United States District Court, D. Nevada
before the court is defendant Mandolin Homeowners
Association's (the “HOA”) motion to dismiss.
(ECF No. 7). Plaintiff Christiana Trust, a division of
Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB, not in its individual
capacity but as trustee of ARLP Trust 2 (“Christiana
Trust”) filed a response (ECF No. 18), to which the HOA
replied (ECF No. 20).
before the court is defendant SFR Investments Pool 1,
LLC's (“SFR”) motion to dismiss. (ECF No.
22). Christiana Trust (ECF No. 29) and the HOA (ECF No. 30)
filed responses, to which SFR replied (ECF No. 35).
before the court is SFR's motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 23).
before the court is SFR's motion to certify a question of
law to the Nevada Supreme Court (ECF No. 36), in which the
HOA joined (ECF No. 37). Christiana Trust filed a response
(ECF No. 38), to which SFR replied (ECF No. 40).
case involves a dispute over real property located at 7604
Brisa Del Mar Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89179 (the
April 11, 2007, the Flaherty Trust obtained a loan from Bank
of America, N.A. (“BANA”) in the amount of $219,
173.00 to purchase the property, which was secured by a deed
of trust recorded on April 12, 2007. (ECF No. 1 at 4-5).
February 18, 2011, defendant Nevada Association Services,
Inc. (“NAS”), acting on behalf of the HOA,
recorded a notice of delinquent assessment lien, stating an
amount due of $1, 036.00. (ECF No. 1 at 5). On April 11,
2011, NAS recorded a notice of default and election to sell
to satisfy the delinquent assessment lien, stating an amount
due of $2, 088.90. (ECF No. 1 at 6). On December 17, 2012,
NAS recorded a notice of trustee's sale, stating an
amount due of $6, 389.57. (ECF No. 1 at 6-7).
January 11, 2013, SFR purchased the property at the
foreclosure sale for $9, 000.00. (ECF No. 1 at 7). A
trustee's deed upon sale in favor of SFR was recorded on
September 9, 2013. (ECF No. 1 at 6).
deed of trust was assigned to Christiana Trust via an
assignment of deed of trust recorded May 23, 2014. (ECF No. 1
2, 2016, Christiana Trust filed the underlying complaint
against SFR, the HOA, NAS, and Michael Flaherty as trustee of
the Andrew M. Flaherty Living Trust dated August 12, 1994,
alleging four causes of action: (1) quiet title/declaratory
judgment against all defendants; (2) breach of NRS 116.1113
against NAS and the HOA; (3) wrongful foreclosure against NAS
and the HOA; and (4) unjust enrichment against SFR, the HOA,
and NAS. (ECF No. 1).
instant motions, the HOA and SFR move to dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (ECF Nos. 7, 22),
and SFR also moves for summary judgment (ECF No. 23), as well
as to certify a question of law to the Nevada Supreme Court
(ECF No. 36). The court will address each in turn.
Motion to Dismiss
may dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). 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). While 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) (citation omitted).
allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter to “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (citation omitted).
Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step
approach district courts are to apply when considering
motions to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all
well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however,
legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of
truth. Id. at 678-79. Mere recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory
statements, do not suffice. Id. at 678.
the court must consider whether the factual allegations in
the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief.
Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible when the
plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allow the court
to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 678.
the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
“alleged-but not shown-that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not
crossed the line from conceivable to plausible,
plaintiff's claim must be dismissed. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570.
Ninth Circuit addressed post-Iqbal pleading
standards in Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th
Cir. 2011). The Starr court stated, in relevant
First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth,
allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply
recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain
sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair
notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself
effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken
as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such
that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be
subjected to the expense of discovery and continued
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow summary judgment when
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose
of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of
factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
purposes of summary judgment, disputed factual issues should
be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Lujan v.
Nat'l Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990).
However, to be entitled to a denial of summary judgment, the
nonmoving party must “set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.
determining summary judgment, a court applies a
burden-shifting analysis. The moving party must first satisfy
its initial burden. “When the party moving for summary
judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must
come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a
directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at
trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial
burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact
on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp.
Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480
(9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).
contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of
proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its
burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an
essential element of the non-moving party's case; or (2)
by demonstrating that the non-moving party failed to make a
showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that
party's case on which that party will bear the burden of
proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden,
summary judgment must be denied and the court need not
consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes
v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159- 60 (1970).
moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine
issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the
opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact
conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the
claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge
to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth
at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec.
Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir.
other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary
judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are
unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880
F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must
go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and
set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that
shows a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324.
summary judgment, a court's function is not to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth, but to determine whether
there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
The evidence of the nonmovant is “to be believed, and
all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor.” Id. at 255. But if the evidence of the
nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted. See Id.
Certify Question of Law to the Nevada Supreme Court
Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure provide that the Supreme
Court of Nevada has the power to answer “questions of
[state] law . . . which may be determinative of the cause
then pending in the certifying court and as to which it
appears to the certifying court there is no controlling
precedent in the decisions of the Supreme Court of
[Nevada].” Nev. R. App. P. 5(a).
Nevada Supreme Court “may answer questions of law
certified  by a federal court when (1) [the] answers to the
certified questions may be determinative of part of the
federal case, (2) there is no clearly controlling Nevada
precedent, and (3) the answers to the certified questions
will help settle important questions of law. See,
e.g., Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Tr. of Const.
Indus., 208 P.3d 884, 888 (Nev. 2009).
the question does not impact the merits of a claim pending
before the certifying court, the question should not be
certified to the Supreme Court. See Nev. R. App. P.
5(a) (requiring that certified question be
“determinative”); see also Volvo Cars of N.
Am., Inc. v. Ricci, 137 P.2d 1161, 1164 (Nev. 2006)
(declining to answer certified questions where “answers
to the questions posed  would not ‘be
determinative' of any part of the case”).
“The certification procedure is reserved for state law
questions that present significant issues, including those
with important public policy ramifications, and that have not
yet been resolved by the state courts.” Kremen v.
Cohen, 325 F.3d 1035, 1037 (9th Cir. 2003).
courts have discretion to certify questions of state law.
Lehman Bros. v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386, 391 (1974).
“Resort to certification is not mandatory where state
law is unclear on a particular issue.” Carolina
Cas. Ins. Co. v. McGhan, 572 F.Supp.2d 1222, 1225 (D.
Nev. 2008) (citing Lehman Bros., 416 U.S. at
390-91). Generally, “[w]hen a decision turns on
applicable state law and the state's highest court has
not adjudicated the issue, a federal court must make a
reasonable determination of the result the ...