A little too Late…crash happened! HUD reconsiders RESPA rule on incentives

Now if “steering” was involved…

WASHINGTON – June 4, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking a closer look at the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act’s (RESPA) prohibition against the “required use” of affiliated settlement service providers. DinSFLA: They need to take a closer look if these were part of “Appraisal Fraud” & “Illegal Kickbacks”.

It violates RESPA if a consumer is required to use a particular mortgage lender, title company or other settlement service provider that’s affiliated with another business in their mortgage transaction. However, it’s less clear whether it’s a RESPA violation if it is offered as a discount or other incentive to steer them to a lender, title company, etc. DinSFLA: COERCION or not COERCE is the Question! I wonder what they would think of the Mills using their own title companies to close on their foreclosures? Any violations?

HUD is currently trying to determine if incentives violate the “required use” requirement. As part of the process, HUD published a notice about the issue and is seeking public comment.

HUD took the step because it has received a number of consumer complaints, many of which focused on a home builder that might reduce the cost of a home (by adding free construction upgrades or by discounting the home price) if the homebuyer uses the developer or builder’s affiliated mortgage lender. In some cases, the incentives may not represent true discounts if the homebuyers ultimately pay more in total loan costs.

According to HUD, consumers also say that the timing of the contract with the builder precludes them from shopping around, and the builder’s lender can then charge higher settlement costs or interest rates not competitive with non-affiliated lenders. HUD says that the steering of clients ” effectively violates” the “required use” ban in RESPA.

“It is our intent to keep an open mind on how to approach this vexing question over what is, and what is not, ‘required use,'” says David Stevens, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner. “Clearly, consumers are complaining that they are being presented offers they believe they can’t refuse, and are essentially being required to use certain affiliated service providers.”

HUD’s current definition of “required use” reads:

“Required use means a situation in which a person must use a particular provider of a settlement service in order to have access to some distinct service or property, and the person will pay for the settlement service of the particular provider or will pay a charge attributable, in whole or in part, to the settlement service. However, the offering of a package or (combination of settlement services) or the offering of discounts or rebates to consumers for the purchase of multiple settlement services does not constitute a required use. Any package or discount must be optional to the purchaser. The discount must be a true discount below the prices that are otherwise generally available, and must not be made up by higher costs elsewhere in the settlement process.”

HUD’s call for comments is published in the Federal Register. To view the document (PDF format), go to:http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-13350.pdf

Comments must refer to the docket number and title:

Docket No. FR–5352–A–01 RIN 2502–A178 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): Strengthening and Clarifying RESPA’s “Required Use” Prohibition Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Comment due date: Sept. 1, 2010.

HUD strongly encourages people to submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal atwww.regulations.gov.

Comments can also be mailed to:

ANPR to the Regulations Division Office of General Counsel Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street, SW. Room 10276

Washington, DC 20410–0500

No FAX comments are accepted.

© 2010 Florida Realtors®

RELATED STORY:

ARE FORECLOSURE MILLS Coercing Buyers for BANK OWNED homes? ARE ALL THE MILLS?

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Graphed: U.S. Foreclosures and Home Repossessions, 2005 to 2010

by Choire posted TheAWL

It’s hard to get a sense of what’s going on in America with foreclosure filings, the number of homes being foreclosed on and the actual number of houses being taken back by banks. The newspapers are confusing! Are they “down”? Are they “up”? So we dug up the actual numbers for each year since 2005, up to the projected numbers for 2010. A “foreclosure filing” can be a number of things, including notice of default, auction or seizure—which is why the actual number of houses receiving these notices is a useful number to know.

Foreclosures

It’s either RICO Act or Control Fraud.

We are entering the Age of Rage.

It is presently most visible in Europe as austerity programs that potentially could shred a half century of social entitlement advances are met with increasingly violent street demonstrations.  It is seen in the US Tea Party rallies with their fury that the very fabric which the US capitalist system is based on is being destroyed and discarded. Unfortunately these demonstrations of rage are focusing on the effects and not the cause. The cause is a systemic plaque of unenforced financial control fraud.

