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OHIO JUDGMENT REVERSED FULL Payoff Rejected, Broken Entry (2), FDIC, as Receiver of WAMU v. TRAVERSARI

OHIO JUDGMENT REVERSED FULL Payoff Rejected, Broken Entry (2), FDIC, as Receiver of WAMU v. TRAVERSARI


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Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., as Receiver of WAMU v. TRAVERSARI, 2010 Ohio 2406 – Ohio: Court of Appeals, 11th Dist., Geauga 2010
dinsfla | June 5, 2010 at 9:49 am |

2010-Ohio-2406

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as Receiver of Washington Mutual Bank, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Robert Traversari, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
No. 2008-G-2859.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Geauga County.

May 28, 2010.

Karen L. Giffen and Kathleen A. Nitschke, Giffen & Kaminski, L.L.C., 1300 East Ninth Street, #1600, Cleveland, OH 44114 and Donald Swartz, Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss, P.O. Box 580, Cincinnati, OH 45210-5480 (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

Edward T. Brice, Newman & Brice, L.P.A., 214 East Park Street, Chardon, OH 44024 (For Defendants-Appellants).

OPINION
COLLEEN MARY O’TOOLE, J.

{¶1} Appellants, Robert Traversari (“Traversari”) and B & B Partners (“B & B”), appeal from the August 5, 2008 judgment entry of the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, granting summary judgment in favor of appellee, Washington Mutual Bank, and entitling appellee to a judgment and decree in foreclosure.

{¶2} In 1994, appellant Traversari borrowed $190,000 from Loan America Financial Corporation which was memorialized by a promissory note and further secured by a mortgage on property located at 9050 Lake-in-the-Woods Trail, Bainbridge Township, Geauga County, Ohio. Appellant Traversari obtained the loan individually and/or in his capacity as the sole member and principal of appellant B & B, a real estate based company. The mortgage at issue was subsequently assigned to appellee.

{¶3} On January 8, 2007, appellee filed a complaint in foreclosure against appellants and defendants, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., Charter One Bank, N.A., Jesse Doe, and Geauga County Treasurer. In count one of its complaint, appellee alleges that it is the holder and owner of a note in which appellant Traversari owes $149,919.96 plus interest at the rate of 7.75 percent per year from September 1, 2006, plus costs. In count two of its complaint, appellee alleges that it is the holder of a mortgage, given to secure payment of the note, which constitutes a valid first lien upon the real estate at issue. Appellee maintains that because the conditions of defeasance have been broken, it is entitled to have the mortgage foreclosed. Appellee indicated that appellant B & B may have claimed an interest in the property by virtue of being a current titleholder.

{¶4} Appellants filed an answer and counterclaim on February 16, 2007. In their defense, appellants maintain that appellee failed to comply with Civ.R. 10(D) and is estopped from asserting a foreclosure by its waiver of accepting payment. According to their counterclaim, appellants allege the following: on or about September 25, 2006, appellant Traversari sent a check in the amount of $150,889.96 to appellee for payment in full on the loan, which included the principal of $149.919.96 plus $970 of interest; on or about November 17, 2006, appellee issued a new home loan statement to appellant Traversari indicating the amount due was $5,608.95; appellant Traversari contacted appellee stating that a check had been sent for payment in full; appellee failed to respond; appellant Traversari mailed a check to appellee in the amount of $155,000; no stop payment was issued on the first check; because the house was vacant, appellant Traversari went to check the residence on December 26, 2006, and discovered that it had been broken into; an orange placard was placed on the premises indicating that a representative from appellee would secure the home; appellant Traversari immediately purchased new lock sets, secured the premises, and called and left a message for appellee to inform them to not enter the home; on December 31, 2006, electronic transmission was sent to appellee concerning the break-in and requested appellee to stop breaking into the home as well as to locate the two checks and to send a copy of a letter to a credit bureau; appellee did not respond; appellant Traversari then mailed a check from a separate account in the amount of the last payment demanded by appellee; appellee sent the $155,000 check back with a form letter to the address of the vacant property stating that personal checks were not accepted for payoff; appellee also rejected the $5,674.41 check; appellant Traversari then contacted appellee regarding the rejected checks; on January 11, 2007, appellant Traversari went to the home again, finding the kitchen door open, furnace running, new lock set taken out, garage door openers unplugged, and worse dings in the steel door; and appellant Traversari emailed appellee again, however, appellee indicated it could not give appellants any information because the case had been moved to foreclosure.

