United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
ALVIN NEIL SATTERFEAL, ET AL.
LOANCARE, LLC, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
W. DeGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells
Fargo”). (Doc. 10). Plaintiffs Alvin Neil
Satterfeal and Mary Becnel Satterfeal (collectively,
“the plaintiffs”) oppose the motion. (Doc. 22).
Wells Fargo has filed a reply brief in support of its motion.
(Doc. 23). Oral argument is not necessary. After careful
consideration of the parties' arguments, the facts
alleged, and the applicable law, and for the following
reasons, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) is granted.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
October 22, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a Petition for
Temporary, Preliminary, and Permanent Injunction and Damages
in the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish
of East Baton Rouge. (Doc. 1-1). Wells Fargo subsequently
removed the suit to this Court on November 16, 2018. (Doc.
1). The Petition named Wells Fargo, LoanCare, LLC
(“LoanCare”), and Tharpe Family Insurance, LLC
(“Tharpe”) as defendants.
plaintiffs own “six or seven” rental properties
in Baker, Louisiana, that are insured through Tharpe Family
Insurance. (Doc. 1-1 at 4). Three of these properties were
mortgaged through Wells Fargo and/or LoanCare (collectively,
“the lenders”). (Id.). The insurance
premiums for the three mortgaged properties were required to
be paid through the lenders' escrow departments.
(Id.). Specifically, Tharpe, as the plaintiffs'
agent, was to bill LoanCare and/or Wells Fargo for premiums
for the mortgaged properties. (Id.). The premiums
were to be paid out of the plaintiffs' LoanCare and/or
Wells Fargo escrow accounts. (Id.). Plaintiffs
allege that Tharpe incorrectly billed the lenders for all of
the properties and not only those which were subject to
mortgage. (Id.). They claim that only the three
properties subject to mortgage should have been included in
the billing for premiums. (Id.). Plaintiffs further
allege that, “[r]ather than remit payment only for the
serviced mortgaged properties held by [the lenders], the
entire premium bill covering all six or seven properties was
paid [by the lenders] on several occasions and/or was used to
perform annual escrow calculations on the [accounts of the
three mortgaged properties].” (Id. at 4-5).
The plaintiffs assert that this miscalculation “more
than doubled” the monthly payments to service the debt
on “each of the three loans.” (Id.).
contend that they repeatedly contacted the defendants
“to advise them of the mistakes and sought to have the
accounts corrected, ” but that the defendants
“made the same mistakes repeatedly and failed or
refused to perform correct escrow account analyses on the
loans.” (Doc. 1-1 at 5). Plaintiffs concede that the
defendants acknowledged the mistakes and sent a refund on one
occasion. (Id.). As a result of the repeated
miscalculations, the plaintiffs stopped remitting loan
payments and the loans subsequently went into default.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must accept all
well-pled factual allegations in the complaint as true and
construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Gonzales v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009).
To defeat a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is
“plausible on its face” if “the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint “requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations need
not be detailed, but “must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level, ” id.,
and “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation[s]” are not sufficient. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678.
Petition does not clearly delineate each of the
plaintiffs' claims, differentiate between each
defendant's conduct, nor separate each claim into its own
cause of action. Thus, the Petition violates the pleading
standards established by Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, and tasks both the defendants and this
Court with sorting through an amalgamation of potential
claims “‘interwoven in a haphazard
fashion.'” Weiland v. Palm Beach Cnty.
Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1320 (11th Cir.
2015) (quoting T.D.S. Inc. v. Shelby Mut. Ins. Co.,
760 F.2d 1520, 1544 n.14 (11th Cir. 1985)). In
Weiland, the Eleventh Circuit identified four types
of “shotgun pleadings”--imprecise complaints that
fail “to give the defendants adequate notice of the
claims against them and the grounds upon which each claim
rests.” Id. at 1323.
the Petition commits at least two shotgun pleading
“sins”--failing to separate into different counts
each cause of action and “asserting multiple claims
against multiple defendants without specifying which of the
defendants are responsible for which acts or omissions, or
which of the defendants the claim is brought against.”
Id. Nevertheless, based on the facts alleged and the
named defendants, the Court construes the Petition as
containing claims against Tharpe, LoanCare, and Wells Fargo
under both federal and state law. For the following reasons,
all such claims are subject to dismissal.
Fargo argues that the plaintiffs have failed to meet the
standard for notice pleading under Rule 8(a). The Court
agrees. Plaintiffs do not adequately allege which defendants
are responsible for which conduct. Instead, the Petition
refers to the defendants collectively by employing the
conjunctive phrase “and/or” as a means of
including the possibility (rather than directly alleging)
that any or all of the three defendants' acted
unlawfully. This is plainly insufficient under federal
pleading standards. For example, the plaintiffs reference
several federal statutes and make the accusation that
LoanCare “and/or” Wells Fargo made:
acts or omissions … in violation of their legal and/or
contractual duties to plaintiffs, including but not limited
to the Real Estate Settlement Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. [§]
2601 et seq. (12 C[.]F[.]R[.] 104.17(i)); Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules and regulations; Fair Debt
Collection Practice Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C.
(Doc. 1-1 at 6). This loaded allegation fails to explain (1)
what the acts or omissions are, (2) which defendant is
responsible for which acts or omissions, and (3) how those
acts or omissions violate any of the referenced federal laws.
Thus, for this reason alone, the claims are due for dismissal
and the plaintiffs are granted leave to file an amended
complaint curing these deficiencies in ...