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In re Ameriquest Mortgage Co.

April 23, 2007

IN RE AMERIQUEST MORTGAGE CO. MORTGAGE LENDING PRACTICES LITIGATION


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marvin E. Aspen, District Court Judge

RE CONSOLIDATED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT FOR CLAIMS OF NON-BORROWERS

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Ameriquest Mortgage Company; AMC Mortgage Services, Inc.; Town & Country Credit Corporation; Ameriquest Capital Corporation; Town & Country Title Services, Inc.; and Ameriquest Mortgage Securities, Inc. move to dismiss the borrower plaintiffs' Consolidated Class Action Complaint in its entirety. Defendants contend that: a) plaintiffs have failed to show through "clear and specific allegations of fact" that they have standing to bring this suit; b) plaintiffs' first cause of action, for a declaration as to their rescission rights under the Truth-in-Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601, et seq., fails because TILA rescission is not susceptible to class relief; c) plaintiffs' second and third causes of action fail because neither the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1691, et seq., nor the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. require notices of "adverse actions" in this case; and d) plaintiffs' twelfth cause of action fails because California's Civil Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, et seq. does not apply to the residential mortgage loans here.

In the alternative, defendants move for a more definite statement of plaintiffs' claims. Defendants contend that the complaint contains "only legal conclusions," with no factual support for the plaintiffs' claims, and that the complaint therefore falls short of both Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 9(b) and 8.

For the reasons stated below, we deny defendants' motions to dismiss and for a more definite statement.

ANALYSIS

I. Standing

Defendants move to dismiss the complaint in its entirety because, defendants contend, the complaint fails to establish plaintiffs' standing through "clear and specific allegations of fact showing a concrete injury that is causally connected to defendant's conduct and may be redressed through a favorable ruling." (Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss at 1.) We deny this motion.

To invoke federal court jurisdiction, plaintiffs must demonstrate an actual "case or controversy." City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 91, 101 (1983). A complaint must allege:

a) an "injury in fact"-- an invasion of a legally protected interest which is concrete and particularized, and "actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical;" b) a "causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of," which can be "fairly ... trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not ... th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court;" and c) "that it is 'likely,' as opposed to merely 'speculative,' that the injury will be 'redressed by a favorable decision.'" Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992) (citations omitted). While plaintiffs bear the burden of demonstrating standing, the weight of that burden corresponds to the stage of litigation at which standing is at issue. Id. "At the pleading stage, general factual allegations of injury resulting from the defendant's conduct may suffice, for on a motion to dismiss we 'presum[e] that general allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.'" Id. (quoting Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 889 (1990). Moreover, when plaintiffs allege that they themselves were the target of the defendants' actions or inaction, "there is ordinarily little question that the action or inaction has caused [them] injury, and that a judgment preventing or requiring the action will redress it." Id. at 561-62.

Plaintiffs' burden is also informed by the liberal pleading standards of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. To satisfy Rule 8, a plaintiff need only "name[s] the plaintiff and the defendant, state[s] the nature of the grievance, and give[s] a few tidbits (such as the date) that will let the defendant investigate." Kolupa v. Roselle Park Dist., 438 F.3d 713, 714 (7th Cir. 2006). Complaints "need not plead facts and need not narrate events that correspond to each aspect of the applicable legal rule." Id. So long as plaintiffs can prove some set of facts consistent with the claims set forth in the complaint that would entitle them to relief, we will deny a motion to dismiss. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).

Plaintiffs herein have set forth sufficient facts and allegations to establish their Article III standing. They have identified themselves (by listing 85 representative plaintiffs), explained that they -- not the public in general -- signed residential mortgage contracts with defendants, described the practices at issue in this suit, and allege that they were harmed by the defendants' alleged practices. In naming each representative plaintiff, the complaint states that each plaintiff "has been a victim of Ameriquest's practices during the period covered by this consolidated action." (Compl. ¶¶ 18-76.) Plaintiffs allege, for example, that defendants' alleged "bait-and-switch" practices "allow Ameriquest systematically to close loans that benefit Ameriquest to the detriment and misfortune of Plaintiffs and the Class." (Id. at ¶ 95.) Later, plaintiffs allege that with respect to defendants' alleged unfair and deceptive practices, "Ameriquest made standard misrepresentations and/or failed to provide the [named plaintiffs] with appropriate documentation and/or disclosures. As a result, the costs of the mortgage included excessive, undisclosed, and/or illegal interest, fees, and penalties." (Id. at ¶¶ 123-178.) Under each of plaintiffs' twenty-six causes of action, plaintiffs allege that they have been or (in causes of action seeking equitable relief) imminently will be harmed by defendants' conduct. (Id. at ¶¶ 234-425.) Finally, plaintiffs seek relief both generally and within each cause of action. In sum, the allegations in the complaint more than qualify as the "general factual allegations of injury" necessary at the pleading stage. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561. We deny defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing.*fn1

II. Plaintiffs' Claim for Declarations of Rescission Rights

Plaintiffs' First Cause of Action alleges that defendants failed to provide material disclosures as required by the Truth-in-Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1635, 1638, and seeks a declaration that the members of the TILA subclass have the right to rescind their loan transactions. (Compl. ¶¶ 189, 239, 243.) Defendants contend that because rescission is a purely personal right, this request for a ...


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