{¶5} Appellee filed a reply to appellants’ counterclaim on March 19, 2007, and an amended reply on September 6, 2007.

{¶6} According to the deposition of Maritza Torres (“Torres”), an employee of appellee in its senior asset recovery, loss prevention department, she was assigned to appellants’ case. Torres testified that appellee has no record of having received a check in the amount of $150,889.96 from appellant Traversari on September 25, 2006. However, she indicated that appellee received a check from appellant Traversari on September 30, 2006, in the amount of $102,538.74 (“Check #1?), which was returned to him due to appellee’s policy not to accept checks for early payoffs that are not certified funds.

{¶7} According to the deposition of Linda Rae Traversari (“Linda”), appellant Traversari’s wife, she is the handler of the family assets. Following the return of Check #1, appellee forwarded a delinquency letter to appellant Traversari in early November of 2006. Later that month, appellee sent a second default letter to him. Linda testified that on or around November 30, 2006, appellant Traversari sent another personal check for early payoff to appellee in the amount of $155,000 (“Check #2?). Appellee returned Check #2 with a letter explaining that noncertified funds are not accepted for early payoff. Linda stated that on January 2, 2007, appellant Traversari sent a third personal check via certified mail to appellee in the amount of $5,674.41 (“Check #3?). By the time appellee received Check #3, the loan had been referred to foreclosure. Check #3 was returned to appellant Traversari as “insufficient.”

{¶8} On March 14, 2008, appellee filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Civ.R. 56(b). Appellants filed a response on April 21, 2008.

{¶9} In its July 3, 2008 order, the trial court found, inter alia, that appellee was within its legal rights to reject the personal checks; appellee had the right to institute and maintain the foreclosure because appellants did not cure their default; and appellee had the right to enter the premises. Thus, the trial court indicated that appellee’s motion for summary judgment would be granted in its favor as to all issues and claims against appellants upon appellee’s presentation of an appropriate entry to be provided to the court.

{¶10} Appellee filed a “Motion For Submission Of Its Entry Granting Motion For Summary Judgment And Decree In Foreclosure” on July 11, 2008, and an amended entry on July 21, 2008. Appellants filed objections to appellee’s proposed amended entry the following day.

{¶11} Pursuant to its August 5, 2008 “Amended Entry Granting Summary Judgment And Decree In Foreclosure,” the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of appellee, entitling appellee to a judgment and decree in foreclosure. The trial court ordered, inter alia, that unless the sums found due to appellee are fully paid within 3 days from the date of the decree, the equity of redemption shall be foreclosed, the property sold, and an order of sale issued to the Sheriff directing him to appraise, advertise, and sell the property. The trial court further ordered that the proceeds of the sale follow the following order of priority: (1) to the Clerk of Courts, the costs of the action, including the fees of appraisers; (2) to the County Treasurer, the taxes and assessments, due and payable as of the date of transfer of the property after Sheriff’s Sale; (3) to appellee, the sum of $149,919.96, with interest at the rate of 7.75 percent per annum from September 1, 2006 to February 29, 2008, and 7.25 percent per annum from March 1, 2008 to present, together with advances for taxes, insurance, and costs; and (4) the balance of the sale proceeds, if any, shall be paid by the Sheriff to the Clerk of Court to await further orders. It is from that judgment that appellants filed the instant appeal, raising the following assignment of error for our review:

{¶12} “THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF DEFENDANTSA-PPELLANTS IN ITS ORDER GRANTING IN PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE’S FAVOR AS TO ALL ISSUES AND CLAIMS AND AGAINST DEFENDANTS, AND ITS AMENDED ENTRY GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DECREE IN FORECLOSURE TO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE AGAINST DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.”

{¶13} In their sole assignment of error, appellants argue that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of appellee, and entitling appellee to a judgment and decree in foreclosure.

