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Stuge v. Bank of America

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

January 3, 2014

Mike A. Stuge, Plaintiff,
v.
Bank of America, et al., Defendants.

Mike A. Stuge, pro se.

Mark G. Schroeder for Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

FRANKLIN L. NOEL, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge on July 19, 2013, on Defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 5). After the July hearing, the Court facilitated Stuge's representation in the Pilot Early Settlement Conference Project. ECF No. 21. Stuge was represented by Special Settlement Conference Counsel, Mr. Bryan Battina. ECF No. 27. The settlement conference was held on September 6, 2013. ECF No. 26. The parties were unable to reach a settlement agreement and Battina was relieved as counsel. ECF Nos. 28 and 29. This matter was referred to the undersigned for Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons set forth below, this Court recommends that Defendants' motion be GRANTED and Plaintiff's complaint be DISMISSED with prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

Stuge is a former mortgagee who entered into an agreement with Defendant Greenpoint Mortgage Funding, Inc. in August 2005 for a mortgage loan of $184, 000, plus interest. The mortgage loan was used to purchase a home in Eagan and was secured against the property. ECF No. 8, Ex. A and B. While living at the property, Stuge made several improvements to the home and performed general maintenance on the property. ECF No. 1 at 3. The improvements include $5, 270 for replacement of the driveway, $11, 410 for renovations to the bathroom and bedroom, $18, 580 for improvements to siding and fascia, $19, 850 for replacement of the windows and doors, $6, 915 for improvements to the bathroom, kitchen, and dining room, $5, 310 for flooring, and $37, 100 for general maintenance, including lawn mowing and snow removal. Id. In total, Stuge claims that the value of the improvements and maintenance he completed is $104, 435. Id.

At some point prior to June 2012, Stuge was notified that the property would be sold at a foreclosure sale due to his failure to make monthly payments on the mortgage loan. ECF No. 14 at 3. After receiving this notice, Plaintiff applied for home loan modification but did not receive a response before Bank of America bought the property at the foreclosure sale in June 2012. Id.; ECF No. 7 at 2.

II. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD

In analyzing the adequacy of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the complaint liberally and afford the plaintiff all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the facts plead. See Turner v. Holbrook, 278 F.3d 754, 757 (8th Cir. 2002). For the purpose of a motion to dismiss, facts in the complaint are assumed to be true. In re Navarre Corp. Sec. Litig., 299 F.3d 735, 738 (8th Cir. 2002). Nevertheless, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) serves to eliminate actions that are fatally flawed in their legal premises and designed to fail, thereby sparing litigants the burden of unnecessary pretrial and trial activity. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989).

To avoid dismissal, a complaint must allege facts sufficient to state a claim as a matter of law and may not merely state legal conclusions. Springdale Educ. Ass'n v. Springdale Sch. Dist., 133 F.3d 649, 651 (8th Cir. 1998). A plaintiff must provide "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 (2007). A pleading must contain enough facts to state a claim for relief that is "plausible on its face." Id. at 570; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement, " but it calls for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. In sum, determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. Where the court finds that the facts alleged "do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, " the pleader is not entitled to relief. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

Stuge asserts two claims against Defendants: (1) unjust enrichment and (2) unfair and deceptive trade practices.[1] Assuming all facts alleged are true, Stuge fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The court will address each claim in turn.

A. Stuge's unjust enrichment claim fails because he is not entitled to a mechanic's lien.

Stuge alleges unjust enrichment on the basis that the Defendants have not compensated him for the improvements he made to the property. ECF No. 1 at 3. Specifically, Stuge alleges that he has a mechanic's lien of $104, 435 on the property under Minnesota Statute § 514.01. Id. Defendants argue that Stuge cannot place a mechanic's lien on his own property and therefore ...


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