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Robinson v. Porges

January 29, 2010

SIMEON ROBINSON,
v.
BARBARA PORGES, ET AL.,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baylson, J.

MEMORANDUM RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND/OR FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

On January 12, 1996, plaintiff Simeon Robinson purchased the property at 511 Parrish Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ("the property"). Robinson now brings suit against numerous defendants for alleged violations of state and federal law arising from the foreclosure of, and his subsequent removal from, the property. Before the Court are many of defendants' Motions to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment (Docs. 21, 22, 26, 27, 32, 54, 55, 82, 95, 96), as well as defendant Barbara Porges's Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default (Doc. 84). As the Court finds it lacks jurisdiction over Robinson's claims, defendants' Motions will be granted.

I. FACTS

On July 29, 2002, defendant Credit-Based Asset Servicing and Securitization, LLC ("C-Bass") filed an action in mortgage foreclosure ("the Foreclosure Action") as to the property in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. See Credit-Based Asset Servicing & Securitization, LLC v. Robinson, No. 4128 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas July Term, 2002). On January 27, 2003, the court entered an order granting C-Bass's motion for summary judgment, which Robinson appealed. See Credit-Based Asset Servicing & Securitization, LLC v. Robinson, No. 816 EDA 2003 (Pa. Super. Ct. filed Mar. 17, 2003). The property was scheduled to be offered at a Sheriff's Sale, and on June 3, 2003, the court ordered that the Sheriff's Sale of the property was to be delayed two months, until August 5, 2003. Robinson twice moved to stay proceedings pending his appeal of the Foreclosure Action, which the court denied on July 14, 2003 and August 5, 2003; the Superior Court of Pennsylvania dismissed Robinson's appeal of the denial. See Credit-Based Asset Servicing & Securitization, LLC v. Robinson, No. 2800 EDA 2003 (Pa. Super. Ct. Nov. 6, 2003). On August 5, 2003, the Property was sold at Sheriff's Sale to defendant Joshua Cohen. Robinson discontinued his appeal of the Foreclosure Action, and on August 8, 2003, he filed a petition to set aside the Sheriff's Sale. The court denied this petition on November 17, 2003; the Superior Court quashed Robinson's appeal of this denial, and also denied his subsequent motion for reconsideration. See Credit-Based Asset Servicing & Securitization, LLC v. Robinson, No. 3826 EDA 2003 (Pa. Super. Ct. Aug. 20, 2004; Sept. 16, 2004). By deed dated February 7, 2005 and recorded April 29, 2005, the Sheriff of the City and County of Philadelphia conveyed the property to Cohen and defendant Barbara Porges.

Prior to the conveyance of the deed, on November 12, 2004, Cohen and Porges commenced a landlord-tenant action against Robinson ("the Landlord-Tenant Action") in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, seeking possession of the property. See Cohen v. Robinson, No. LT-04-11-12-1704 (Phila. Mun. Ct. filed Nov. 12, 2004). On January 3, 2005, that court entered default judgment for possession in favor of Cohen and Porges. On January 18, 2005, Robinson filed a petition to open the default judgment, which the court denied on February 11, 2005. On February 22, 2005, Robinson filed a petition to stay his eviction, which the court denied; Robinson filed a motion to reconsider, which the court also denied. Despite a subsequent attempt to evict him, Robinson continued to occupy the property.

By deed dated May 24, 2005 and recorded May 31, 2005, Cohen and Porges conveyed the property to defendant East West Realty Group, LLC ("East West"). By deed dated and recorded June 10, 2005, East West conveyed the property to defendant Advanced Real Estate Concepts, LP ("Advanced"). Robinson continued to occupy of the property throughout these conveyances.

