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Forman v. National Banking Association

United States District Court, District of Nevada

March 9, 2015

LAURA FORMAN, Plaintiff(s),


NANCY J. KOPPE, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Laura Forman has requested authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to proceed in forma pauperis. Docket No. 1. Plaintiff also submitted a Complaint. See Docket No. 1-1. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule IB 1-9.

I. In Forma Pauperis Application

Plaintiff has submitted the affidavit required by § 1915(a) showing an inability to prepay fees and costs or give security for them. Docket No. 1. Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The court will now review Plaintiff’s Complaint.

II. Screening the Complaint

Upon granting a request to proceed in forma pauperis, a court must additionally screen a complaint pursuant to § 1915(a). Federal courts are given the authority to dismiss a case if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious, ” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). When a court dismisses a complaint under § 1915(a), the plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Review under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). A properly pled complaint must provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). The court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations contained in the complaint, but the same requirement does not apply to legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory allegations, do not suffice. Id., at 678. Secondly, where the claims in the complaint have not crossed the line from plausible to conceivable, the complaint should be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

A. Diversity Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possess only that power authorized by the Constitution and statute. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. Of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), federal district courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions in diversity cases “where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000” and where the matter is between “citizens of different states.” Generally speaking, diversity jurisdiction exists only where there is “complete diversity” among the parties; each of the plaintiffs must be a citizen of a different state than each of the defendants. Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a corporation is deemed to be a citizen of every state it has been incorporated and has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1).

The sole basis for subject matter jurisdiction alleged in the Complaint is pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). See Docket No. 1-1, at ¶¶ 2-3. According to Plaintiff’s Complaint, Plaintiff is a citizen of Nevada and the only named defendant, Bank of America, is headquartered and incorporated in California. Id., at ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff claims that she is entitled to an award in excess of $80, 000. Id., at 16. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff has appropriately demonstrated, for the purposes of initial screening, that diversity jurisdiction exists.

B. Breach of Contract Claim

Having determined that diversity jurisdiction exists under the well-pleaded complaint rule, the Court now turns to the sufficiency of the factual allegations to state a claim. Plaintiff’s Complaint brings, inter alia, a claim for a breach of contract. Docket No. 1-1, at ¶¶ 2-3. In order to state a claim for breach of contract under Nevada law, Plaintiff must allege (1) formation of a valid contract; (2) performance or excuse of performance by Plaintiff; (3) material breach by Defendants; and (4) damages. See May v. Anderson, 121 Nev. 668, 672 (Nev. 2005) (basic contract principles require an offer and acceptance, meeting of the minds, and consideration); Bernard v. Rockhill Dev. Co., 103 Nev. 132, 135 (Nev. 1987). “Specifically, ‘failure to perform one’s obligations within the express terms of an agreement constitutes a literal breach of contract.’” Med. Providers Fin. Corp. II v. New Life Centers, L.L.C., 818 F.Supp.2d 1271, 1274 (D. Nev. 2011) (quoting Saini v. Int’l Game Tech., 434 F.Supp.2d 913, 919–920 (D. Nev. 2006)).

Plaintiff alleges that her Deed of Trust created a contract with Bank of America. Docket No. 1-1, at ¶ 22. The Complaint sets forth the relevant contract terms. Id., at ¶ 11 (definition of community association dues, fees, and assessments), ¶ 13 (definition of funds for escrow items), ¶ 14 (waiver of payment for funds for escrow items), ¶ 15 (revocation of waiver) ¶ 16 (charges, liens). Plaintiff alleges that she paid her monthly mortgage payments and that her Homeowner Association (HOA) “dues were as an operation of contract automatically apportioned as part of her monthly mortgage payment.” Id., at ¶ 19. Plaintiff further alleges that Bank of America breached the contract by failing to tender withheld monies to satisfy Plaintiff’s HOA dues, ...

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