United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO DISMISS
case, Plaintiff Daniel King ("King") alleges that
his Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights to due process
and equal protection were violated by Defendants Judge
Charles B. Burr ("Burr") and Riverwatch Condominium
Owner's Association ("Riverwatch"),
collectively "Defendants, " when Judge Burr entered
orders in an ongoing property damage litigation between King
and Riverwatch. Presently before the Court is Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject of matter jurisdiction
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
reasons discussed below, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
deprives the Court of subject-matter jurisdiction over
King's claims. Accordingly, Defendants' motion will
Factual and Procedural History
litigation on which the present case is based originated in
2008 as a result of an action in the Pennsylvania Court of
Common Pleas of Delaware County before the Honorable Charles
B. Burr initiated by King against Riverwatch. On June 21,
2010, Judge Burr entered judgment in the matter in favor of
Riverwatch on all of King's claims. (ECF No. 9, Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 20; 22). On July 12, 2010, King appealed
from the June 21, 2010 judgment based on his allegation that
the judgment had been entered when Judge Burr did not have
power of authority to exercise jurisdiction over the matter;
the validity of Judge Burr's ruling was affirmed on
appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. (Am. Compl.
¶ 24; ECF No. 10, Def Mot. I. ¶ 4). Two weeks
later, on July 28, 2010, Judge Burr entered a dispositive
order granting Riverwatch's preliminary objections and
dismissing all post-verdict motions ("2010 order").
(Am. Compl. ¶ 27). King again appealed to the
Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and his appeal was denied
once more. (ECF No. 11, Def. Mot. II ¶ 16).
years later, on February 21, 2014, Judge Burr conducted a
bench trial that resulted in an assessment of $30, 179.54 of
attorney's fees due by King to Riverwatch. (Am. Compl.
¶ 41). King filed an appeal from the order granting
Riverwatch's request for attorney's fees on March 20,
2014, arguing that the judgment was void because it was
entered before post-trial motions were due. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 42; 45). Judge Burr's determination was
again affirmed on appeal. (Def. Mot. II ¶ 16).
Thereafter, on April 1, 2014, Judge Burr entered a
dispositive order dismissing King's post-trial motions
("2014 order"). (Am. Compl. ¶ 46). King
appealed this disposition to the Commonwealth Court of
Pennsylvania, which stayed his motion pending a ruling by the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court. (Def. Mot. II ¶ 16).
has filed approximately forty-eight appeals related to this
litigation. (Def. Mot. II ¶ 15). The substance of his
contentions in these appeals is that Judge Burr had been
divested of jurisdiction, per Pennsylvania's
jurisdictional statutes, at the time he entered the 2010 and
2014 orders, and therefore they must be declared null and
void. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23-30; 42-49). In these
appeals, as in the instant matter, King asserts that the
enforcement of the 2010 and 2014 orders has deprived him of
"liberty and property rights in violation of due process
and equal protection." (Am. Compl. ¶ 29; 43).
commenced his federal suit on May 22, 2017, seeking
declaration of the invalidity of the 2010 and 2014 orders;
injunctive relief prohibiting the enforcement of the 2010 and
2014 orders; and reasonable damages. (ECF 1). On June 12,
2017, Judge Burr filed a Motion to Dismiss based principally
on the Court's lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and
also asserting alternative theories in support of dismissal.
(ECF 7). King filed an Amended Complaint on June 20, 2017.
(ECF 9). On June 26, 2017, Judge Burr moved to dismiss
King's Amended Complaint on the same grounds. (ECF 10).
On the same day, Riverwatch moved to dismiss King's
Amended Complaint in a separate motion, echoing the lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction based on the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (ECF 11). On July 14, 2017,
King filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss. (ECF 12). Three days later, on July 17, 2017,
King filed a Motion to Dismiss the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss, asserting that dismissal of Defendants' motion
was proper under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (ECF
13). Thereafter, on July 31, 2017, Defendants filed a Reply
in further support of their Motion to Dismiss, emphasizing
the impropriety of retaining jurisdiction over the matter
when the Rooker-Feldman doctrine mandated dismissal.
(ECF No. 14). Finally, King filed a Reply to Defendants'
Answer to his Motion to Dismiss on August 17, 2017. (ECF 14).
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
court "must grant" the motion if it "lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction to hear [the] claim." In
re Schering Plough Corp. Intron/Temodar Consumer Class
Action, 678 F.3d 235, 243 (3d Cir. 2012). A Rule
12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction may present 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 plaintiffs] claims to comport
[factually] with the jurisdictional prerequisites."
Id. (alteration in original) (internal quotation
challenge here is factual, not facial, because the Motion
challenges whether the district court has actual jurisdiction
to hear the case. Id. The fact that the Rule
12(b)(1) motion makes a factual attack has three important
procedural consequences for this Court: (1) "no
presumption of truthfulness attaches to the allegations of
the plaintiff; (2) the plaintiff has the burden of proving
subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) the court has the
authority to review evidence outside the pleadings and make
factual findings that are decisive to determining
jurisdiction. Id. at 139, 145.
seeks relief for alleged violations of his right to due
process and equal protection, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth
Amendment. In particular, King asserts that the 2010 and 2014
orders that Judge Burr entered are null and void because
Judge Burr lacked jurisdiction over these matters, and
therefore requests that this Court invalidate them.
move to dismiss under four independent theories: (1) that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives the Court of
subject-matter jurisdiction and therefore bars the suit; (2)
that the relief King seeks is improper, because declaratory
relief is not a remedy for past misconduct, and King has not
satisfied the Article III requirements for standing to obtain
injunctive relief; (3) that King's claims are barred by
the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury
actions, which is exceeded as to both of the orders for which
King is seeking redress; and (4) that Judge Burr,
individually, enjoys absolute ...