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Ferguson v. Quicken Loans

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

January 26, 2018

DANNY FERGUSON, Plaintiff,
v.
QUICKEN LOANS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this action, pro se plaintiff Danny Ferguson contends that an employee of defendant Quicken Loans coerced him to sign a promissory note. Mr. Ferguson asserts state law claims against Quicken Loans for breach of contract and void contract.[1] Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Quicken Loans asks the Court to dismiss Mr. Ferguson's claims. For the reasons explained below, the Court dismisses Mr. Ferguson's claims without prejudice and offers Mr. Ferguson an opportunity to amend his complaint.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint against the “liberal pleading standards set forth by Rule 8(a)(2).” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Generally, to survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion to dismiss and meet the requirement of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), a complaint need not contain ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but rather ‘only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Maledy v. City of Enterprise, 2012 WL 1028176, *1 (M.D. Ala. March 2012) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         “Thus, the pleading standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 evaluates the plausibility of the facts alleged, and the notice stemming from a complaint's allegations.” Keene v. Prine, 477 Fed.Appx. 575, 583 (11th Cir. 2012). “Where those two requirements are met . . . the form of the complaint is not significant if it alleges facts upon which relief can be granted, even if it fails to categorize correctly the legal theory giving rise to the claim.” Id.

         This is particularly true with respect to pro se complaints. Courts must liberally construe pro se documents. Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94. “‘[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.”). Cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice.”). Still, the Court may not “serve as de facto counsel for a party, or … rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading” to “sustain an action.” Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd., 760 F.3d 1165, 1168-69 (11th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a district court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint and construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharms. Inc., 781 F.3d 1296, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015).

         II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         In his complaint, Mr. Ferguson alleges that an employee of defendant Quicken Loans “coerced” him to sign a promissory note “without providing full disclosure.” (Doc. 1, p. 8, ¶¶ 1-2). According to Mr. Ferguson, the Quicken Loans employee who “induced” him into the contract “read over the promissory note and its clause stating the [p]romissory note was a negotiable instrument covering the full estimated amount of alleged credit of $162, 975.00.” (Doc. 1, p. 8, ¶ 2). Mr. Ferguson asserts that he “never saw the alleged amount of the required consideration alleged by whomever is alleging the right to respond on the behalf of the alleged HOLDER of the note.” (Doc. 1, p. 8, ¶ 3) (emphasis in complaint). Mr. Ferguson contends that Quicken Loans used deceptive business practices to induce him to promise to repay the promissory note. (Doc. 1, p. 9, ¶ 5). According to Mr. Ferguson, Quicken Loans has tried to enforce the promissory note, but Quicken Loans has not provided evidence that it is the holder of the promissory note. (Doc. 1, p. 9, ¶ 5).

         Mr. Ferguson alleges that the promissory note is separated from an accompanying mortgage because Mortgage Electronic System or MERS holds the mortgage or deed. (Doc. 1, p. 9, ¶ 6). Mr. Ferguson contends that separating the promissory note from the mortgage demonstrates Quicken Loans's “lack of good faith in violating the UCC which [Mr. Ferguson] ha[s] followed” to “make [his] decision in regards to [his] commercial contracting with companies such as Quicken Loans.” (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10, ¶ 9).

         Mr. Ferguson believed that Quicken Loans would access a strawman account “to access the credit of [Mr. Ferguson's] [s]trawman ‘Danny Ferguson.'” (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 8). According to Mr. Ferguson, Quicken Loans acted as a third party lender “only in the sense that Quicken Loans accessed the [strawman] account in order to complete the loan between DANNY FERGUSON and Danny: Of the family name ‘Ferguson' (Nul Tiel Corporation).” (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 8).

         Based on these facts, Mr. Ferguson asserts state law contract claims against Quicken Loans. (Doc. 1, p. 11-12). Under the heading “breach of contract, ” Mr. Ferguson states:

Due to all information listed above [Quicken Loans] is guilty of breach of contract due to failing to provide full disclosure, good faith and fair dealing in regards to the negotiations, contract/Promissory Note possessing legalese not used in initial negotiations as required by law, no evidence of loss, damages, injury, or standing as Quicken Loans or alleged Owner not being present upon entering of any contracts or negotiations between Danny: Of the family name “Ferguson” and those alleging to act on behalf of the alleged company.

(Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 11). Under the “void contract” heading, Mr. Ferguson states:

Due to all information listed above the contract is void due to failing to provide full disclosure, good faith and fair dealing in regards to the negotiations, contract/Promissory Note possessing legalese not used in initial negotiations as required by law, no evidence of loss, damages, injury, or standing as Quicken Loans or alleged Owner not being present upon entering of any contracts or negotiations between Danny: Of the family name “Ferguson” and those alleging to act on behalf of the alleged company.

(Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 12).

         Mr. Ferguson seeks “relief of Mortgage termination/void contract, compensatory relief of $100, 000.00 for damages as well as any reliefs/remedies seen fit by the court.” (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 13). Quicken Loans argues that the Court must dismiss Mr. Ferguson's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of ...


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