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Jones v. Phelps Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 19, 2014

ROBERT DILLARD JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
PHELPS CORPORATION et al., Defendants.

Robert Dillard Jones, Pro Se, Binghamton, NY, for the Plaintiff.

RICHARD F. MIHALKOVIC, ESQ., PETER A. GORTON, ESQ., Phelps Corporation, Lachman, Gorton Law Firm, Endicott, NY.

Broome County, New York, Agencies, ROBERT G. BEHNKE, ESQ., Broome County Attorney's Office, Broome County Office Building, Binghamton, NY, for the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Robert Dillard Jones commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Phelps Corporation and Broome County, New York Agencies, alleging violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, along with a New York common law claim of "tortious interference or intentional interference" with Jones' contractual obligations. (Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 5.) Pending are defendants' motions to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 15, 18.) For the reasons that follow, the motions are granted.

II. Background

A. Facts[1]

As far as the court can discern from his rambling, disjointed amended complaint, Jones defaulted on his mortgage payments to Phelps Corporation; thereafter, Phelps Corporation commenced an action to foreclose on the mortgage in New York state court, and obtained a judgment of foreclosure. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 3, 20, 35, 62, 71.) Phelps Corporation then held a foreclosure sale on February 7, 2014. ( Id. ¶ 18.) Ultimately, Jones was served with a notice to quit premises, dated February 25, 2014. ( Id. ¶ 85.)

B. Procedural History

On January 27, 2014, Jones commenced this action by way of a "Complaint Pursuant for Order to Show Cause for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction Order" against Phelps Corporation and Russell Phelps, CEO of Phelps Corporation, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during a foreclosure proceeding in New York Supreme Court in Broome County. (Dkt. No. 1.) Because Jones named only two private parties as defendants, and otherwise failed to allege state action, the court, by Summary Order, dismissed Jones' complaint with leave to amend. (Dkt. No. 3.)

On February 28, Jones filed an amended complaint, along with a motion for a preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order, seeking to enjoin a New York state court-ordered foreclosure sale and to enjoin Phelps Corporation from enforcing the state court foreclosure judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 4, 5, 8.) Jones further sought to join in the action four of his tenants residing at the property at issue. (Dkt. No. 4; Dkt. No. 4, Attachs. 2-5.) In a Memorandum-Decision and Order, dated May 22, 2014, the court denied Jones' request for emergency relief on the grounds that the claims were likely barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, and, therefore, were unlikely to succeed on the merits. (Dkt. No. 10 at 5-8, 10.) The court also denied Jones' request to join additional parties because it would be futile. ( Id. at 8-9, 10.) Finally, although the court noted that application of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine implicates the court's subject matter jurisdiction, the court declined to sua sponte dismiss the amended complaint entirely, absent a motion from the defendants and a fuller record. ( Id. at 7-8.) Thereafter, the now-pending motions were filed. (Dkt. Nos. 15, 17.)

III. Standard of Review

The standard of review applicable to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motions is well settled and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard, the court refers the parties to its decision in Ellis v. Cohen & Slamowitz, LLP, 701 F.Supp.2d 215, 218 (N.D.N.Y. 2010). Additionally, "[a] case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). "In resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court... may refer to evidence outside the pleadings." Id. "[W]hen the question to be considered is one involving the jurisdiction of a federal court, jurisdiction must ...


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