United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
DAVID R. GELINAS, et al., Plaintiffs,
U.S. BANK, NA, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS.
L. ROBART United States District Judge.
the court are Defendants U.S. Bank Trust, NA (“U.S.
Bank”) and Caliber Home Loans, Inc.’s
(“Caliber Home”) motion to dismiss (1st Mot.
(Dkt. # 8)) and Quality Loan Service Corporation of
Washington’s (“Quality Loan”) motion to
dismiss (2d Mot. (Dkt. # 10)) Plaintiffs David and Karen
Gelinas’s complaint (Compl. (Dkt. # 1)). The court has
considered the motions, the submissions filed in support
thereof and opposition thereto, the relevant portions of the
record, and the applicable law. Being fully
advised, the court GRANTS U.S. Bank and Caliber
Home’s motion and GRANTS Quality Loan’s motion
for the reasons set forth below.
case arises out of a planned non-judicial foreclosure-a
trustee’s sale-of the Gelinases’ home and Mr.
Gelinas’s resulting bankruptcy filing. (Req. (Dkt. # 9)
at 2, Ex. F at 2; Compl. ¶¶ 18, 21.) On September
21, 2006, the Gelinases signed a deed of trustfor $368,000.00
with Washington Mutual Bank, which was recorded against the
Gelinases’ residence in Marysville, Washington. (Compl.
¶¶ 13, 15; see also Req. at 2, Ex. A, at
3.) In the three-way deed of trust transaction, the Gelinases
were the borrowers, Washington Mutual Bank was the lender,
and Rainier Title was the trustee at the time the parties
signed the deed of trust. (Compl. ¶¶ 15, 28.) The
balance of the Gelinases’ allegations focus on the
multiple assignments and transfers of the deed of trust prior
to the foreclosure.
the Gelinases’ complaint is not a model of clarity, the
court summarizes the Gelinases’ allegations as
follows. The Gelinases allege that various banks
assigned the deed of trust multiple times after its initial
recording. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29, 31-34.) First,
on August 1, 2008, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company
(“Deutsche Bank”) recorded an assignment of the
deed of trust from Washington Mutual Bank. (Id.
¶ 29.) Nearly five years later, on April 4, 2013,
JPMorgan Chase Bank (“JPMorgan”) recorded an
assignment of the deed of trust from Deutsche Bank. (Compl.
¶ 33 (noting that the year is mistakenly listed as 2014
and that exhibit D states the correct date); see id.
¶ 33, Ex. D at 2.) JPMorgan then assigned the deed of
trust to U.S. Bank and recorded the assignment on August 3,
2015. (Id. ¶ 34.)
addition to the multiple assignments of the deed, the
Gelinases allege that the trustee of the deed also
transferred multiple times. (Id. ¶¶
28-31.) Before Deutsche Bank recorded itself as the
beneficiary of the deed of trust, the bank recorded a
substitution of the trustee under the deed of trust by
appointing Quality Loan as substitute trustee on July 18,
2008. (Id. ¶ 28.) On November 16, 2009,
JPMorgan recorded J.P. Morgan Chase Custody Services as
trustee under the deed of trust. (Id. ¶ 32, Ex.
C at 2.) On April 24, 2013, JPMorgan appointed Quality Loan
as the new trustee under the deed of trust. (Req. at 2, Ex.
E, at 34.)
2016, Quality Loan-the recorded trustee at that time-notified
the Gelinases of the pending trustee’s sale.
(Id., Ex. F at 37.) On August 12, 2016, Mr. Gelinas
filed for bankruptcy, and on August 29, 2016, Mr. Gelinas
amended his bankruptcy filing. (Compl. ¶ 18; Req. at 2,
Ex. A, at 1.)
September 16, 2016, the Gelinases filed this pro se
lawsuit against U.S. Bank, Quality Loan, JPMorgan, Long Beach
Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-10, Deutsche Bank, Caliber Home, and
Does 1-10. In their complaint, the Gelinases assert a claim
to quiet title to the subject property. (Compl. ¶ 20.)
They allege that there is no evidence that JPMorgan could
have a valid “security interest in the Note.”
(Id. ¶ 20.) Based on this absence of
“evidence,” the Gelinases assert that the
assignment to JPMorgan is invalid, and as a result
“there have been multiplicities of invalid,
illegitimate[,] and unauthorized recordings in the Snohomish
Country [sic] Recorders’ Office, all of which must be
rescinded.” (Id. ¶ 21.) The Gelinases
also allege that these “illegitimate . . .
recordings” constitute slander of title, and they
request special damages of $100,000.00. (Id.
¶¶ 26, 36.) Finally, the Gelinases allege that
Quality Loan is not authorized to collect payments from them
or to threaten to foreclose on their property and that
Quality Loan’s attempts to do so violate 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692e(5). (Id. ¶¶ 23-24.)
