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Fraud claim that lacked specificity dismissed

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 24, 2022

Fraud claim that lacked specificity dismissed

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 24, 2022

Where a pro se plaintiff sued five defendants for “illegal non-judicial foreclosure,” “bankruptcy fraud on a mortgage,” “mortgage fraud” and “escrow fraud,” but her complaint contained zero facts or supporting evidence, and she failed to plead the fraud claims with specificity, the entire suit was dismissed.

Background

In her complaint filed in Henrico County Circuit Court on March 21, 2022, pro se plaintiff Patricia J. Spivey sues five defendants for “illegal non-judicial foreclosure,” “bankruptcy fraud on a mortgage,” “mortgage fraud” and “escrow fraud.” On April 29, 2022, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. On May 6, 2022, defendants Chase and Commonwealth Trustees LLC filed motion to dismiss, asserting that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Motion to dismiss

Plaintiff’s complaint contains zero facts or supporting evidence indicating why plaintiff is entitled to relief. Even bolstered by the deference owed to a pro se litigant, plaintiff has not established anywhere close to a viable cause of action.

There are only two “facts” listed in the complaint: “missing payments” and “missing Trustee payments.” Plaintiff has not listed any details about the amount, dates or frequency of the alleged missing payments. She has not even indicated which defendant corresponds with each fact.

Plaintiff attached a letter about eviction proceedings to the end of her complaint, but even that letter contains no facts relevant to any of the defendants. All four causes of action fail to meet the minimum standard of facial plausibility required of Rule 12(b)(6) because of the absence of any pertinent facts or details in the complaint.

Moreover, even if the deference owed to plaintiff as a pro se complainant had convinced the court to view plaintiff’s claims as toeing the threshold of plausibility, her three fraud claims remain far from passing muster given the heightened pleading standards required by Rule 9(b). Fraud claims must be stated with particularity. The circumstances outlined in plaintiff’s complaint do not allege anything beyond legal conclusions of fraudulent behavior.

Remaining defendants

The remaining claims in this case against the other three defendants are essentially identical to the claims against commonwealth. While Chase had a small connection to plaintiff because it was responsible for receiving payments related to plaintiff’s mortgage, commonwealth and the other three defendants have no discernable relationship with plaintiff or her allegations in the complaint.

The court construes the meager factual allegations plaintiff includes in her complaint as applying equally to each defendant, as plaintiff does not indicate otherwise. Courts have the authority to, on their own, dismiss cases that fail to plead a plausible claim for a relief or that integrally relate to claims against a party who has moved to dismiss. Thus, the court will also dismiss the claims against the other defendants.

Defendants’ motions to dismiss granted.

Spivey v. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, Case No. 3:22-cv-350, June 10, 2022. EDVA at Richmond (Hudson). VLW 022-3-248. 8 pp.

VLW 022-3-248

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