Americans witnessed CEOs arrested during the nightly news coverage of the S&L Crisis of the early 90’s. They were placated as they heard the details of over 1000 indictments of the perpetrators of fraud. In the aftermath of the tech bubble implosion ten years later, injured investors once again witnessed the most senior executives at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Qwest and others being led off in handcuffs and disgrace to waiting police cruisers. Retirees with decimated retirement plans felt that some level of restitution had been made when 25 year sentences were meted out to these formerly high-flying felons.

After nearly two years since the greatest financial malfeasants in history and ten years since the last public example of financial crime, the public haven’t seen a single CEO sentenced to hard time for the financial meltdown. They have not had their thirst for revenge quenched by a single high level court case. Instead, the public infuriatingly witnesses politically crafted theater in congressional hearings that go nowhere, read watered down legislation that is replete with even richer lobbyist-authored loopholes and only occasionally see small headlines of quiet settlements with insulting token amends payments. Why? Were there no crimes committed? No laws broken?

The public is forced to accept excuses that we have enforcement agencies not enforcing, regulators not regulating and legislators not equipped to legislate properly in our modern fast moving financial world.  The public is left with the gnawing concern of whether it is incompetence or something much deeper, more troubling, and more sinister.  Confidence and trust in government and our democratically elected politicians continue to worsen from already pathetic levels.

The taxpayer while standing in long unemployment lines, reads in the newspapers of financial institutions that were making mind-numbing profits and paying horrendous executive bonuses suddenly being insolvent and needing taxpayer bailouts. Then as their unemployment benefits near exhaustion, they read of the banks’ profits soaring once again. These are the foundations of the emerging new age of public rage.

We have much more than a crisis of integrity. We have fraud that is so pervasive that it is now unknowingly institutionalized into our business and political culture. The sickening part is that it a like a cancer; if it’s not detected early, it will be too late to fight. We need to fully understand and prosecute the tenets of fraud before it is too late.

FRAUD

Fraud is the act of creating trust then betraying it. Fraud is deceit.

If I was to articulate this definition to the average person,  I believe the vast majority (without formal legal training) would immediately respond that this is exactly how they’d describe the financial crisis!  So why are there no indictments?  Is the fraud of liar’s loans, NINJA (No income, No Job, No Assets) loans, false housing appraisals, false AAA credit ratings and false contingent liability reporting so hard to prove? Not really. It takes an indictment and that’s often a much too political process in America.

Some would argue it was not intentional and therefore can’t be seen as a felony. They‘d say it is more a matter of civil damages. Again, wrong.

CONTROL FRAUD

What emerged from the S&P debacle was the concept of control fraud. At the core of financial control fraud is the notion that a CEO would deliberately use the S&L as a camouflage to make bad loans, thereby gutting the underwriting process while knowing full well that the loans would statistically fail over the long run. By doing this, money is made in the initial stages, exactly in the fashion of a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Profits are declared and rich bonuses are paid. Stocks soar and rich stock options are executed. Then when the inevitable day arrives as the defaults emerge, the CEO takes the company into bankruptcy with no claw-back provisions, or an even newer and richer approach – the CEO seeks government bailouts to replace the pillaged balance sheet.

Corporate Control Fraud might be viewed as having four tell-tales:

1.     Deliberately making bad loans or investments.

2.     Exceptionally High Growth (because improperly accounted profits are being booked today).

3.     The use of extraordinary leverage to maximize profits while profits are artificially available.

4.     False representation of actuarial appropriate loss reserves.

Sound eerily familiar?

The S&L debacle prompted the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) Law (US Code: Title 12,1831o). William K Black the author of “ The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry, “ argues that this law is presently being broken through the misrepresentation of bank asset positions.  Additionally, because the Prompt Corrective Action Law is not being enforced, the felony of accounting control fraud is being committed.

