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Utley v. Beideman

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 22, 2019

CRAIG BEIDEMAN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Nicole Natasha Utley, proceeding pro se. brings this action seeking, among other things, relief from a judgment of foreclosure. For the reasons set forth below, Utley's complaint does not sufficiently establish that this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction to preside over this case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

         Utley is hereby ordered to show cause in writing within 30 days of the date of this Order as to why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. If Utley fails to show cause in writing within 30 days of this Order, this action will be subject to dismissal.


         Plaintiff Nicole Natasha Utley filed this action on August 13, 2019, seeking review of a judgment of foreclosure and sale entered against her in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Kings County. (Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 3, 18-30.) Utley brings this action against various defendants, including Kings County Supreme Court Justice Noach Dear, attorneys Craig Beideman and Bruno Codispoti, JPMorgan Chase Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake, and Kings County Supreme Court Clerk Nancy T. Sunshine. (Compl. at 1, 4, 8: 19.)

         On May 20, 2018, Justice Dear entered a judgment of foreclosure and sale sought by JPMorgan Chase Bank on Utley's property at 547 Montauk Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11208. (Compl. at 18-30.) See JP Morgan Bank N.A. v. Nicole Utley, et al, Index No. 514689/2015, Doc. No. 122 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019) (Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale). Defendant Lake was JPMorgan Chase's CFO at the time and defendant Beideman was the attorney for JPMorgan Chase in the foreclosure action. (Compl. at 4. 19.) Defendant Sunshine entered the judgment in the action, which was based off a referee report by defendant Codispoti. (Id. at 8, 19.)

         Utley alleges that she "tried numerous times to resolve this controversy privately by tendering payment in 3 different instances in the amount of the outstanding obligation plus interest." (Compl. at 4.) Utley "seeks relief from joint and several liability on a judgement [sic] for foreclosure sale" on her property located at 547 Montauk Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11208. (Compl. at 3, 18-30.) Utley seeks review of the judgment, requesting that this Court hold "a new hearing" regarding Utley's ownership of the property, order discovery of "all journal entries of those claiming the need for current foreclosure sale" in advance of that hearing, "set-aside, void, and nullify any prior order granting judgment of foreclosure sale." and grant Utley "custody of the property." (Compl. at 13-15.) Utley also alleges other claims of unclear relation to the judgment of foreclosure - all pled in vague or incomprehensible terms. For instance, Utley requests that this Court order "the Honorable Noach Dear to immediately release Nicole Natasha Utley from any alleged 'no contact' order with Respondents and/or other beloved (kin or otherwise). . . ." (Compl. at 13.) Utley does not describe when or against whom this order was entered, or provide any other specifics regarding the order.

         Utley's alleged basis for this Court's jurisdiction over her action is also largely incomprehensible. She writes, "Petitioner hereby authorizes, empowers and grants special immunity to the judiciary member Chancellor insofar - and only insofar - as he shall respect absolutely all herein with the eye single to the glory of yhvh/G-d, the king of king's conscience, and his equal-justice . . . ." (Compl. at 2.) Utley also mentions as a basis for jurisdiction "the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act as adopted for New York," (id. at 3), in an apparent reference to the portion of New York State's Civil Practice Law and Rules permitting a court to "render a declaratory judgment having the effect of a final judgment." N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 3001. Finally, later in her complaint, Utley mentions Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution, though it is unclear whether she views this as a basis for jurisdiction. (Id. at 8.)


         Courts must read pro se complaints with "special solicitude" and interpret them to raise the "strongest arguments that they suggest." Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474-76 (2d Cir. 2006) (quotation marks omitted). Federal courts also "have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party." Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006) (citing Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999)). "[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction, because it involves the court's power to hear a case, can never be forfeited or waived." United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002). The subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal courts is limited. Federal subject-matter jurisdiction exists only where a federal question is presented, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or where there is diversity of citizenship among the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332. "The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists." Conyers v. Rossides, 558 F.3d 137, 143 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "If 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).


         Federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship where the "matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000. exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . .. citizens of different states." 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Subject-matter jurisdiction based on the diversity of the parties '"is available only when all adverse parties to a litigation are completely diverse in their citizenships." Herrick Co. v. SCS Commc'ns, Inc., 251 F.3d 315, 322 (2d Cir. 2001). Utley's current address, as reflected on the docket sheet in this action, is 547 Montauk Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208 -the property subject to foreclosure here. Utley makes no allegation in her complaint supporting complete diversity of the adverse parties, some of whom appear to be New York residents. Until Utley alleges facts showing that the parties to this action are diverse in their citizenship, the Court cannot find that it has subject-matter jurisdiction on the basis of diversity. See Universal Reinsurance Co. v. St. Paul Fire And Marine Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 139, 140 (2d Cir. 2000), as amended, (Aug. 8, 2000) (remanding case after five years of litigation because plaintiffs at no point "made allegations or offered evidence sufficient to support diversity jurisdiction").

         Absent diversity jurisdiction, this Court can only hear this action if Utley establishes the existence of federal question jurisdiction. Federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction based on a federal question for "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         Utley's stated basis for jurisdiction, as quoted above, is largely incomprehensible. Nor do the statutes or constitutional provisions cited in Utley's complaint provide a basis for jurisdiction. New York Civil Practice Law and Rules § 3001 is a state law, not a federal statute that can provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction. While Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution can provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction, Utley has not alleged a ...

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