§ 2071. Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 101 > § 2071

§ 2071. Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

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Complaint for Wrongful Foreclosure, Fraud, Negligence, Quiet Title and Unfair Business Practices

Contributor: Cameron Totten Law Offices of Cameron H. Totten

SUMMARY: Sample Complaint against loan servicer, trustee of mortgaged-backed securities fund, MERS and foreclosure trustee for wrongful foreclosure, quiet title, cancellation of trustee’s deed upon sale, unfair business practices, fraud and negligence.

Haley v. ELEGEN HOME LENDING, LP, Dist. Court, D. Nevada 2010

Learn From This

 

BART E. HALEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ELEGEN HOME LENDING, LP; et al., Defendants.

No. 3:10-cv-00046-LRH-RAM.

United States District Court, D. Nevada.

March 15, 2010.

 

ORDER

LARRY R. HICKS, District Judge. 

Before the court is defendant PNC Bank National Association’s (“PNC”) motions to dismiss and expunge lis pendens filed on January 29, 2010 (Doc. ##5, 6[1]) to which the other defendants have joined (Doc. #9). Plaintiff Bart E. Haley (“Haley“) filed an opposition and request for leave to amend on February 16, 2010. Doc. #11. Thereafter, PNC filed a reply on February 26, 2010. Doc. #14. 

I. Facts and Procedural History

Haley refinanced real property through a loan with defendant Elegen Home Lending. The property was secured by a note and deed of trust. Haley defaulted on the loan and defendant Cal-Western Reconveyance Corporation, the substitute trustee, filed a notice of default on May 29, 2009. Doc. #5, Exhibit C. A notice of trustee’s sale was filed on November 13, 2007. Doc. #5, Exhibit D.Subsequently, on December 3, 2003, Haley filed a complaint alleging ten causes of action: (1) wrongful foreclosure; (2) fraud in the omission; (3) fraud in the inducement; (4) contractual breach of good faith and fair dealing; (5) tortious breach of good faith and fair dealing; (6) racketeering; (7) quiet title; (8) unjust enrichment; (9) declaratory relief; and (10) permanent injunction. Doc. #1, Exhibit 1. Thereafter, PNC filed the present motions to dismiss and expunge lis pendens. Doc. ##5, 6.

II. Legal Standard

In considering “a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Wyler Summit P’ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). However, a court does not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations in a plaintiff’s complaint. See Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994)

There is a strong presumption against dismissing an action for failure to state a claim. See Gilligan v. Jamco Dev. Corp., 108 F.3d 246, 249 (9th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). “The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence in support of the claims.” Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 807 (1982). However, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels, conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (internal citations omitted). 

III. Discussion

Wrongful Foreclosure

An action for wrongful foreclosure requires that, at the time of the foreclosure sale, the plaintiff was not in breach of the mortgage contract. Collins v. Union Federal Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 662 P.2d 610, 623 (Nev. 1983). Here, Haley was in default on his mortgage obligations so there can be no sustainable action for wrongful foreclosure. See Doc. #1, Exhibit 1. 

Furthermore, a claim for wrongful foreclosure does not arise until the power of sale is exercised. Collins, 662 P.2d at 623. Haley filed his complaint before the property was sold. As such, his claim for wrongful foreclosure is premature and not actionable. 

Fraud

“In alleging fraud or mistake, a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake.” FED. R. CIV. P. 9(b). In order meet the heightened pleading requirements a plaintiff must specify the time, place, and content of the misrepresentation as well as the names of the parties involved. See Yourish v. Cal. Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 993 n.10 (9th Cir. 1999); see also, Parnes v. Gateway 2000, 122 F.3d 539, 549-50 (8th Cir. 1997) (requiring a plaintiff to allege the requisite who, what, where, when, and how of the misrepresentation). Here, Haley fails to allege anything more than defendants made misrepresentations to him. These allegations are insufficient to support a claim for fraudulent misrepresentation. 

In his opposition, Haley argues that where facts are peculiarly within the defendant’s knowledge, fraud may be alleged in general terms. See Rocker v. KPMG LLP, 148 P.3d 703, 709 (Nev. 2006) (overruled on other grounds Buzz Stew, LLC v. City of N. Las Vegas, 181 P.3d 670 (Nev. 2008)). However, the information here was not solely within defendants’ knowledge. Haley was present when the alleged misrepresentations were made and documents signed. Despite his personal knowledge of the events, he has failed to allege the requisite specificity under Rule 9(b). 

