United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
2017, Defendant Wells Fargo Bank foreclosed on Rhonda
Maddox's Washington, D.C. home. Ms. Maddox, proceeding
pro se, sued Wells Fargo and the entities for which
it was acting as a trustee, alleging violations of the
Dodd-Frank Act. Specifically, she contends that Wells Fargo
refused to consider her loss mitigation application before
foreclosing on her home, and that Defendants acted in bad
faith by intentionally undervaluing her home in the
foreclosure sale. Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint.
Because Maddox has not pled any facts suggesting that she
submitted a proper loss mitigation application-instead
relying on her Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan-and because her
challenge to the foreclosure sale amounts to an improper
collateral challenge to a state-court judgement under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court will grant the
March 2007, Maddox executed a note and a deed of trust in
favor of Defendants secured by real property located in
Southeast D.C. See Mot. Dismiss (“MTD”)
at 3. The following month, she executed a second note and
deed of trust in favor of Defendants secured by the same
February 2013, Maddox defaulted on the earlier Note.
Id. at 4. Defendants filed a foreclosure action in
District of Columbia Superior Court. See Wells Fargo
Bank, N.A. v. United States, et al., No. 2015 CA 005406
R(RP) (D.C. Super. filed July 17, 2015) (“Foreclosure
Matter”); see also MTD at 4; MTD Ex. 1. Maddox
subsequently filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in the
federal bankruptcy court. See In Re Maddox, No. 16-0344 (SMT)
(Bankr. D.D.C. filed July 13, 2016) (“Bankruptcy
Matter”) at ECF No. 1; see also MTD at 4. The
bankruptcy filing triggered an automatic stay in the
foreclosure matter, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362. See
Foreclosure Matter at Entry Nos. 37, 39, Ord. (D.C. Super.
filed Sept. 21, 2016); see also MTD at 4-5.
bankruptcy court, Defendants filed proof of claim related to
both notes and deeds. See Bankruptcy Matter at Claim Nos.
3-1, 4-1; see also MTD at 5; MTD Ex. 2. Maddox, pursuant to
Bankruptcy Code requirements, filed an original and two
amended Chapter 13 plans for discharging her debts. Her
Second Amended Chapter 13 Plan proposed to sell the property
within one year and satisfy her mortgage and tax obligations
from the proceeds, which she claimed would exceed those
obligations. See Bankruptcy Matter at ECF No. 37. She also
proposed two months of relief from payment to the third-party
bankruptcy trustee, to be followed by payments of $300 per
month. See id.
Maddox failed to make full post-bankruptcy-petition payments
for the months of August 2016 through March 2017. See
id.; see also MTD at 5. Defendants moved for
relief from the automatic stay in March 2017, see
Bankruptcy Matter at ECF No. 70; see also MTD at 5,
which Maddox opposed on the grounds that Defendants were
adequately protected because her total obligations were less
than the value of the property. See Bankruptcy
Matter at ECF No. 80; see also MTD at 5-6; Opp. at
4. However, she did not contest that she had defaulted on her
post-petition payments. See Bankruptcy Matter at ECF
No. 80. After a hearing on the matter, Bankruptcy Judge Teel
granted Defendants' motion. See id. at ECF Nos.
82, 84, 85, Ord. (Bankr. D.D.C. filed Mar. 31, 2017); see
also MTD at 6. In April 2017, Maddox voluntarily
dismissed her bankruptcy petition, and the matter was closed
in June 2017. See Bankruptcy Matter at ECF No. 87;
see also MTD at 6; Opp. at 4. She later moved to
reopen the case and stay foreclosure, arguing that Defendants
misrepresented the value of the property to the Court.
See Bankruptcy Matter at ECF No. 90; see
also MTD at 6. Judge Teel denied that motion.
See Bankruptcy Matter at ECF No. 91, Mem. Op. &
Ord. (Bankr. D.D.C. filed Jul. 20, 2017); MTD at 6.
the stay lifted, the foreclosure proceeding resumed,
see Foreclosure Matter at Entry Nos. 46-47, and the
property was sold at auction on July 20, 2017. See
MTD at 6. On August 16, 2017, a trustees' verified report
of sale was filed contemporaneously with a motion to ratify
the sale. See Foreclosure Matter at Entry Nos.
