Tag Archives: trustee sale

Pro Per wins in the First Apellate District against Bank of America

2 Apr

Intenganv.BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 225 (Copy citation)

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Five

March 22, 2013, Opinion Filed

A135782

Reporter: 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 225 | 2013 WL 1180435

ARDEN M. INTENGAN, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. BAC HOME LOANS SERVICING LP et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Notice:CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*

Prior History:  [1]Superior Court of San Mateo County, No. CIV 505111, Raymond Swope, Judge.

Core Terms

demurrer, judicial notice, borrower, trust deed, cause of action, foreclosure, notice, third amended complaint, notice of default, beneficiary, sustain a demurrer, wrongful foreclosure, due diligence, lender, default, modify, mortgage, trustee sale, telephone, foreclosure sale, trial court, recording of a notice, foreclose, purported

Case Summary

Procedural Posture
Plaintiff borrower’s third amended complaint sought to preclude corporate defendants from foreclosing on her property. Plaintiff contended that defendants lacked authority to foreclose under the relevant deed of trust and notice of default. The San Mateo County Superior Court, California, entered a judgment of dismissal after it sustained defendants’ demurrer to the third amended complaint without leave to amend.

Overview
Plaintiff alleged that defendants did not contact her or attempt to contact her with due diligence as required byCiv. Code, § 2923.5. The court held that judicial notice could not be taken of defendants’ compliance with§ 2923.5. While judicial notice could be properly taken of the existence of a declaration of compliance, it could not be taken of the facts of compliance asserted in the declaration, at least where plaintiff alleged and argued that the declaration was false and the facts asserted in the declaration were reasonably subject to dispute. Even if the “facts” stated in the declaration could be the subject of judicial notice, the declaration contained only a conclusory assertion that defendant bank complied with the statute; nowhere did it state when, how, or by whom the elements of due diligence were accomplished, or how the declarant knew if they were. The most these averments could do was create a factual dispute as to whether defendants complied with the statute. Because plaintiff stated a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure based on the purported failure to comply with§ 2923.5before recordation of the notice of default, it was error to sustain the demurrer.

Outcome
The judgment of dismissal was reversed.

LexisNexis® HeadnotesHide sectionHide

Civil Procedure > … > Responses > Defenses, Demurrers & Objections > Demurrers
Civil Procedure > Appeals > Standards of Review > De Novo Review
Evidence > Judicial Notice > General Overview
HN1 In its de novo review of an order sustaining a demurrer, the appellate court assumes the truth of all facts properly pleaded in the complaint or reasonably inferred from the pleading, but not mere contentions, deductions, or conclusions of law. The appellate court then determines if those facts are sufficient, as a matter of law, to state a cause of action under any legal theory. In making this determination, the appellate court also considers facts of which the trial court properly took judicial notice.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Civil Procedure > … > Responses > Defenses, Demurrers & Objections > Demurrers
Evidence > Judicial Notice > General Overview
HN2 A demurrer may be sustained where judicially noticeable facts render the pleading defective, and allegations in the pleading may be disregarded if they are contrary to facts judicially noticed.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Civil Procedure > … > Responses > Defenses, Demurrers & Objections > Demurrers
Civil Procedure > Appeals > Standards of Review > General Overview
HN3 In order to prevail on appeal from an order sustaining a demurrer, the appellant must affirmatively demonstrate error. Specifically, the appellant must show that the facts pleaded are sufficient to establish every element of a cause of action and overcome all legal grounds on which the trial court sustained the demurrer. The appellate court will affirm the ruling if there is any ground on which the demurrer could have been properly sustained.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Real Property Law > Financing > Topic Summary ReportForeclosures > General Overview
HN4 As a general rule, a plaintiff may not challenge the propriety of a foreclosure on his or her property without offering to repay what he or she borrowed against the property. A valid tender of performance must be of the full debt, in good faith, unconditional, and with the ability to perform.Civ. Code, §§ 1486,1493,1494,1495.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Real Property Law > Financing > Topic Summary ReportForeclosures > General Overview
HN5 SeeCiv. Code, § 2923.6.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Real Property Law > Financing > Topic Summary ReportForeclosures > General Overview
HN6 Civ. Code, § 2923.6, does not grant a right to a loan modification. To the contrary, it merely expresses the hope that lenders will offer loan modifications on certain terms and conspicuously does not require lenders to take any action. In other words, there is no “duty” under§ 2923.6to agree to a loan modification.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Real Property Law > Financing > Topic Summary ReportForeclosures > General Overview
HN7 Civ. Code, § 2923.5, subd. (a)(1), precludes a trustee or mortgage servicer from recording a notice of default until 30 days after the loan servicer has made initial contact with the borrower to assess the borrower’s financial situation and explore options for avoiding foreclosure, or has satisfied the due diligence requirements of the statute. Due diligence requires sending a letter by first class mail, making three attempts to contact the borrower by telephone, and sending a certified letter if no response is received within two weeks of the telephone attempts.§ 2923.5, subd. (e).  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Evidence > Judicial Notice > General Overview
Real Property Law > Financing > Topic Summary ReportForeclosures > General Overview
HN8 Civ. Code, § 2923.5, requires not only that a declaration of compliance be attached to the notice of default, but that the bank actually perform the underlying acts (i.e., contacting the borrower or attempting such contact with due diligence) that would constitute compliance. While judicial notice may be properly taken of the existence of the declaration, it may not be taken of the facts of compliance asserted in the declaration, at least where the borrower has alleged and argued that the declaration is false and the facts asserted in the declaration are reasonably subject to dispute.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Civil Procedure > … > Responses > Defenses, Demurrers & Objections > Demurrers
HN9 A demurrer is not the appropriate procedure for determining the truth of disputed facts.  Shepardize – Narrow by this Headnote

Headnotes/SyllabusExpand SectionShow

Counsel: Arden M. Intengan, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Severson & Werson,Jan T. ChiltonandM. Elizabeth Holtfor Defendants and Respondents.

Judges: Opinion byNeedham, J., withJones, P. J., andBruiniers, J., concurring.

Opinion by: Needham, J.

Opinion

NEEDHAM, J.—Arden M. Intengan (Intengan) appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered after the court sustained the demurrer to her third amended complaint without leave to amend. Essentially, Intengan sought to preclude respondents from foreclosing on her property, contending they lack authority to do so under the relevant deed of trust and notice of default. In this appeal, Intengan argues that the demurrer should not have been sustained because she alleged facts sufficient to state a cause of action, including a claim based on respondents’ alleged failure to contact her or attempt with due diligence to contact her before recording the notice of default (Civ. Code, § 2923.5). She also contends the court should have ruled on her motion to strike the demurrer.

We will reverse the judgment. In the published portion of our opinion, we conclude that judicial notice could not be taken of respondents’ [2] compliance withCivil Code section 2923.5, and Intengan’s allegations that respondents did not comply with the statute were sufficient to state a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure. In the unpublished portion of the opinion, we conclude that Intengan failed to state any other cause of action and the court did not err in denying leave to amend.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORYOn June 26, 2006, Intengan borrowed $696,500 from Countrywide Bank, N.A. (Countrywide). The loan was secured by a deed of trust on Intengan’s real property in Daly City. Under the deed of trust, the beneficiary was Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), the trustee was respondent ReconTrust Company, N.A. (ReconTrust), and BAC Home Loans Servicing LP (BAC) serviced the note. BAC’s successor is respondentBank of America, N.A.

On or about December 28, 2010, MERS assigned its beneficial interest in Intengan’s deed of trust to “TheBank of New York Mellonfka TheBank of New York,as Successor Trustee toJPMorgan ChaseBank, N.A., as Trustee for the Holders of SAMI II Trust 2006-AR7, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-AR7” (Bank of New York).

On December 28, 2010, ReconTrust, as agent [3] for the beneficiary under the deed of trust, recorded a notice of Intengan’s default on Intengan’s loan; the notice of default and election to sell under deed of trust indicated that she was more than $46,000 in arrears.

Purportedly accompanying the notice of default was a declaration by Samantha Jones, “MLO Loan Servicing Specialist of BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP,” in which she states under penalty of perjury thatBank of America“tried with due diligence to contact the borrower in accordance withCalifornia Civil Code Section 2923.5.” The declaration does not provide any facts to support this conclusion, such as the specifics of any attempt to contact Intengan.