Control fraud theory was developed in the savings and loan debacle. It explained that the person controlling the S&L (typically the CEO) posed a unique risk because he could use it as a weapon.  The theory synthesized criminology (Wheeler and Rothman 1982), economics (Akerlof 1970), accounting, law, finance, and political science. It explained how a CEO optimized “his” S&L as a weapon to loot creditors and shareholders.

The weapon of choice was accounting fraud. The company is the perpetrator and a victim. Control frauds are optimal looters because the CEO has four unique advantages. He uses his ability to hire and fire to suborn internal and external controls and make them allies. Control frauds consistently get “clean” opinions for financial statements that show record profitability when the company is insolvent and unprofitable. CEOs choose top-tier auditors. Their reputation helps deceive creditors and shareholders.

Only the CEO can optimize the company for fraud. He has it invest in assets that have no clear market value. Professionals evaluate such assets-allowing the CEO to hire ones who will inflate values. Rapid growth (as in a Ponzi scheme) extends the fraud and increases the “take.” S&Ls optimized accounting fraud by loaning to uncreditworthy and criminal borrowers (who promised to pay the highest rates and fees because they did not intend to repay, but the promise sufficed for the auditors to permit booking the profits). The CEO extends the fraud through “sales” of the troubled assets to “straws” that transmute losses into profits. Accounting fraud produced guaranteed record profits-and losses.

CEOs have the unique ability to convert company assets into personal funds through normal corporate mechanisms. Accounting fraud causes stock prices to rise. The CEO sells shares and profits. The successful CEO receives raises, bonuses, perks, and options and gains in status and reputation. Audacious CEOs use political contributions to influence the external environment to aid fraud by fending off the regulators. Charitable contributions aid the firm’s legitimacy and the CEO’s status. S&L CEOs were able to loot the assets of large, rapidly growing organizations for many years. They used accounting fraud to mimic legitimate firms, and the markets did not spot the fraud. The steps that maximized their accounting profits maximized their losses, which dwarfed all other forms of property crimes combined. (1)

I have written extensively about the degree to which the banks 10K and 10Q balance sheets do not represent current fair market value of their assets. When the FDIC continuously takes over banks and declares that asset values are 25- 35% overvalued, there’s no further proof required. The banks, which are sold as part of the regular FDIC  “Friday night bank lottery” continuously see no CEOs indicted for falsely representing FDIC-insured assets. We the taxpayers are then unwittingly presented with the tab.

Secretaries Paulson and Geithner subverted the PCA law by allowing failed banks to engage in massive accounting fraud (which also means they are engaged in securities fraud). Treasury is telling the world that resolving the failed banks will require roughly $2 trillion dollars. That has to mean that the failed banks are insolvent by roughly $2 trillion. The failed banks, however, are reporting that they are not simply solvent, but “well capitalized.” The regulators flout PCA by permitting this massive accounting and securities fraud. (Note that by countenancing this fraud they make it extremely difficult to ever prosecute these elite white-collar frauds.)  (5)

Above, I made the assertion that indictments are too political a process in America. Control Fraud isn’t unique to just CEOs. Heads of sovereign governments and their empowered representatives also fall within this type of fraud. We once again see ourselves moving upwards hierarchically towards people in authority, who are charged with a fiduciary and judiciary responsibility, taking positions that enrich or politically benefit themselves at the expense of the innocent. This is fraud. Though we find ourselves asking, where are they when we most need them, we should be asking, who will bring them to justice?

If you think this is not widespread, how do you rationalize that it was recently reported that Goldman Sachs never had a trading day loss in April yet its clients in eight out of ten cases lost money.  Incompetence? Stupidity? The Financial Times reports “The trading operations of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase made money every single business day in the first quarter … Goldman’s trading desk recorded a profit of at least $25m(£16.8) on each of the quarter’s 63 working days, making more than $100m a day on 35 occasions, according to a regulatory filing issued on Monday …  JPMorgan also achieved a loss-free quarter in its trading unit – making an average of $118m a day, nearly $5m an hour”. Morgan Stanley reported trading profits on a mere 93% of the first quarter trading days. This defies any sort of logic in a freely trading markets, unless the markets are controlled and the game fixed. These are better odds than owning a casino.