Good Faith and Fair Dealing

a. Contractual Breach

Under Nevada law, “[e]very contract imposes upon each party a duty of good faith and fair dealing in its performance and execution.” A.C. Shaw Constr. v. Washoe County, 784 P.2d 9, 9 (Nev. 1989) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 205). To establish a claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, a plaintiff must show that: (1) the plaintiff and defendant were parties to a contract; (2) the defendant owed a duty of good faith and fair dealing to the plaintiff; (3) the defendant breached his duty by performing in a manner unfaithful to the purpose of the contract; and (4) the plaintiff’s justified expectations were denied. See Perry v. Jordan, 134 P.3d 698, 702 (Nev. 2006) (citing Hilton Hotels Corp. v. Butch Lewis Prod. Inc., 808 P.2d 919, 922-23 (Nev. 1991)

Here, Haley alleges that defendants breached the implied covenant because they misrepresented the cost of credit involved in the loan agreement. However, these alleged misrepresentations occurred before a contract was formed. See Doc. #1, Exhibit 1. A party cannot breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing before a contract is formed. See Indep. Order of Foresters v. Donald, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., 157 F.3d 933, 941 (2d Cir. 1998) (“an implied covenant relates only to the performance of obligations under an extant contract, and not to any pre-contract conduct”). Haley fails to allege facts to establish that a breach occurred after the contract between the parties was formed. Because Haley’s claim revolves entirely around alleged promises and misrepresentations made before the contract was entered into, it fails as a matter of law. 

b. Tortious Breach

Haley also alleges that defendants breached their duty of good faith and fair dealing as fiduciary’s in their dealings with him. Generally, a lender does not owe a borrower a fiduciary duty. See Yerington Ford, Inc. v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 359 F.Supp.2d 1075, 1092 (D. Nev. 2004). Haley has failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that defendants acted as anything other than arms length lenders which does not, in itself, create a fiduciary relationship. 

Absent a duty, there can be no breach. See A.C. Shaw Constr. v. Washoe County, 784 P.2d 9, 10 (Nev. 1989). Accordingly, Haley’s claim for breach of a fiduciary duty fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). 

Racketeering

In Nevada, civil racketeering claims brought under NRS 207.400, et seq., must be plead with specificity. Hale v. Burkhardt, 764 P.2d 866, 869 (Nev. 1988). That is, the complaint must allege at least two predicate crimes related to racketeering in order to sufficiently plead a racketeering claim upon which relief can be granted. Id. 

Here, Haley merely alleges that his loan was one of many executed in violation of the Nevada state laws. From Haley’s complaint, it is unclear what these violations were and, more importantly, what the two requisite “crimes” were. The court finds that Haley has failed to sufficiently plead a claim for civil racketeering upon which relief can be granted. 

Quiet Title

Under Nevada law, a quiet title action may be brought by someone who claims an adverse interest in property. NRS 40.010. No defendant is claiming an interest in the property that is adverse to Haley. Therefore, Haley has no grounds to quiet title against the named defendants. 

Unjust Enrichment

To set forth a claim for unjust enrichment, a plaintiff must allege that a defendant unjustly retained money or property of another against fundamental principles of equity. See Asphalt Prods. Corp. v. All Star Ready Mix, 898 P.2d 699, 700 (Nev. 1995). However, an action for unjust enrichment cannot stand when there is an express written contract which guides that activities of the parties. LeasePartners Corp. v. Robert L. Brooks Trust Dated Nov. 12, 1975, 942 P.2d 182, 187 (Nev. 1997)

Here, there was a written contract between the parties, namely, the deed of trust and mortgage note. These documents guided the interactions, obligations, and rights of the parties. As such, Haley cannot make a claim in equity for actions that are guided by contract he is a party to. See LeasePartners Corp., 942 P.2d at 187-88

Declaratory Relief and Permanent Injunction

Haley’s remaining causes of action for declaratory relief and a permanent injunction are remedies that may be afforded to a party after he has sufficiently established and proven his claims. Here, all of Haley’s other claims fail to establish a claim for relief. Accordingly, Haley is not entitled to his requested remedies. 

Request to Amend

In opposition to PNC’s motion to dismiss, Haley requests leave to amend his complaint to correct any deficiencies. However, other than briefly asking for leave to amend, Haley has not established how any proposed amended pleading would address and fix the issues raised by PNC’s motion. In particular, Haley has failed to state how he could satisfy the heightened pleading standard for his fraud claims; he has not alleged, or stated he could allege, whom he allegedly spoke to, what fraudulent statements he was told, and when he was told them. 

In light of Haley’s failure to provide the court with any indicia that amendment would not result in dismissal, the court declines to exercise its discretion and shall deny Haley’s request to amend. See United States ex rel. Lee v. SmithKline Beecham, Inc., 245 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2001) (courts may refuse to grant leave to amend if the amendment would be futile). Additionally, the court notes that Haley’s request is procedurally improper. Pursuant to Local Rule 15-1(a), a party requesting leave to amend a pleading shall attached the proposed pleading to the request to amend. Haley did not attach a proposed amended pleading with his opposition. Accordingly, his request is procedurally defective. 

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that defendant’ motion to dismiss (Doc. #5) is GRANTED. The complaint is DISMISSED as to all defendants. 

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant’s motion to expunge lis pendens (Doc. #6) is GRANTED. Defendant PNC Bank National Association shall file an appropriate order with the court expunging the lis pendens and submit the same for signature. 

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the clerk of court shall enter judgment appropriately. 

IT IS SO ORDERED. 

[1] Refers to the court’s docketing number. 