{¶14} “This court reviews de novo a trial court’s order granting summary judgment.” Hudspath v. Cafaro Co., 11th Dist. No. 2004-A-0073, 2005-Ohio-6911, at ¶8, citing Hapgood v. Conrad, 11th Dist. No. 2000-T-0058, 2002-Ohio-3363, at ¶13. “`A reviewing court will apply the same standard a trial court is required to apply, which is to determine whether any genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” Id.

{¶15} “Since summary judgment denies the party his or her `day in court’ it is not to be viewed lightly as docket control or as a `little trial.’ The jurisprudence of summary judgment standards has placed burdens on both the moving and the nonmoving party. In Dresher v. Burt [(1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 296,] the Supreme Court of Ohio held that the moving party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the trial court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record before the trial court that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of fact on a material element of the nonmoving party’s claim. The evidence must be in the record or the motion cannot succeed. The moving party cannot discharge its initial burden under Civ.R. 56 simply by making a conclusory assertion that the nonmoving party has no evidence to prove its case but must be able to specifically point to some evidence of the type listed in Civ.R. 56(C) that affirmatively demonstrates that the nonmoving party has no evidence to support the nonmoving party’s claims. If the moving party fails to satisfy its initial burden, the motion for summary judgment must be denied. If the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the nonmoving party has a reciprocal burden outlined in the last sentence of Civ.R. 56(E) to set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. If the nonmoving party fails to do so, summary judgment, if appropriate shall be entered against the nonmoving party based on the principles that have been firmly established in Ohio for quite some time in Mitseff v. Wheeler (1988), 38 Ohio St.3d 112 ***.” Welch v. Ziccarelli, 11th Dist. No. 2006-L-229, 2007-Ohio-4374, at ¶40.

{¶16} “The court in Dresher went on to say that paragraph three of the syllabus in Wing v. Anchor Media, Ltd. of Texas (1991), 59 Ohio St.3d 108 ***, is too broad and fails to account for the burden Civ.R. 56 places upon a moving party. The court, therefore, limited paragraph three of the syllabus in Wing to bring it into conformity with Mitseff. (Emphasis added.)” Id. at ¶41.

{¶17} “The Supreme Court in Dresher went on to hold that when neither the moving nor nonmoving party provides evidentiary materials demonstrating that there are no material facts in dispute, the moving party is not entitled a judgment as a matter of law as the moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the trial court of the basis for the motion, `and identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of fact on a material element of the nonmoving party’s claim.’ Id. at 276. (Emphasis added.)” Id. at ¶42.

{¶18} In the case at bar, the record establishes that appellant Traversari sent personal checks to appellee for payment on the loan at issue. However, appellee returned the checks with letters indicating they would not be accepted as payment because they were not certified, and foreclosure proceedings commenced.

{¶19} There is no genuine issue of material fact that appellants executed and delivered a note and mortgage to appellee. However, a genuine issue of material fact does exist with regard to the fact that appellant Traversari tendered the entire principal payment and appellee rejected it because the payment was made by personal check. See Chase Home Fin., LLC v. Smith, 11th Dist. No. 2007-P-0097, 2008-Ohio-5451, at ¶19. The dates and amounts of the personal checks are conflicting due to the testimony and/or evidence submitted by the parties.

{¶20} “A cause of action exists on behalf of a damaged mortgagor when, in conformity with the terms of his note, he offers to the mortgagee full payment of the balance of the principal and interest, and the mortgagee refuses to present the note and mortgage for payment and cancellation.” Cotofan v. Steiner (1959), 170 Ohio St. 163, paragraph one of the syllabus.

{¶21} Appellant Traversari did not place any conditions on the personal checks tendered to appellee. We note that “[t]he essential characteristics of a tender are an unconditional offer to perform, coupled with ability to carry out the offer and production of the subject matter of the tender.” Walton Commercial Enterprises, Inc. v. Assns. Conventions, Tradeshows, Inc. (June 11, 1992), 10th Dist. No. 91AP-1458, 1992 Ohio App. LEXIS 3081, at 5. (Emphasis sic.)

