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Ward v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester Division

March 16, 2015

BRADLEY WARD, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

SUSAN K. LEE, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss [Doc. 3] filed by Defendants Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (together, "Wells Fargo"), and Freddie Mac[1] (collectively, "Defendants"). Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff Bradley Ward's complaint, arguing it fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. Plaintiff has filed a response in opposition to the motion [Doc. 10] with a supporting memorandum of law [Doc. 11]. Defendants have filed a reply brief in support of their motion to dismiss [Doc. 15], and this matter is now ripe.

Taking the allegations as true, Plaintiff appears to have been caught in a web of unfortunate circumstances and home loan modification mishaps and miscommunications. While the resulting foreclosure is a harsh outcome, especially when viewed through the lens of Plaintiff's wife's regrettable illness, the issue before the Court is whether the complaint alleges a plausible legal claim against Defendants. Unfortunately for Plaintiff, it does not. For the reasons outlined below, Defendants' motion to dismiss [Doc. 3] must be GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff originally filed his complaint in the Chancery Court for Bedford County on April 21, 2014, and Defendants removed the case to this Court on May 21, 2014 [Doc. 1-1 at Page ID # 6-15]. That same day, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss the case, alleging that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted [Doc. 3]. Both parties consented to proceeding before a magistrate judge [Doc. 17].

The following facts are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.[2] As set forth in the complaint, Plaintiff purchased a home in Shelbyville, Tennessee in 2009 (the "Property") [Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 7]. Wells Fargo loaned Plaintiff funds to purchase the Property, and Wells Fargo serviced the loan [ Id. at ¶ 8]. Plaintiff timely made payments on the loan for some five years until September of 2013 [ Id. at ¶ 9]. Plaintiff failed to make payments for the months of September, October, and December of 2013, after his wife's diagnosis of cancer caused her to work less, which reduced the family's income [ Id. at ¶¶ 9-12].

Wells Fargo refused to accept partial payments on the loan [ Id. at ¶ 13]. Instead, on December 20, 2013, Wells Fargo sent Plaintiff a package of information on how to apply for a loan modification under the Home Affordable Mortgage Program ("HAMP") [ Id. ]. Plaintiff filled out the loan modification forms and returned the forms to Wells Fargo via facsimile on January 13, 2014 [ Id. at ¶ 14]. At that time, a foreclosure had not been scheduled [ Id. at ¶ 15]. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was verbally notified that someone would contact him within two to three weeks regarding his home loan modification application, but nobody did so [ Id. at ¶¶ 16-17]. In the first week of February, Plaintiff contacted Wells Fargo to inquire about the status of his modification, and he was informed that his application would need to be resubmitted because Wells Fargo could not locate it [ Id. at ¶ 18].

On February 15, 2014, Plaintiff received a notice of foreclosure on the Property, which set foreclosure for March 3, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. [ Id. at ¶ 19]. After receiving the notice, Plaintiff again contacted Wells Fargo and he was advised by a "seven day recovery team" member that he should resubmit his modification application, and he did so [ Id. at ¶ 20]. On February 27, 2014, Wells Fargo sent Plaintiff a letter (drafted February 24 and received by Plaintiff on March 3, 2014, the date of the foreclosure sale) that informed Plaintiff that his modification application was incomplete [ Id. at ¶ 21]. Plaintiff communicated with Wells Fargo again on March 3, 2014, and Wells Fargo requested that Plaintiff send in an additional form, which Plaintiff did [ Id. at ¶ 22]. Around 3:15 p.m. on March 3, 2014, Plaintiff received notification that his home loan modification was approved [ Id. at ¶ 23]. He was later notified, however, that the foreclosure sale had proceeded at 3:00 p.m. and could not be reversed despite his home loan modification approval [ Id. ].

Freddie Mac now owns the Property as a result of the foreclosure sale and is threatening eviction [ Id. at ¶ 24].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When a court is presented with a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of plaintiffs. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008). While the complaint does not need "detailed factual allegations, " it must contain "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). That is, the facts presented must be sufficient to "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

"Where, as here, federal jurisdiction is based on diversity, this Court applies the substantive law of the forum state-in this case, [Tennessee]." Conlin v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 714 F.3d 355, 358 (6th Cir. 2013). To discern Tennessee law, this Court will first look to the final decisions of that state's highest court; if a question remains unresolved by the highest court, this Court will predict how the state's highest court would resolve a question, treating intermediate state court decisions as persuasive authority. See id . at 358-59.

II. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff's complaint asserts five causes of action against Defendants: (1) failure to comply with HAMP; (2) inducement to breach contract; (3) breach of the Servicer Participation Agreement ("SPA")[3] (4) breach of the trial plan contract; and (5) deceptive trade practices in violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, ...


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