A notice of trustee’s sale was recorded by ReconTrust on April 5, 2011, setting a sale date of April 26, 2011. Intengan does not allege that the sale occurred, and the respondents’ brief represents that no sale took place and that Intengan has been in possession of the property for nearly two years without making payments on her loan.

A.Original, First Amended, and Second Amended ComplaintsOn April 25, 2011—the day before the scheduled foreclosure sale—Intengan filed a complaint against defendants, including BAC and ReconTrust, [4] asserting causes of action for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and an accounting. Before any defendant responded, Intengan filed a first amended complaint and then a second amended complaint.

BAC and ReconTrust filed a demurrer to Intengan’s second amended complaint. The court sustained their special demurrer to the first and second causes of action, with leave to amend in order to state a violation ofCivil Code section 2923.5. The court also sustained their general demurrer to the third cause of action for an accounting, without leave to amend.

B.Third Amended ComplaintIntengan filed her third amended complaint in January 2012 against BAC, ReconTrust, and others. This time, she purported to assert causes of action for wrongful foreclosure, fraud, intentional misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, slander of title, quiet title, declaratory relief, violation ofBusiness and Professions Code section 17200, unjust enrichment, and injunctive relief seeking to enjoin the pending foreclosure sale.

In February 2012, respondents filed a demurrer to the third amended complaint. Although the demurrer is central to the issues [5] on appeal, neither Intengan nor respondents include the demurrer in the record. The record does contain, however, respondents’ request for judicial notice in support of their demurrer, by which they sought judicial notice of the deed of trust on Intengan’s property, the notice of default, the assignment of the deed of trust toBank of New York,and the notice of trustee’s sale.

In June 2012, Intengan filed an opposition and “motion to strike” the demurrer, “on the grounds that Defendant[]Bank of America’sDemurrer does not state facts sufficient to constitute a demurrer, is uncertain, is ambiguous, is unintelligible, is irrelevant, is false, contains improper matters and/or is not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of California.” She urged that the demurrer misstated facts and ignored the law, and therefore it should be stricken or denied. The purported motion was not accompanied by a notice of hearing.

The court granted respondents’ request for judicial notice and sustained their demurrer to the third amended complaint without leave to amend. A judgment of dismissal was entered on June 15, 2012.

This appeal followed.

II. DISCUSSIONAs mentioned, Intengan argues that the court [6] erred in sustaining the demurrer and further erred in failing to rule on her motion to strike the demurrer.

A.DemurrerHN1 In our de novo review of an order sustaining a demurrer, we assume the truth of all facts properly pleaded in the complaint or reasonably inferred from the pleading, but not mere contentions, deductions, or conclusions of law. (Buller v. Sutter Health(2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 981, 985–986 [74 Cal. Rptr. 3d 47].) We then determine if those facts are sufficient, as a matter of law, to state a cause of action under any legal theory. (Aguilera v. Heiman(2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 590, 595 [95 Cal. Rptr. 3d 18].)

In making this determination, we also consider facts of which the trial court properly took judicial notice. (E.g.,Avila v. Citrus Community College Dist.(2006) 38 Cal.4th 148, 165, fn. 12 [41 Cal. Rptr. 3d 299, 131 P.3d 383].)HN2 A demurrer may be sustained where judicially noticeable facts render the pleading defective (Evans v. City of Berkeley(2006) 38 Cal.4th 1, 6 [40 Cal. Rptr. 3d 205, 129 P.3d 394]), and allegations in the pleading may be disregarded if they are contrary to facts judicially noticed (Hoffman v. Smithwoods RV Park, LLC(2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 390, 400 [102 Cal. Rptr. 3d 72](Hoffman); seeFontenot v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.(2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 256, 264–265 [129 Cal. Rptr. 3d 467](Fontenot) [in sustaining [7] demurrer, court properly took judicial notice of recorded documents that clarified and to some extent contradicted plaintiff’s allegations]).

HN3 In order to prevail on appeal from an order sustaining a demurrer, the appellant must affirmatively demonstrate error. Specifically, the appellant must show that the facts pleaded are sufficient to establish every element of a cause of action and overcome all legal grounds on which the trial court sustained the demurrer. (Cantu v. Resolution Trust Corp.(1992) 4 Cal.App.4th 857, 879–880 [6 Cal. Rptr. 2d 151].) We will affirm the ruling if there is any ground on which the demurrer could have been properly sustained. (Debro v. Los Angeles Raiders(2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 940, 946 [112 Cal. Rptr. 2d 329].)

boa-billboard11.Wrongful Foreclosure (First Cause of Action)The first purported cause of action in Intengan’s third amended complaint is for “wrongful foreclosure.” Intengan alleges there was “an unauthorized Trustee, document irregularities, improper signatories, and [a] defective Notice of Default”; she further alleges that “due to the chain of assignments, it is now unknown and doubtful who is the current lender/beneficiary/assignee with legal authority and standing regarding the mortgage on [the] [8] subject property.” Intengan also claims that BAC and ReconTrust failed to comply with a number of Civil Code sections regulating nonjudicial foreclosures, including the requirement of contacting the borrower, or attempting to do so with due diligence, underCivil Code section 2923.5.

a.Failure to tenderHN4 CA(1) (1)As a general rule, a plaintiff may not challenge the propriety of a foreclosure on his or her property without offering to repay what he or she borrowed against the property. (Karlsen v. American Sav. & Loan Assn.(1971) 15 Cal.App.3d 112, 117 [92 Cal.Rptr. 851][judgment on the pleadings properly granted where plaintiff attempted to set aside trustee’s sale for lack of adequate notice, because “[a] valid and viable tender of payment of the indebtedness owing is essential to an action to cancel a voidable sale under a deed of trust”]; seeUnited States Cold Storage v. Great Western Savings & Loan Assn.(1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 1214, 1222–1223 [212 Cal. Rptr. 232][“the law is long-established that atrustoror his successor must tender the obligation in full as a prerequisite to [a] challenge of the foreclosure sale”];FPCI RE-HAB 01 v. E & G Investments, Ltd.(1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1018, 1021–1022 [255 Cal. Rptr. 157][tender rule is based on “the [9] equitable maxim that a court of equity will not order a useless act performed … [¶] … if plaintiffs could not have redeemed the property had the sale procedures been proper, any irregularities in the sale did not result in damages to the plaintiffs”].)

Intengan’s third amended complaint alleges her willingness “to tender the appropriate and reasonable mortgage payments.” That allegation, however, is plainly insufficient. A valid tender of performance must be of the full debt, in good faith, unconditional, and with the ability to perform. (Civ. Code, §§ 1486,1493,1494,1495.)

Intengan’s third amended complaint also asserts that “tender is not required inasmuch as there is [a] void foreclosure, not a voidable one.” (SeeDimock v. Emerald Properties(2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 868, 877–878 [97 Cal. Rptr. 2d 255].) However, Intengan does not allege that she was fraudulently induced into the loan; nor does she otherwise attack the validity of the debt. Nor do her allegations indicate a defect in the foreclosure procedure that would render a resulting sale voidon its face, particularly when considered in light of the documents that were judicially noticed. On the other hand, as we shall discusspost, Intengan has [10] alleged a defect in the foreclosure procedure—the failure to comply withCivil Code section 2923.5—which, if true, would render the foreclosure either void or voidable. Whether or not this would remove the need to allege tender is an issue we need not address, since an allegation of tender is unnecessary for another reason.

According to the allegations of the third amended complaint—as well as representations in the respondents’ brief—no foreclosure sale had occurred as of the time of the ruling on the demurrer. While the tender requirement may apply to causes of action toset asidea foreclosure sale, a number of California and federal courts have held or suggested that it does not apply to actions seeking toenjoina foreclosure sale—at least where the lenders had allegedly not complied with a condition precedent to foreclosure. (See, e.g.,Pfeifer v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.(2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1250, 1280–1281 [150 Cal. Rptr. 3d 673][failure to allege tender of full amount owed did not bar declaratory relief or injunctive relief based on wrongful foreclosure, where lenders had not yet foreclosed and borrowers alleged that lenders had not complied with servicing regulations that were a [11] condition precedent to foreclosure];Mabry v. Superior Court(2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 208, 225 [110 Cal. Rptr. 3d 201](Mabry) [borrower not required to tender full amount of indebtedness in seeking to enjoin foreclosure sale based on alleged failure to comply withCiv. Code, § 2923.5];Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A. (N.D.Cal. 2012) 885 F.Supp.2d 964, 969–970 & fn. 4(Barrionuevo) [no tender requirement where foreclosure sale had not yet occurred, in case where noncompliance withCiv. Code, § 2923.5was alleged].)

b.Wrongful foreclosure theoriesIntengan contends that the foreclosing beneficiary under the deed of trust,Bank of New York,has not been shown to have standing to foreclose. She alleges: “Defendants made transfers, assignments of the subject loan and that due to the chain of assignments, it is now unknown and doubtful who is the current lender/beneficiary/assignee with legal authority and standing regarding the mortgage on the subject property.”