{¶22} “It is an implied condition of every contract that one party will not prevent or impede performance by the other. If he does prevent or impede performance, whether by his prior breach or other conduct, he may not then insist on performance by the affected party, and he cannot maintain an action for nonperformance if the promises are interdependent.” Fed. Natl. Mtge. Assns. v. Banks (Feb. 20, 1990), 2d Dist. No. 11667, 1990 Ohio App. LEXIS 638, at 8-9, citing 17 American Jurisprudence 2d, Contracts, Sections 425, 426.

{¶23} In the instant matter, paragraph 3 of the Open-End Mortgage provides:

{¶24} “3. Application of Payments. Unless applicable law provides otherwise, all payments received by Lender under paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be applied: first, to any prepayment charges due under the Note; second, to amounts payable under paragraph 2; third; to interest due; fourth, to principal due; and last, to any late charges due under the Note.”

{¶25} Here, there was no new note and mortgage, nor agreement for application of payments, when the mortgage at issue was subsequently assigned from Loan America Financial Corporation to appellee. Rather, it was the policy of appellee to require mortgagors to pay by certified check for any amounts over $5,000. According to appellee’s employee, Torres, she indicated that any amount over $5,000 not paid by certified funds puts the company at risk because it can take anywhere between 7 to 10 days for a personal check to clear. We note, however, that the mortgagee has up to 90 days to verify the sufficiency of the underlying funds before satisfying and releasing its recorded mortgage. R.C. 5301.36(B). In the instant case, it would have been reasonable for appellee to have either waited 7 to 10 days for appellant Traversari’s checks to clear or to have inquired with his bank, see, generally, Hunter Sav. Assn. v. Kasper (Sept. 25, 1979), 10th Dist. No. 78AP-774, 1979 Ohio App. LEXIS 11777, at 13, if there were sufficient funds before returning any of his 3 personal checks and commencing foreclosure proceedings.

{¶26} The lender in this case unilaterally refused the debtor’s payment by check due to itsinternal policy that an amount over $5,000 had to be made by certified check. The terms and conditions of the mortgage, however, do not impose such a requirement. Under paragraph 3 of the Open-End Mortgage, it appears the lender had an obligation to apply the payment tendered, by personal check or otherwise. Its refusal to present the check for clearance and apply the payment on the ground of internal policy appears to have violated the debtor’s rights.

{¶27} Construing the evidence submitted most strongly in favor of appellants, we must conclude that genuine issues of material fact remain. Again, a genuine issue of material fact exists with regard to the fact that appellant Traversari tendered the entire principal payment and appellee rejected it because the payment was made by personal check. Also, the dates and amounts of the personal checks are conflicting due to the testimony and/or evidence submitted by the parties. Thus, the trial court erred by granting appellee’s motion for summary judgment.

{¶28} For the foregoing reasons, appellants’ sole assignment of error is well-taken. The judgment of the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas is reversed and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. It is ordered that appellee is assessed costs herein taxed. The court finds there were reasonable grounds for this appeal.

Trapp, P.J., Rice, J., concur.

Defendants are not named parties to the instant appeal.

The matter was stayed. On November 26, 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was substituted for appellee Washington Mutual Bank. This court instructed the Clerk of Courts to correct the docket by removing “Washington Mutual Bank” and substituting “Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as Receiver of Washington Mutual Bank” as appellee in this appeal. The stay order automatically dissolved on August 29, 2009.

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© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (0)

FORECLOSED HOMEOWNER in FLORIDA Illegally EVICTED!

FORECLOSED HOMEOWNER in FLORIDA Illegally EVICTED!


I will try to get the details as to what happened and by which ‘MILL’. They know exactly “BY LAW” if there is no objection to the sale they have 10 days before they can enter and take title!

Here is another form of Palmetto Bugs at their Best!

Foreclosure wait period can lead to problems

By DUANE MARSTELLER – dmarsteller@bradenton.com

LAKEWOOD RANCH

Jodie Meyers knew she was losing her Hollybush Terrace home to foreclosure, but never expected the bank to be so quick in taking it.

She and her three children already were in the process of moving out when GMAC Mortgage won a foreclosure auction of the four-bedroom house last month. Just three days after the auction, the locks had been changed — even though the family still had personal belongings inside.

That angered Meyers, who contends that amounted to trespassing because GMAC couldn’t legally take ownership for another week.

“They should have played by the rules and they didn’t,” she said.