As A frustrated Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge observes: “if you ever wanted to see what a monopoly looks like in chart form:

The firm did not record a loss of even $0.01 on even one day in the last quarter,” Durden says. “The statistic probability of this event is itself statistically undefined. Goldman is now the market – or, in keeping with modern market reality, Goldman is the ‘house,’ it controls the casino, and always wins. Congratulations America: you now have far, far better odds in Las Vegas that you have making money with your E-Trade account.” (7)

The famous Barnum & Bailey carnival barkers used to snidely boast “there’s a sucker born every minute”. The carnival games were notoriously fixed so the ‘sucker’ almost certainly lost. I’m not indicting anyone here (I will leave that to our alarmingly incompetent regulatory and enforcement agencies), but rather I’m only reinforcing why we have entered an age of public rage and why I felt compelled to write the Extend & Pretend series of articles.

GRESHAM’S LAW

As the concept of control fraud emerged from the S&L crisis, an expansion of Gresham’s Law — has begun to be sketched out by Bill Black —

It will no doubt emerge out of this depression.

Gresham’s Law describes how “bad money drives out good.” Expanding on that idea, what Black calls “A Gresham’s Dynamic” operates similarly, when cheaters profit and “the dishonest drive out the honest.”

CLICK FOR VIDEO

Dr. William Black, University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Thursday, Feb. 18th, 2010, 7:30-9:00 PM, at the Council Chamber.
The title of Dr. Black’s talk is: Why Elite Frauds Cause Recurrent, Intensifying Economic, Political and Moral Crises.


RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS (RICO) ACT

Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering.   Racketeering activity includes:

In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity.” RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.

It seems it is the same names I continue to read about in the press. Do these financial institutions settle to avoid the magic ‘2 committed felony’ threshold qualification for a RICO indictment?

On March 29, 1989, financier Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud relating to an investigation into insider trading and other offenses. Milken was accused of using a wide-ranging network of contacts to manipulate stock and bond prices. It was one of the first occasions that a RICO indictment was brought against an individual with no ties to organized crime. Milken pled guilty to six lesser offenses rather than face spending the rest of his life in prison. On September 7, 1988, Milken’s employer, Drexel Burnham Lambert, was also threatened with a RICO indictment under the legal doctrine that corporations are responsible for their employees’ crimes. Drexel avoided RICO charges by pleading no contest to lesser felonies. While many sources say that Drexel pleaded guilty, in truth the firm only admitted it was “not in a position to dispute the allegations.” If Drexel had been indicted, it would have had to post a performance bond of up to $1 billion to avoid having its assets frozen. This would have taken precedence over all of the firm’s other obligations—including the loans that provided 96 percent of its capital. If the bond ever had to be paid, its shareholders would have been practically wiped out. Since banks will not extend credit to a firm indicted under RICO, an indictment would have likely put Drexel out of business. Is this really what is behind too big to fail prosecution? (6)

You don’t need a fancy high priced Philadelphia lawyer to tell you that “when the glove fits you can’t acquit!”  – A little old fashion common sense is all that is required.

CONCLUSION

The Age of Rage during the French revolution cost people their heads when the guillotine administered public justice daily for the angry masses. Political and bureaucratic heads will also roll in the future if justice is not soon administered. As Marie Antoinette learned too late, it may be much worse than merely the loss of an elected position with all its trappings.

It takes public rage for someone to spend the time to create expressions of frustration like the above graphic represents!

SOURCES:

(1) 08-30-08 The Control Fraud Theory Bizcovering

(2) US Code: Title 12, 1831o. Prompt Corrective Action

(3) April 2009 William K. Black on The Prompt Corrective Action Law Bill Moyers Journal

(4) Accounting Control Fraud Google Scholar

(5) 02-23-09 Why Is Geithner Continuing Paulson’s Policy of Violating the Law? The Huffington Post

(6) RICO – Wikipedia

(7) 05-12-10 Goldman’s Perfect Quarter Eric Fry The Daily Reckoning

C

Gordon T Long

Tipping Points

Mr. Long is a former senior group executive with IBM & Motorola, a principle in a high tech public start-up and founder of a private venture capital fund. He is presently involved in private equity placements internationally along with proprietary trading involving the development & application of Chaos Theory and Mandelbrot Generator algorithms.