Gelinases also seek declaratory relief in the form of
“a judicial determination of the rights, obligations,
and interests of the parties with regard to the
Property.” (Id. ¶ 38.) Specifically, the
Gelinases ask for a determination that U.S. Bank is not the
beneficiary under the deed of trust. (Id. ¶
39.) Furthermore, the Gelinases request that “all
scheduled foreclosure proceedings be vacated,” and that
U.S. Bank “be forever estopped from foreclosing on the
subject property.” (Id. ¶ 40.)
Bank, Caliber Home, and Quality Loan move for dismissal under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (1st Mot. at 1; 2d
Mot. at 1.) Because U.S. Bank and Caliber Home’s motion
relies, in part, on documents for which they request judicial
notice, the court begins by addressing the parties’
requests for judicial notice. The court then addresses the
motions to dismiss and whether leave to amend is appropriate.
the motions to dismiss rely on certain documents, the court
first addresses U.S. Bank and Caliber Home’s and the
Gelinases’ requests for judicial notice. (Req.; Obj.
(Dkt. # 12).) U.S. Bank and Caliber Home request that the
court notice the recording of the deed of trust of the
subject property (Req. at 2, Ex. A), three sequential
recordings of the assignment of the deed of trust
(id., Exs. B, C, D), a recorded notice of successor
trustee (id., Ex. E), a recorded notice of trustee
sale (id., Ex. F), and Mr. Gelinas’s amended
petition for bankruptcy (id., Ex. G).
Gelinases oppose all of these requests. (See
generally Obj.) In their opposition, the Gelinases
assert that “[t]here are a multiplicity of
problems/errors on the documents recorded in the Snohomish
County Registry.” (Id. at 2.) The Gelinases
further argue that the documents in question are in dispute
and thus cannot be judicially noticed. (Id.) The
Gelinases also oppose the court taking judicial notice of the
bankruptcy petition, but offer only the assertion that
“Plaintiffs[’] schedules have been amended
again.” (Id. at 3.) U.S. Bank and Caliber Home
reply that the Gelinases object only to the “validity
of the documents, not the content therein.” (Not. Reply
(Dkt. # 14) at 2.) Furthermore, U.S. Bank and Caliber Home
assert that the documents are all incorporated by reference
into the complaint (id. (citing U.S. v.
Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908-09 (9th Cir. 2003))), and
that a court can take judicial notice of a public record that
contains contested facts, provided that the authenticity of
the document is not subject to reasonable dispute
(id. at 2-3).
their response to U.S. Bank and Caliber Home’s request,
the Gelinases also request judicial notice of a document that
appears to be a title search by a company called Certified
Loan Auditors. (Obj. at 5-8.) U.S. Bank and Caliber Home
oppose this request, arguing that the document is not a
public record and that the court should not consider it in
ruling on their motion to dismiss. (Not. Reply at 4-5.)
court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to
reasonable dispute because it . . . can be accurately and
readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot
reasonably be questioned.” Fed. R. Evid. 201(b). The
court can take judicial notice of public records that are not
“subject to reasonable dispute.” Santa Monica
Food Not Bombs v. City of Santa Monica, 450 F.3d 1022,
1025 n.2 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Lee v. City of
L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001), overruled
on other grounds by Galbraith v. Cty. of Santa Clara,
307 F. 3d 1119, 1125 (9th Cir. 2002)). Indeed, a court may
take judicial notice of a public record when its authenticity
is unchallenged, even if a party contests the assertions
contained within the document. See Palmason v.
Weyerhaeuser, No. C11-0695RSL, 2013 WL 1788002, at *2-3
(W.D. Wash. Apr. 26, 2013) (citing Branch v.
Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994), overruled
on other grounds by Galbraith v. Cty. of Santa Clara,
307 F.3d 1119, 127 (9th Cir. 2002)). Courts may also take
judicial notice of court filings because their contents
cannot be reasonably disputed. Reyn’s Pasta Bella,
LLC v. Visa USA, Inc., 442 F.3d 741, 746 n.6 (9th Cir.
case, the court takes judicial notice of the recorded
documents that U.S. Bank and Caliber Home present to the
court. (See Req. at 2.) U.S. Bank and Caliber Home
attest that these documents are authentic copies of Snohomish
County public records. (Not. Reply at 3.) Although the
“factual statements and opinions contained therein have
not been conclusively established,” these documents are
authentic documents recorded with a governmental agency.
See Palmason, 2013 WL 1788002, at *3. The court also
takes judicial notice of Mr. Gelinas’s bankruptcy
petition. (See Req. at 2, Ex. G at 2.)
the court denies the Gelinases’ request for judicial
notice of the title search document. Although this document
references public records, the document appears to be the
product of a private company that conducted a title search
for the Gelinases. (See Obj. at 5-8.) Accordingly,
the document is not a public record, and it cannot be
“accurately and readily determined from sources whose
accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed. R.
court now addresses the motions to dismiss the
Gelinases’ complaint. (See 1st Mot.; 2d Mot.)
Motions to Dismiss
considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Livid
Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d
940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005). The court must accept all
well-pleaded allegations of material fact as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See
Wyler Summit P’ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc.,
135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). “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) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see
also Telesaurus VPC, LLC v. Power, 623 F.3d 998, 1003
(9th Cir. ...