Intengan fails to allege wrongful foreclosure on this ground. The records of which the court took judicial notice, without Intengan’s objection, identify the foreclosing beneficiary to be theBank of New York. [12] Specifically, the recorded deed of trust names MERS as the original beneficiary, the recorded assignment of the deed of trust assigns all beneficial interest under the deed of trust from MERS toBank of New Yorkas the new beneficiary, and the notice of trustee sale was dated and recorded afterBank of New Yorkbecame the beneficiary. (SeeFontenot, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at pp. 264–265[court may take judicial notice of the fact of the existence and legal effect of legally operative documents, such as the identity of the beneficiary designated in the deed of trust, where not subject to reasonable dispute];Scott v.JPMorgan ChaseBank, N.A.(Mar. 18, 2013, A132741) 214 Cal.App.4th ___ [2013 Cal.App.Lexis 211].) While Intengan’s pleading includes the unsupported conclusion that there was no assignment of the deed of trust in favor of “TheBank of New York Mellonfka TheBank of New Yorkas Trustee,” the recorded assignment of which the court took judicial notice shows there was, and Intengan neither alleges nor argues facts from which the assignment might be inferred to be invalid. (SeeFontenot, supra, at pp. 264–265.) Under these circumstances, the judicially noticed facts contradict the conclusory allegations [13] of the third amended complaint, and those allegations may be disregarded. (Id.at p. 265;Hoffman, supra, 179 Cal.App.4th at p. 400.)1

Similarly, Intengan alleges that respondents could not provide a valid “chain of assignments” from previous [14] lenders including Countrywide. From the outset, however, MERS (not Countrywide) was the beneficiary under the deed of trust, and the assignment of the deed of trust shows that MERS assigned its interest toBank of New York.(SeeFontenot, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at pp. 264–265.)

Intengan also alleges the conclusion that the notice of trustee’s sale arose from an “unauthorized Trustee, document irregularities, [and] improper signatories.” Although she alleges that the substitution of ReconTrust as trustee was not recorded until February 17, 2011, the records of which the court took judicial notice—including the original deed of trust—show that ReconTrust was the trustee from the beginning and throughout the date of the notice of default and notice of trustee sale. (SeeFontenot, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at pp. 264–265.) Furthermore, both beneficiaries and trustees—and their agents—may record notices of default. (Civ. Code, § 2924, subd. (a)(1).) Thus, ReconTrust was authorized to record the notice of default as the trustee, and it was also authorized to record the notice of default as the agent of the beneficiary. Intengan’s allegations fail to state facts from which it may be inferred [15] that the notice of default or the notice of trustee’s sale was invalid on this ground.

Intengan further alleges that respondents did not comply with the requirements of Civil Code sections 2823.6,2923.5, or2923.6, before proceeding with the foreclosure. There is no Civil Code section 2823.6. Her allegations as toCivil Code section 2923.6are unavailing, but her allegation as toCivil Code section 2923.5suffice to state a cause of action.

CA(2) (2)In January 2012, when Intengan’s third amended complaint was filed, and June 2012, when it was dismissed,Civil Code section 2923.6provided:HN5 “It is the intent of the Legislature that the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent offer the borrower a loan modification or workout plan if such a modification or plan is consistent with its contractual or other authority.” (Civ. Code, § 2923.6, former subd. (b).)2Intengan alleged that, pursuant to Civil Code section “2823.6”—which we take to mean “2923.6”—“Defendants are now contractually bound to implement the loan modification as provided therein.” ButHN6 Civil Code section 2923.6does not grant a right to a loan modification. To the contrary, it “merely expresses the hope that lenders will offer loan [16] modifications on certain terms” and “conspicuously does not require lenders to take any action.” (Mabry, supra, 185 Cal.App.4th at p. 222 & fn. 9, italics omitted.) In other words, “[t]hereis no ‘duty’ underCivil Code section 2923.6to agree to a loan modification.” (Hamilton v. Greenwich Investors XXVI, LLC(2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1602, 1617 [126 Cal. Rptr. 3d 174].)

HN7 CA(3) (3)Civil Code section 2923.5precludes a trustee (like respondent ReconTrust) or mortgage servicer (such as BAC/respondentBank of America) from recording a notice of default until 30 days after the loan servicer has made initial contact with the borrower to assess the borrower’s financial situation and explore options for avoiding foreclosure, or has satisfied the due diligence requirements of the statute. (Civ. Code, § 2923.5, subd. (a)(1).) Due diligence requires sending a letter by first-class mail, making three attempts to contact the borrower by telephone, and sending a certified letter if no response is received within two weeks of the telephone attempts. [17] (Civ. Code, § 2923.5, subd. (e).)

Intengan expressly alleged in her third amended complaint that respondents “did not complywith such contact and due diligence requirements pursuant toCivil Code section 2923.5.” (Italics added.) In support of their demurrer, respondents sought judicial notice of the notice of default, including the attached declaration of Samantha Jones, which averred thatBank of America“tried with due diligence to contact [Intengan] in accordance withCalifornia Civil Code Section 2923.5.” But in her opposition to the demurrer, Intengan argued that she had never spoken with Jones in person or over the telephone, heard any recording from Jones “over the telephone or any other method recorded by ‘Ms. Jones’, DefendantsBank of Americaor Mr. Julian,” or “communicated with ‘Ms. Jones’ by any method of communication whatsoever nor received any communication whatsoever from ‘Ms. Jones’ other than by the ‘Ms. Jones’ Declaration DefendantsBank of Americaand Mr. Julian have provided.”

Construing the allegations of the third amended complaint broadly (as we must on demurrer), we conclude that Intengan stated a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure based on respondents’ [18] alleged noncompliance withCivil Code section 2923.5. Intengan alleged that defendants did not contact her or attempt to contact her with due diligence as required by the statute. Although respondents sought judicial notice of Jones’s declaration regarding compliance with the statute, Intengan disputed the truthfulness of Jones’s declaration by denying that she was ever contacted or received any telephone message. She also argued at the demurrer hearing that it was inappropriate to turn the hearing into an evidentiary hearing—in other words, that a demurrer may not be sustained by resolving a conflict in the evidence. And in this appeal Intengan argues that, while judicial notice may be taken of the existence of a document such as a declaration, accepting the truth of itscontentspresents an entirely different matter.

CA(4) (4)Intengan is correct.HN8 Civil Code section 2923.5requires not only that a declaration of compliance be attached to the notice of default, but that the bank actually perform the underlying acts (i.e., contacting the borrower or attempting such contact with due diligence) that would constitute compliance. While judicial notice could be properly taken of theexistenceof Jones’s [19] declaration, it could not be taken of the facts of compliance assertedinthe declaration, at least where, as here, Intengan has alleged and argued that the declaration is false and the facts asserted in the declaration are reasonably subject to dispute. (See, e.g.,Joslin v. H.A.S. Ins. Brokerage(1986) 184 Cal.App.3d 369, 374–376 [228 Cal. Rptr. 878](Joslin) [facts disclosed in a deposition and not disputed could be considered in ruling on a demurrer, but facts disclosed in the deposition that were disputed could not be, since “ ‘judicial notice of matters upon demurrer will be dispositive only in those instances where there is not or cannot be a factual dispute concerning that which is sought to be judicially noticed.’ ”].) Indeed, respondents only sought judicial notice of the documents attached to its request, not the underlying fact of its attempt to contact Intengan.