49-50; see also MTD at 6; MTD Ex. 3. Ms. Maddox
opposed, arguing that Defendants intentionally sold the
property for less than fair-market value in order to deprive
her of equity she claimed to have in the property.
See Foreclosure Matter at Entry No. 51; see
also MTD at 6; MTD Ex. 6. Superior Court Judge Pan
entered orders ratifying the foreclosure sale and the
trustees' accounting and distribution of funds.
See Foreclosure Matter at Entry Nos. 53-54, 59,
Ords. (D.C. Super. filed Sept. 15 & Nov. 2, 2017);
see also MTD at 7; MTD Exs. 3, 7.
appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals on October 16, 2017.
See Maddox v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 17-CV-1429
(D.C. Ct. App. filed Oct. 16, 2017) (“Foreclosure
Appeal”), at Entry No. 1; see also MTD at 7;
Opp. at 3. She also moved in Superior Court to stay the
foreclosure pending her appeal. See Foreclosure
Matter at Entry No. 60; see also MTD at 7; MTD Ex.
9. The Superior Court denied that motion. See
Foreclosure Matter at Entry No. 61, Ord. (D.C. Super. filed
Nov. 28, 2017); see also MTD at 7; MTD Ex. 10.
Maddox also filed an emergency motion to stay in her
foreclosure appeal, which was denied on January 2, 2018.
See Foreclosure Appeal at Entry Nos. 2, 5, Ord.
(D.C. filed Jan. 2, 2018); see also MTD at 8; MTD
Exs. 8, 12.
brought this suit on November 20, 2017. See Compl.
She initially alleged that Defendants committed unspecified
violations of the Dodd-Frank Act, and improperly sold her
house below market value at auction and then repurchased it.
Id. at 3, 5, 7. She also sought review of various
decisions in the foreclosure and bankruptcy actions,
including a request to enjoin the order and decree of sale of
the property. Id. at 4, 5, 7. Maddox requested
compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $1 million.
Id. at 5, 7. Since filing her complaint, Maddox has
withdrawn her request for injunctive relief. Opp. at 5. She
now alleges that Defendants violated the Dodd-Frank Act by
“not offering a [loss] mitigation plan and by not
considering the [loss] mitigation plan [she] offered [and]
proposed in the chapter 13 plan.” Compl. at 7;
see also Opp. at 2. She also continues to allege
that Defendants purposely sold the property below market
value. Compl. at 5, 7; Opp. at 3.
Standard of Review
move to dismiss Maddox's complaint for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6). When analyzing a motion to dismiss, the
“court assumes the truth of all well-pleaded factual
allegations in the complaint and construes reasonable
inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's
favor but is not required to accept the plaintiff's legal
conclusions as correct.” Sissel v. U.S. Dep't
of Health & Human Servs., 760 F.3d 1, 4 (D.C. Cir.
2014) (citation omitted) (Rule 12(b)(6)); Jerome Stevens
Pharm., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir.
2005) (Rule 12(b)(1)). To survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the
complaint must contain sufficient facts that, if accepted as
true, state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To defeat a
12(b)(1) motion, plaintiff must show “by a
preponderance of the evidence that the Court has subject
matter jurisdiction[.]” Biton v. Palestinian
Interim Self-Gov't Auth., 310 F.Supp.2d 172, 176
(D.D.C. 2004). Where, as here, a plaintiff proceeds pro
se, the Court must “consider [her] filings as a
whole before dismissing a complaint, ” Schnitzler
v. United States, 761 F.3d 33, 38 (D.C. Cir. 2014)
(citing Richardson v. United States, 193 F.3d 545,
548 (D.C. Cir. 1999)), because such complaints are held
“to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nevertheless, a court need not accept
inferences drawn by a plaintiff, pro se or
otherwise, if those inferences are unsupported by facts
alleged in the complaint, nor must it accept plaintiff's
legal conclusions. See Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns
Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994).