Gordon T Long is not a registered advisor and does not give investment advice. His comments are an expression of opinion only and should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as recommendations to buy or sell a stock, option, future, bond, commodity or any other financial instrument at any time. While he believes his statements to be true, they always depend on the reliability of his own credible sources. Of course, he recommends that you consult with a qualified investment advisor, one licensed by appropriate regulatory agencies in your legal jurisdiction, before making any investment decisions, and barring that, you are encouraged to confirm the facts on your own before making important investment commitments.

© Copyright 2010 Gordon T Long. The information herein was obtained from sources which Mr. Long believes reliable, but he does not guarantee its accuracy. None of the information, advertisements, website links, or any opinions expressed constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any securities or commodities. Please note that Mr. Long may already have invested or may from time to time invest in securities that are recommended or otherwise covered on this website. Mr. Long does not intend to disclose the extent of any current holdings or future transactions with respect to any particular security. You should consider this possibility before investing in any security based upon statements and information contained in any report, post, comment or recommendation you receive from him.

EXTEND & PRETEND: Confirming the Flash Crash Omen

Via: ZeroHedge

Confirming The Flash Crash Omen, Submitted by Gordon T. Long of Tipping Points

Banks Have Recognized 60% of Expected Loan Charge-Offs: Moody’s

Gee, and here I thought that the Federal Reserve bought $1.4-$2 *trillion* of them! Let alone Lehman and its 50 billion in subprime mortgages that it “hid” (and what about all the other TARP/Federal Reserve member banks??)

BY: CARRIE BAY 6/3/2010 DSNEWS

n its latest quarterly report on credit conditions of the U.S. banking system, Moody’s Investors Service says banks’ asset quality issues are “past the peak” butcharge-offs and non-performers continue to eat away at profitability and sheer fundamentals.

Based on Moody’s market data, banks’ non-performing loans stood at 5.0 percent of total loan assets at March 31, 2010.

Moody’s says U.S. rated banks have already charged off or written-down $436 billion of loans in 2008, 2009, and the first quarter of 2010. That leaves another $307 billion to reach the rating agency’s full estimate of $744 billion of loan charge-offs from 2008 through 2011.

In aggregate, the banks have recognized 60 percent of Moody’s estimated total charge-offs and 65 percent of estimated residential mortgage losses, but only 45 percent of projected commercial real estate losses.

In the first quarter of this year, the banking industry’s collective annualized net charge-offs came to 3.3 percent of loans, versus 3.6 percent of loans in the fourth quarter

of 2009, Moody’s said. Despite two consecutive quarters of improvement in charge-offs, the ratings agency notes that the figures still remain near historic highs, dating back to the Great Depression.

According to Moody’s analysts, the decline in aggregate charge-offs was driven by commercial real estate improvement, which “we believe is likely to reverse in coming quarters,” they said in the report. A similar commercial real estate decline was experienced in the first quarter of 2009 before charge-offs accelerated through the rest of the year.

“The return to ‘normal’ levels of asset quality will be slow and uneven over the next 12 to 18 months,” said Moody’sSVP Craig Emrick.

But Emrick added that “Although remaining losses are sizable, they are beginning to look manageable in relation to bank’s loan loss allowances and tangible common equity.”

U.S. banks’ allowances for loan losses stood at $221 billion as of March 31, 2010, which is equal to 4.1 percent of loans, Moody’s reported. Although this can be used to offset a sizable portion of remaining charge-offs, banks will still require substantial provisions in 2010, the agency said.

Moody’s says its negative outlook for the U.S. banking system is driven by asset quality concerns and effects on profitability and capital. The agency’s ratings outlook is also influenced by the potential for a worse-than-expected macroeconomic environment, Moody’s said.