On December 1, 2005, Advanced commenced an action in ejectment ("the Ejectment Action") in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Robinson. See Advanced Real Estate Concepts, LP v. Robinson, No. 3450 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas Nov. Term, 2005). On August 8, 2005, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Advanced; the Superior Court affirmed this determination on appeal, and denied Robinson's motion for reconsideration. See Advanced Real Estate Concepts, LP v. Robinson, No. 2397 EDA 2006 (Pa. Super. Ct. Apr. 2, 2007; May 22, 2007). Subsequently, Robinson was removed from the property.

On October 6, 2006, Robinson brought suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Cohen, Porges, the Sheriff of the City and County of Philadelphia, East West, and Advanced ("the Advanced Action"). See Robinson v. Advanced Real Estate Concepts, LP, No. 1172 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas Oct. Term, 2006). On April 3, 2007, the court sustained East West's preliminary objections and dismissed with prejudice the suit against it; the Superior Court quashed Robinson's appeal from this order. On July 23, 2007, the court sustained the preliminary objections of Advanced and the Sheriff of Philadelphia County and dismissed with prejudice the suit against both; the Superior Court quashed Robinson's appeal from these orders. See Robinson v. Advanced Real Estate Concepts, LP, No. 3348 EDA 2008 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 27, 2009).

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On April 14, 2007, Robinson filed a Complaint (Doc. 3) in the present action; on May 6, 2009, he filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 18). Robinson's Amended Complaint names numerous defendants and raises the following claims under federal and state law: "conspiracy to violate civil rights"; "violation of civil rights"; "malicious abuse of process"; "assault and battery and terrorist threats by defendants to cause plaintiff's false arrest"; "wrongful use of civil proceedings (42 Pa. C.S. § 8351)"; "civil fraud wrongful use of civil proceedings"; "intentional infliction of severe emotional distress"; "theft by deception"; and "reckless indifference, willful blindness, and outrageous conduct." Robinson seeks the following relief for these claims: "the return of his home as his own property with free and clear deed and title"; "actual damages in the amount of U.S. $2,500,000.00 exclusive of interests and costs"; "punitive damages twice the amount of actual damages awarded for defendants' outrageous conspiratorial conduct and intentional infliction of emotional distress"; "treble damages, as applicable under the RICO Act statutes"; and "such other relief as the Court finds appropriate." (Doc. 18 at 54--55). Defendants Alan Candell, Ftown Properties 3 LLC, and American Loan 2 LLC filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint calling for dismissal of the suit against them (Doc. 36), and as noted above, many defendants filed Motions to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment asserting, inter alia, that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over many of Robinson's claims.*fn1 Robinson submitted Responses to these Motions. (Doc. 67, 80, 86, 92). Upon Robinson's request, default was entered against Porges on September 28, 2009, for failure to appear, plead, or otherwise defend. On December 1, 2009, Porges filed a Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default. (Doc. 84).

III. JURISDICTION

Robinson identifies numerous provisions as the basis for the Court's jurisdiction over this suit, including 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332(a)(1), 1343, and 1367. (Doc. 18 at 7--9). As noted, the Court's jurisdiction is contested, and will be addressed below. The Court notes, however, that it would not have jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship under § 1332(a)(1); as Robinson's Amended Complaint makes clear, he and many of the defendants are Pennsylvania citizens. Thus, to the extent the Court may have jurisdiction over Robinson's claims, it would arise only under §§ 1331 and 1343 with respect to his federal-law claims, and under § 1367 with respect to his state-law claims.

IV. ANALYSIS

When considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of persuading the Court that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991). The court "may not presume the truthfulness of plaintiff's allegations, but rather must evaluate for itself the merits of the jurisdictional claims." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks and alteration marks omitted). Defendants contend that, under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court lacks jurisdiction over many of Robinson's claims. "The Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes lower federal courts 'from exercising appellate jurisdiction over final state-court judgments' because such appellate jurisdiction rests solely with the United States Supreme Court." In re Madera, 586 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 463 (2006)); see generally D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). This doctrine only applies to the narrow class of "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. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005); see also Moncrief v. Chase Manhattan ...


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