Taking judicial notice that the bank actually performed certain acts that might constitute compliance with its statutory obligations, based solely on a declaration that avers compliance in a conclusory manner, would of course be vastly different than merely taking judicial notice that the declaration was signed and attached to the notice [20] of default (or, as discussedante, from taking judicial notice of the legal effect of a legally operative deed of trust that names its beneficiary). At least in this case, what the bank actually did to comply with the statute is reasonably subject to dispute and cannot be judicially noticed, even though the existence of the declaration (and the legal effect of a deed of trust) is not reasonably subject to dispute and can be judicially noticed. (SeeSkov v. U.S. Bank National Assn.(2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 690, 696 [143 Cal. Rptr. 3d 694](Skov) [where bank sought judicial notice of a notice of default declaration stating compliance withCiv. Code, § 2923.5, whether the bank “complied withsection 2923.5is the type of fact that is reasonably subject to dispute, and thus, not a proper subject of judicial notice”].)

Furthermore, even if the “facts” stated in Jones’s declarationcouldbe the subject of judicial notice, the declaration contains only a conclusory assertion thatBank of Americacomplied with the statute: nowhere does it state when, how, or by whom the elements of due diligence were accomplished, or how the declarant knew if they were.3More importantly, the most these averments could do is create a factual dispute [21] as to whether respondents complied with the statute. (SeeMabry, supra, 185 Cal.App.4th at pp. 235–236[competing accounts as to possibility of compliance withCiv. Code, § 2923.5created conflict in the evidence].)HN9 A demurrer is “ ‘simply not the appropriate procedure for determining the truth of disputed facts.’ ” (Joslin, supra, 184 Cal.App.3d at p. 374; seeSkov, supra, 207 Cal.App.4th at pp. 696–697[assuming the truth of the plaintiff’s allegations, a disputed issue of compliance withCiv. Code, § 2923.5cannot be resolved at the demurrer stage]; see alsoBarrionuevo, supra, 885 F.Supp.2d 964, 976–977[borrowers’ allegation that bank did not contact them before filing the notice of default was sufficient to state a violation ofCiv. Code, § 2923.5, despite judicial notice taken of declaration in notice of default that asserted statutory compliance];Argueta v. J.P. Morgan Chase(E.D.Cal. 2011) 787 F.Supp.2d 1099, 1107(Argueta) [despite judicial notice of notice of default including declaration of compliance withCiv. Code, § 2923.5, plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to preclude dismissal where plaintiffs alleged that they did not receive phone calls, [22] phone messages, or letters before the notice of default was recorded].)

On this basis, Intengan stated a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure based on the purported failure to comply withCivil Code section 2923.5before recordation of the notice of default. For this reason, it was error to sustain the demurrer.4

2.–10.* [23]

11.Intengan’s Other ArgumentsIntengan contends that the court’s ruling on the demurrer “is partial and therefore inconsistent with California statutory and case law,” “amounts to a constructive tax” in violation of her constitutional rights, violates her constitutional right to be free from illegal takings, resulted from a misapplication of law and ignorance of the facts, and violates her “Constitutional Right to separation of powers.” She contends that “[n]oevidence exists in the record that Judge Swope had any probable cause to institute any forfeiture action against Appellant Intengan [24] by the Wrongful Demurrer Ruling resulting in the loss of Appellant Intengan’s lawsuit.” She asserts that the “refusals” ofBank of Americaand the trial court “resemble an Orwellian conundrum.” She “further requests that this Court piece together Appellant Intengan’s Constitutional Right that Judge Swope and RespondentsBank of Americashattered Humpty Dumpty-like due to their acts of partiality, misapplication of law, ignorance of facts and unconstitutionality and by their refusals to contemplate the gravity of their decisionmaking before proceeding contrary to law.” Intengan additionally refers us to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). And she urges us to do justice and mercy in this case, providing numerous quotations from the Bible.

We have fully considered all of Intengan’s arguments in arriving at our disposition of her appeal. We conclude the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer to the third amended complaint, only in that Intengan adequately alleged a violation ofCivil Code section 2923.5, which might be pursued under her theory of wrongful foreclosure. Accordingly, the judgment of dismissal must be reversed, and the order sustaining the demurrer to the [25] third amended complaint must be reversed solely as to her purported cause of action for wrongful foreclosure, based exclusively on the alleged violation ofCivil Code section 2923.5, potentially providing relief only in the form of a postponement of the foreclosure sale.

B., C.*

III. DISPOSITIONThe judgment of dismissal is reversed. The order sustaining the demurrer is reversed, solely as to a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure based on allegations that respondents did not comply withCivil Code section 2923.5. Appellant shall recover her costs on appeal.

Jones, P. J., andBruiniers, J., concurred.

Must contact 2923.5

2 Apr

Barrionuevov.Chase Bank, N.A., 885 F. Supp. 2d 964 (Copy citation)

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

August 6, 2012, Decided; August 6, 2012, Filed

No. C-12-0572 EMC

Reporter: 885 F. Supp. 2d 964 | 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109935 | 2012 WL 3235953

JOSE BARRIONUEVO, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CHASE BANK, N.A., et. al., Defendants.

Core Terms

notice, foreclosure, trust deed, beneficiary, chase, reconveyance, wrongful foreclosure, borrower, notice of default, mutual, cause of action, motion to dismiss, trustee sale, foreclose, default, mortgagee, deed, beneficial interest, voidable, void, subject property, nonjudicial, authorized agent, slander of title, irregularity, securitize, diligence, convey, entity, bus

Counsel: For Jose Barrionuevo, Flor Barrionuevo, Plaintiffs:Michael James Yesk, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Michael Yesk, Pleasant Hill, CA.

For California Reconveyance Corporation, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. as acquirer of certain assets from Washington Mutual Bank, FA, Defendants:John Charles Hedger, Bryan Cave LLP, San Francisco, CA.

Judges: EDWARD M. CHEN, United States District Judge.

Opinion by: EDWARD M. CHEN

Opinion

[966] ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTSJP MORGAN CHASEBANK, N.A. AND CALIFORNIA RECONVEYANCE CO.’S MOTION TO DISMISS

(Docket No. 23)

I.INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Jose and Flor Barrionuevo (collectively “the Barrionuevos”) sued DefendantsJP Morgan ChaseBank (“Chase”) and California Reconveyance Corporation (“California Reconveyance”) on February 3, 2012, after California Reconveyance attempted to foreclose on a Deed of Trust (“DOT”) that the Barrionuevos executed for the purchase of a home in California. Pls.’ Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss (Docket No. 25) at 1. Chase is the successor in interest toWashington Mutual Bank(“Washington Mutual”), who executed the DOT with the Barrionuevos and funded the loan for the purchase of the subject property. In their amended complaint, the Barrionuevos assert claims against Defendantsfor wrongful foreclosure, slander of title, violatingCalifornia Civil Code § 2923.5, and violating California’s Unfair Business Practices Act (Cal. Bus. Prof. Code §§ 17200).SeePls.’ Am. Compl. (Docket No. 20). On February 23, 2012, the Barrionuevos movedex partefor a temporary restraining order barring Defendants from completing California’s nonjudicial foreclosure process, which this Court denied on February 29, 2012, after a hearing on the merits.SeePls.’ Mot. for TRO (Docket No. 5); Min. Entry Den. TRO (Docket No. 13). California Reconveyance and Chase thereafter filed a motion to dismiss pursuant toFed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).SeeDefs.’ Mot. to Dismiss (Docket No. 23). Having considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant Motion, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument.Fed. R. Civ. P. 78;Local Rule. 7-6. For the following reasons, Defendants’ motion isDENIED.

II.FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 28, 2006, the Barrionuevos entered into a DOT with Washington Mutual and California Reconveyance for the purchase of a single family home in Dublin, California. Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A. The DOT was recordedin Alameda County on March 3, 2006, against the subject property (known as 5931 Annadele Way) to secure a promissory note in favor of Washington Mutual for a loan of $1,720,000. Pls.’ Am. Compl. ¶ 9. The DOT conveys title and power of sale to California Reconveyance, and names Washington Mutual as both “Lender” and “Beneficiary.” Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A at 1-3. In the event of default or breach by the borrower, and after first having been given an opportunity to cure, the DOT grants to the Lender the power [967] “to require immediate payment in full of all sums secured by this security instrument without further demand,” and “the power of sale and any other remedies permitted by Applicable law.” Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A at 15.

