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Lucas v. Citimortgage, Inc.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

May 22, 2013

CHRISTINE M. LUCAS Plaintiff,
v.
CITIMORTGAGE, INC. Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff, a resident of Cabin John, Maryland, filed this Complaint against CitiMortgage, Inc., invoking this court's federal question and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1332. She seemingly alleges that Defendant is about to take possession of the family property at 5 Carver Road, Cabin John, Maryland, and that a long term dispute of property ownership has existed due to the fraudulent misrepresentations of the former trustee, her brother Jonnie Lucas, Sr., who illegally used the property to obtain $500, 000.00 in loans. Plaintiff avers that many civil actions have been filed in the Maryland courts surrounding the real property. She seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis and asks that a hearing be conducted and that this court stay the execution of the 2012 decision of Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin.

In 2011, Plaintiff filed a federal Complaint against CitiMortgage, Inc. and the law firm that engaged in foreclosure proceedings involving the Carver Road property on behalf of CitiMortgage, Inc. See Lucas v, Bierman, Geesing, Ward, LLC, et al., Civil Action No. DKC-11-161 (D. Md.). The court found the Complaint was subject to dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Although Plaintiff makes conclusory allegations regarding violations of 31 U.S.C. § 3729, [1] she is for all intents and purposes attempting to collaterally attack state court orders involving the Cabin John property. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine will not permit him to do so. In District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983) and Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Company, 263 U.S. 413 (1923), the Supreme Court formulated a general rule which distinguishes general constitutional challenges to state laws and regulations over which federal courts have jurisdiction from requests for review of specific state court decisions over which they have no jurisdiction. Federal claims which are "inextricably intertwined with" state court decisions in judicial proceedings fall outside of the federal court's jurisdiction. See Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486-87. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is "confined to cases of the kind from which the doctrine acquired its name: cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments." Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, 544 U.S. 280, 284; see also Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 460 (2006); Davani v. Virginia Department of Transportation, 434 F.3d 712 (2006). Simply put, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a judiciallycreated doctrine that bars lower federal courts from reviewing certain state court actions. If the source of the alleged injury is the state court decision, then the Rooker-Feldman doctrine will apply to divest the district court of jurisdiction. See Hoblock v. Albany County Bd. of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 87 (2nd Cir. 2005).

Further, consideration of Plaintiff's claims would require the undersigned to reconsider prior state court decisions, including orders and judgments determining real property rights. As Plaintiff's allegations are "inextricably intertwined" with decisions of Maryland state courts, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction of these claims under Rooker-Feldman. [2] Therefore, the cause of action shall be dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257. Further, any state court decision is entitled to both issue and claim preclusive effect. See 28 U.S.C. § 1738, Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. Of Educ., 465 U.S. 75, 84-86 (1984). Federal courts must give the state judgments the same effect as would the courts of the judgment state.[3] Consequently, insofar as Plaintiff is seeking to re-file her concluded state court complaint against CitiMortgage, Inc. here, any state court judgment against Plaintiff bars her from seeking review over the matter in this court.

In sum, Plaintiff may not litigate anew claims previously dismissed by this court and the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. The Complaint shall be dismissed.[4]


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