Neither the bank’s attorneys or the real estate agent involved in the case returned calls Friday. But foreclosure experts said while the lock-changing was done unusually quickly, it appears the lender and its representatives acted within their rights to secure and protect the property.

Still, experts said the episode highlights a little-known and sometimes gray area of the foreclosure auction process: A waiting period before winning bidders can take possession.

“It has caused some problems,” said Shari Olefson, a Fort Lauderdale real estate attorney and author of “Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream,” Olefson is not involved in the Meyers’ case.

State law requires winning bidders to wait at least 10 full days before they can take title to a foreclosed property, in case there are any objections to the auction or new filings in the foreclosure court case. The waiting period begins when a court clerk issues a certificate of sale, usually on the same day as the auction.

If there are no objections or new court filings at the end of that 10-day window, then the clerk can issue a certificate of title.

But winning bidders, usually lenders, or their representatives sometimes change locks, board up windows and take other action to secure the property before that time is up — especially if they suspect it is abandoned or vacant, experts say.

“They’re mostly worried about further damage to the property,” said Dawn Bates-Buchanan, managing attorney of Gulf Coast Legal Services Inc. in Bradenton.
Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/2010/07/12/2424215/foreclosure-wait-period-can-lead.html#ixzz0tZMQ8Esm

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in auction, Eviction, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, GMAC, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, trespassingComments (0)

Trespassing, Breach of Contract Claim: DIXON v. MIDLAND MORTGAGE CO.

Trespassing, Breach of Contract Claim: DIXON v. MIDLAND MORTGAGE CO.


RON DIXON, As Conservator for Beatrice Jiggetts, Plaintiff,
v.
MIDLAND MORTGAGE CO., Defendant.

Civil Action No. 09-1789 (RWR).

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

June 29, 2010.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD W. ROBERTS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Beatrice Jiggetts brings this action against the defendant, Midland Mortgage Company (“Midland”), alleging claims of trespass, conversion, and breach of contract arising out of Midland changing the locks and foreclosing on her home. Midland moves to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that its home entry was authorized because Jiggetts defaulted on her mortgage and abandoned her home, that the law of conversion applies to personal property and not real property, and that the complaint fails to allege the elements of a contract. Because conversion applies only to chattel, Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s conversion claim will be granted. However, because the complaint amply states a cause of action for both trespass and breach of contract and Midland does not show it was authorized to enter Jiggetts’s home, Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s trespass and breach of contract claims will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Jiggetts co-owned with Charles L. Chesley a single-family home located in Washington, D.C. (Compl. ¶ 4.) For the past several years, however, Jiggetts has lived in a nursing home because she suffers from dementia. While Jiggetts was in the nursing home, Chesley was to make the monthly mortgage payments on the property, but failed to do so. (Id. ¶ 5.) Thus, Midland chose to foreclose. (Id. ¶ 6.)

Jiggetts alleges that, on approximately July 16, 2009, her conservator, Ron Dixon, came to an agreement with Midland to postpone the foreclosure sale until August 19, 2009 in order to give Dixon an opportunity to secure a buyer for the house and avoid foreclosure. (Id. ¶ 10.) Midland then scheduled a foreclosure sale for August 19, 2009. (Id. ¶ 7.) During the last week of July, Dixon found a potential buyer and asked Chesley to prepare the property for the potential buyer’s visit. (Id. ¶ 11.) When Chesley arrived, he discovered that the locks on the property had been changed. (Id.) Chesley and Dixon contacted Midland, and Midland’s attorney told them that the deed of trust authorized Midland’s entry into the property. (Id.) Midland ultimately gave Dixon the combination to unlock the house. (Id. ¶ 12.)