In May of 2006, the Barrionuevos allege that Washington Mutual “securitized and sold Plaintiffs’ Deed of Trust to the WMALT Series 2006-AR4 Trust,” naming La Salle Bank as Trustee. Pls.’ Am. Compl. ¶ 10. In support of this allegation they point to a report prepared by Certified Forensic Loan Auditors, which apparently reaches the same conclusion.SeePls.’ Am. Compl., Ex. A – Property Securitization Analysis Report. In September of 2008, after the purportedsale of the Barrionuevos’ DOT, the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision closed Washington Mutual and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) as receiver.SeePls.’ Am. Compl. ¶ 11; Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 2. Shortly thereafter, Chase acquired certain assets of Washington Mutual from the FDIC.Id.Having been sold at an earlier point to the WMALT Series 2006-AR4 Trust, the Barrionuevos allege that any beneficial interest under their DOT could not have been purchased or obtained by Chase during this acquisition.SeePls.’ Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss at 3.

About a year later, California Reconveyance initiated nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings against the Barrionuevos regarding the subject property by recording a “Notice of Default and Election to Sell Under Deed of Trust” with the County of Alameda on April 7, 2009. Pls.’ Am. Compl., Ex. B – Notice of Default. The Notice of Default identified Washington Mutual as the beneficiary of record, and included a statement that “the beneficiary or its designated agent declares that it has contacted the borrower” or has “tried with due diligence to contact the borrower as required byCalifornia Civil Code 2923.5.”Id.at 2. TheBarrionuevos allege, contrary to this statement, that neither of the Defendants contacted Plaintiffs “at least 30 days prior to recording the Notice of Default” in violation of§ 2923.5.1SeePls.’ Am. Compl. ¶¶ 28, 32. Thereafter, California Reconveyance recorded three separate Notices of Trustee’s Sales regarding the subject property with the County of Alameda, the most recent having been filed with the County on February 2, 2012. Pls.’ Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-14;see alsoDefs.’ Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. C, D, and E.2

The Barrionuevos initiated suit against Chase and California Reconveyance on February 3, 2012, with a complaint listing nine causes of action. Compl. (Docket No. 1). They have since filed an amended complaint listing only four causes of action, namely (1) Wrongful Foreclosure, (2) Slander of Title, (3) Violation ofCal. Civ. Code § 2923.5, [968] and (4) Violation of the California Unfair Business Practices Act (Cal. Bus. Prof. Code §§ 17200).SeePls.’ Am. Compl. Soon after Plaintiffs’ amended their complaint, Defendants jointly moved to dismiss the amended complaint “pursuant toRule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in its entirety, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Defs.’ Mot.to Dismiss at 1.

III.DISCUSSION

A.Legal Standard

UnderFederal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss based on the failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.SeeFed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).A motion to dismiss based onRule 12(b)(6)challenges the legal sufficiency of the claims alleged.SeeParks Sch. of Bus. v. Symington,51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995).In considering such a motion, the Court may consider facts alleged in the complaint, materials incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which the Court may take judicial notice.3Zucco Partners LLC v. Digimarc Corp.,552 F.3d 981, 989 (9th Cir. 2009).A court must also take all allegations of material fact as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, although “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to avoid aRule 12(b)(6)dismissal.”Cousins v. Lockyer,568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009).Thus, “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007).

At issue in a12(b)(6)analysis is “not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims” advanced in his or her complaint.Scheuer v. Rhodes,416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1974). While “a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations . . . it must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”Cousins,568 F.3d at 1067 (9th Cir. 2009).”A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconductalleged.”Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009);see alsoBell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. at 556.”The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully.”Id.

B.Tender Rule

Chase and California Reconveyance argue as a threshold matter that “this Motion should be granted and Plaintiffs’ Complaint dismissed, in its entirety” because the Barrionuevos have failed to provide or allege a willingness to “tender the outstanding indebtedness owed under the promissory note and Deed of Trust.” Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 8.They argue that, absent an offer to tender the obligation in full, California law deprives plaintiffs of standing to challenge nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings.SeeId.at 7-8. [969] As this Court explained inTamburri v. Suntrust Mortgage, et. al.,No. C-11-2899 EMC, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144442, 2011 WL 6294472 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 2011), the exceptions and qualifications to California’s ‘tender rule’ counsel against such a mechanical application of the rule at the pleading stage.

“The California Court of Appeal has held that the tender rule applies in an action to set aside a trustee’s sale for irregularitiesin the sale notice or procedure and has stated that ‘[t]herationale behind the rule is that if plaintiffs could not have redeemed the property had the sale procedures been proper, any irregularities in the sale did not result in damages to the plaintiffs.'”Cohn v. Bank of America,No. 2:10-cv-00865 MCE KJN PS, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3076, 2011 WL 98840, at *9 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2011)(quotingFPCI RE-HAB 01 v. E & G Invs., Ltd.,207 Cal. App.3d 1018, 1021, 255 Cal. Rptr. 157 (1989)). As Defendants rightly point out, it is a general rule that “an action to set aside a trustee’s sale for irregularities in sale notice or procedure should be accompanied by an offer to pay the full amount of the debt for which the property was security. This rule is premised upon the equitable maxim that a court of equity will not order that a useless act be performed.”Arnolds Mgmt. Corp. v. Eischen,158 Cal. App. 3d 575, 578-79, 205 Cal. Rptr. 15 (1984).

However, as this Court discussed at length inTamburri,”the tender rule is not without exceptions.”Tamburri,2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144442, 2011 WL 6294472 at *3. Several court have recognized a general equitable exception to applying the tender rule where “it would be inequitable to do so.”Onofrio v. Rice,55 Cal. App. 4th 413, 424, 64 Cal. Rptr. 2d 74 (1997)(internalcitations and quotations omitted);see e.g.Humboldt Sav. Bank v. McCleverty,161 Cal. 285, 291, 119 P. 82 (1911)(recognizing that there are “cases holding that, where a party has the right to avoid a sale, he is not bound to tender any payment in redemption;” adding that, “[w]hatevermay be the correct rule, viewing the question generally, it is certainly not the law that an offer to pay the debt must be made, where it would be inequitable to exact such offer of the party complaining of the sale”);Robinson v. Bank of Am.,12-CV-00494-RMW, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74212, 2012 WL 1932842, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 29, 2012)(inequitable to apply tender rule in certain circumstances);Bowe v. Am. Mortg. Network, Inc.,CV 11-08381 DDP SHX, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80044, 2012 WL 2071759, at *2 (C.D. Cal. June 8, 2012)(same);Giannini v. American Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc.,No. 11-04489 TEH, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12241, 2012 WL 298254, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Feb.1, 2012)(same).In the instant case, the Barrionuevos have a fairly strong argument that tender – or at least full tender – should not be required because they are contesting not only irregularities in sale notice or procedure, but the validity of the foreclosure in the first place.Courts have declined to require tender in just such circumstances.SeeIn re Salazar,448 B.R. 814, 819 (S.D. Cal. 2011)(“If U.S. Bank was not authorized to foreclose the [Deed of Trust] under Civil Codesection 2932.5, the foreclosure sale may be void, and Salazar would not need to tender the full amount of the Loan to set aside the sale.”);Sacchi v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.,No. CV 11-1658 AHM (CWx), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68007, 2011 WL 2533029, at *9-10 (C.D. Cal. June 24, 2011)(declining to require tender in wrongful foreclosure action because it “would permit entities to foreclose on properties with impunity”).

Further, a growing number of federal courts have explicitly held that the tender rule only applies in cases seeking to set aside a completed sale, rather than an action seeking to prevent a sale in the first place.See, e.g.,Vissuet v. Indymac Mortg. Services,No. 09-CV-2321-IEG (CAB), 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26241, 2010 WL 1031013, at *2 (S.D. Cal. March 19, 2010)(“[T]heCalifornia ‘tender [970] rule’ applies only where the plaintiff is trying to set aside a foreclosure sale due to some irregularity.”);Giannini v. American Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc.,No. 11-04489 TEH, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12241, 2012 WL 298254, at *3 (N.D.Cal. Feb. 1, 2012)(“While it is sensible to require tender following a flawedsale – where irregularities in the sale are harmless unless the borrower has made full tender – to do so prior to sale, where any harm may yet be preventable, is not.”);Robinson v. Bank of Am.,12-CV-00494-RMW, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74212, 2012 WL 1932842 (N.D. Cal. May 29, 2012)(the court found it “inequitable to apply the tender rule to bar plaintiff’s claims” in part because “there has been no sale of the subject property”).4The cases cited by Defendants in support of applying the tender rule are distinguishable in that each of them addresses challenges levied against completed trustees’ sales, not pre-sale challenges as here.SeeU.S. Cold Storage of Calif. v. Great W. Savings & Loan Assn.,165 Cal. App. 3d 1214, 212 Cal. Rptr. 232 (1985)(plaintiff challenged irregularities in sale notice or procedure after trustee sale was held);Arnolds Mgmt. Corp. v. Eischen,158 Cal. App. 3d 575, 205 Cal. Rptr. 15 (Cal. Ct. App. 1984)(action by junior lienor to set aside a completed trustee sale);Abdallah v. United Sav. Bank,43 Cal. App. 4th 1101, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d 286 (1996)(action challenging validity of trustee sale after sale occurred);Karlsen v. Am. Sav. & Loan Assn.,15 Cal. App. 3d 112, 92 Cal. Rptr. 851 (Cal. Ct. App. 1971)(action to cancel a completed trustee sale under a deed oftrust).

