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Cox v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

May 2, 2017

PAUL COX AND PATRICIA CHANCE COX, Plaintiffs,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          MELINDA HARMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court in the above referenced cause for unfair debt collection practices under the Texas Debt Collection Act, removed from state court on diversity jurisdiction, are (1) Defendant Bank of America N.A.'s motion to dismiss with prejudice all claims against it under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 8(a)(instrument #4) based on res judicata and failure to state a claim, and (2) United States Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy's Memorandum and Recommendation (#11) that the motion be granted. Plaintiffs have not responded to the motion to dismiss.

         Standard of Review

         A. Rule 8(a)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) states,

A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:
(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction, and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.

         Under the Rule's requirement of notice pleading, “defendants in all lawsuits must be given notice of specific claims against them.” Anderson v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 554 F.3d 525, 528 (5th Cir. 2008). While a plaintiff need not plead specific facts, the complaint must provide “the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). If the complaint lacks facts necessary to put defendant on notice as what conduct supports the plaintiff's claims, the complaint is inadequate to meet the notice pleading standard. Anderson, 554 at 528. The complaint must not only name the laws which the defendant has allegedly violated, but also allege facts about the conduct that violated those laws. Id.

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         When a district court reviews a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), it must construe the complaint in favor of the plaintiff and take all well-pleaded facts as true. Randall D. Wolcott, MD, PA v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2011), citing Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009). The plaintiff's legal conclusions are not entitled to the same assumption. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(“The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.”), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2007); Hinojosa v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 506 Fed.Appx. 280, 283 (5th Cir. Jan. 7, 2012).

         “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do . . . .” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(citations omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 1965, citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004)(“[T]he pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action”). “Twombly jettisoned the minimum notice pleading requirement of Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 . . . (1957)[“a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief”], and instead required that a complaint allege enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face.” St. Germain v. Howard, 556 F.3d 261, 263 n.2 (5th Cir. 2009), quoting In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). “‘A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Montoya v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., 614 F.3d 145, 148 (5th Cir. 2010), quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but asks for more than a “possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. Dismissal is appropriate when the plaintiff fails to allege “‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'” and therefore fails to “‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Montoya, 614 F.3d at 148, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.

         Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper not only where the plaintiff fails to plead sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory, but also where the plaintiff fails to allege a cognizable legal theory. Kjellvander v. Citicorp, 156 F.R.D. 138, 140 (S.D. Tex. 1994), citing Garrett v. Commonwealth Mortgage Corp., 938 F.2d 591, 594 (5th Cir. 1991). “A complaint lacks an ‘arguable basis in law' if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory' or a violation of a ...


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