United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
October 13, 2005.
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff,
VICKI NAGLE AND JEFFREY ALLEN JABLONSKI, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SCHWAB, District Judge
Pro se defendants, Vicki Nagle and Jeffrey Allen Jablonski,
filed a notice of removal from the state court of Pennsylvania
where an action in ejectment was previously pending. In their
notice of removal, defendants allege that plaintiff has no legal
right to title or possession of defendants' property, that Judge
Friedman, and the "United States Superior and Supreme Court"
committed "fraud in law," and that plaintiff committed "fraud in
fact." It appears from the notice of removal that defendants seek
an order denying the action in ejectment.
Currently pending before this Court is defendants' motion for
leave to proceed In Forma Pauperis (IFP). Although this Court
will grant defendants' motion for IFP, this Court will sua
sponte dismiss this case because the factual allegations in the
notice of removal amount to nothing more than a collateral attack
on the state court judgments. This "Cause of Action" therefore
raises insurmountable Rooker-Feldman hurdles. See District of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983);
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923).
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a question of federal subject
matter jurisdiction that this Court is not free to ignore. Gulla
v. North Strabane Township, 146 F.3d 168, 170-71 (3d Cir. 1998). "Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, lower federal courts
cannot entertain [federal] claims that have been previously
adjudicated in state court or that are inextricably intertwined
with a state adjudication." FOCUS v. Allegheny County Court of
Common Pleas, 75 F.3d 834, 840 (3d Cir. 1996). Moreover, the
state level decision need not be of its highest court, and the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies equally to final decisions of
lower state courts. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries
Corp., 364 F.3d 102, 104 (3d Cir. 2004), citing FOCUS,
75 F.3d at 840.
Given the liberality with which federal courts construe pro
se complaints, this Court would ordinarily give defendants an
opportunity to show cause why this action should not be dismissed
for want of subject matter jurisdiction. However, defendants'
affirmative averments demonstrate that, even if the complaint
could be read to sustain a federal question or diversity of
citizenship jurisdiction, their cause of action is a "spin-off"
of a state court action, that it suffers a fatal Rooker-Feldman
defect, and that it must, therefore, be dismissed with prejudice.
Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2) provides:
Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion
thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines
(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or
(B) the action or appeal
(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who
is immune from such relief.
The standard under which a district court may dismiss an action
as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) (the predecessor to section 1915
was clarified by the Supreme Court in Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319
(1989). Dismissal is appropriate both
when the action is "based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory" and when it posits "factual contentions [that] are
clearly baseless." Id. at 327.
Accordingly, given that this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, this Court will sua sponte dismiss this action as
frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. An appropriate order follows. Order of Court
AND NOW, this 13th day of October, 2005, for the reasons
set forth in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that this defendants' motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis (doc. no. 1) is GRANTED and that this action is
DISMISSED with prejudice.
The Clerk of Court is directed to mark this case closed.
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