same facts, Travis also advances state
claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious
abuse of process against all of the defendants. Id. In addition, he
alleges false imprisonment against Fasy Dowds and the Court Defendants.
Id. Travis also seeks declaratory relief as well as compensatory and
punitive damages for both the alleged constitutional violations and the
state law tort claims. Am. Supp. Comp. at 15-17.
A. Absolute Immunity for the Judicial Defendants
The Judicial Defendants enjoy absolute immunity against suits for
monetary damages regarding their judicial acts. Stump v. Sparkman,
435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978). Judges enjoy absolute immunity even when there
are charges that the judge acted maliciously; it exists "however
erroneous the act may have been, and however injurious in its
consequences it may have proved to the plaintiff." Bradley v. Fisher,
80 U.S. 335, 347 (1871). The immunity extends to judicial tasks, not to
administrative or executive ones. Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219
The plaintiff does not allege that the Judicial Defendants acted
or failed to act outside of their judicial function. Accordingly,
Travis' federal and state law claims for money damages against the
Judicial Defendants are barred.
B. Rooker-Feldman Doctrine
A federal district court has limited subject matter jurisdiction. See
Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., Inc., 905 F.2d 42,
45 (3rd Cir. 1990); see also Liakakos v. CIGNA Corp., 704 F. Supp. 583,
584 n. 1 (E.D.Pa. 1988). The plaintiff has the burden of proving that
jurisdiction exists. See Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n,
549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). A Rule 12(b)(1) challenge may be either
a factual or facial challenge to the complaint. See Mortensen v. First
Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). In the case
of a factual challenge, the court is free to consider and weigh evidence
outside the pleadings to resolve factual issues bearing on jurisdiction
and to satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case.
Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal district court does not
have subject matter jurisdiction over challenges to state court
decisions. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149,
68 L.Ed. 362 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206 (1983). A federal claim is
an impermissible challenge to a state court decision under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine when entertaining the federal claim would be
equivalent to an appellate review of the state court order. See FOCUS v.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, 75 F.3d 834, 840 (3d Cir. 1996).
The Third Circuit explained that "federal district courts lack subject
matter jurisdiction to review final adjudications of a state's highest
court or to evaluate constitutional claims that are `inextricably
intertwined with the state court's [decision] in a judicial proceeding.'"
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine also applies to final decisions of lower
state courts. See Port Authority Police Benevolent Assoc., v. Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Dept., 973 F.2d 169, 177-78
(3d Cir. 1992). Blake v. Papadakos, 953 F.2d 68, 71 (3d Cir. 1992)
(quoting Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483 n. 16).*fn6 Additionally, the doctrine
applies not only to claims that were actually adjudicated in state court,
but also to claims that could have been raised in state court. See
Valenti v. Mitchell, 962 F.2d 288, 296 (3d Cir. 1992) (stating that "[w]e
reject . . . [plaintiff's] argument that since they never raised, and the
. . . [state court] never considered, their . . . [constitutional]
challenges, Rooker-Feldman cannot bar them from pursuing these claims in
federal court."). Therefore, any federal action in which the requested
relief would reverse or nullify the ruling of a state court is barred
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
Travis fails to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction. Travis
claims' are inextricably intertwined with the decisions of the Court of
Common Pleas and the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. The federal relief
sought by Travis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, § 1985(2), (3), and
§ 1986 can only be predicated upon a conviction that the Court of
Common Pleas and the Superior Court were wrong when they concluded that
the unavailability and alleged falsification of Travis' transcripts were
not valid and would not be material to the outcome this case or the
issues raised by Travis. Therefore, Travis' federal claims against the
Judicial Defendants, the ADA defendants, the Court defendants, the
Reporter Defendants and Gerald Alston are dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
Because of the absence of any supportable federal claims, I decline to
exercise jurisdiction over any of Travis' state law claims, including his
claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious abuse
of process, and false imprisonment. See United Mine Workers v. Gibbs,
383 U.S. 715, 728-29, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966).
AND NOW, this day of September 2002, I GRANT the motions of the
Judicial Defendants (Docket Entry #26), to DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE Travis'
claims for money damages. I also GRANT the motions of the Judicial
Defendants (Docket Entries #26 and #49), the ADA Defendants (Docket Entry
#25), the Court Defendants (Docket Entry #31), Janet Fasy Dowds (Docket
Entry #26) to DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE Travis' federal claims for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. Furthermore, on its own initiative the court
DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE Travis' federal claims against Leon O. Dark, Jay
Pensak, and Gerald Alston for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Travis' State law claims are remanded to the State court and must be
filed within thirty days of the date of this order of dismissal.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(d).