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Allen Wilburn Carroll v. County of Chester Tax Claim Bureau

August 17, 2011

ALLEN WILBURN CARROLL,
v.
COUNTY OF CHESTER TAX CLAIM BUREAU



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

MEMORANDUM RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Allen Wilburn Carroll ("Plaintiff") filed this pro se action against the County of Chester Tax Claim Bureau ("Defendant"), alleging that Defendant violated his constitutional rights by failing to pay Plaintiff the proceeds of a judicial sale of his property in "public money" rather than by check. Plaintiff's claims in this federal district court follow years of litigation in Pennsylvania state court and amount to nothing more than an attempt to overturn an unfavorable state court judgment.

Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Insufficiency of Process, and Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted, Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(4), and 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 4) The Court finds it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and will grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

II. Factual and Procedural History*fn1

On June 6, 2006, Defendant seized Plaintiff's property and evicted Plaintiff as a result of his failure to pay delinquent property taxes. Compl. ¶¶ 9-11. After the seizure and sale, Defendant was ordered to disburse "money" received from the sale. Compl. ¶ 12. Defendant issued Plaintiff a check for $24,878.78, the remaining balance after satisfaction of Plaintiff's liabilities. Compl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff refused to accept the check because it was not "money" or "public money." Compl. ¶ 17.*fn2 Plaintiff demanded payment in "public money" and sued Defendant in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Compl. ¶¶ 20, 23. Judge Edward Griffin ordered that the check be placed into an interest-bearing bank account in Plaintiff's name. Compl. ¶ 26. See In re Carroll, No. 05-01354, 2007 WL 5479809 (Pa. Com. Pl. Dec. 21, 2007) (unpublished), aff'd, Carroll v. County of Chester Tax Claim Bureau, 959 A.2d 956 (table) (Pa. Super. Ct. Jul. 21, 2008), appeal denied, 962 A.2d 1194 (table) (Dec. 17, 2008). Plaintiff avers that he did not receive a federal just compensation remedy or due process of law. Compl. ¶ 28. Plaintiff unsuccessfully appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, and then to the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania, which denied review. Compl. ¶¶ 30-31. Plaintiff "exhausted all remedies from the State of Pennsylvania" before filing this suit.*fn3

Compl. ¶ 32. Plaintiff filed this suit seeking "an order commanding the Defendant Bureau to pay Plaintiff Carroll $24,878.78 of public money" plus costs.

III. The Parties' Jurisdictional Contentions

Plaintiff alleges federal question jurisdiction, identifying 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1357, and the "due process" and "just compensation" clauses of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution as the basis for his claim. Compl. ¶ 2.*fn4

Defendant disputes that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff essentially asks this Court to review and reject a judgment of the Pennsylvania state courts.*fn5

IV. Standard of Review

When considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the Court's first task is to classify the motion as either a facial or a factual attack. CNA v. United States, 535 F.3d 132, 139 (3d Cir. 2008). A facial attack concerns an alleged pleading deficiency, whereas a factual attack concerns the actual failure of a plaintiff's claim to comport factually with the jurisdictional prerequisites. Id.

On a facial attack, the Court must consider the allegations of the complaint as true. Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). In contrast, there are three important consequences of a factual attack: (1) there is no presumption of truthfulness; (2) the plaintiff bears the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) the Court has authority to make factual findings on the issue, and can look beyond the pleadings to do so. CNA, 535 F.3d at 145. For example, on a factual attack, the Court can consider affidavits, depositions, and other testimony to resolve factual issues bearing on jurisdiction. Gotha v. United States, 115 F.3d 176, 179 (3d Cir. 1997). Indeed, if the defendant attaches factual materials to its motion to dismiss, the ...


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