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Beavers v. Citimortgage, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 19, 2015

MARTA BEAVERS
v.
CITIMORTGAGE, INC., ET AL., Section

ORDER AND REASONS

JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17). For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED, and this matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

BACKGROUND

In December of 2007, Plaintiff purchased a home in Metairie, Louisiana. The purchase of the home was financed by Defendant CitiMortgage. In connection with the purchase of the home, Plaintiff executed a promissory note and mortgage in favor of CitiMortgage. On December 4, 2013, CitiMortgage filed a foreclosure action in Louisiana state court alleging that Plaintiff had defaulted on the promissory note and seeking to execute on the mortgage. After the state court judge granted Defendant's petition, Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the seizure. The day after the state judge denied her motion, Plaintiff filed this action.

Plaintiff claims in this suit that her promissory note and mortgage are unenforceable. She alleges that Defendants collectively conspired to defraud her and the general public by including false information in the promissory note and mortgage. Specifically, she alleges that the documents were fraudulently drafted to indicate that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS") was the mortgagee. According to Plaintiff, MERS could not have legally been the mortgagee because it was not the holder of the promissory note. Plaintiff alleges that, in reality, the promissory note was sold to a trust. She generally alleges that the transfer of the note to the trust was in violation of the trust agreement and therefore invalid. Plaintiff claims that, because of Defendants' fraudulent activity, it is impossible to determine who actually owns the note or the mortgage. Therefore, according to Plaintiff, this Court should issue a judgment cancelling the note and the mortgage, giving Plaintiff sole title to the home, and awarding her damages for violation of various federal and state laws.

LEGAL STANDARD

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead enough facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[1] A claim is "plausible on its face" when the pleaded facts allow the court to "draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."[2] A court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and must "draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor."[3] The court need not, however, accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.[4] To be legally sufficient, a complaint must establish more than a "sheer possibility" that the plaintiff's claims are true.[5] The complaint must contain enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim.[6] If it is apparent from the face of the complaint that an insurmountable bar to relief exists and the plaintiff is not entitled to relief, the court must dismiss the claim.[7] The Court's review "is limited to the complaint, any documents attached to the complaint, and any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and referenced by the complaint."[8]

Here, Defendants have submitted records from the foreclosure proceeding for the Court's consideration. The Court can validly consider these documents for two reasons. First, the foreclosure proceeding is referenced in Plaintiff's Complaint. Given that the primary relief she seeks is the nullification of the foreclosure, the Court has no trouble concluding that the documents are central to her claim. Second, "courts may also consider matters of which they may take judicial notice, "[9] including state court records.[10]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Defendants present several arguments in support of their Motion. The Court will consider each argument in turn, beginning with their jurisdictional argument.

I. Rooker-Feldman

Defendants argue that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.[11] The doctrine is narrow and applies only where (1) the plaintiff is the loser of a proceeding in state court, (2) the plaintiff complains of injuries caused by the state court judgment, (3) the judgment was rendered before the federal proceedings commenced, and (4) the plaintiffs seeks review and rejection of the state court judgment.[12] The core principle behind Rooker-Feldman is that lower federal courts lack appellate jurisdiction over state-court judgments.[13] As a result, the doctrine's application is limited to those cases that seek reversal or modification of a state court judgment.[14]

Rooker-Feldman is not, however, a substitute for state law preclusion principles.[15] That is, federal courts do not lack jurisdiction to hear suits merely because a plaintiff's requested relief is inconsistent with a state court's decision in a similar suit. In such a case, courts should apply state law res judicata principles, not Rooker-Feldman. [16]

Defendants argue that, pursuant to Rooker-Feldman, this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear any of Plaintiff's claims. There appears to be no dispute that all four elements of Rooker-Feldman are met in this case: Plaintiff lost the state court proceeding when the state-court judge ordered the seizure and sale of the home; she complains here of injuries caused by that judgment; the state court judgment was rendered before these proceedings commenced; and Plaintiff specifically requests that this Court declare the foreclosure judgment illegal and return the home to her. To the extent that Plaintiff asks this Court to review and ultimately reverse the foreclosure judgment, ...


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