Finally, as this Court explained in length inTamburri,”where a sale is void, rather than simply voidable, tender is not required.”Tamburri,2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144442, 2011 WL 6294472 at *4(citing Miller & Starr California Real Estate 3d § 10:212 (“When the sale is totally void, a tender usually is not required.”)).A sale that is deemed “void” means, “in its strictest sense [] that [it] has no force and effect,” whereas one that is deemed “voidable” can be “avoided” or set aside as a matter of equity.Little v. CFS Serv. Corp.,188 Cal. App. 3d 1354, 1358, 233 Cal. Rptr. 923 (1987)(internal quotation marks omitted).In a voidable sale, tender is required “based on the theory that one who is relying upon equity in overcoming a voidable sale must show that he is able to performhis obligations under the contract so that equity will not have been employed for an idle purpose.”Dimock v. Emerald Properties LLC,81 Cal. App. 4th 868, 878, 97 Cal. Rptr. 2d 255 [971] (2000).That reasoning does not extend to a sale that is voidab initio,since the contract underlying such a transaction is a “nullity with no force or effect as opposed to one which may be set aside” in reliance on equity.Id.at 876.InDimock,the California Court of Appeal held that where an incorrect trustee had foreclosed on a property and conveyed it to a third party, and the conveyed deed was not merely voidable but void, tender was not required.Id.at 878(“Because Dimock was not required to rely upon equity in attacking the deed, he was not required to meet any of the burdens imposed when, as a matter of equity, a party wishes to set aside a voidable deed…In particular, contrary to the defendants’ argument, he was not required to tender any of the amounts due under the note.”).For the purposes of the ‘tender rule,’ the Court findsDimockto be sufficiently analogous to the present case to counsel against its application here.

Moreover, the relevant documentation in this case supports the finding that the sale isvoid. Where a notice defect provides the basis for challenging a sale under a deed of trust, as is the case here with the Barrionuevos’ allegation of noncompliance withCal. Civ. Code § 2923.5, California courts examine in detail the deed of trust’s language to determine whether it contains “conclusive presumption language in the deed” regarding notice defects that would render the sale merely voidable as opposed to void.Little,at 1359.As was explained inTamburri,

when a notice defect is at issue, it is not the extent of the defect that is determinative.Rather, “what seems to be determinative” is whether the deed of trust contains a provision providing for a conclusive presumption of regularity of sale.Little,188 Cal. App. 3d at 1359, 233 Cal. Rptr. 923.”Where there has been a notice defect and no conclusive presumption language in the deed, the sale has been held void.”Id.(emphasis in original). In contrast, “[w]herethere has been a notice defect and conclusive presumption language in a deed, courts have characterized the sales as ‘voidable.'”Id.(emphasis added).

Tamburri,2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144442, 2011 WL 6294472 at *5.InLittle,the court considered a deed provision stating “[t]herecitals insuch Deed of any matters, proceedings and facts shall be conclusive proof of the truthfulness and regularity thereof” to be conclusive presumption language.Little,at 1360.In this case, the Barrionuevos’ deed of trust provides no such conclusive presumption language. Therefore, “the Court cannot conclude, at least at this juncture, that the sale is merely voidable wherein tender would be required.”Ottolini v. Bank of America,No. C-11-0477 EMC, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92900, 2011 WL 3652501, at *4 (N.D.Cal. Aug. 19, 2011);see alsoTamburri,2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144442, 2011 WL 6294472 at *5.

These exceptions and qualifications to the tender rule raise significant doubts as to whether it should be mechanically applied at the pleading stage under the allegations of the complaint herein. Thus, as inTamburri,the Court declines to dismiss the complaint on the basis of the Barrionuevos’ failure to allege tender.

C.Wrongful Foreclosure

The Barrionuevos’ cause of action for wrongful foreclosure is based upon their belief that “Cal Reconveyance cannot conduct a valid foreclosure sale on behalf of Defendant JP Morgan because it is not thetruepresent beneficiary under Plaintiffs’ Deed of Trust.” Pls.’ Am. Compl. ¶ 18. This belief is based upon thefollowing chain of events:

In May of 2006, shortly after Plaintiffs entered into the Deed of Trust, WaMu [Washington Mutual] securitized and sold the beneficial interest in the Deed [972] of Trust to the Series 2006-AR4 Trust. From that point on, the Series 2006-AR4 Trust became the onlytruebeneficiary under Plaintiffs’ Deed of Trust. Thus, whenJP Morgan [Chase]acceded to certain of WaMu’s assets in 2008, it could not have included the beneficial interest in Plaintiffs’ Deed of Trust as WaMu had already sold the beneficial interest two yearsprior,in 2006. Since WaMu no longer owned the beneficial interest in Plaintiffs’ Deed of Trust, it had nothing to convey to Defendant JP Morgan in 2008 and Defendant JP Morgan isnotthetruebeneficiary.Id.

Related to the allegation that Chase did not acquire Plaintiffs’ DOT from Washington Mutual, the Barrionuevos further base their wrongful foreclosure claim on the grounds that the Defendants have failed to comply withCalifornia Civil Code § 2932.5, in that they have not “recorded a document in the public chain of title reflecting from whom [they] acquired the beneficial interest in Plaintiffs’ Deed of Trust,” as required by the statute.Id.at 21.Section 2932.5provides as follows:

Where a power to sell real property is given to a mortgagee, or other encumbrancer, in an instrument intended to secure the payment of money, the power is part of the security and vests in any person who by assignment becomes entitled to payment of the money secured by the instrument.The power of sale may be exercised by the assignee if the assignment is acknowledged and recorded.

Cal. Civ. Code § 2932.5(emphasis added).

Chase and California Reconveyance question Plaintiffs’ assertion that the DOT for the subject property was securitized into the Series 2006-AR4 Trust.SeeDefs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 5 (“A careful analysis of the information provided in the prospectus for which the “Property securitization Analysis Report” provides a website address demonstrates the Loan at issue is not part of the WMALT Series 2006-AR4 Trust.”);see alsoDefs.’ Reply Br. ISO Mot. to Dismiss (Docket 26) at p. 2 (“As shown in the analysis of Defendant’s motion, there is no connection between the prospectus for the Series 2006-AR4 Trust and the Plaintiffs’ mortgage loan. There was no securitization.”). Neither the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the Plaintiff’s ResponseBrief, nor the Defendant’s Reply Brief address the§ 2932.5element of the Barrionuevos’ wrongful foreclosure cause of action. The Court will, therefore, confine its analysis of the wrongful foreclosure claim to the Plaintiff’s argument that the Defendants are not the current beneficiaries under the DOT.

Plaintiffs properly assert that only the “true owner” or “beneficial holder” of a Deed of Trust can bring to completion a nonjudicial foreclosure under California law. Pls.’ Response Brief at 4.In California, a “deed of trust containing a power of sale…conveys nominal title to property to an intermediary, the “trustee,” who holds that title as security for repayment of [a] loan to [a] lender, or “beneficiary.”Kachlon v. Markowitz,168 Cal. App. 4th 316, 334, 85 Cal. Rptr. 3d 532 (2008)(internal citations omitted). The “trustee in nonjudicial foreclosure is not a true trustee with fiduciary duties, but rather a common agent for the trustor5and beneficiary.”Id.335(internal citations omitted).The trustee’s duties “are twofold: (1) to “reconvey” the deed of trust to the trustor upon satisfaction of the debt owed to the beneficiary, resulting in a release of the lien created by [973] the deed of trust, or(2) to initiate nonjudicial foreclosure on the property upon the trustor’s default, resulting in a sale of the property.”Id.at 334(internal citations omitted).The beneficiary, ultimately, is the party that initiates nonjudicial foreclosure, since the trustee who records a Notice of Default pursuant toCal. Civ. Code § 2924does so as the authorized agent of beneficiary.SeeCal. Civ. Code § 2924(a)(1);see alsoKachlon,168 Cal. App. 4th at 334(“When the trustor defaults on the debt secured by the deed of trust,the beneficiarymay declare a default and make a demand on the trustee to commence foreclosure.”) (emphasis added).

