LUCIA T. VALDEZ Plaintiff,
SUNTRUST MORTGAGE, INC., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANCY F. ATLAS, Judge.
This foreclosure case is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss [Doc. # 6] filed by Defendants SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. ("SunTrust"), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("Freddie Mac"), and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS"). Plaintiff Lucia T. Valdez filed a Response [Doc. # 7], and Defendants filed a Reply [Doc. # 8]. Having reviewed the full record and applicable legal authorities, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss.
In 2008, Plaintiff executed a Promissory Note ("Note") in connection with the purchase of real property in Houston, Texas. The Note is secured by a Deed of Trust, identifying Plaintiff as the Borrower, SunTrust as the Lender, and MERS as "a nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns" and as "the beneficiary under this Security Instrument." See Deed of Trust, Exh. B to Plaintiff's Response. Michael C. Barrett was named as the Trustee, and the Deed of Trust was recorded in Harris County.
In 2011, MERS, as the original nominee for SunTrust, its successors and assigns, and as beneficiary, assigned the Deed of Trust to SunTrust. See Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust, Exh. C to Plaintiff's Response. The Assignment was recorded in Harris County.
Plaintiff defaulted on the Note and SunTrust posted the Property for foreclosure. Foreclosure proceeded in February 2013, and Freddie Mac purchased the property at that time. See Substitute Trustee's Deed dated February 14, 2013, Exh. M to Plaintiff's Response.
On October 30, 2013, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the 215th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. Plaintiff asserted a claim for declaratory judgment, a wrongful foreclosure claim based on the assertion that SunTrust lacked standing to foreclose, and a claim to quiet title. On November 20, 2013, Defendants filed a timely Notice of Removal. Defendants then filed their Motion to Dismiss, which has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision.
II. STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is viewed with disfavor and is rarely granted. Turner v. Pleasant , 663 F.3d 770, 775 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Harrington v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. , 563 F.3d 141, 147 (5th Cir. 2009)). The complaint must be liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff, and all facts pleaded in the complaint must be taken as true. Harrington , 563 F.3d at 147. The complaint must, however, contain sufficient factual allegations, as opposed to legal conclusions, to state a claim for relief that is "plausible on its face." See Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Patrick v. Wal-Mart, Inc. , 681 F.3d 614, 617 (5th Cir. 2012). When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should presume they are true, even if doubtful, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679.
In considering a motion to dismiss, a court must ordinarily limit itself to the contents of the pleadings and attachments thereto. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter , 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6)). Documents that are submitted in connection with a motion to dismiss may be considered if they are referred to in the complaint and are central to her claim. Id. (quoting Venture Assocs. Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp. , 987 F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993)); see also Kane Enters. v. MacGregor (USA), Inc. , 322 F.3d 371, 374 (5th Cir. 2003). These are documents presumably whose authenticity no party questions. See Walch v. Adjutant General's Dep't of Tex. , 533 F.3d 289, 294 (5th Cir. 2008) (on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, documents attached to the briefing may be considered by the Court if the documents are sufficiently referenced in the complaint and no party questions their authenticity).
A. Declaratory Judgment Claim
Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that SunTrust had no authority to foreclose on the Deed of Trust and that Plaintiff is entitled to exclusive possession of the property. The documents attached to Plaintiff's Response, however, demonstrate that SunTrust was the assignee of the Deed of Trust and had authority to foreclose.
Plaintiff's documents show that MERS was the original beneficiary under the Deed of Trust. As the original beneficiary under the Deed of Trust, MERS is an original mortgagee. See Farkas v. GMAC Mortg., L.L.C. , 737 F.3d 338, 342 (5th Cir. 2013). As the beneficiary of the Deed of Trust, MERS had the right to foreclose and sell the Property upon default. See id. (citing TEX. PROP. CODE § 51.0001(4)(A)). Under the Deed of Trust, MERS has the authority to assign its rights. See Deed of Trust, Exh. B to Plaintiff's Response; ...