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Jackson v. HSBC Mortgage Services, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 10, 2014

MECA JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
HSBC MORTGAGE SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

R. DAVID PROCTOR, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendant HSBC Mortgage Services Inc. (Doc. # 15) and by Defendant PHH Mortgage Corporation (Doc. # 16). The Motions have been fully briefed. (Docs. # 22-24).

I. BACKGROUND AND RELEVANT FACTS

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint contains the following allegations: In August of 2013, Defendant HSBC Mortgage Services Inc., by and through its mortgage processing and servicing agent, PHH Mortgage Corporation, began falsely claiming that Plaintiff's May 29, 2013 mortgage payment had been "reversed" by her bank and was unpaid. Over the next eight months, Defendants harassed Plaintiff through, among other things, repeated automatically dialed telephone calls to Plaintiff's cell phone, letters, and false credit reporting to various credit reporting agencies. Defendants sometimes called Plaintiff's home and cellular telephones multiple times in one day in their effort to collect the deficiency they falsely claimed she owed. When Plaintiff told Defendants to stop calling her, a representative of Defendants told Plaintiff that an auto dialer device was used to place these calls.

Defendants refused to correct their error despite conversations with her credit union and receipt of banking records which disproved Defendants' claim that the mortgage payment had been reversed. Defendant HSBC even wrote to the Alabama Attorney General's office repeating its false assertion that Plaintiff's August 2013 payment had been "reversed" by her bank and that she was late on her May 2013 payment.

On or about April 18, 2014, Defendant HSBC sent a letter to Plaintiff's attorney acknowledging that its own records were incorrect, and that Plaintiff's May 29, 2013 mortgage payment had not been reversed as it had inaccurately claimed for the preceding nine (9) months. (Doc. # 3).

Plaintiff alleges she suffered the following damages:

invasion and interference with Jackson's right to privacy and solitude, impairment of Jackson's credit rating, mental anguish, lost work time, and various costs and expenses incurred as a result of or in response to Defendants' wrongful acts, including the cost of hiring an attorney to respond to HSBC after they continued to ignore the information provided by Jackson and numerous administrative expenses incurred in responding to HSBC.

(Doc. # 3 at & 54).

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint asserts claims for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Truth-in-Lending Act, breach of contract, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Defendants moved to dismiss all claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Having said that, the complaint must include enough facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that contain nothing more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon "labels and conclusions" or "naked assertion[s]" without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

Under Twombly, a plaintiff's complaint must present plausible theories of liability and allege specific facts establishing each claim. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, '" the complaint must demonstrate "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A plausible claim for relief requires "enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence" to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

The Supreme Court has identified "two working principles" for a district court to use in applying the facial plausibility standard. First, in evaluating motions to dismiss, the court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations; however, the court does not have to accept as true legal conclusions when they are "couched as [] factual allegation[s]." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Second, "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. Application of the facial plausibility standard involves two steps. Under one prong, the court must determine the scope and nature of the factual allegations that are well-pleaded and assume their veracity; and under the other prong, the court must proceed to determine the claim's plausibility given the well-pleaded facts. ...


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