“More severe macroeconomic developments, the probability of which we place at 10 percent to 20 percent, would significantly strain U.S. bank fundamental credit quality,” Moody’s analysts wrote in their report.

TRYING TO FORECLOSE on HOMEOWNER MORTGAGE with a “BORROWERS PROTECTION PLAN”: JONES v. BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.

JONES v. BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.

Kevin R. Jones, Plaintiff,

v.

Bank of America, N.A., Defendant.

No. CV-09-2129-PHX-JAT.

United States District Court, D. Arizona.

June 1, 2010.

ORDER

JAMES A. TEILBORG, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant Bank of America’s Partial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #39). The Court has reviewed the parties’ filings and now rules on the Motion. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is denied as to Counts Three, Five, and Six, and granted as to Counts Two and Four. Count Four is dismissed without prejudice.

I. Background

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in support of his claims. In June and July 2006, Plaintiff Kevin Jones took out two mortgage loans on his residence located in Phoenix, Arizona. (Doc. #22, ¶¶7-8). At the time Plaintiff entered into the loan agreements with Defendant Bank of America, he also enrolled in the optional “Borrowers Protection Plan” (“the Plan”). (Id. at ¶9). The Plan provided that Defendant would cover Plaintiff’s monthly mortgage payments in the event that Plaintiff became disabled or involuntarily unemployed, in exchange for monthly premiums. (Id. at ¶10). On February 2, 2008, Plaintiff was in a car accident which caused him severe permanent injury and disability. (Id. at ¶13). As a result of his disability, Plaintiff was unable to continue working and making his mortgage payments. (Id. at ¶¶14-16). Plaintiff did, however, continue to make his premium payments and the Plan covered Plaintiff’s mortgage payments until “some point in the latter part of 2008 or in 2009.”1 ] (Id. at ¶¶17, 23). Defendant originally scheduled a Trustee sale for Plaintiff’s residence for November 9, 2009. (Id. at 1).

Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint on November 16, 2009, alleging breach of contract and tort claims. (Doc. #22). Defendant filed the instant motion on December 14, 2009, seeking to dismiss the tort claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. #39).

II. Legal Standard

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim, a complaint must meet the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” so that the defendant has “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only `fair notice’ of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds’ on which the claim rests.” Id. at 556, n.3 (citing 5 C. WRIGHT & A. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE §1202, at 94-95 (3d ed. 2004)).

“In determining the propriety of a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a court may not look beyond the complaint to a plaintiff’s moving papers, such as a memorandum in opposition to a defendant’s motion to dismiss.” Schneider v. Cal. Dept. Of Corrs., 151 F.3d 1194, 1197 n.1 (9th Cir. 1998). “The focus of any Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal—both in the trial court and on appeal—is the complaint.” Id.

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the facts alleged in the complaint in the light most favorable to the drafter of the complaint and the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true. See Shwarz v. United States, 234 F.3d 428, 435 (9th Cir. 2000). Nonetheless, the Court does not have to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Although a complaint attacked for failure to state a claim does not need detailed factual allegations, the pleader’s obligation to provide the grounds for relief requires “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Dismissal is appropriate where the complaint lacks either a cognizable legal theory or facts sufficient to support a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988); Weisbuch v. County of L.A., 119 F.3d 778, 783 n.1 (9th Cir. 1997).

III. Count Two: Negligence

In Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant owed a duty “to ensure that plaintiff’s contractual rights would be protected, and specifically that the Borrowers Protection Plan contractual benefits be honored.” (Doc. #22, ¶29). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached this duty and that Plaintiff was emotionally injured when the Defendant breached the Borrowers Protection Plan agreement. (Id. at ¶7). Plaintiff appears to be alleging that Defendant was negligent in breaching the contract. However, Plaintiff does not cite any legal authority indicating that Arizona recognizes a claim for negligent breach of contract, nor is the Court aware of any such authority. Seeing no cognizable legal theory to support this claim, the Motion to Dismiss Count two is granted.2 ] See Balistreri, 901 F.2d at 699; Weisbuch, 119 F.3d at 783 n.1.

