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Winecka v. U.S. Bank NA

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 22, 2017

JASON E. WINECKA, NATALIE D. WINECKA, 23411 WINECKA TRUST, Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. BANK NA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 8). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Jason and Natalie Winecka initially filed suit in King County Superior Court against Defendants U.S. Bank National Association and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS)[1] on November 18, 2016. (Dkt No. 1-1.) Defendants removed the case to this Court. (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiffs allege the mortgage loan was “unlawfully sold, assigned, and/or transferred” because Defendants did not have “lawful ownership or a security interest” in the property at the time of the transactions. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 5.) Plaintiffs further allege that the Note was impermissibly separated from the Deed of Trust. (Id.) In connection with these allegations, Plaintiffs bring five claims: (1) lack of standing/wrongful foreclosure, (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), (3) slander of title, (4) quiet title, and (5) declaratory relief related to the foreclosure of Plaintiffs' property. (See Dkt. No. 1-1.) Defendants now bring a motion to dismiss.[2] (Dkt. No. 8.) Additionally, Defendants ask the Court to take judicial notice of several deed-related official documents on file with the King County Recorder's Office. (Dkt. No. 9.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Request for Judicial Notice

         Typically, the Court looks only at the face of a complaint to decide a motion to dismiss. Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002). However, at any stage of the proceeding, the 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)(2), (d). The Court must take judicial notice if a party requests it and supplies the Court with the necessary information. Fed.R.Evid. 201(c)(2).

         Here, Defendants ask the Court to take judicial notice of nine documents, including Plaintiffs' Deed of Trust, related Corporate Assignments of Deed, and Grant Deeds. (Dkt. No. 9 at 2-3.) The Court finds that these facts cannot be reasonably disputed because they come from public records whose accuracy cannot be reasonably questioned. (See Dkt. Nos. 9, 9-1.) Defendants have supplied the Court with the necessary information to make this determination. (See id.) Therefore, the Court takes judicial notice of the documents, which establish the following:

         Plaintiffs Jason and Natalie Winecka signed a Deed of Trust on April 25, 2007, for property listed at 23411 SE 289th Street, Black Diamond, Washington, 98010. (Dkt. No. 9-1 at 2.) A Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust was made on December 28, 2009, from MERS to Aurora Loan Services. (Id. at 31.) An Assignment of Deed of Trust was made on June 29, 2012, from Aurora Loan Services to Nationstar Mortgage. (Id. at 33.) A Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust was made on May 3, 2014, from Aurora Loan Services to U.S. Bank. (Id. at 36.) A Grant Deed to Carl A. Graves for ten percent undivided interest in the property was made on March 31, 2011. (Id. at 38, 44.) A Grant Deed to Harrison Matthewis for a ten percent undivided interest in the property was made on April 20, 2011. (Id. at 40.) A Grant Deed to Jeffery Collins for a nine percent undivided interest in the property was made on September 2, 2011. (Id. at 42.) A Grant Deed to Demario Ward for a nine percent undivided interest in the property was made on October 13, 2011. (Id. at 46.)

         B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Standard[3]

         A defendant may move for dismissal when a plaintiff “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 678. Although the Court must accept as true a complaint's well-pleaded facts, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences will not defeat an otherwise proper Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Vasquez v. L.A. County, 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). The plaintiff is obligated to provide grounds for his entitlement to relief that amount to more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “can [also] be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         C. Lack of Standing/Wrongful Foreclosure

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendants did not have standing to foreclose on the property because they lacked a “valid interest as a real party in interest to foreclose.” (Dkt. No 1-1 at 12.) Plaintiffs also allege that MERS can never be a real party in interest in a securitized mortgage. (Id.) First, the facts the Court has taken judicial notice of demonstrate that Defendants had standing to foreclose on the property as real parties in interest. (See Dkt. No. 9-1.) Moreover, the fact that MERS is on the Deed of Trust does not invalidate it. Hummel v. Nw. Tr. Servs., Inc., 180 F.Supp.3d 798, 806 (W.D. Wash. 2016). “In fact, courts routinely reject arguments that MERS lacked authority to transfer a deed of trust when the relevant deed of trust includes language that MERS is a beneficiary.” Id. The “mere fact MERS is listed on a deed of trust as a beneficiary is not itself an actionable injury.” Bain v. Metro. Mortg. Grp., Inc., 285 P.3d 34, 52 (Wash. 2012). Washington courts have repeatedly upheld dismissals of claims against MERS on this very issue. See McAfee v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., 370 P.3d 25, 30 (Wash.Ct.App. 2016) (finding there was no evidence that supported the allegation that MERS's assignment of the deed was unlawful). Therefore, the lack of standing/wrongful foreclosure claim is DISMISSED.

         D. Intentional Infliction of ...


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