promissory note and foreclose on the mortgage. The Petition stated that, due to Lewis's default, the entire unpaid principal balance of $19, 893.33, along with interest of at the rate of 6.875% per annum from December 1, 2013, together with late charges in the amount of $148.20, were unpaid and due.

         On December 2, 2016, the property was destroyed by fire. Lewis made a claim on the Assurant Group insurance policy. On April 22, 2017, Nationstar received two checks from Assurant Group in the amounts of $2, 640.00 and $93, 969.00, for damages sustained by the property as a result of the fire. Lewis claims that he retained the services of attorney Bruce Betzer in connection with the property damage claim he made to Assurant Group. Betzer has asserted that he is entitled to approximately $45, 000 of the insurance proceeds as his contingency fee. Nationstar claims that it is entitled to $45, 577.86 of the insurance proceeds as a payoff of the subject mortgage, plus a per diem amount of $3.80 until judgment is rendered.

         On May 16, 2017, Nationstar filed the instant interpleader action naming Lewis as the defendant. Nationstar deposited the insurance proceeds, $96, 609.00, into the Registry of the Court, and requests that Lewis be restrained from instituting or prosecuting any other proceeding against Nationstar for any claim that is the subject of the interpleader action and that Lewis appear and assert his claims to the money deposited into the Registry of the Court. Nationstar claims that it is entitled to $45, 577.86 as payoff of the subject mortgage, plus a per diem amount of $3.80 until judgment is rendered, including any additional amounts which plaintiff has advanced or may advance as permitted by the Note and Mortgage, but not limited to amounts advanced for taxes, assessments, repairs to and maintenance and preservation of the mortgaged property. In response, Lewis filed the instant motion to dismiss arguing that Nationstar has not met the statutory requirements for an interpleader action because he is the only adverse claimant.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face must be pleaded. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 & 1973 n. 14 (2007)). A claim is plausible on its face when the plaintiff pleads facts from which the court can “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. The court “must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” In re S. Scrap Material Co., LLC, 541 F.3d 584, 587 (5th Cir. 2008). However, the court need not accept legal conclusions couched as factual allegations as true. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50. In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a district court may consider only the contents of the pleading and the attachments thereto. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).

         II. ...


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