IV. Count Three: “Bad Faith/Breach of Contract”

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing (“bad faith”). “Arizona law implies a covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every contract.” Wells Fargo Bank v. Ariz. Laborers, Teamsters and Cement Masons Local No. 395 Pension Trust Fund, 38 P.3d 12, 28 (Ariz. 2020). In the context of insurance contracts, “the insurance company must act in good faith in dealing with its insured on a claim.” Noble v. Nat’l Amer. Life Ins. Co., 624 P.2d 866, 868 (Ariz. 1981). “The tort of bad faith can be alleged only if the facts pleaded would, on the basis of an objective standard, show the absence of a reasonable basis for denying the claim.” Id.

1. Defendant as Insurer

Defendant is an insurer with respect to the Borrowers Protection Plan. “Tort actions for breach of covenants implied in certain types of contractual relationships are most often recognized where the type of contract involved is one in which the plaintiff seeks something more than commercial advantage or profit from the defendant. When dealing with . . . an insurer, the client/customer seeks service, security, peace of mind, protection or some other intangible.” Rawlings v. Apodaca, 726 P.2d 565, 575 (Ariz. 1986).

Defendant argues that it is a lender and not an insurer. (Doc. #39, 6). This is true with respect to the mortgage loan agreements between Plaintiff and Defendant. However, Defendant created an insurer/insured relationship with Plaintiff, when the parties entered into the Borrowers Protection Plan agreements. Plaintiff alleges that in the Plan Defendant agreed, in exchange for premium payments, to indemnify Plaintiff by making his mortgage and interest payments in the event of certain covered events. (Doc. #22, ¶10). Defendant was thus offering precisely the type of protection and peace of mind described in Rawlings.3 ] Therefore, Defendant acted as an insurer and is subject to the duty of good faith and fair dealing imposed on insurers for purposes of the Borrowers Protection Plan.

2. Analysis of the Bad Faith Claim

Plaintiff has presented sufficient facts for his claim of bad faith to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis. To state a claim for bad faith a plaintiff must offer facts to show “the absence of a reasonable basis for denying benefits of the policy and the defendant’s knowledge or reckless disregard of the lack of a reasonable basis for denying the claim.” Noble, 624 P.2d at 868.

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on or about June 15, 2006 and July 17, 2006, he and Defendant entered into the Borrowers Protection Plan agreements, which required him to pay monthly premiums in exchange for Defendant’s promise to pay his monthly loan and interest payments in the event of involuntary unemployment or disability. (Doc. #22, ¶¶7-11). Plaintiff further alleges that he made his premium payments as required and that he was in a car accident on February 2, 2008, which made him disabled and unable to work. (Id. at ¶11, 13-15). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant stopped making his mortgage payments “[a]t some point in the latter part of 2008 or in 2009,” and that Defendant “should have used the Plan to pay all of the principal and interest payments from March, 2008 to the present pursuant to the contract.” (Id. at ¶¶17, 22).

Because Plaintiff alleges that he paid his premiums and became disabled while protected under the Plan, Plaintiff has met the requirement that he plead an absence of a reasonable basis for the denial of his benefits. Furthermore, because Plaintiff alleges that he initially received benefits under the Plan, he has shown that Defendant had knowledge of his disability and unemployment. These facts meet the threshold standard of giving the defendant “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Therefore, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is denied as to Plaintiff’s bad faith claim.

V. Count Four: Wrongful Foreclosure

The Arizona state courts have not addressed whether they recognize the tort of wrongful foreclosure.4 ] Assuming for purposes of this Order that such a claim exists under Arizona law, for the claim to be ripe, a foreclosure sale must have occurred. See Standard Alaska Prod. Co. v. Schaible, 874 F.2d 624, 627 (9th Cir. 1989) (“A claim is fit for decision if the issues raised are primarily legal, do not require further factual development, and the challenged action is final.”). Here, no foreclosure sale has yet taken place. Therefore, this claim is not ripe for adjudication and Plaintiff’s claim for wrongful foreclosure is dismissed. Should the foreclosure sale occur, Plaintiff may move to amend the complaint to re-assert this claim.

