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Akers v. Beal Bank

November 12, 2009

MARTHA A. AKERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BEAL BANK ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

Re Document Nos. 8, 14, 16

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION TO DISMISS; GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION TO STRIKE THE PLAINTIFF'S SUPPLEMENT TO THE COMPLAINT;DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint and to strike the plaintiff's supplement to the complaint, as well as the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. The pro se plaintiff has asserted claims for breach of contract and various torts in connection with a parcel of real estate in the District of Columbia that she formerly owned. The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed below, the court grants in part and denies in part that motion. The court also grants the defendants' motion to strike the plaintiff's supplement to the complaint and denies the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

It appears from the complaint that the plaintiff secured mortgage financing through the defendants to purchase a parcel of real estate at 8165 East Beach Drive, Northwest, in the District of Columbia. See Compl. ¶ 2. The plaintiff allegedly paid money into an escrow account on a monthly basis to cover payments for real property taxes and insurance. See id. ¶¶ 3-4, 8. According to the plaintiff, the defendants instructed the District of Columbia's Office of Tax and Revenue to send "all papers served or required to be served regarding [the East Beach Drive] property to . . . Countrywide Home Loans" ("Countrywide") in Plano, Texas. Id. ¶ 5. Because such notices were sent directly to Countrywide, the plaintiff received no information from the District of Columbia pertaining to real property tax assessments from 2004 to 2009. Id. The plaintiff allegedly had no opportunity to challenge the assessments, and, as a result, the defendants "paid unlawful taxes levied by [the] District of Columbia" for those tax years. Id. ¶¶ 5, 9. For reasons that are not clearly articulated in the complaint, the defendants' actions negatively affected the plaintiff's subsequent bankruptcy proceedings. See id. The plaintiff brings breach of contract and tort claims against the defendants and demands $2.7 million in damages. See generally id. The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint, see generally Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot."), and to strike the "Supplement to Complaint" filed by the plaintiff on August 14, 2009, see generally Defs.' Mot. to Strike.*fn1 In addition, the plaintiff has moved for a preliminary injunction. See generally Pl.'s Mot. The court turns now to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Grants in Part and Denies in Part the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

1. Legal Standard for Dismissal Under Rule 8

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 sets forth the general rules of pleading. FED. R. CIV. P. 8. Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short, plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a). In addition, Rule 8(e) requires that "each averment of a pleading . . . be simple, concise, and direct." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(e).

The purpose of pleading is to give an adverse party fair notice of the claim so as to permit the party the opportunity to "file a responsive answer, prepare an adequate defense and determine whether the doctrine of res judicata is applicable." Prows v. Dep't of Justice, 1991 WL 111459, at *1 (D.D.C. June 13, 1991) (citing Brown v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977)). The court or opposing party must be able "to understand whether a valid claim is alleged and if so what it is." Vicom, Inc. v. Harbridge Merch. Servs., Inc., 20 F.3d 771, 775 (7th Cir. 1994).

2. Legal Standard for Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(6)

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). "When ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)) (citations omitted). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not required to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must offer "more than labels and conclusions" to provide "grounds" of "entitle[ment] to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting ...


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