Several courts have recognized the existence of a valid cause of action for wrongful foreclosure where a party alleged not to be the true beneficiary instructs a trustee to file a Notice of Default and initiate nonjudicial foreclosure.For example, the court inSacchi v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.,No. CV 11-1658 AHM (CWx), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68007, 2011 WL 2533029, at *9-10 (C.D. Cal. June 24, 2011), upheld a plaintiff’s wrongful foreclosure claimagainst an entity alleged to have “no beneficial interest in the Deed of Trust when it acted to foreclose on Plaintiffs’ home.” There, the court expressed dismay when confronted with counsel’s arguments suggesting that “someone . . . can seek and obtain foreclosure regardless of whether he has established the authority to do so.”2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68007, [WL] at *7. The court asked, if defendants’ argument that “the recording and execution date is inconsequential and in no way connotes that the DOT’s beneficial interest was transferred at that precise time” was accepted, “how is one to determine whether (and when) the purported assignment was consummated?How could one ever confirm whether the entity seeking to throw a homeowner out of his residence had the legal authority to do so?”2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68007, [WL] at *6.

Similarly, inJavaheri v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.,CV10-08185 ODW FFMX, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62152, 2011 WL 2173786, at *5-6 (C.D. Cal. June 2, 2011), the court denied Defendant JPMorgan’s motion to dismiss a very similar wrongful foreclosure claim to the one at issue here when the plaintiff alleged that Washington Mutual, plaintiff’s original lender, had “transferred Plaintiff’s Note to Washington Mutual Mortgage Securities Corporation” priorto its closure by the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision and JPMorgan’s subsequent acquisition of its assets.2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62152, [WL] at *5. The court took note of the fact that the plaintiff had produced specific “facts regarding the transfer of Plaintiff’s Note” suggesting that Washington Mutual had indeed alienated its beneficial interest to plaintiff’s deed of trust prior to JPMorgan’s later acquisition of Washington Mutual’s assets.Id.”Coupled with Plaintiff’s allegation that JPMorgan never properly recorded its claim of ownership in the Subject Property,” the court ruled that the “abovementioned facts regarding the transfer of Plaintiff’s Note prior to JPMorgan’s acquisition of [Washington Mutual]’s assets raise Plaintiff’s right to relief above a speculative level,” and held that plaintiff’s allegation “that JPMorgan did not own his Note and therefore did not have the right to foreclose” was sufficient to withstand JPMorgan’s motion to dismiss.2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62152, [WL] at *5-6.

Likewise inOhlendorf v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing,279 F.R.D. 575, 583 (E.D. Cal. 2010), the court recognized that, while “proof of possession of the note” is not necessary to “legally institute non-judicial foreclosure proceedings againstplaintiff,” the plaintiff still had a viable claim for wrongful foreclosure insofar as he argued that defendants “are not the proper parties to foreclose.”Id.at 583. “Accordingly,” the court denied “defendants motion to dismiss plaintiff’s wrongful foreclosure [claim]…insofar as it is premised [974] on defendants being proper beneficiaries.”Id.Finally, inCastillo v. Skoba,No. 10cv1838 BTM, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108432, 2010 WL 3986953, at*2 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 8, 2010), the court granted a preliminary injunction in a foreclosure case where it concluded that “Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim that neither Aurora nor Cal-Western had authority to initiate the foreclosure sale at the time the Notice of Default was entered.” There, the court ruled on the record before it that the applicable “[d]ocumentsdo not support a finding that either Cal-Western was the trustee or Aurora was the beneficiary on May 20, 2010 when the Notice of Default was recorded.”Id. See alsoRobinson v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.,199 Cal. App. 4th 42, 46 Fn. 5, 130 Cal. Rptr. 3d 811 (2011)(“a borrower who believes that the foreclosing entity lacks standing to do so” is not “without a remedy. The borrower can seek to enjoin the trustee’s saleor to set the sale aside.”);Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.,192 Cal. App. 4th 1149, 1156, 121 Cal. Rptr. 3d 819 (2011)(upholding the dismissal of plaintiff’s wrongful foreclosure action, but noting as “significant” the fact that cases cited by plaintiff permitting wrongful foreclosure action “identified aspecific factual basisfor alleging that the foreclosure was not initiated by the correct party.[plaintiff] has not assertedanyfactual basis to suspect that [defendant] lacks authority to proceed with the foreclosure.”) (emphasis in original).

In the present case, the Barrionuevos allege that Chase and California Reconveyance recorded their April 7, 2009, Notice of Default without the legal right to do so, given that the prior alienation of Plaintiff’s DOT by Washington Mutual in 2006 precluded these Defendants from obtaining any beneficial interest in the DOT.SeeAm. Compl. ¶¶ 16-22; Pls.’ Response Brief at 3. In tandem to their § 2935.2 claim, Plaintiffs allege that this prior alienation of the DOT renders Defendants’ Notice of Default and subsequent Notices of Trustee’s Sales invalid. The allegation challenging the validity of Washington Mutual’s assignment of Plaintiffs’ DOT to Chase suggeststhat the foreclosing parties did not have authority to issue the Notices. Despite Defendants’ invitation to the contrary, further examination into the 2006 transaction would require a factual inquiry not suitable in a 12(b)(6) motion. Thus, insofar as Plaintiffs contend that the Notice of Default is invalid due to a lack of authority to foreclose, their wrongful foreclosure claim is similar to those advanced inSacchi, Javaheri, Ohlendorf, Skoba,and, of course, this Court’s ruling inTamburri.

Accordingly, this Court finds that the Plaintiffs have sufficiently stated a claim for wrongful foreclosure. Regardless of whether§ 2932.5applies, under California law a party may not foreclose without the legal power to do so. Plaintiff alleges that the wrong parties issued the Notice of Default. At the12(b)(6)stage, given the factual uncertainties underlying the parties’ arguments, Plaintiffs’ claim is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.

D.Slander of Title

The Barrionuevos next advance a cause of action for slander of title. In their amended complaint, they allege that Chase “acted with malice and a reckless disregard for the truth by simply assuming it was the beneficiary underPlaintiffs’ Deed of Trust” when it recorded a “Notice of Trustee’s Sale…that cannot lead to a valid foreclosure.” Am. Compl. ¶ 24. They further allege that “the recordation of the February 2, 2012 Notice of Trustee’s Sale was therefore false, knowingly wrongful, without justification, in violation of statute, unprivileged, and caused doubt to be placed on Plaintiffs’ title to the property,” and that the “recordation of the [975] foregoing documents directly impairs the vendibility of Plaintiffs’ property on the open market in the amount of a sum to be proved at trial.”Id.¶ 25. Neither Plaintiffs nor Defendants address this cause of action in any of the papers accompanying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.

The California Court of Appeals for the Fifth District recently outlined the elements required to successfully bring a cause of action for slander of title. InSumner Hill Homeowners’ Assn., Inc. v. Rio Mesa Holdings, LLC,the court explained that “slander or disparagement of title occurs when a person, without a privilege to do so, publishes a false statement that disparages title to property and causes the owner thereof some special pecuniary loss or damage.”205 Cal. App. 4th 999, 1030, 141 Cal. Rptr. 3d 109(citingFearon v. Fodera169 Cal. 370, 148 P. 200 (1915)). The required elements of this tort are “(1) a publication, (2) without privilege or justification, (3) falsity, and (4) direct pecuniary loss.”Id.(citingTruck Ins. Exchange v. Bennett,53 Cal.App.4th 75, 84, 61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 497 (1997);Howard v. Schaniel,113 Cal.App.3d 256, 263-264, 169 Cal. Rptr. 678 (1980)).