VI. Count Five: Negligent Infliction of Mental Anguish

Arizona law recognizes two types of negligent infliction of emotional distress. The first type “requires plaintiff to: (1) witness an injury to a closely related person, (2) suffer mental anguish manifested as physical injury, and (3) be within the zone of danger so as to be subject to an unreasonable risk of bodily harm created by the defendant.” Pierce v. Casas Adobes Baptist Bhurch, 782 P.2d 1162, 1165 (Ariz. 1989) (en banc).

The second type of claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress arises when the distress results from an injury to the claimant themself. See Monaco v. HealthPartners of S. Arizona, 995 P.2d 735, 738-39 ¶¶ 7-8 (Ariz. App.1999) (holding negligent injection of radioactive material into plaintiff was sufficient to support a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress). To sustain this type of negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, a plaintiff must show:

(a) [the tortfeasor] should have realized that his conduct involved an unreasonable risk of causing the distress . . ., and (b) from facts known to him should have realized that the distress, if it were caused, might result in illness or bodily harm. Restatement (Second) of Torts, §§ 313 (adopted by Ball v. Prentice, 162 Ariz. 150, 781 P.2d 628, 630 (Ariz. Ct. App.1989)).

Carboun v. City of Chandler, 2005 WL 2408294 at 12.

Moreover, “the Arizona cases and Restatement § 436A make clear that a physical injury, as well as a long-term physical illness or mental disturbance, constitutes sufficient bodily harm to support a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress.” Monaco, 995 P.2d at 739.

Plaintiff has not alleged the first type of negligent infliction of emotional distress because he has not alleged that he witnessed the injury of another person. However, Plaintiff does allege that he “has been in a state of emotional panic for over one-half year” as a result of Defendant’s threats to foreclose on [his] home loan. (Doc. #22 at ¶41). Plaintiff further alleges facts that show Defendant knew of Plaintiff’s physical disability5 ] and was indifferent to Plaintiff’s “rights and peace of mind” (Id. at ¶50). Construing the facts pleaded in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint liberally, this claim is sufficiently pleaded to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Defendant’s Motion is thus denied as to Plaintiff’s claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress (labeled “mental anguish”).

VII. Count Six: Intentional Infliction of Mental Anguish

To prove a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress under Arizona law, Plaintiff must show that: 1) Defendant engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct; 2) Defendant either intended to cause emotional distress or recklessly disregarded the near certainty that emotional distress would result from the conduct; and 3) Plaintiff actually suffered emotional distress because of Defendant’s conduct. Nelson v. Phoenix Resort Corp., 888 P.2d 1375, 1386 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1994).

Plaintiff has alleged that Defendant attempted to foreclose on his home after failing to honor its obligations under the Borrowers Protection Plan. (Doc. #22, ¶¶46-47). Plaintiff also claims that Defendant continued to contact Plaintiff through threatening letters and phone calls after Plaintiff’s counsel asked Defendant to direct communications to him instead. (Doc. #22, ¶¶41-42). Plaintiff asserts that these actions were in “conscious disregard of [his] rights and . . . peace of mind.” (Doc. #22, ¶50). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant’s conduct has caused him to be “in a state of emotional panic for over one-half year.” (Doc. #22, ¶48). Since Plaintiff is only required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim,” and need not provide detailed factual allegations, these facts are sufficient to give Defendant “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” See Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is thus denied as to Plaintiff’s claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress (labeled “mental anguish”).

Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #39) is GRANTED as to Counts Two and Four of the Complaint, and that Count Four is dismissed without prejudice.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #39) is DENIED as to Counts Three, Five, and Six of the Complaint.

This copy provided by Leagle, Inc.