 

House Bill Would Allow Those Facing Foreclosure to Stay on as Renters

BY: CARRIE BAY DSNEWS 4/29/2010

Two House Democrats have introduced a bill to create a “right to rent” for homeowners facing foreclosure.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), would allow a family receiving a foreclosure notice to petition a judge to stay in their home as renters under a 5-year lease. The judge would appoint an independent appraiser to set fair market rental value, which would be allowed to rise with inflation.

In a statement to the press, Grijalva cited the latest market data from RealtyTrac, which showed that foreclosure activity nationwide rose by 19 percent in March, setting a new monthly record of 367,000 filings. RealtyTrac also found that for the first three months of 2010, foreclosures are up by 60 percent compared to 2009 and roughly 6 million mortgages are at least 60 days delinquent.

Grijalva called the latest statistics “an indication of the profound, historic crisis we face and the need for creative solutions like Right to Rent. I call on the rest of Congress to take a hard look at why we’ve allowed things to get this bad,” he said.

According to Grijalva, the administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) just isn’t doing enough to keep pace with the nation’s mortgage problems. Between February and March, the number of people who received assistance through HAMP but subsequently became delinquent again nearly doubled from 1,499 to 2,879.

“HAMP is simply an insufficient response to this crisis,” Grijalva said. “Right to Rent is a fair and sensible solution for struggling homeowners. Banks will still get reliable rental income, and families will be able to stay in their homes and significantly lower their monthly housing costs.”

Grijalva called the terms of the bill (H.R. 5028) “a workable and equitable compromise for lenders, families, and communities.”

He said, “Passing this bill will help neighborhoods avoid the spiral of decay, crime, and lower property values that often follows mass vacancies without creating any new bureaucracy or transferring a dime of taxpayer money to homeowners or banks.”

To prevent use of the program by speculators, eligibility for the “right to rent” initiative would be limited to homes purchased at or below the median price for their metropolitan statistical area, and must have been the homeowner’s principal residence for no less than 2 years, Grijalva explained. Only mortgages originated before July 1, 2007 would be eligible.

Even More Embarrassment for Banks: Foreclosure Fraud

Even More Embarrassment for Banks: Foreclosure Fraud

Oppenheim Law

cartoon_bank_bailoutWhat could be more embarrassing for the already floundering banks than the fact that their foreclosure, loan modification and short sale systems are a complete mess?

Well, a recent court decision in a mortgage foreclosure lawsuit in Pasco County, FL, revealed the banks, besides being disorganized, are apparently not above stooping to commit fraud in order to file foreclosure actions against homeowners.   You can view the Court’s order by clicking here.

Many homeowners probably don’t know the bank has to prove it has standing to bring a foreclosure action.  Standing is the constitutional right for a party to appear to bring a case in court.  Without standing, a party has no right to be in court. But in reality, the bank must prove that they in fact own and hold both the mortgage and promissory note, and thus have the right to foreclose.

This becomes a problem for banks because they are so disorganized that the documents are often lost or misplaced. An even bigger problem occurs when the original mortgage lenders sell the mortgages and notes and convert them into a securitized trust. When these mortgages are assigned to another bank or a securitized trust, the assignment of mortgage must be executed and notarized. Within these assignments, foreclosure defense attorneys are finding all kinds of problems that are leading to foreclosure cases being thrown out of court.

Fraud in the Court

A problem found in an assignment of mortgage that was recently thrown out by the court was especially astounding. The Plaintiff, U.S. Bank, filed a foreclosure action on December 6, 2007, based on an alleged assignment of mortgage dated as of December 5, 2007.

However, during the course of the litigation, the homeowner’s attorney noticed that the Notary’s commission was dated to expire on May 19, 2012. Pursuant to Florida law, notary stamps are only valid for 4 years. So, the notary that signed the assignment back on December 5, 2007 could not have had a notary stamp that expired in May of 2012.

This fact was confirmed by a sworn affidavit by the Notary Bonding Company’s representative, confirming that this Notary’s stamp was not issued until April 2008, five months after the purported date of assignment on the mortgage.

Based on this evidence, the judge found that the assignment was “fraudulently backdated in a purposeful, intentional effort to mislead the defendant and this court.”

On these grounds, the Judge found the defendant homeowner was the prevailing party because the Plaintiff lacked standing to file the lawsuit on December 6, 2007, and granted the Defendant’ attorney’s fees as well.

Defending is Better than Default

This news brings hope to many homeowners and shows defending the foreclosure action is better than doing nothing at all.  Additionally this teaches us we should never accept anything on its face and scrutinize every document produced by the banks to support their foreclosure complaint.

An argument can be made that Judges should be examining the authenticity of the documents produced by the Plaintiff before entering default and granting summary judgment against homeowners. However, in all likelihood, mistakes such as these are slipping through the cracks with the unprecedented number of foreclosure actions each judge has on their docket.

Thus, these kinds of problems truly exemplify why it is in every homeowner’s best interest to defend their foreclosure and not assume the court system will automatically protect their interests.