United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED FINDINGS AND
STEPHAN M. VIDMAR, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER is before me on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
[Docs. 22, 25], filed on September 6, 2019. Plaintiff never
responded, and the time for doing so has passed. The
Honorable James O. Browning, United States District Judge,
referred the case to me for proposed findings and a
recommended disposition. [Doc. 16]. I have considered the
briefing, the relevant portions of the record, and the
relevant law. Being otherwise fully advised in the premises,
I recommend that Defendants' Motion be GRANTED and that
Plaintiff be given 30 days to move to amend her Complaint.
instant dispute arises over a series of transfer-on-death
deeds that allegedly deprived Plaintiff of an expectation in
her father's estate. Plaintiff's father, Ronald Dal
Alexander (“Ronald”), owned a farm in Lea County,
New Mexico. [Doc. 1] at 5. Plaintiff worked at the farm for
at least 20 years. Id. Plaintiff's
sisters-Defendants Dena Kirkpatrick and Teri George- had not
worked on the farm. Id. at 6. Ronald executed a will
on December 13, 2017, specifying that Plaintiff, Kirkpatrick,
and George would share equally in his estate after he died.
alleges that on or about April 16, 2018, Defendants,
“exercising undue and improper influence over Ronald
Dal Alexander[, ] cause[d] him to execute two Transfer on
Death deeds.” Id. These deeds “conveyed
the bulk of the estate to [Defendants] and exclude[ed]
Plaintiff . . . from any interest in the farm.”
Id. Ronald also executed transfer-on-death deeds
transferring other property to Plaintiff. [Doc. 6] at 3-4.
Ronald died two days later. [Doc. 1] at 6.
filed her Complaint in New Mexico state court on March 29,
2019. [Doc. 1] at 5. She brings three causes of action
against Defendants. First, she requests that the Court
declare the transfer-on-death deeds transferring property to
her sisters invalid because her father “may not have
been competent to execute the deeds” or, alternatively,
because “the acts of Defendant[s] were intended to
override the will of [her father] and Defendants induced him
by improper means to execute the deeds.” Id.
at 6. Second, she claims that by depriving her of an interest
in the farm, Defendants were unjustly enriched. Id.
at 7-8. Third, she claims that by “intentionally
attempt[ing] to void the express wishes of [her father] to
distribute his estate in a manner . . . allow[ing] Plaintiff
to continue to operate the family farming business, ”
Defendants committed a prima facie tort. Id. at 8.
removed the case to federal court on June 4, 2019, based on
diversity jurisdiction. [Doc. 1]. They filed their Amended
Answer and Counterclaim on November 24, 2019. [Doc. 28]. In
their Amended Counterclaim, Defendants seek a declaratory
judgment validating all transfer-on-death deeds signed by
Ronald on or about April 16, 2018. [Doc. 28] at 4-5.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint
“must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility requires that the
plaintiff plead facts that allow “the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant[s] [are] liable for
the misconduct alleged.” Id. The factual
allegations in the complaint “must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Christy Sports, LLC v. Deer Valley Resort Co., 555
F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2009). The complaint must provide
“more than labels and conclusions” or merely
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” because “courts are not bound to accept
as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
“The court must view all reasonable inferences in favor
of the plaintiff . . . .” Ruiz v. McDonnell,
299 F.3d 1173, 1181 (10th Cir. 2002). “[I]n analyzing
the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint, the court
need accept as true only the plaintiff's well-pleaded
factual contentions, not his conclusory allegations.”
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir.
Rule 12(b)(6) analysis requires two inquiries. First, courts
identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not
entitled to the assumption of truth, ” that is, those
allegations that are legal conclusions, bare assertions, or
merely conclusory. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Second,
courts consider the factual allegations “to determine
if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.”
Id. at 680-81. If the allegations state a plausible
claim for relief, such claim survives the motion to dismiss.
See Id. at 682-83. However, “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, ” are insufficient.
Id. at 678.
proceeds pro se. Pro se pleadings are interpreted liberally,
see Swoboda v. Dubach, 992 F.2d 286, 289 (10th Cir.
1993), though they must comply with the basic requirements of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, see Yang v.
Archuleta, 525 F.3d 925, 927 n.1 (10th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Ogden v. San Juan Cty., 32 F.3d 452, 455
(10th Cir. 1994)).
move to dismiss Plaintiff's unjust-enrichment claim and
prima facie tort claim. They contend that the Court should
dismiss Plaintiff's unjust-enrichment claim because
Plaintiff fails to allege facts regarding the manner in which
Defendants deprived her of her expectation in her
father's estate. Id. at 3. They argue that
Plaintiff's prima facie tort claim should be dismissed