United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. MARIANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Complaint filed by Plaintiffs Gloria
Sun Jung Yun and the Trustee of the Gloria Sun Jung Yun Trust
against Defendants Bank of America, N.A., Wilmington Savings
Fund Society, FSB, Stern & Eisenberg, P.C., Phelan
Hallinan Diamond & Jones, PLLC, and Reed Smith, LLC.
(Doc. 1). Accompanying the Complaint is a Motion for Leave to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis, (Doc. 3), and an
Emergency Motion for Injunctive Relief, (Doc. 2). Upon review
of the filings, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' Motion
for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. For the
reasons that follow, however, the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' Complaint and will
therefore dismiss the Complaint and the Motion for Injunctive
filings, fairly construed, allege that Wilmington Savings
Fund Society, FSB, prevailed in a state court foreclosure
action against Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege that judgment
was obtained by fraud because Plaintiffs were prevented from
conducting any discovery and Defendants failed to present any
evidence of the original promissory note. As a result of the
state court judgment, Plaintiffs are presently facing
eviction. Through this federal action, Plaintiffs seek to
vacate the state court judgment and prevent a pending
eviction from occurring.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is
not to be expanded by judicial decree." Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114
S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994) (internal citations
[T]he federal courts are without power to adjudicate the
substantive claims in a lawsuit, absent a firm bedrock of
jurisdiction. When the foundation of federal authority is, in
a particular instance, open to question, it is incumbent upon
the courts to resolve such doubts, one way or the other,
before proceeding to a disposition of the merits.
Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan
Ass'n, 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir. 1977).
jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause.
Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases
to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of
announcing the fact and dismissing the cause." Ex
parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506, 514, 19 L.Ed. 264
(1868). This rule "'spring[s] from the nature and
limits of the judicial power of the United States' and is
'inflexible and without exception."' Steel
Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83,
94-95, 118 S.Ct. 1003, 140 L.Ed.2d 210 (1998) (alteration
original) (quoting Mansfield, C. & L M. Ry. Co. v.
Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382, 4 S.Ct. 510, 28 L.Ed. 462
the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). "[T]he burden of establishing the
[existence of subject-matter jurisdiction] rests upon the
party asserting jurisdiction." Kokkonen, 511
U.S. at 377. This is because, as a result of strict
constitutional and statutory limits on federal courts'
jurisdiction, "[i]t is to be presumed that a cause lies
outside this limited jurisdiction." Id.
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents federal district
courts from exercising jurisdiction "[i]n certain
circumstances, where a federal suit follows a state
suit." Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox
Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 163-64 (3d Cir. 2010). The
doctrine originated from two Supreme Court opinions issued
over the course of six decades, Rooker v. Fidelity Trust
Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923) and
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206 (1983).
"The doctrine is derived from 28 U.S.C. § 1257
which states that '[f]inal judgments or decrees rendered
by the highest court of a state in which a decision could be
had, may be reviewed by the Supreme Court.'"
Gary v. Braddock Cemetery, 517 F.3d 195, 200 (3d
Cir. 2008) (alteration original). "'Since Congress
has never conferred a similar power of review on the United
States District Courts, the Supreme Court has inferred that
Congress did not intend to empower District Courts to review
state court decisions.'" Id. (quoting
Desi's Pizza, Inc. v. City of Wilkes Bane, 321
F.3d 411, 419 (3d Cir. 2003)).
doctrine is narrow in scope. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Saudi Basic Indus. Corp.,544 U.S. 280, 284, 125 S.Ct.
1517, 161 L.Ed.2d 454 (2005). It "is confined to cases
of the kind from which the doctrine acquired its name: 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." Id. The doctrine
is not implicated, however, "[i]f a federal plaintiff
'present[s] some independent claim, albeit one that
denies a legal conclusion that a state ...