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Harris v. U.S. Bank

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 19, 2017

CHRISTOPHER L. HARRIS Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. BANK, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Now before the Court is defendant U.S. Bank's motion to dismiss plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. 39) pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff concedes to several of U.S. Bank's arguments, but still ultimately opposes the motion (Doc. 44). For the reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc 39).

         II. Background

         Plaintiff Christopher L. Harris initially filed his complaint in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois, on September 27, 2016 (Doc. 1-1). Thereafter, on November 2, 2016, this case was removed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois by Defendant U.S. Bank National Association (improperly identified as “US Bank, 3303 Nameoki Road, Granite City, IL 62040”) (hereafter “U.S. Bank”), (Doc. 1). Subsequent to removal, on December 30, 2016, Harris filed his amended complaint (Doc. 13). Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that “this is a suit for conversion of a negotiable instrument pursuant to Universal Commercial Code (“U.C.C.”) § 3-419(1), unjust enrichment and breach of simple contract.” (Doc. 13). Plaintiff alleges that he executed and delivered a Purchase Agreement and Credit Order to U.S Bank “extending the amount of $797, 588.00 in Plaintiff's credit upon acceptance and presentment at the Federal Reserve discount or acceptance window or open market desk.” (Doc. 13). Thus, he claims that he “acted in the capacity of a lending or banking institution, and the issued instrument at Document 1-1, ID #14 is similar or equivalent to money, which may be treated as a deposit of money when received and accepted by U.S. Bank.” (Id. at (¶8).

         The aforementioned Purchase Agreement listed “special conditions” that stated: “If Seller chooses to refuse payment, Seller MUST, dishonor payment under days of grace, 72 hours, by returning the original instrument with its Certificate of Dishonor made under the hand and seal of the United States Consul or notary public or other person authorized to certify dishonor by the law of the place where dishonor occurs stating the reasons given for refusal.” (Doc. 39-1, pg.2).[1] Thus, plaintiff argues that based on the fact that U.S. Bank received his offer to purchase and did not dishonor and return the original instrument, then a valid agreement was formed between the two parties. The amended complaint specifically sets forth claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, theft of property mislaid pursuant to Model Penal Code § 223.5, and constitutional tort all based on the Purchase Agreement.

         Defendant filed the pending motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on January 25, 2017 (Doc. 39). In the motion, defendant contends that plaintiff's breach of contract, unjust enrichment, theft, and constitutional tort claims all fail as a matter of law (Doc. 39). Naturally, plaintiff disagrees with defendant's assertions (Doc. 44) and has since moved to amend his complaint (Doc. 59). The Court will address each count of the complaint individually.

         III. Motion to Dismiss

         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), that Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is warranted if the complaint fails to set forth “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”

         Although federal pleading standards were retooled by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), notice pleading remains all that is required in a complaint. “A plaintiff still must provide only ‘enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and, through his allegations, show that it is plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is entitled to relief.'” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).

         The Seventh Circuit offers further guidance on what a complaint must do to withstand 12(b)(6) dismissal. The Court in Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 699 (7th Cir. 2008), reiterated the standard: “surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion requires more than labels and conclusions;” the complaint's allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” A plaintiff's claim “must be plausible on its face, ” that is, “the complaint must establish a non-negligible probability that the claim is valid.” Smith v. Medical Benefit Administrators Group, Inc., 639 F.3d 277, 281 (7th Cir.2011). With this in mind, the Court turns to plaintiff's complaint.

         IV. Analysis

         a. Plaintiff's Unjust Enrichment and Breach of Contract Claims Fail.

         In his first claim, Harris alleges that defendant breached a contract for the sale of land. Defendant moves to dismiss this count on the basis that the agreement is unenforceable under the Statute of Frauds. Defendant, in their motion to dismiss, argues that plaintiff's unjust enrichment and breach of contract claims fail as a matter of law because plaintiff's amended complaint fails to allege that U.S. Bank accepted plaintiff's purchase offer. Additionally, and in the alternative, defendant argues that the Statute of Frauds bars recovery based on the fact that defendant never signed plaintiff's Purchase Agreement pertaining to the sale of land. Ultimately, defendant argues that there was no acceptance or formation of a contractual agreement, thus barring ...


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