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Canen v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 29, 2015

Ronald Wayne Canen, et al., Plaintiffs,
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al., Defendants.


AMIT P. MEHTA, District Judge.


Plaintiffs Ronald Wayne Canen and Lotte Canen are no strangers to litigation over the foreclosure of their home in Elkhart, Indiana. This court is merely the latest forum in which they have appeared, following denials of relief in the Elkhart County Superior Court, the federal bankruptcy court, the district court for the Northern District of Indiana, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Because other courts have recited Plaintiffs' extensive litigation history, this court will not describe it here, except when necessary to explain its reasoning. Nor will the court attempt to parse every possible claim advanced in the complaint. Sixty-eight pages long and interspersed with copies of various documents, the complaint is imprecise and difficult to comprehend. Plaintiffs, at least, have enumerated their claims. Those are the claims that the court will consider, and no more.

Each of the Canens' six claims arise from the foreclosure of their home, a process that began in 2004 and did not conclude until 2009. See Canen v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 913 F.Supp.2d 657, 659-61 (N.D. Ind. 2012). The crux of their claims is that Defendants-two banks, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and U.S. Bank (collectively, the "Banks"), along with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Bradley Rogers individually (collectively, "Sheriff Rogers")- engaged in wrongdoing by improperly documenting and processing their loan; selling their initial mortgage; and foreclosing on their home. They assert six claims: (1) one count of violating 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, as to which the Canens ask the court to declare unenforceable both the assignment of their mortgage to Wells Fargo and the notice of default filed in the state-court foreclosure action (Count One), Compl. ¶¶ 49-55; (2) four counts of violating the Federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., for which they seek damages and forfeiture (Counts Two through Five), Compl. ¶¶ 56-87; and (3) one count of violating a Consent Judgment entered in another case before this court in which Wells Fargo is a party, Consent Judgment, United States v. Bank of Am. Corp., No. 12-cv-00361 (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2012) (Count VI), Compl. ¶¶ 88-93.

After reviewing the parties' pleadings and briefs, the court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss with prejudice.


To withstand a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must find that the complaint contains "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, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is facially plausible 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement" are not sufficient to support a complaint. Id. (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Factual allegations are not required to be "detailed, " but pursuant to the Federal Rules, they must be more than "an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]- that the pleader is entitled to relief, " and the case can be dismissed. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

Although pro se complaints are held to a less strict standard than lawyer-drafted complaints, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed....") (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted), a court need not make or accept inferences that are unsupported by allegations of fact, see Henthorn v. Dept. of Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 684 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Ultimately, a pro se plaintiff "must present a claim upon which relief can be granted." Id. (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).


A. Improper Venue.

Both the Banks and Sheriff Rogers argue that this court is an improper venue for the Canens' claims. The court agrees. The federal venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391, provides three bases for grounding venue in a judicial district. See id. § 1391(b). None apply here. Defendants do not reside here; none of the events or omissions that give rise to the Canens' claims occurred here; and venue is better laid in the Northern District of Indiana, where the events at issue occurred.

Nor does the alleged violation of the Consent Judgment provide venue. As Judge Howell concluded in a similar action claiming violation of the same Consent Judgment, McCain v. Bank of America, 13 F.Supp. 3d 45 (D.D.C. 2014), the Consent Judgment "simply does not create a private right of action allowing third parties"-like the Canens-"to bring claims for alleged violations of [it], let alone unrelated claims in this jurisdiction." Id. at 54 (citations omitted).

Moreover, Plaintiffs have not addressed in their opposition brief Defendants' challenge to venue and therefore have conceded that their case is not properly before this court. See Hopkins v. Women's Div., Gen. Bd. of Global Ministries, 284 F.Supp.2d 15, 25 (D.D.C. 2003) (citations omitted) ("It is well understood in this Circuit that when a plaintiff files an opposition to a dispositive motion and addresses only certain arguments raised by the defendant, a court may treat those arguments that the plaintiff failed to address as conceded.").

Although this court has the discretion to transfer this matter to a proper venue, see 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), it declines to do so because, as discussed below, Plaintiffs have not made out any viable claims, making transfer futile. See Simpkins v. District of Columbia, 108 F.3d 366, 371 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (holding ...

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