IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
June 26, 2009
TCIF REO CIT, LLC
PATRICIA R. GRAY, ET AL.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ludwig, J.
This is another attempt in this court (the fourth) by defendants Patricia R. Gray and T. Barry Gray to oppose foreclosure proceedings adjudicated in state court. For the reasons that follow, their motions to proceed in forma pauperis will be denied, and this action will be remanded to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County.*fn1
Defendants' first challenge to the state court foreclosure proceedings was in the form of a § 1983 action against the assigned judge in the foreclosure action and the sheriff who posted the property for sale. Gray v. Pagano, U.S.D.C., E.D. Pa., Civ. A. No. 07-2810. On July 13, 2007, that action was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rooker-Feldman, and on grounds of judicial and sovereign immunity.*fn2 Four days later, on July 17, 2007, defendants attempted to remove a "Motion to Avoid Fraudulent Transfer of Real Property" filed in the mortgage foreclosure action styled First Union Nat'l Bank v. Thelma L. Gray, et al., C.P. Delaware Co., No. 01-2757. See First Union Nat'l Bank v. Gray, U.S.D.C., E.D. Pa., Civ. A. No. 07-2948. On July 30, 2007, that action was remanded to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Abstention was appropriate in that case under both Rooker-Feldman and Younger.*fn3 Next, defendant T. Barry Gray commenced an action alleging that errors were made in the mortgage foreclosure proceeding involving the property at issue here (which was an asset of an estate in which Gray was executor.) T. Barry Gray v. Martinez, U.S.D.C., E.D. Pa., Civ. A. No. 08-2603. On July 10, 2008, Gray's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was denied by the Honorable Timothy J. Savage, and the action dismissed pursuant to the probate exception for lack of jurisdiction. Docket no. 9.*fn4 That decision is currently on appeal. (3d Cir., No.08-2968).
Presently, defendants attempt to remove an ejectment action pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County: TCIF REO CIT, LLC v. Patricia R. Gray, T. Barry Gray and All Occupants of 141 7th Avenue, C.P. Del. Co., No. 08-908.*fn5 However, this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the issues raised in the removed action. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars review of the previously adjudicated foreclosure action and the resulting sale of defendants' property to plaintiffs in the currently pending action in ejectment. That doctrine applies to "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 proceedings." Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). It bars the exercise of lower federal court jurisdiction over claims that were actually litigated in state court, or when the claim is inextricably intertwined with the state court's adjudication. ITT Corp. v. Intelnet Int'l. Corp., 366 F.3d 205, 210 (3d Cir. 2004).
Moreover, abstention is appropriate underYounger, because (1) state-court 30, 2009).
On June 19, 2009, in response to an order of court, defendants Patricia R. Gray and T. Barry Gray filed a document styled "Basis for Federal Jurisdiction." Docket no. 13. Defendants describe the basis for federal jurisdiction as follows:
This Honorable Court has original and supplemental jurisdiction of this action under federal jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1441(a), 1441(b), 1443 et seq. and 1446. The action may be removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441(a), 1441(b), 1441(c), 1443 et seq. and 1446.
This action is an ejectment civil suit; it alleges that the Defendants do not have the right to possession of the real property at 141 7th Avenue, Folsom, PA 19033, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Defendants believe their fourteenth amendment rights have been violated, among others and that the removal is justified by pursuant to [sic] violation of proceedings are ongoing; (2) the proceedings implicate an important state interest*fn6 ; and (3) those proceedings afford defendants an adequate opportunity to raise federal claims (if any).*fn7 Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Accordingly, this action will be remanded to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County. .
Edmund V. Ludwig, J.