Jiggetts brought suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging that Midland’s entry into the property and alteration of the locks constituted trespass and conversion (id. ¶¶ 14-19) and a breach of contract. (Id. ¶¶ 21-24.) Midland removed this action to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction and now moves to dismiss, arguing that it cannot be held liable for trespass because it had a superior possessory interest in the property, that the law of conversion applies to personal property only, and that Jiggetts has failed to state a claim for breach of contract.[ 1 ]

DISCUSSION

“`To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, acceptable as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”‘” Anderson v. Holder, 691 F. Supp. 2d 57, 61 (D.D.C. 2010) (brackets omitted) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007))). A court considering a 12(b)(6) motion takes all factual assertions within the complaint as true and gives a plaintiff “`the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.'” Id. (quoting Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft, 333 F.3d 156, 165 (D.C. Cir. 2003)). Those inferences, however, must be supported by the facts alleged, and merely asserting legal conclusions as facts will not suffice. Id. “[A] court `may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint and matters of which [a court] must take judicial notice.'” U.S. ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., 685 F. Supp. 2d 129, 133 (D.D.C. 2010) (alteration in original) (quoting Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 183 (D.C. Cir. 2006)). A document outside the complaint may be considered on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) if it is “referred to in the complaint and [is] integral to” the plaintiff’s claim. Kaempe v. Myers, 367 F.3d 958, 965 (D.C. Cir. 2004).

I. TRESPASS CLAIM

Under District of Columbia law, “`[a] trespass is an unauthorized entry onto property that results in interference with the property owner’s possessory interest therein.'” Sarete, Inc. v. 1344 U St. Ltd. P’ship, 871 A.2d 480, 490 (D.C. 2005) (quoting Richard R. Powell, Powell on Real Property § 64A.02[1] at 64A-16 (Michael A. Wolf ed., 2000)). Jiggetts contends that Midland trespassed on her property when it entered her property and changed the locks. Midland does not dispute that it entered the property and changed the locks. Its sole argument against Jiggetts’s trespass claim is that its entry was lawful because Jiggetts abandoned the property. (Def.’s Mem. at 3-4.)

Midland’s argument is misguided, however. In the District of Columbia, abandonment is defined as an anticipatory breach wherein a tenant “`leaves the premises vacant with the avowed intention not to be bound by [the] lease.'” Jones v. Cain, 804 A.2d 322, 331 (D.C. 2001) (quoting Simpson v. Lee, 499 A.2d 889, 894 (D.C. 1985)). The complaint does not allege or concede facts reflecting that Jiggetts intended to abandon her property. Instead, the complaint reflects that Jiggetts had every intention of maintaining the monthly mortgage payments. (See, e.g., Compl. ¶ 5 (“While [Jiggetts was] in the nursing home, Chesley was supposed to be making the monthly mortgage payments on the subject property.”).) Moreover, while Midland claimed that the deed of trust authorized Midland to enter the property upon default (see id. ¶ 11), Midland has not presented any copy of the deed of trust mentioned in the complaint or any other agreement granting it the right to enter the property upon Jiggetts’s failure to make the mortgage payments. Because Jiggetts has pled that Midland entered her property without consent and changed the locks, preventing entry by the owners, and Midland has failed to show it was otherwise authorized to take that action, Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s trespass claim will be denied.

II. CONVERSION CLAIM

Under District of Columbia law, conversion is defined as the “`intentional exercise of dominion or control over a chattel which so seriously interferes with the right of another to control it that the actor may justly be required to pay the other the full value of the chattel.'” Edmonds v. United States, 563 F. Supp. 2d 196, 202 (D.D.C. 2008) (quoting Fed. Fire Protection Corp. v. J.A. Jones/Tompkins Builders, Inc., 267 F. Supp. 2d 87, 92 n.3 (D.D.C. 2003)). A chattel is defined as “`[m]ovable or transferable property; personal property; . . . [or] a physical object . . . not the subject matter of real property.'” Doe ex rel. Doe v. Fed. Express Corp., 571 F. Supp. 2d 330, 333 (D. Conn. 2008) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)) (first alteration in original). Jiggetts argues that the defendant “converted [her] leasehold interest, in the subject property, to [its] own interest” by entering the property and changing the locks. (Pl.’s Opp’n at 3.) However, the leasehold interest in her home is the subject matter of real property and is not chattel, see District Of Columbia v. Place, 892 A.2d 1108, 1112 (D.C. 2006), and the law of conversion does not apply to real property. Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s conversion claim will be granted.

