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Edwardson v. Caliber Home Loans

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

August 5, 2019

JAMES B. EDWARDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIBER HOME LOANS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Caliber Home Loans' (“Caliber”) motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 6), Defendants Hugo Esporza and Mitzi Johankneckt's (“the King County Defendants”) motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 8), and Defendant Nathan F. Smith's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 16). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motions to dismiss (Dkt. Nos. 6, 8, and 16) for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff James Edwardson alleges that he is the owner of real property located at 43025 126th Ave. SE Enumclaw, Washington 98002 (the “Property”). (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2.) In June 2007, Mr. Edwardson and Kimberly Edwardson executed a deed of trust against the Property to secure a $656, 000 mortgage loan. (See Dkt. No. 6-1 at 4-19.) Under the terms of the deed of trust, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) was the beneficiary solely as a nominee for the lender First Franklin Financial Corp. (Id. at 4-5.) On March 25, 2010, MERS assigned the deed of trust to Wells Fargo, N.A. (Id. at 25.)

         In October 2014, Wells Fargo filed a judicial foreclosure action (the “Foreclosure Action”) in King County Superior Court against Mr. Edwardson, Ms. Edwardson, the occupants of the Property, and all other parties holding an interest in the Property. (See Id. at 31-39.) The Foreclosure Action was filed to enforce the mortgage loan and deed of trust on the Property. (Id. at 32-35.) Wells Fargo was represented in the Foreclosure Action by Defendant Mr. Smith. (Id. at 77.) It appears that Defendant Caliber was the mortgage servicer. (See Dkt. Nos. 1-1, 6 at 5.) While the Foreclosure Action was pending, Wells Fargo assigned the deed of trust to U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. as Trustee for LSF9 Master Participation Trust. (Dkt. No. 6-1 at 72.) On April 25, 2017, the King County Superior Court issued a default judgment and decree of foreclosure against Mr. Edwardson and Ms. Edwardson. (Id. at 74-78.)

         Mr. Edwardson alleges that he was incarcerated at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane County beginning in August 2016.[1] (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 3.) On December 31, 2018, Mr. Edwardson filed a motion to dismiss the default judgment entered in the Foreclosure Action. (See Dkt. No. 9-3.) In his motion, Mr. Edwardson argued that he had not received proper notice of the Foreclosure Action. (See id.) The King County Superior Court denied the motion, finding that Mr. Edwardson had “no basis for relief.” (See Dkt. No. 9-4.) On May 13, 2019, Mr. Edwardson filed a second motion to set aside the default judgment in the Foreclosure Action. (See Dkt. No. 9-1.) In that motion, Mr. Edwardson again argued that he had not received notice of the complaint or summons because he was incarcerated. (Id.) The King County Superior Court again denied Mr. Edwardson's motion, ruling that, under Washington law, he had “not proved a sufficient basis for setting aside the default judgment.” (Dkt. No. 9-5 at 2.)

         On May 6, 2019, Mr. Edwardson, proceeding pro se, filed this lawsuit in King County Superior Court. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) On June 6, 2019, Defendants removed the case to this Court. (Dkt. No. 1.) Mr. Edwardson alleges that Defendants Caliber and Mr. Smith did not give him proper notice of the Foreclosure Action. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 3.) Mr. Edwardson further asserts that Defendants Caliber and Mr. Smith conspired to get the King County Defendants “to serve papers at the incorrect address for the Plaintiff even though, Wells Fargo in King County Washington had ‘written notice' of the Plaintiff's current address.” (Id.) Mr. Edwardson alleges that Defendants “conducted an improper service of process knowing or having knowledge that the Plaintiff was incarcerated and serving summons by publication without giving the Plaintiff proper notice of the summons and complaint.” (Id.) He seeks an award of statutory penalties, attorney fees and expenses, an “order to cease and desist all sales activities of [the Property], ” and that “Defendants appear and show cause why [they] failed to properly serve the Plaintiff while he is in prison.” (Id. at 4.)

         The Defendants each moved to dismiss the complaint. (See Dkt. Nos. 6, 8, 16.) Mr. Edwardson responded to the motions to dismiss by asserting that “he will need to seek out further discovery.” (Dkt. No. 14 at 1.) Mr. Edwardson asks the Court to invoke Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) to grant him a continuance in order to conduct discovery or to deny Defendants' motions as untimely. (Id.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), 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, 664 (2009). The factual allegations must be “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint may be dismissed if it lacks a cognizable legal theory or states insufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Zixiang v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 999 (9th Cir. 2013).

         In addition, claims of fraud in a complaint must be supported with specific and detailed factual allegations. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). The Rule 9(b) pleading standard rule requires that a complaint allege the “who, what, when, where, and how” of the fraud. Vess v. Ciba-Geigy Corp. USA, 317 F.3d 1097, 1106 (9th Cir. 2003). “To comply with Rule 9(b), allegations of fraud must be specific enough to give defendants notice of the particular misconduct which is alleged to constitute the fraud charged so that they can defend against the charge and not just deny that they have done anything wrong.” Bly-Magee v. California, 236 F.3d 1014, 1019 (9th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).

         B. Judicial Notice

         The Court may consider information that is subject to judicial notice without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); MGIC Indem. Corp. v. Weisman, 803 F.2d 500, 504 (9th Cir. 1986). For example, the Court may take judicial notice of public records because their contents are not subject to reasonable dispute. See Disabled Rights Action Comm. v. Las Vegas Events, Inc., 375 F.3d 861, 866 n.1 (9th Cir. 2004). Defendants have asked the Court to take judicial notice of the following documents: (1) the deed of trust for the Property; (2) an assignment of the deed of trust to Wells Fargo; (3) an assignment of the deed of trust to U.S. Bank; (4) the amended complaint filed in the Foreclosure Action in King County Superior Court; (5) the judgment and decree of foreclosure in the Foreclosure Action; (6) Mr. Edwardson's motion to set aside the default judgment in the ...


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