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Everbank v. Jonnie Newton

November 23, 2012

EVERBANK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JONNIE NEWTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

I.INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Everbank purchased pro se Defendants Jonnie Newton and Kimberly Sanders's real property at a sheriff's sale. Everbank then filed an ejectment action against Defendants in order to have them removed from the property. No answer was filed and a default judgment was entered against Defendants. Several months later, after Everbank filed a writ to take possession of the property, Defendants removed the ejectment action to this Court, and also filed an "Emergency Motion to Vacate -Void Judgment." Everbank filed an Objection to Defendants' Notice of Removal. For reasons that follow, the Court will remand this case to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and deny Defendants' Emergency Motion to Vacate as moot.

II.BACKGROUND

On July 13, 2011, Everbank purchased Defendants' property located at 439 East Montana Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119 at a foreclosure sale. (Doc. No. 5 at 1.) On December 2, 2011, Everbank filed a complaint in ejectment against Defendants in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. (Id. at 1; Doc. No. 5--2 at 5--23.) On December 10, 2011, Defendants were served with the Complaint. (Doc. No. 5 at 2; Doc. No. 5--2 at 24--25.) On January 26, 2012, a default judgment was entered against Plaintiffs after they failed to answer the Complaint. (Doc. No. 5 at 2; Doc. No. 5--2 at 26.) On May 25, 2012, Plaintiff filed a praecipe for writ of possession on the property. (Doc. No. 5 at 2.) On July 26, 2012, Defendants removed the ejectment action to this Court (Doc. No. 1), and filed the motion entitled "Emergency Motion to Vacate -Void Judgment" (Doc. No. 2). On August 22, 2012, Plaintiff filed the Objection to Defendants' Notice of Removal.*fn1 (Doc. No. 5.) A hearing on the Objection to Defendants' Notice of Removal was held before this Court on October 10, 2012.

III.STANDARD OF REVIEW

The ability of a defendant in a state court action to remove a case to federal court is subject to several statutory limitations. The removal statute provides, in pertinent part:

Procedure for removal of civil actions (a) Generally. - A defendant or defendants desiring to remove any civil action from a State court shall file in the district court of the United States for the district and division within which such action is pending a notice of removal signed pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal, together with a copy of all process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant or defendants in such action.

(b) Requirements; generally. - (1) The notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is based, or within 30 days after the service of summons upon the defendant if such initial pleading has then been filed in court and is not required to be served on the defendant, whichever period is shorter. . . . .

(d) Notice to adverse parties and State court. - Promptly after the filing of such notice of removal of a civil action the defendant or defendants shall give written notice thereof to all adverse parties and shall file a copy of the notice with the clerk of such State court, which shall effect the removal and the State court shall proceed no further unless and until the case is remanded.

28 U.S.C. § 1446(a)--(b)(1), (d).

In addition, a district court has no jurisdiction to exercise appellate jurisdiction over a judgment of a state court. This principle of law is known as the "Rooker-Feldman doctrine." See Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923).

IV.ANALYSIS

Plaintiff has made several compelling arguments as to why this case should be remanded to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in their Objection to Defendant's Notice of Removal (Doc. No. 5), Memorandum of Law in Support of their Objection (Doc. No. 7), and during the hearing held on October 10, 2012. Defendants, who are proceeding pro se, did not file a response to Plaintiff's Objection. Defendants were present at the hearing, and were informed by the Court that they had a right to file a response to Plaintiff's Objection. After the hearing, an Order was entered on the same day granting Defendants leave to file a response by October 24, 2012. (Doc. No. 14.) Despite being granted such leave, Defendants did not file a response. After ...


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