United States District Court, E.D. New York
DR. J. DAVID GOLUB, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL L. SWAALEY; NORMAN J. GOLUB; JACK STERN; RICHMOND COUNTY SURROGATE COURT R. GIGANTE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dr. J. David Golub,  brings this pro se action and
invokes the Court's federal question jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Golub also asserts a claim
under § 487 of the New York Judiciary Law. Golub has
paid the requisite filing fee to initiate the action. For the
reasons discussed below, the complaint is dismissed for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Golub's remaining
state law claim.
following facts are drawn from Golub's pleading and the
exhibits attached thereto, the allegations of which are
assumed to be true for purposes of this Memorandum and Order.
Golub brings this action against Richmond County Surrogate
Robert J. Gigante and three Richmond County attorneys, who
are involved with the administration of the estate of Sylvia
Golub. (See Compl. (Doc. No. 1).) Golub alleges
misconduct by the defendants in connection with the Surrogate
Court proceedings. (See Id. at 5.) Golub seeks to
have this Court issue a permanent injunction enjoining
Richmond County Surrogate's Court from taking further
action regarding the estate of Sylvia Golub. (Id. at
7.) Golub further seeks the Court's assistance in
“retaking ownership of the real estate and personal
property located at 672 Travis Avenue . . . .”
(Id. at 7.) In addition to injunctive relief, Golub
seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 7.)
complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is
plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Matson v. Bd. of Educ., 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir.
2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). Although all factual allegations contained in the
complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is
“inapplicable to legal conclusions.”
Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678.
reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must be
mindful that a pro se plaintiff's pleadings
should be held “to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976));
see Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009)
(noting that even after Twombly, the court
“remain[s] obligated to construe a pro se
a plaintiff has paid the court's filing fee, a district
court may dismiss the case, sua sponte, if it
determines that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
or the action is frivolous. Fitzgerald v. First E.
Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363-64 (2d Cir.
2000); see also Hawkins-El III v. AIG Fed. Sav.
Bank, 334 F. App'x. 394, 395 (2d Cir. 2009)
(affirming district court's sua sponte dismissal
of fee paid frivolous complaint); Paige v. City of New
York, No. 10-CV-5469 (SLT), 2011 WL 3701923, at *2
(E.D.N.Y. Aug. 23, 2010).
to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
plaintiff must provide a short, plain statement of claim
against each defendant named so that they have adequate
notice of the claims against them. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. A pleading that only
“tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual
enhancement” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (internal citations and alterations omitted). A
plaintiff must provide facts sufficient to allow each
defendant to have a fair understanding of what the plaintiff
is complaining about and to know whether there is a legal
basis for recovery. See Twombly v. Bell, 425 F.3d
99, 106 (2d Cir. 2005) (defining “fair notice” as
“‘that which will enable the adverse party to
answer and prepare for trial, allow the application of res
judicata, and identify the nature of the case so that it may
be assigned the proper form of trial'”) (quoting
Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995)).
A court may dismiss a complaint that is “so confused,
ambiguous, vague or otherwise unintelligible that its true
substance, if any, is well disguised.” Salahuddin
v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988).
district courts of the United States are “courts of
limited jurisdiction” and may not preside over cases
absent subject matter jurisdiction. Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
“Congress has granted district courts “original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331; Bracey v. Bd of Educ. of City of
Bridgeport, 368 F.3d 108, 113 (2d Cir. 2004). A case
arises under federal law where federal law creates the
plaintiff's cause of action or where “the
well-pleaded complaint ‘necessarily depends on
resolution of a substantial question of federal
law.'” Id. (quoting Franchise Tax Bd.
v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 28
(1983)). If a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it
must dismiss the action. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(h)(3); Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500,
514 (2006); see also Henderson ex rel. Henderson v.
Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 434 (2011) (“[F]ederal
courts have an independent obligation to ensure that they do
not exceed the scope of their jurisdiction, and therefore
they must raise and decide jurisdictional questions that the
parties either overlook or elect not to press.”). Here,
although Golub invokes the Court's federal question
jurisdiction, his claim does not arise under federal law or
depend on resolution of questions of federal
See Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S. 293, 311-12
(2006) (explaining that the probate exception to federal
jurisdiction “reserves to state probate courts the
probate or annulment of a will and the administration of a
decedent's estate; it also precludes federal courts from
endeavoring to dispose of property that is in the custody of
a state probate court.”); Niles v. Wilshire Inv.
Group, LLC, 859 F.Supp.2d 308, 332 (E.D.N.Y. 2012)
(holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies to
plaintiffs' claims in connection with the New York State
Surrogate's Court litigation).
the Anti-Injunction Act bars a federal court from enjoining a
proceeding in state court unless that action is
“expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where
necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or
effectuate its judgments.” 28 U.S.C. § 2283. In
considering these exceptions, “the Supreme Court has
directed that ‘[a]ny doubts as to the propriety of a
federal injunction against state court proceedings should be
resolved in favor of permitting the state courts to proceed
in an orderly fashion to finally determine the
controversy.'” I Ret. Sys. of Ala. v. J.P.
Morgan Chase & Co., 386 F.3d 419, 425-26 (2d Cir.
2004) (alteration in original) (quoting Atl. Coast Line
R.R. Co. v. Bhd. of Locomotive Eng'rs, 398 U.S. 281,
297 (1970)); see also Kristopher v. Stone St. Properties,
LLC, No. 13-CV-566, 2013 WL 499752, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y.
Jan. 29, 2013) (finding the Anti-Injunction Act bars the
court from enjoining state eviction proceedings). Here, there
is no basis to enjoin the Richmond County Surrogate Court
the Court has dismissed any possible federal claims against
the defendants, the Court declines to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Golub's state law claim. See
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Accordingly, Golub's state
law claim is dismissed. Whereas ordinarily the Court would
allow Golub an opportunity to amend his complaint, see
Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 597-98 (2d Cir. 2000), it
need not afford that opportunity here where it is clear from
Golub's submission that any attempt would be futile.
See Ashmore v. Prus, 510 F. App'x 47, 49 (2d
Cir. 2013) (finding leave to amend is futile where barriers
to relief cannot be ...