The Barrionuevos’ amended complaint is sufficient to “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'”with regard to this tort.Cousins,568 F.3d at 1067 (9th Cir. 2009).Plaintiffs allege, and Defendants do not appear to question, that they effected a publication regarding Plaintiffs title to the subject property (i.e.the Notice of Default and the three Notices of Trustee’s Sales).Whether that publication was done “without privilege or justification” is somewhat harder to discern.InGudger v. Manton,the California Supreme Court held that “a rival claimant of property is conditionally privileged to disparage or justified in disparaging another’s property in land by an honest and good-faith assertion of an inconsistent legally protected interest in himself.”21 Cal. 2d 537, 545, 134 P.2d 217 (1943).TheGudgerCourt went on to say that an “express finding of lack of goodfaith, or of actual malice…would destroy the privilege or justification here discussed.”Id.at 546.Plaintiffs allege quite clearly that Defendants published the February 2, 2012, Notice of Trustee’s sale with “malice and a reckless disregard for the truth.” Am. Compl. ¶ 24. Broadly construing their amended complaint, it would be fair to conclude that Plaintiffs view the remaining three Notices published by Chase and California Reconveyance in a similar light. Thus, on balance, Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to satisfy this element of the tort at the12(b)(6)stage. Likewise, Plaintiffs allege with some force the apparent falsity of Defendants’ four publications.Finally, the Barrionuevos claim that Defendants’ publications “directlyimpair[ed]the vendibility of Plaintiffs’ property on the open market,” and caused Plaintiffs to incur costs related to bringing “this action to cancel the instruments casting doubt on Plaintiffs’ title,” is sufficient to allege the “direct pecuniary loss” element to a slander of title action.Id.at ¶¶ 25-26.See alsoSumner Hill,205 Cal. App. 4th at 1030(“it is well-established that attorney fees and litigation costs are recoverable aspecuniary damages in slander of title causes of action.”).

Accordingly, to the extent Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss reaches Plaintiffs’ action for slander of title, Plaintiffs have met their burden to plead sufficient “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”Ashcroft v. Iqbal,129 S. Ct. at 1949.

E.California Civil Code § 2923.5

California Civil Code § 2923.5(a)(1)provides that “[a] mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, [976] or authorized agent may not file a notice of default pursuant toSection 2924until 30 daysafterinitial contact is made as required by paragraph (2) or 30 daysaftersatisfying the due diligence requirements as described in subdivision (g).”Cal. Civ. Code § 2923.5(a)(1)(emphasis added).Underparagraph (2), “[a] mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall contact the borrower in person or by telephone in order to assess the borrower’s financial situation and explore options for the borrower to avoid foreclosure.”Id.§ 2923.5(a)(2). Undersubdivision (g), “[a] notice of default may be filed . . . when a mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent hasnotcontacted a borroweras required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) provided that the failure to contact borrower occurred despite the due diligence of the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent.”Id.§ 2923.5(g)(emphasis added). If a mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent fails to comply with§ 2923.5, “then there is no valid notice of default and, without a valid notice of default, a foreclosure sale cannot proceed.”Mabry v. Superior Court,185 Cal. App. 4th 208, 223, 110 Cal. Rptr. 3d 201 (2010).The only remedy for a violation of this section is “to postpone the sale until there has been compliance withsection 2923.5.”Id.(citingCal. Civ. Code § 2924g, subdivision (c)(1)(A)).

In the instant case, the Barrionuevos assert that Chase and California Reconveyance violated§ 2923.5(a)(1)because they failed to contact them prior to filing the notice of default on April 7, 2009. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 28, 32. Despite the fact that the Defendants’ Notice of Default included a statement that “the beneficiary or its designated agent declares that it has contacted the borrower” or has “tried with due diligence to contact the borrower as required byCalifornia Civil Code 2923.5,” Plaintiffs assert that they were, in fact, “nevercontacted.” Am. Compl., Ex. B – Notice of Default; Am. Compl. ¶ 28. Defendants initially argue that the Barrionuevos fail to state a claim under this cause of action because they offer “no specified factual support” for their allegations. Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 9. However, their Reply Brief offers a very different assessment:

Plaintiffs could not be clearer; “Plaintiffs allege that the Declaration is false because Plaintiffs werein factnever contacted.” (Plaintiffs’ opposition,p. 6, ln 21-23). Plaintiffs therefore claim that Defendant never called, never left a voice message, and never knocked on their door to discuss their default on the loan before having the NOD [Notice of Default] recorded. Plaintiffs’ allegation also means that Defendant never offered them a trial loan modification payment plan or even offered to evaluate them for a loan modification before recording the NOD.

Defs.’ Reply Brief at 3 (emphasis in original). Defendants nonetheless contends that “[w]henthe foreclosing entity declares that it tried to contact the borrower, the statutory requirements are satisfied.Id..Defendants are mistaken.

A mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent has satisfied the “duediligence” requirement of§ 2923.5:

if it was not able to contact the borrower after (1) mailing a letter containing certain information; (2) then calling the borrower “by telephone at least three times at different hours and on different days”; (3) mailing a certified letter, with return receipt requested, if the borrower does not call back within two weeks; (4) providing a telephone number to a live representative during business hours; and (5) posting a link on the homepage of its Internet Web site with certain information.

Argueta v. J.P. Morgan Chase,787 F. Supp. 2d 1099, 1107 (E.D. Cal. 2011)(citing [977] Cal. Civ. Code. § 2923.5(g)).Defendants have given no indication that they exercised “due diligence” as defined in the statute in trying to contact the Barrionuevos prior to recording the Notice of Default, other than their declaration in the Notice itself that they complied with the statute. When a plaintiff’s allegations dispute the validity of defendant’s declaration of compliance in a Notice of Default as here, the plaintiff has “plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”Cousins,568 F.3d at 1067 (9th Cir. 2009).SeeArgueta,787 F. Supp. 2d at 1107;Caravantes v. California Reconveyance Co.,10CV1407, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109842, 2010 WL 4055560 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2010).Accordingly, Plaintiff’s allegations of non-compliance are sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.

F.Unfair Business Practices Act

California’s Unfair Business Practices Act, codified asCal. Bus. Prof. Code §§ 17200, prohibits unfair competition, which is defined as,inter alia,”any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice.”Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. Plaintiffs asserts claims under§ 17200for Chase and California Reconveyance’s violation ofCal Civ. Code § 2923.5, and openly acknowledge that their§ 17200claim “is a derivative cause of action.” Pls.’ Response Brief at 7. They also acknowledge that “plaintiffs’ ability to pursue this cause of action depends on the success or failure of their substantive causes of action.”Id.

Defendants challenge the§ 17200claim on the basis that “a violation [ofCal Civ. Code § 2923.5] does not impact plaintiffs with an actual loss of money or property to give standing underCal. B&P § 17200.” Defs.’ Reply Brief at 3. However, “[i]tis undisputed that foreclosure proceedings were initiated which put [the Barrionuevos] interestin the property in jeopardy; this fact is sufficient to establish standing as this Court has previously held.”Clemens v. J.P. Morgan Chase Nat’l Corporate Services, Inc.,No. C-09-3365 EMC, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111646, 2009 WL 4507742, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2009)(citingSullivan v. Washington Mut. Bank, FA,No. C-09-2161 EMC, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104074, at *13 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 23, 2009).See alsoSacchi,2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68007, 2011 WL 2533029 at *8-9(refusing to dismiss underFRCP 12(b)(6)plaintiff’ssection 17200claim, in part, because plaintiff alleged a violation ofCal Civ. Code § 2923.5).

Second, Defendants repeat their argument that Plaintiffs have “failed to allege facts sufficient to demonstrate that defendants violatedSection 2923.5” Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 9-10. “A plaintiff alleging unfair business practices under [17200] must state with reasonable particularity the facts supporting the statutory elements of the violation.”Khoury v. Maly’s of California, Inc.,14 Cal. App. 4th 612, 619, 17 Cal. Rptr. 2d 708 (1993). As a derivative claim based upon defendants’ alleged failure to comply withCal Civ. Code § 2923.5, the Barrionuevos’§ 17200claim rises and falls along with that underlying cause of action.Having already determined thatPlaintiffs’§ 2923.5claim was pled with enough specificity and factual support to withstand Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Court finds Plaintiffs’§17200claim is likewise sufficiently pled underRule 12(b)(6).

IV.CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the CourtDENIESDefendants’ motion to dismiss.

This Order disposes of Docket No. 23.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: August 6, 2012

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