Court, Kings County, for an order vacating the prior judgment of
foreclosure and sale dated November 14, 1994, on the ground that
Greenpoint had inadvertently failed to inform the Court that defendant
Algia Dockery had obtained a stay of the proceeding from the Hon. Jerome
Feller of the Bankruptcy Court. Greenpoint also requested that the Court
sign a new judgment of foreclosure and sale based on the December 2, 1994
vacatur of the bankruptcy stay. On December 1, 1995, Justice Aronin
issued an order vacating the prior judgment of foreclosure and sale
because the bankruptcy stay had been in effect at that time. The Court
held the remaining branch of plaintiff's motion, for entry of a new
judgment of foreclosure and sale, in abeyance pending a traverse
In Supreme Court, Kings County, Dockery continued to resist foreclosure
by filing a motion to dismiss. In Dockery's affidavit dated March 18,
1996, Dockery made arguments based upon lack of due process, improper
service, non-joinder of necessary parties and willful violation of the
bankruptcy stay. By order dated October 31, 1996, the Supreme Court,
Kings County, denied Dockery's motion to dismiss the complaint and the
judgment of foreclosure. The Court also barred Dockery from seeking the
same relief again because it had been denied on previous occasions. The
Court held that violation of this order by Dockery would result in
contempt of court and sanctions.
On May 19, 1998, the Supreme Court, Kings County, entered a final
judgment of foreclosure and sale regarding 237 Lexington Avenue.
Plaintiff invokes the jurisdiction of this court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1331. The complaint alleges that Greenpoint and Cullen
& Dykman, and also defendant OCI, willfully violated plaintiff's
bankruptcy stay on November 14, 1994, in order to accomplish a fraudulent
scheme concerning the premises at 237 Lexington Avenue. The complaint
further asserts that the judgment of foreclosure against 237 Lexington
Avenue was obtained improperly, in violation of New York C.P.L.R. 201;
non-joinder of an indispensable party; improper delivery and service of
the initial Summons and Complaint; abuse of discretion and process;
failure to file timely proof of service; "denial of the signing and
entering of a second judgment on the merits, after violation of a court
order"; improper vacating of a final judgment; and fraud.
The plaintiff demands relief dismissing the Supreme Court Action Index
No. 45171/91 (the foreclosure action on 237 Lexington Avenue with
prejudice and punitive damages of $250,000 for aggravated fraud and mental
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
In addressing the motions to dismiss, the Court is mindful that the
plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and that her submissions should be held to
"less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652
(1972). "However inartfully pleaded," a pro se complaint can only be
dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears "`beyond a doubt
that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which
would entitle him to relief." Id. at 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594 (quoting Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). When
considering a motion to dismiss, the court "must accept the material
facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Gant v. Wallingford Bd. Education,
69 F.3d 669, 673 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Hernandez v. Coughlin,
18 F.3d 133, 136 (2d Cir. 1994)).
Based upon a liberal reading of the complaint, it is clear that this
court cannot proceed because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Under
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over an action if the exercise of jurisdiction would result in the
reversal or modification of a state court judgment.
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362
(1923) (only the Supreme Court can entertain a direct appeal from a state
court judgment); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 483, n. 3, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206 (1983) (federal
courts do not have jurisdiction over claims which are "inextricably
intertwined" with prior state court determinations); 18 Moore's Federal
Practice § 133.30 (3d ed. 1999); see Hachamovitch v. DeBuono,
159 F.3d 687, 693-94 (2d Cir. 1998).
Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a plaintiff may not initiate a
federal court action that: (1) directly challenges a state court holding
or decision; or (2) indirectly challenges a state court holding or
decision by raising claims in federal court that are inextricably
intertwined with the state court judgment, even if the claim is that the
state court's action was unconstitutional. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486, 103
S.Ct. 1303; see Moccio v. New York State Office of Court Admin.,
95 F.3d 195, 198-200 (2d Cir. 1996); Smith v. Wayne Weinberger P.C.,
994 F. Supp. 418, 423 (E.D.N.Y. 1998). Thus, plaintiff cannot avoid
dismissal of the complaint by suggesting civil rights violations.
Plaintiff claims that the action of the state judge constitutes the state
action that allows the bringing of this federal action, presumably
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but this is incorrect. See Drew v. Chase
Manhattan Bank, N.A., 1998 WL 430549, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. July 30, 1998);
Goldberg v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, 1998 WL 321446, at
*6 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). In any event, plaintiff cannot avoid the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine so easily; if it were otherwise, every
disgruntled state court litigant could avoid the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
in this way.
The issues raised in a plaintiff's complaint are inextricably
intertwined with a state court judgment if the federal claim would
succeed only if the state court wrongly decided the issue. Rene v.
Citibank, N.A., 32 F. Supp.2d 539, 543 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). "[E]ven if the
state court judgment was wrongly procured, it is effective and conclusive
until it is modified or reversed in the appropriate State appellate or
collateral proceeding." Simpson v. Putnam County Nat'l Bank,
20 F. Supp.2d 630, 633 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) (citation omitted). "The fact that
the plaintiff alleges that the State Court judgment was procured by fraud
does not remove his claims from the ambit of Rooker-Feldman." Smith, 994
F. Supp. at 424. In Smith, the plaintiff alleged that a state court
default judgment in a foreclosure proceeding was procured by fraud. Id.
The court dismissed the plaintiff's action as "in contravention of
Rooker-Feldman" since the conversion claims were "merely a thinly-veiled
effort to invalidate the State Court's foreclosure judgment." Id.
Here, plaintiff's claims with regard to 237 Lexington Avenue implicitly
and explicitly seek to have this court review a final decision of the
state court. Specifically, plaintiff asks this court to dismiss the state
court's judgment of foreclosure and sale on 237 Lexington Avenue.
Plaintiff raised the same arguments regarding 237 Lexington Avenue in the
state court motion to dismiss the foreclosure action. Plaintiff even
raised the identical claim of a willful violation of the bankruptcy stay
in the state court proceeding which is raised here. See March 18, 1996
Afft. of Algia Dockery in that action. Even if plaintiff had not raised
the same claims in the state court, plaintiff would be foreclosed under
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine from seeking to overturn the state court
judgment in this court. See Moccio, 95 F.3d at 198-200.
Finally, I note that there are other defendants named in the caption,
most of whom are not even mentioned in the body of the complaint. It is
unclear from the docket sheet whether these additional defendants have
ever been served. In any event, since the complaint in its entirety is an
effort to relitigate the state court
action, and since the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a doctrine of subject
matter jurisdiction, which the court may raise sua sponte, Moccio, 95
F.3d at 198, the complaint as to the non-moving defendants is dismissed
as well. The Clerk of Court is directed to dismiss the complaint and
close the case.
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