United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. Hazel United States District Judge.
pending before the Court is Plaintiff Christopher
Carter's ex parte "2nd Emergency Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order, " filed against Lakeside
Reo Ventures, LLC and Woods Cove III, LLC (collectively,
"Defendants''). ECF No. 6. A
hearing is unnecessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). For the
reasons discussed below. Carter's Motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order is denied, and this case is dismissed for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
to the Complaint, Christopher Carter, along with his brother,
Nathan Carter, bought the property located at 7208 Hawthorne
Street, Landover, Maryland 20785 ("the Property")
in June 2006. ECF No. 1 ¶ 6. The Director of Finance and
Collector of State and City Taxes for Prince George's
County and the State of Maryland sold the Property on May 12,
2014 for real property taxes due and issued a Certificate of
Tax Sale to Woods Cove III, LLC. Id., ¶ 7, A
year later, on May 29, 2015, Defendants filed a complaint to
foreclose Carter's right of redemption in the Circuit
Court for Prince George's County (the "State
Court"), and a notice of eviction was placed on the
Property. Id. ¶ 8.
October 13, 2015, Judge Mittelstaedt of the Circuit Court for
Prince George's County "ordered that judgment be and
is hereby entered in favor of the Plaintiff [Lakeside Reo
Ventures, LLC and Wood Cove III, LLC], foreclosing the right
of redemption in the property described as 7208 Hawthorni
[sic] St., Landover, MD 20785." ECF No. 6-2 at
On May 26, 2016, the State Court instructed the Prince
George's County Sheriff that "[possession is to be
awarded to Plaintiff, REO Ventures, LLC, and any and all
occupants and belongings are to be Evicted from the property
located at 7208 Hawthorne Street, Landover, MD 20785."
August 31, 2016, Carter filed an Emergency Motion for a
Temporary Restraining Order with this Court. ECF No. 4. The
Court denied Plaintiffs Motion due to his failure to comply
with Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b)(1), which governs the issuance of
ex parte temporary restraining orders. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 65(b)(1); ECF No. 5. The Rule provides that the
Court "may issue a temporary restraining order without
written or oral notice to the adverse party or its attorney
only if: . . . (B) the movant's attorney certifies in
writing any efforts made to give notice and the reasons why
it should not be required." Id. Mr. Carter had
not certified in writing any efforts made to give notice to
the Defendants and the reasons why notice should not be
required. See TFFI Corp. v. Williams, No. 13-01809,
2013 WL 6145548, at *3 (D. Md. Nov. 20, 2013) (denying ex
parte temporary restraining order for failure to comply
with the procedural requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b)(1)).
the denial of his first Motion, Carter re-filed his Motion on
September 14, 2016, certifying that he "provided
Defendants counsel with actual notice of the instant filing,
and have forwarded to Defendants counsel all pleadings and
papers.7* ECF No. 6 at 1. In his Motion and Memorandum in
Support, Plaintiff raises concerns with the proceedings in
State Court. ECF No. 6; ECF No. 6-1. Specifically, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants "have never served Plaintiff
with process of its action regarding redemption of the
property ...'" and Defendants' Tax Purchase
Complaint "should be dismissed for insufficient service
of process." Id.,
STANDARD OF REVIEW
grant of a temporary restraining order or a preliminary
injunction is an "extraordinary remedy that may only be
awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled
to such relief." Dewhurst v. Cnty. Aluminum
Co., 649 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 555
U.S. 7, 22 (2008)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff must meet four requirements before being granted a
temporary restraining order:
(1) there is a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) there
is a likelihood the movant will suffer irreparable harm in
the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of
equities tips in movant's favor; and (4) the injunction
is in the public interest.
The Real Truth About Obama. Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm
% 575 F.3d 342, 347 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing
Winter, 555 U.S. at 20).
Court must determine subject matter jurisdiction before
considering the merits of the case. Jones v. Am. Postal
Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417, 422 (4th Cir. 1999).
"Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in
any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when
it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court
is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the
cause." Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better
Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998) (quoting Ex
parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 506, 514 (1868)). At this stage,
all well-pleaded factual allegations must be considered true
and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Harrison v. Weslinghouse Savannah River, Co.,
176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999).
put, "federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to
sit in appellate review of judicial determinations made in
state courts.'" Sanders v. Cohn, Goldberg, &
Deutsch, LLC, Civil Action No. DKC 15-1571, 2016 WL
223040, at *4 (D. Md. Jan. 19, 2016). This principle is known
as the "Rooker-Feldman doctrine." Id.;
see District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co.,263 U.S. 413 (1923). "Jurisdiction to review such state
court decisions lies exclusively with superior state courts,
and ultimately, the United States Supreme Court."
Plyer v. Moore,129 F.3d 728, 731 (4th Cir. 1997).
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal district
courts from hearing "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 Indus.