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Chelsea Condominium Unit Owners Association v. 1815 A ST.

January 3, 2007

THE CHELSEA CONDOMINIUM UNIT OWNERS ASSOCIATION, NICOLE DEGRAFFENREED, SHIKHA BHATNAGAR, AND JOELLYNN SCHULZ PLAINTIFFS,
v.
1815 A ST., CONDOMINIUM GROUP, LLC , HERBERT A. CALLIHAN, JOHN F. CASEY, AND NATIONAL TITLE SERVICES, LTD. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos.: 3, 4, 7

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS*fn1

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiffs, the Chelsea Condominium Unit Owners Association ("Owner's Association") and three individual members of the Owner's Association, Nicole DeGraffenreed, Shikha Bhatnagar, and Joellynn Schulz ("Unit Owners") (collectively, "the plaintiffs"), bring suit alleging several state law claims and violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA"), 12 U.S.C. §2601 et seq., regarding defendants Callihan, Casey, and Condominium Group's representations while marketing and selling units in a condominium building. They bring suit against the Condominium Group, LLC ("Condominium Group"), its owners and managers, Herbert Callihan and John Casey, and National Title Services, Ltd. ("National Title") (collectively, "the defendants"). The defendants now move to dismiss all of the state law claims and one of the RESPA claims. Because several of the plaintiffs' state law claims do not share a common nucleus of operative facts with the federal claims, the court lacks supplemental jurisdiction over them and grants in part the defendants' motion to dismiss. Because several of the plaintiffs' state law claims do share a common nucleus of operative facts with their federal claims and because judicial economy favors the court's exercise of supplemental jurisdiction over these claims, and because the plaintiffs have pled their fraud claim with particularity, the court denies in part the defendants' motion to dismiss. Finally, because the plaintiffs concede that dismissal of their RESPA claim as to defendant National Title is appropriate, the court grants the defendants' motion to dismiss as to that claim.*fn2

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

In 2004, defendant Condominium Group purchased the Chelsea at 1815 A Street, S.E in Washington, D.C. for the purpose of converting the building into condominiums for resale. Compl. ¶¶ 6-7. To accomplish this goal, the Condominium Group submitted an application to register the condominium to the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ("DCRA"). Id. ¶ 7. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants submitted a forged letter from Bank of America stating that the bank would issue a letter of credit to the defendants to secure a warranty against structural defects required under the D.C. Condominium Act.*fn3 Id. ¶¶ 7, 10-11. The DCRA approved the defendants' application in January, 2005. Id. ¶ 15. Thereafter, the defendants marketed and sold 12 of the 15 individual units in the Chelsea to the plaintiffs.

Id. ¶¶16, 23.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants had an obligation to fix certain defects and failed to do so. Id. ¶¶ 30-32. Also, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants provided potential purchasers with a misleading and untruthful public offering statement*fn4 while marketing the individual units. Id. ¶ 16. This document stated, among other things, that the Chelsea was in compliance with all applicable zoning ordinances, housing, and building codes. Id. ¶ 18. In addition, the Unit Owners allege that Callihan, Casey, and the Condominium Group required or influenced them to use the settlement services of defendant National Title, which had an affiliate relationship with the defendants. Id. ¶¶ 3, 34. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants did not disclose that they stood to benefit financially from the Unit Owner's use of National Title's settlement services. Id. ¶ 34.

B. Procedural History

On February 3, 2006, the plaintiffs filed suit in this court alleging various state and federal claims in relation to the events stated above.*fn5 Compl. ¶¶ 39-82. On March 15, 2006, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the state law claims for lack of supplemental jurisdiction. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot.") at 1. In addition, the defendants moved to dismiss the count alleging a violation of RESPA, 12 U.S.C. § 2608 with respect to defendant National Title, and the counts alleging strict liability and violation of the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Id. at 6-9. Finally, the defendants moved to dismiss the count alleging fraud for failure to plead fraud with sufficient particularity. Id. at 8. In response, the plaintiffs filed an opposition on March 27, 2006. Pls.' Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss ("Pls.' Opp'n"). The court now addresses the defendants' motion to dismiss.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Grants in Part and Denies in Part the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(1) for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

The defendants move to dismiss arguing that the court lacks supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' state law claims. Defs.' Mot. at 2. Specifically, they argue that the underlying facts of these claims do not form part of the same case or controversy as the federal claims. Id. at 2-4. In response, the plaintiffs argue that all of the claims arise out of a course of conduct by the defendants that would ordinarily be brought in a single judicial proceeding. Pls.' Opp'n at 7. Furthermore, the plaintiffs ...


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