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Satterfeal v. Loancare, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 5, 2019

ALVIN NEIL SATTERFEAL and MARY BECNEL SATTERFEAL
v.
LOANCARE, LLC, WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE, INC., and THARPE FAMILY INS., LLC

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES UNITED JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, (“Motion”) filed by Wells Fargo Bank, NA (“Wells Fargo” or “Defendant”). (Doc. 41.) In response, Alvin and Mary Satterfeal, (“Plaintiffs”) filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (“Response”). (Doc. 46.) In reply, Defendant filed Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 47.) Oral argument is not necessary. Having considered the parties arguments, the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint, and the law, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the Motion as follows.

         The Court will deny the Motion as to the claim for breach of contract because Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to state a claim that Wells Fargo breached provisions of the mortgage agreement between the parties. The Court will grant the Motion as to all other claims raised against Wells Fargo and dismiss those claims with prejudice because Amended Complaint does not state a claim against Wells Fargo under state law for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, or for vicarious liability.

         FACTS

         For the purpose of ruling on the Motion, the Court accepts the following facts as true. Plaintiffs owned a number of residential properties, three of which are mortgaged to Wells Fargo and assigned to Loan Care, LLC for servicing. (Doc. 32 at ¶ 2.) Under the terms of the mortgage agreement between Plaintiffs and Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo owed contractual obligations to accept the agreed payments from plaintiffs, to correctly apply them to the loan obligations, including the requisite escrow account, and to manage and apply all funds in accordance with the loan contract terms and provisions.” (Id. at 14.) Wells Fargo delegated its contractual obligations to LoanCare. (Id.)

         Tharpe Family Insurance, LLC was the retail insurance broker for the flood and casualty insurance coverages on each of Plaintiffs' properties through United National Insurance Company. (Id. at ¶ 3.) The insurance premiums for the three mortgaged properties were required to be paid through the lenders' escrow departments. (Id. ¶¶ 7 and 11.) Tharpe, as Plaintiffs' agent, was to bill LoanCare and/or Wells Fargo for premiums for the mortgaged properties. (Id. at ¶8.) The premiums were to be paid out of Plaintiffs' LoanCare and/or Wells Fargo escrow accounts. (Id.) Tharpe incorrectly billed the lenders for all of the properties and not just the three properties that were subject to Wells Fargo's mortgages. (Id.) Because of Tharpe's mishandling, “Wells Fargo and LoanCare charged plaintiffs' escrow account for thousands of dollars in premiums that were not owed, resulting in adjusted monthly notes that were double or triple the original payments as provided by the original loan disclosures and mortgage documents.” (Id.)

         Plaintiffs also allege that they informed Wells Fargo and LoanCare that the premiums due were incorrect and should be corrected. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Wells Fargo and/or LoanCare allegedly, “refused or neglected to respond to plaintiffs' requests to correct the mortgage loan escrow accounts and payments, to accept the correct payments, and to apply payments that plaintiffs remitted to the loan, which were refused by LoanCare.” (Id.)

         Based on the Defendants refusal to correct the errors that Plaintiffs pointed out, Plaintiffs stopped remitting checks (Id. at 10.) Wells Fargo and LoanCare placed the loans in default status. (Id.)

         APPLICABLE STANDARD

         In Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 135 S.Ct. 346 (2014), the Supreme Court explained “Federal pleading rules call for a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); they do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.” 135 S.Ct. at 346-47 (citation omitted).

         Interpreting Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Fifth Circuit has explained:

The complaint (1) on its face (2) must contain enough factual matter (taken as true) (3) to raise a reasonable hope or expectation (4) that discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of a claim. “Asking for [such] plausible grounds to infer [the element of a claim] does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal [that the elements of the claim existed].”

Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 257 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)).

         Applying the above case law, the Western District of Louisiana has stated:

Therefore, while the court is not to give the “assumption of truth” to conclusions, factual allegations remain so entitled. Once those factual allegations are identified, drawing on the court's judicial experience and common sense, the analysis is whether those facts, which need not be detailed or specific, allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” [Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)]; Twombly, 55[0] U.S. at 556. This analysis is not substantively different from that set forth in Lormand, supra, nor does this jurisprudence foreclose the option that discovery must be undertaken in order to raise relevant information to support an element of the claim. The standard, under the specific language of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), remains that the defendant be given adequate notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it is based. The standard is met by the “reasonable inference” the court must make that, with or without discovery, the facts set forth a plausible claim for relief under a particular theory of law provided that there is a “reasonable expectation” that “discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of the claim.” Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257; Twombly, 55[0] U.S. at 556.

Diamond Servs. Corp. v. Oceanografia, S.A. De C.V., No. 10-00177, 2011 WL 938785, at *3 (W.D. La. Feb. 9, 2011) (citation omitted).

         The Fifth Circuit further explained that all well-pleaded facts are taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Thompson v. City of Waco, Tex., 764 F.3d 500, 502-03 (5th Cir. 2014). The task of the Court is not to decide if the plaintiff will eventually be successful, but to ...


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