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Julian v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

September 8, 2017

CHRISTOPHER B. JULIAN and RENEE JULIAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ROBERT J. CONRAD, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on twelve motions to dismiss filed by the numerous defendants in this case: Capital One, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 7); Judge Martin F. Clark, Jr. and Judge Edwin A. Gendron, Jr.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 14); Fitch Group Global HQ, McGraw Hill Financial, and Moody's Investors Service, Inc.'s (collectively, the “Rating Agencies”) Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 30); J.P. Morgan Chase's Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 53); Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 55); Goldman, Sachs & Co. LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC's Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 57); Bank of America, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 59); HSBC Bank USA, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 60); Barclays Bank PLC's Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 61); Ally Financial Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 63); Citigroup, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 65); G.E. Capital Bank's Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 77); and all the related pleadings (collectively, the “Motions to Dismiss”).

         The Court issued a Roseboro on November 15, 2016, directing Plaintiff's to respond to the then filed motions to dismiss, (Doc. Nos. 7, 14, 30), by December 1, 2016 and to all subsequent motions to dismiss within seventeen days of those motions being filed. (Doc. No. 41). Plaintiffs filed responses in opposition to Capital One, N.A.'s Motion to Dismiss, Judge Gendron and Judge Clark's Motion to Dismiss, and the Ratings Agencies' Motion to Dismiss, but failed to respond to any of the other motions to dismiss. (Doc. Nos. 73-74, 80). The Motions to Dismiss are ripe for adjudication.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiffs Christopher B. Julian and Renee G. Julian (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) essentially allege a massive conspiracy and fraud against eighteen defendants, including many of the largest U.S. financial institutions, several financial ratings agencies, and two state court judges. According to Plaintiffs, Defendants either conducted or enabled negligent and fraudulent lending practices in sub-prime loans and fraudulently packaged, securitized, and rated those loans. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 1) (hereinafter, “Compl.”). Plaintiffs assert that due to Defendants' role in “the Financial meltdown of Financial Markets in an [sic] around 2008 . . . Plaintiffs [and other credit-worthy borrowers] were and are denied equity leverage, which prior to the financial meltdown would not, and did not occur, and which today is not appropriately warranted although has become law significantly if not completely eliminating non-qualifying stated income lending.” (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 6). In short, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants, at a minimum, played a role in bringing about the sub-prime lending crisis, leading to stricter financial regulations, specifically the Dodd Frank Act, which in turn deprived Plaintiffs of the ability to secure a loan or other mortgage financing, all of which resulted in grave injury to Plaintiffs. See (id. at ¶¶ 76-82).

         Plaintiffs conclude their complaint by asserting two counts against defendants. Against the “financial institutions, ” Plaintiffs allege a count of negligence. (Id. at 44-48). Against Judge Gendron and Judge Clark, Plaintiffs allege civil rights violations in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. 49-51).

         Notably, this is Plaintiffs' third lawsuit of a similar nature. In 2012, Plaintiffs sued various agencies and employees of the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia after Plaintiffs' application for a farm ownership loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) was denied. (Compl. at ¶ 49). Judge Kiser in the Western District of Virginia dismissed Plaintiffs claims. (Id. at ¶¶ 49-52). The Fourth Circuit affirmed and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari. Julian v. Dep't of Agric., 135 S.Ct. 1901 (2015); (Compl. at ¶¶ 59, 67). Then, in 2016, Plaintiffs effectively attempted to appeal the earlier decisions by suing the USDA, Western District of Virginia, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Court of Federal Claims. Julian v. United States, 2016 WL 929219 (Fed. Cl. Mar. 10, 2016), aff'd, 2016 WL 4137676 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 4, 2016); (Compl. at ¶ 73). The Court of Federal Claims dismissed Plaintiffs' lawsuit because, among other things, it did not have jurisdiction to review another court's filings. Julian v. United States, 2016 WL 929219, at *2. Now, Plaintiffs seek an alternate litigation route in an attempt to be compensated for their financial losses. This is plaintiffs' third strike; their claims are dismissed.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         a. Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) seeks to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The existence of subject matter jurisdiction is a threshold issue the court must address before considering the merits of the case. Jones v. Am. Postal Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417, 422 (4th Cir.1999). “The subject matter jurisdiction of federal courts is limited and the federal courts may exercise only that jurisdiction which Congress has prescribed.” Chris v. Tenet, 221 F.3d 648, 655 (4th Cir. 2000) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Subject matter jurisdiction is so limited that federal “[c]ourts have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even when no party challenges it.” Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010) (internal citations omitted). “No party can waive the defect, or consent to [subject matter] jurisdiction. No court can ignore the defect; rather a court, noticing the defect, must raise the matter on its own.” Wisconsin Dep't of Corr. v. Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 389 (1998) (internal citations omitted).

         b. Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2)

         Under Rule 12(b)(2), Plaintiffs bear the burden of setting forth facts sufficient to demonstrate personal jurisdiction. See Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 59-60 (4th Cir. 1993). Although the plaintiff need only prove a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction, he can't rely on conclusory statements or bare allegations-he must allege “specific acts connecting [the] defendant with the forum.” Second Amend. Found. V. U.S. Conf. of Mayors, 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted); Akzo, 2 F.3d at 59-60. “A federal district court may only exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign [resident] if such jurisdiction is authorized by the long-arm statute of the state in which it sits and application of the long-arm statute is consistent with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Consulting Eng'rs Corp. v. Geometric Ltd., 561 F.3d 273, 277 (4th Cir. 2009). In deciding whether plaintiff has proved a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction, the court must draw all reasonable inferences arising from the proof, and resolve all factual disputes in plaintiff's favor. Akzo, 2 F.3d at 59-60.

         c. Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         The standard of review for a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim is well known. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). It tests the “legal sufficiency of the complaint” but “does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss will survive if it contains enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility means allegations that allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). 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.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545 (quoting Copperweld Corp. v. Independence Tube Corp., 467 U.S. 752, 775 (1984)). Additionally, when ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555- 56). Nonetheless, a court is not bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Courts cannot weigh the facts or assess the evidence at this stage, but a complaint entirely devoid of any facts supporting a given claim cannot proceed. Potomac Conference Corp. of Seventh-Day Adventists v. Takoma Acad. Alumni Ass'n, Inc., 2 F.Supp.3d 758, 767-68 (D. Md. 2014). Furthermore, the court “should view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkar, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993).

         III. ...


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