United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KAROLINE MEHALCHICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is a filing submitted by pro se plaintiff,
Molita Woodley (hereinafter “Woodley”), construed
by the Court as a complaint seeking injunctive
relief. (Doc. 1). In addition to the filing of her
complaint, Woodley has also filed the following motions,
which remain pending before this Court: a Motion to Proceed
in forma pauperis (Doc. 2); a Motion for Extension of Time to
File Brief and Motion to Exceed Page Limit (Doc. 8); and a
Motion to Expedite and Motion to Stay Proceedings (Doc. 9).
Having conducted its statutory screening review of the
complaint, the Court respectfully recommends that the motion
to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) be GRANTED, but that
the complaint (Doc. 1) be DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
Background and Procedural History
January 31, 2018, Woodley filed the instant complaint,
which names U.S. Bank National Association (hereinafter
“US Bank NA”) as the sole defendant. (Doc. 1).
The same day, Woodley also filed a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Doc. 2). Although Woodley's complaint is not
entirely clear, she appears to directly appeal an order
issued on January 30, 2018 (the “January
30th Order”) by Pennsylvania State Court
Judge Arthur L. Zulick (“Judge Zulick”) of the
Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County. (Doc. 1, at 1,
¶1). Woodley further requests a stay and injunction of
all State Court orders issued by Judge Zulick, pending review
of his conduct in ordering a praecipe for writ of
possession on December 27, 2017 (the “Writ of
Possession”), and denying her petition for an emergency
injunction on January 26, 2018 (the “January
26th Order”). (Doc. 1, at 3-4,
¶¶1-10; Doc. 1, at 8-9). As gleaned from the
complaint, Woodley ultimately seeks to both challenge and
avoid enforcement of the Writ of Possession, the January
26th Order, and the January 30th Order
(collectively, the “State Court Orders”). (Doc.
1, at 3-6, ¶¶6-20; Doc. 1, at 8-9).
facts that form the basis of Woodley's complaint stem
from a mortgage foreclosure and subsequent ejection action
initiated by U.S. Bank NA in state court. The January
30th Order issued by Judge Zulick described much
of the factual and procedural background of the state court
litigation as follows:
“The background of this case began on May 18, 2012 when
U.S. Bank NA filed a mortgage foreclosure
action…against Darius Woodley and Molita Woodley. The
court stayed the proceedings in the foreclosure action from
December 20, 2012 through September 18, 2013 while the
Woodleys and U.S. Bank NA participated in the Monroe County
Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, but the Woodleys were
unsuccessful in reaching a resolution with their mortgage
creditor. The lender then took a default judgment in the
mortgage foreclosure case against the Woodleys on November 1,
2013. The property was executed upon and sold at
sheriff's sale on January 26, 2017. A Sheriff's deed
was recorded to the executing creditor on February 24, 2017.
Molita Woodley filed an appeal to the Superior Court on March
7, 2017 in that foreclosure case. The Superior Court quashed
the appeal on June 7, 2017.
US Bank [NA] then commenced [an] action for ejectment against
Darius Woodley and Molita Woodley at No. 1669 Civil 2017 on
March 17, 2017. A motion for summary judgment was granted in
the action on July 6, 2017, and a praecipe for judgment was
filed and judgment entered on July 24, 2017. A writ of
possession was issued on the same day.
Molita Woodley filed a Notice of Appeal to the Superior Court
on August 3, 2017. On October 6, 2017 the Superior Court
quashed the appeal for failure to comply with Pa.R.A.P.
U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket
the Superior Court dismissed Woodley's appeal, Judge
Zulick ordered the Writ of Possession with respect to the
Disputed Property. U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley,
Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.); (Doc. 2,
at 7-9). Woodley subsequently requested that the Pennsylvania
Judicial Conduct Board (“PJCB”) investigate Judge
Zulick's actions (Doc. 2, at 4-5), and filed a petition
for emergency ex parte injunction on January 26, 2018,
pending the outcome of the PJCB's determination. U.S.
Bank National Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017
(Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.); (Doc. 2, at 23-24). Judge Zulick,
however, denied this petition in his January 26th
Order, which Woodley appealed to the Superior Court of
Pennsylvania on January 29, 2018. U.S. Bank National
Assoc. v. Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty.
C.C.P.); Woodley v. U.S. Bank National Assoc., Docket
No. 562-EDA-2018 (Pa. Super. Ct.); (Doc. 2, at 36-38).
The same day, Woodley filed a similar petition for an
emergency ex parte injunction in state court, which Judge
Zulick once again considered and denied in his January
30th Order. U.S. Bank National Assoc. v.
Woodley, Docket No. 1669-CV-2017 (Monroe Cnty. C.C.P.);
(Doc. 2, at 14-21; Doc. 7, at 1-3). Therein, Judge Zulick
concluded the following:
“The only defense that Ms. Woodley raises in her
petition now before the court is that she received a
discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, this is an
action for possession of property owned by U.S. Bank [NA]. A
discharge in bankruptcy does not extinguish valid liens on a
property of a debtor. A discharge voids and prospectively
enjoins collection of a judgment as the personal liability of
a debtor. The injunction does not prevent a creditor from
enforcing a valid lien on property existing prior to the time
of the entry of the order for relief. In Re Wells,
125 B.R. 908, 909 (Bkrtcy D.Del. 1991).
US Bank [NA] has obtained ownership of what was the Woodley
property through a lawful means in a foreclosure action
before this court. It then properly obtained final judgment
in this ejectment action. U.S. Bank [NA] now has the right to
recover possession of its property. Nothing in the Woodley
petition before the court suggests otherwise.”
U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Darius Woodley
and Molita Woodley, No.
appellate review of the January 26th Order was
pending in State Court,  Woodley initiated the instant action in
Federal Court, seemingly in an effort to appeal the January
30thOrder. (Doc. 1); Woodley v. U.S. Bank
National Assoc., Docket No. 562-EDA-2018 (Pa. Super.
Ct.). In her complaint, Woodley avers that the January
30th Order was contrary to the Pennsylvania Rules of
Civil Procedure and ultimately violated her civil rights.
(Doc. 1, at 1-2, ¶¶1-2). Woodley also seemingly
asserts that U.S. Bank NA illegally brought the state court
foreclosure and ejectment actions against her, as the
outstanding mortgage amount was “flawed” by
virtue of the Disputed Property's discharge in a previous
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding (the “Bankruptcy
Proceeding”). (Doc. 1, at 6, ¶4). She further
contends that U.S. Bank NA “robbed [her of the Disputed
Property] with judicial assistance, ” as it failed to
communicate with her regarding the Disputed Property
“for any reason.” (Doc. 1, at 6-7,
¶¶4-5). Similarly, although not named as a party to
the instant action as initiated, Woodley argues that Judge
Zulick lacked the authority to invalidate her discharge of
the Disputed Property granted in the Bankruptcy Proceeding.
(Doc. 1, at 5, ¶15). Woodley further contends that Judge
Zulick deprived her of protection under the color of law, as
he presided over, or made appearances in, a number of federal
and state court actions that she participated in. (Doc. 1, at
2, ¶ 2). As such, Woodley claims that her compliance
with the State Court Orders would be “unconstitutional
and otherwise inappropriate.” (Doc. 1, at 5,
matter is now before the Court pursuant to its statutory
screening obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to
screen a complaint and dismiss it if it fails ...