Deal v. Deal

Filing 40

ORDER by Judge Hamilton granting 38 Motion to Dismiss; granting 10 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction; denying 16 Motion to Amend/Correct ; granting 23 Motion to Dismiss; finding as moot 26 Motion to Strike ; denying 33 Motion for Leave to File (pjhlc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/1/2013)

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1 2 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 3 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 4 5 6 THOMAS MARK DEAL, 7 Plaintiff, No. C 12-4440 PJH 8 v. 9 PATRICIA FUNKE/DEAL, et al., ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND DENYING MOTIONS FOR LEAVE TO AMEND 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Defendants. _______________________________/ 12 13 Before the court are three motions to dismiss plaintiff’s first amended complaint, filed 14 by each of the three defendants in this case. Also before the court are two motions, filed 15 by plaintiff, seeking leave to file a second amended complaint. Having read the parties’ 16 papers and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, the court 17 hereby rules as follows. 18 Federal district courts, as courts of original jurisdiction, do not have subject matter 19 jurisdiction to review errors allegedly committed by state courts. Rooker v. Fidelity Trust 20 Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923) (“The jurisdiction possessed by the District Courts is strictly 21 original.”); D.C. Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983) (“[A] United States District 22 Court has no authority to review final judgments of a state court in judicial proceedings.”). 23 Instead, the proper court to obtain review of a final state court decision is the United States 24 Supreme Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257; Rooker, 263 U.S. at 416; Feldman, 460 U.S. at 25 476. The Rooker–Feldman doctrine applies even when the state court judgment is not 26 made by the highest state court, Dubinka v. Judges of the Super. Ct., 23 F.3d 218, 221 (9th 27 Cir.1994); Worldwide Church of God v. McNair, 805 F.2d 888, 893 n. 3 (9th Cir.1986); and 28 when a plaintiff’s challenge to the state court’s actions involves federal constitutional 1 2 issues. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483–84. Under the Rooker–Feldman doctrine, a federal district court’s jurisdiction to hear a 3 particular constitutional challenge depends on whether the constitutional claim is 4 “inextricably intertwined” with the state court’s ruling in a state court action. Dubinka, 23 5 F.3d at 221 (quoting Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483–84 n. 16). If the constitutional claim 6 presented to a district court is inextricably intertwined with the state court’s decision, then 7 the district court essentially is being called upon to review the state court decision. Id. The 8 district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction if the relief requested requires “‘a mere 9 revision of the errors and irregularities, or of the legality and correctness’ of the state court judgment, not the ‘investigation of a new case arising upon new facts.’” MacKay v. Pfeil, 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 827 F.2d 540, 545 (9th Cir.1987). 12 In this case, plaintiff seeks review of a number of family court decisions that he feels 13 were made in error. As defendants point out, plaintiff has tried to challenge these decisions 14 using proper state court procedures, but his efforts have not been successful. Plaintiff has 15 made so many of these attempts that he was declared a “vexatious litigant” on July 29, 16 2005. See Dkt. 11, Ex. A. Plaintiff concedes that he now tries his hand in federal court 17 because of the restrictions placed on him by the “vexatious litigant” designation. See Dkt. 18 39 at 2-3 (“[A]s a vexatious litigant, I am not allowed to file an appeal, but must obtain 19 permission from the Appellate Court, and having sought this permission with the facts 20 partially set forth in this action, was denied a hearing.”). Plaintiff cannot bring his grievance 21 to federal court simply because he is unsatisfied with the outcome of his state court 22 proceedings. Indeed, that is the very conduct that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine seeks to 23 prevent. Accordingly, defendants’ motions to dismiss are GRANTED. The court further 24 finds that any claims against Commissioner Hendrickson are barred by the doctrine of 25 judicial immunity, and also barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., Mireles v. 26 Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 27 (1984). Defendants present additional alternative reasons for dismissal, but the court finds 28 it unnecessary to address them here. 2 1 Plaintiff has also filed two motions for leave to file a second amended complaint. 2 The proposed amended complaints suffer from the same defects as does the operative 3 complaint; namely, the claims contained within are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. 4 To the extent that plaintiff adds unrelated, and most probably misjoined, allegations of fraud 5 against defendant Patricia Funke/Deal, plaintiff has not articulated any basis for federal 6 subject matter jurisdiction, and instead appears to be trying to find a way around the 7 Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Thus, the court finds that plaintiff’s amended complaints still 8 have not established that this court has jurisdiction over his claims, and plaintiff’s motions 9 are DENIED. Accordingly, the dismissal of plaintiff’s first amended complaint shall be with prejudice. 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Plaintiff has also filed a motion to strike, seeking to strike portions of Patricia Funke 12 Deal’s opposition to plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Because the 13 court did not rely on Ms. Funke/Deal’s brief in reaching its decision, plaintiff’s motion is 14 DENIED as moot. 15 The Clerk shall close the file. 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 Dated: February 1, 2013 18 _________________________ PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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