United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
SOROKIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is pro se litigant Brenda
Wilks's complaint against against three related entities:
Ocwen Financial Corporation; Ocwen Mortgage Servicing, Inc.;
and, Ocwen Loan Services, LLC (collectively,
“Ocwen”). Wilks's claims concern Ocwen's
alleged lending and foreclosure conduct with regard to Wilks
and her home.
the second action that Wilks has filed against Ocwen
regarding the mortgage and foreclosure of her home. See
Wilks v. Ocwen, C.A. No. 18-12130-LTS (D. Mass). The
earlier case was dismissed upon the Court's determination
that Wilks's pleading did not set forth a short and plain
statement showing that she was entitled to relief. See
id. [ECF # 22].
has filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Wilks has filed an
opposition to the motion. For the reasons stated below, the
Court will GRANT the motion and order that this action be
complaint consists of two documents. The first [ECF #1],
which Wilks has captioned “Definite Statement
Complaint, ” is apparently an almost-verbatim copy of a
complaint the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
(“CFPB”) filed against Ocwen in 2017. See
Consumer Fin. Prot. Bureau v. Ocwen Fin. Corp., et al.,
C.A. No. 17-80495 (S.D. Fla.). Although Wilks has inserted
some references to herself in this complaint, see
Compl. ¶¶ 1, 6, it is not apparent from the face of
the complaint how the alleged misconduct at issue in the
lengthy complaint is relevant to her.
second document [ECF #1-1], also captioned as a
“Definite Statement Complaint, ” is a document
that Wilks filed earlier this year in Wilks v.
Ocwen, C.A. No. 18-12130-LTS (D. Mass). In that earlier
action, the Court granted Ocwen's motion for a more
definite statement. Thereafter, Wilks filed the
“Definite Statement Complaint” that is now the
second part of her complaint in her 2019 action. See
id. [ECF #18]. After Wilks filed her “Definite
Statement Complaint” in the 2018 action, Ocwen moved to
dismiss, arguing that Wilks's more definite statement
failed to meet the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule
8(a)(2)”). On February 1, 2019, the Court granted the
motion and ordered that the case be dismissed [ECF #22]. On
March 1 and March 5, 2019 [ECF ## 25, 27], the Court denied
Wilks's two motions for reconsideration. Wilks did not
appeal the dismissal of her 2018 action. She commenced the
present action on March 29, 2019.
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, a complaint
must include “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). At a minimum, the complaint must
“give the defendant fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Calvi v. Knox County, 470 F.3d 422,
430 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Educadores
Puertorriqueños en Acción v.
Hernández, 367 F.3d 61, 66 (1st Cir. 2004)). This
means that the statement of the claim must “at least
set forth minimal facts as to who did what to whom, when,
where, and why.” Id. (quoting
Educadores, 367 F.3d at 68). Although the
requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) are minimal, “minimal
requirements are not tantamount to nonexistent
requirements.” Id. (quoting Gooley v.
Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 514 (1st Cir. 1988)). The
plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his
claim “requires more than labels and
conclusions.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A court is not “bound to
accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation, ” and “[f]actual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. (quoting in part Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)); see also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of a cause action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.”).
submissions of pro se litigants are entitled to
liberal construction, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-21 (1972), pro se litigants are not exempt
from these basic pleading standards. Wilks, in particular,
was informed of her obligation to comply with Rule 8(a)(2) in
her 2018 action, and the case was ultimately dismissed
because of her failure to do so.
present complaint fails to meet the requirements of Rule
8(a)(2). The portion of Wilks's complaint that is a
modified version of the complaint the CFPB filed against
Ocwen does not contain enough factual material from which the
Court may reasonably infer that Ocwen violated the law with
regard to her in particular. With regard to the second part
of Wilks's complaint, the Court already ruled in the 2018
action that this pleading does not comply with Rule 8(a)(2).
Wilks may wonder why a lengthy complaint filed by attorneys
representing the CPFB does not comply with Rule 8(a)(2) when
filed by her. The difference lies in the standing of the
parties. Unlike a private party, the executive branch of the
federal government (of which the CFPB is part) is charged
with vindicating the public interest, see Lujan
v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S 555, 576 (1992), and
Congress has authorized CFPB to commence civil actions
against violators of federal consumer financial protection
laws under its own name, see 12 U.S.C. §
5564(a)-(b). Thus, CFPB may bring an action against Ocwen to
vindicate the public interest without having to show that
CFPB itself has suffered any injury. See CFPB v.
Gordon, 819 F.3d 1179, 1188 (9th Cir. 2016). The
agency's pleading reflects its broad enforcement power.
In contrast, a private party like Wilks has standing only to
bring claims for her own injuries. See Horne v.
Flores, 557 U.S. 433, 445 (2009). Thus, her complaint
must contain a short and plain statement identifying what
Ocwen allegedly did that caused her injury.
accordance with the foregoing, ...