United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case presents state causes of action for claims of fraud,
breach of contract accompanied by a fraudulent act, and
defamation of credit, as well as statutory violations of the
Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), 15 U.S.C. § 45, and
the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA), SC
Code Ann. § 39-5-20. The Court has jurisdiction over the
matter under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, and 1367.
Pending before the Court is Defendant CitiMortgage,
Inc.’s, motion for judgment on the pleadings. Having
carefully considered the motion, the response, the reply, the
record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the
Court that Defendant’s motion will be granted.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
prior to October 22, 1999, Plaintiff Walter Davis, Sr., a
former railroad employee on disability, claims to have
obtained a mortgage on his South Carolina property from
Defendant. ECF No. 13 at 1. Plaintiff states that on October
22, 1999, his wife forged a deed conveying an undivided
one-half interest in his property to her and refinancing his
mortgage without his consent. Id. at 2. Thereafter,
Plaintiff fell behind on his monthly mortgage payments, and
Defendant brought a foreclosure action on January 29, 2003.
Id.; ECF No. 8-1 at 5. The foreclosure complaint
contained the names of Plaintiff and his wife and information
regarding his wife’s forged deed. ECF No. 8-1 at 2.
With help, Plaintiff was able to redeem his property from
foreclosure. ECF No. 13 at 1.
years later, in 2013, issues arose concerning
Plaintiff’s property boundaries, leading Plaintiff to
research his title and allegedly discover the 1999 deed
containing his forged signature. Id. at 2. Plaintiff
contacted Defendant the following year to determine the
status of his loan but states that he failed to receive a
response. Id. On October 24, 2014, Plaintiff’s
by-then ex-wife conveyed her undivided one-half interest in
the property back to Plaintiff. Id.
filed this case on October 7, 2015, in the Fairfield County
Court of Common Pleas in South Carolina, alleging, as noted
above, claims of fraud, breach of contract accompanied by a
fraudulent act, and defamation of credit, as well as
violations of the FTCA and the SCUTPA. ECF No. 1-1. On
November 18, 2015, Defendant removed the case to this Court.
ECF No. 1. Defendant filed a motion for judgment on the
pleadings on December 4, 2015. ECF No. 8. Plaintiff submitted
his response in opposition on January 4, 2016, ECF No. 13,
and on January 12, 2015, Defendant filed its reply, ECF No.
16. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant
issues, is now prepared to discuss the merits of the motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, set forth under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), can also be
made via a motion for judgment on the pleadings under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Burbach Broad Co. of Del. v. Elkins
Radio Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 405 (4th Cir. 2002). Stated
differently, a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the
pleadings is subject to the same standard as a motion to
dismiss made under Rule 12(b)(6). Independence News, Inc.
v. City of Charlotte, 568 F.3d 148, 154 (4th Cir. 2009).
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,
178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive the motion, a
complaint must have “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and contain
more than “an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the
factual allegations in the complaint are true and draws all
reasonable factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party. Burbach, 278 F.3d at 406. Conclusory
allegations pled in the complaint are undeserving of an
assumption of truth and should be accepted only to the extent
“they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
defendant can raise a statute of limitations affirmative
defense in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion as long as the complaint
clearly alleges all of the facts sufficient to rule on the
defense. Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464
(4th Cir. 2007).
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
motion to dismiss, Defendant avers that Plaintiff’s two
fraud claims and his breach of contract accompanied by a
fraudulent act claim are time-barred by their three-year
statutes of limitations, as well as being insufficiently pled
with the particularity required by Rule 9 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant further advances that
Plaintiff’s defamation of credit claim is barred by its
two-year statute of limitations, preempted by the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, and barred by
the doctrine of truth.
also posits that Plaintiff’s claim of unfair debt
collection practice under the FTCA fails as there is no
private right of action under this act. Alternatively,
Defendant avows that if the claim is construed as a Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) claim, 15 U.S.C. §
1692, it fails for three separate reasons: (1) the claim is
time-barred by the one-year FDCPA statute of limitations, (2)
Defendant is not a “debt collector” as defined in
the FDCPA, and (3) the allegations are insufficient to give
rise to a FDCPA claim.
Defendant contends that Plaintiff’s SCUTPA claim is
barred by the three-year statute of limitations provided in
the SCUTPA and that this limitations period expired in 2006.
Further, Defendant argues this claim is meritless as a matter
of law, because Plaintiff failed to allege an ...