III. BREACH OF CONTRACT CLAIM

A contract is formed when there is an offer, an acceptance, and valuable consideration, see Paul v. Howard Univ., 754 A.2d 297, 311 (D.C. 2000), and a contract can be made orally or in writing. See Ames v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., Civil Action No. 06-2039 (RMC), 2007 WL 1404443, at *2 (D.D.C. May 11, 2007). The complaint alleges that Midland “agreed to postpone the foreclosure until August 19, 2009, in order to allow [Dixon] to attempt to sell the property to avoid the foreclosure” and that the defendant breached an agreement when it entered the property and changed the locks. (Compl. ¶¶ 10, 22.) Midland contends that the breach of contract claim must be dismissed because “plaintiff attaches no proof of such an agreement to the Complaint.” (Def.’s Mem. at 6.)

On a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff is not required to prove each element of her claim. Instead, she is merely required to plead facts that, if proven, would establish the elements of her claim. Moreover, while Jiggetts fails to plead facts reflecting that Midland breached an agreement to postpone the foreclosure sale because she does not allege that a foreclosure sale took place before August 19, 2009, Jiggetts’s complaint can be read to state a claim that Midland breached the parties’ mortgage agreement. The complaint refers generally to a contract and states that Midland breached an agreement by breaking into and changing the locks on the doors. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Further, Jiggetts’s opposition states that “[w]hen the Defendant changed the locks . . . without an order of the court to do so, it was a breach of their mortgage contract[.]” (Pl.’s Opp’n at 4.) Because a court is to grant the plaintiff the benefit of all inferences derived from the facts alleged, and the complaint — read in the light most favorable to Jiggetts — contains sufficient factual matter to state a claim for breach of the parties’ mortgage agreement, Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s breach of contract claim will be denied.[ 2 ]

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Because conversion applies only to chattel, Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s conversion claim will be granted. However, the complaint alleges a trespass and, read in the light most favorable to Jiggetts, a breach of contract claim. Thus, Midland’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s trespass and breach of contract claims will be denied. Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED that Midland’s motion [5] to dismiss be, and hereby is, GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Jiggetts’s conversion claim is dismissed, but Midland’s motion is denied in all other respects.

1. Midland also argues that its motion should be granted because Jiggetts’s opposition brief was not timely filed. (Def. Midland Mortgage Co.’s Reply to Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss at 1.) Although Jiggetts’s opposition was filed beyond the time prescribed by the local civil rules, the circumstances here support abiding by the general judicial preference for resolving disputes on their merits rather than dismissing them based on technicalities. See, e.g., Niedermeier v. Office of Baucus, 153 F. Supp. 2d 23, 27 (D.D.C. 2001).
2. Plaintiff seeks punitive damages on each of her claims (Compl. ¶¶ 16, 19, 24), which the defendant opposes. In the District of Columbia, “punitive damages are not available [w]here the basis of a complaint is . . . breach of contract[,]” Caston v. Butler, Civil Action No. 08-1656 (JDB), 2010 WL 2505591, at *1 (D.D.C. June 22, 2010) (first alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted), unless the plaintiff alleges that the breach of contract “`merges with, and assumes the character of a willful tort[.]'” Cambridge Holdings Group, Inc. v. Fed. Ins. Co., 357 F. Supp. 2d 89, 97 (D.D.C. 2004) (quoting Brown v. Coates, 253 F.2d 36, 39 (D.C. Cir. 1958)). Further, in order to recover punitive damages, “[plaintiff] must `prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the [defendant] committed a tortious act, and by clear and convincing evidence that the act was accompanied by conduct and a state of mind evincing malice or its equivalent.'” Butera v. District of Columbia, 235 F.3d 637, 657 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (quoting Jonathan Woodner Co. v. Breeden, 665 A.2d 929, 938 (D.C. 1995)). The tortious act must be accompanied by “fraud, ill will, recklessness, wantonness, oppressiveness, wilful disregard of the plaintiff’s right, or other circumstances tending to aggravate the injury.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Jiggetts alleges that the defendant’s trespass was “willful, wanton, intentional, [and] malicious” (Compl. ¶ 15), and that her breach of contract claim “merges with and assumes the character of a willful tort.” (Id. ¶ 24.) Such allegations, if proven, could entitle her to punitive damages. Thus, defendant’s motion to dismiss Jiggetts’s punitive damages claim will be denied.

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