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Knopp v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 25, 2017

JUSTIN H. KNOPP, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., as Trustee, in trust for the registered holders of Park Place Securities, Inc., Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-WCW1, BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., SELECT PORTFOLIO SERVICING, INC., CORELOGIC SOLUTIONS, LLC, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., MERSCORP HOLDINGS, INC., VILLAGE OF ALSIP, LAW OFFICES OF IRA T NEVEL, PIERCE AND ASSOCIATES, P.C., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SARA L.ELLIS United States District Judge

         Facing the foreclosure of his property in state court, Plaintiff Justin H. Knopp turned to federal court and filed this action disputing the title and ownership of the property and the actions taken by certain parties in servicing his loan. In this action, Knopp, proceeding pro se, has sued several parties he claims had some involvement with the underlying mortgage and note at issue in the state foreclosure proceedings: Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as Trustee for the certificate holders of Park Place Securities Inc., Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-WCW1 (the “Trust”); Bank of America, N.A. (“BANA”); Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (“SPS”); CoreLogic Solutions, LLC (“CoreLogic”); Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. and Merscorp Holdings, Inc. (collectively, “MERS”)[1]; the Village of Alsip (the “Village”); the Law Offices of Ira T. Nevel (“Nevel”); and Pierce and Associates, P.C. (“Pierce”). On January 30, 2017, the Court dismissed Knopp's complaint, giving him leave to replead certain claims. See Doc. 97. After Knopp filed his first amended complaint, all Defendants but Nevel filed motions to dismiss.[2] Because Knopp has again failed to state a viable claim against any Defendant, the Court grants the motions to dismiss and dismisses Knopp's first amended complaint with prejudice and terminates the case.

         BACKGROUND[3]

         On or about March 25, 2005, Knopp took out a loan with Argent Mortgage Company, LLC (“Argent”), secured by property at 12237 S. Avers Avenue, Alsip, Illinois. According to Knopp, Argent ceased doing business in 2007. On October 3, 2011, Argent assigned the mortgage to the Trust. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds recorded the assignment of the mortgage on October 21, 2011. CoreLogic prepared and filed this assignment of mortgage. BANA serviced the mortgage until August 16, 2012, at which point SPS took over the servicing of the mortgage. Knopp received notice of the change of servicer in a letter sent on August 7, 2012.

         Knopp defaulted on the loan in 2009, failing to make the required payments. In December 2009, the Trust, BANA, and SPS, through the Village and the Alsip Police Department, told Knopp he would be charged with criminal trespass to property if he did not leave the property. On December 23, 2011, the Trust, using Nevel as counsel, filed a foreclosure action to enforce its security interest in the property. A new assignment of mortgage, prepared by Nevel, was signed on January 10, 2012 and filed with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds on January 26, 2012. The Trust voluntarily dismissed the 2011 foreclosure case on January 2, 2014.

         Knopp received correspondence from Pierce in June 2014 indicating that SPS had hired it to initiate a second foreclosure proceeding and setting forth certain information as required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). In response, in July 2014, Knopp sent a letter to Pierce and SPS requesting documentation of his indebtedness. In that letter, he indicated that he had informed both Pierce and SPS that they are not the legal servicers of the mortgage in January 2014. Pierce responded that SPS would provide the required documents, and SPS sent Knopp numerous letters in October and November 2014. Knopp contacted the Illinois Attorney General's Office of Consumer Fraud in February 2015, complaining about the foreclosure procedures in his case.

         In March 2015, the Trust initiated the second foreclosure action against Knopp. Knopp then acquired documentation from the two foreclosure cases in August 2015, observing that the documents used in the two cases were different. The second foreclosure action remains pending.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor. AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a claim's basis but must also be facially plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         ANALYSIS

         As with his initial complaint, Knopp's second attempt at pleading viable claims does little to help the Court decipher the claims he seeks to bring against Defendants and the factual bases underlying them, particularly where, as noted above, he fails to include the relevant background facts to support his legal theories. See Scott, 725 F.3d at 782-83 (“[W]hen a plaintiff files an amended complaint, the amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. . . . [F]acts or admissions from an earlier complaint that are not included in a later complaint cannot be considered on a motion to dismiss.”). In the first amended complaint, however, Knopp does narrow his claims to ones for fraud, and violations of the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (“RESPA”), 12 U.S.C. § 2605(e), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3729, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986.

         Before addressing the merits of these claims, the Court must address Knopp's objections to the timeliness of all but BANA's motions to dismiss. Only BANA filed its motion to dismiss within the time limits provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, with the remaining moving Defendants filing their motions in the following days and weeks and seeking leave to file those motions instanter. SPS, the Trust, and MERS maintain they filed late due to a calendering error, calculating the due date from the date Knopp's complaint was electronically docketed instead of file-stamped. The Court allowed Knopp ample opportunity to respond to all the arguments raised by the moving Defendants and Knopp cannot show any prejudice for the untimely filing of the motion to dismiss. Therefore, instead of resolving the issue on a procedural technicality, the Court finds it appropriate to extend the time for filing the motions to dismiss for each of the late-filing Defendants given the stage of the proceedings, the fact that in some cases the reason for the filing was a calendaring mistake, and the fact that Knopp has suffered no prejudice from the late filings. See Crue v. Aiken, 370 F.3d 668, 680-81 (7th Cir. 2004) (in deciding whether to allow for enlargement of time after expiration of specified period, court should consider “whether there will be prejudice to the opposing party, the effect on the judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay, and whether the movant acted in good faith”).

         Additionally, as it did in addressing Knopp's initial complaint, to the extent only certain Defendants raise arguments that apply equally to all Defendants, the Court extends them to all because Knopp had the opportunity to respond to all arguments. See Malak v. Associated Physicians, Inc., 784 F.2d 277, 280 (7th Cir. 1986) (court may sua sponte enter judgment in favor of additional non-moving defendants if motion by one defendant is equally effective in barring claim against other defendants and plaintiff had adequate opportunity to respond to the motion); Roberts v. Cendant Mortg. Corp., No. 1:11-CV-01438-JMS, 2013 WL 2467996, at *5 (S.D. Ind. June 7, 2013) (although three defendants had not entered appearances and it was not clear if they had been served, court could impute arguments made by other defendant to all of them and dismiss claims against all defendants). Although Knopp may have a defense to the foreclosure action proceeding in state court, the proper place to raise any arguments against foreclosure is in the state court action, not in this federal court action where he has attempted to bring in as a Defendant every possible player involved with his mortgage. Here, none of his claims or speculation concerning the propriety of the securitization and assignment of his mortgage can proceed, as set forth in detail below.[4]

         I. ...


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