Miller v. Pennymac Corp.
MEMORANDUM OPINION re 24 motion for TRO and preliminary injunction. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 1/21/14. (ntl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
: Civ. No. 13-1938-LPS
Mark L. Miller, Pro Se Plaintiff, Millsboro, Delaware.
David A. Dorey and Adam V. Orlacchio, Esquires, Blank Rome LLP, Wilmington, Delaware.
Attorneys for Defendant.
January 21, 2014
STARK, U.S. District Judge:
Plaintiff Mark L. Miller ("Plaintiff'') proceeds pro se and has paid the filing fee. He filed
this lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 asserting a federal question he contends arises under
the laws ofthe United States. (D.I. 1) Plaintiff challenges ajudgment issued in Delaware State
Court as "void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for want of jurisdiction over the
Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on November 19,2013. (D.I. 1) Prior to filing this lawsuit,
the Superior Court in and for Sussex County, Delaware ("Superior Court") had entered judgment
in favor ofDefendant (the plaintiff in the State court case) and against Plaintiff in the amount of
$477,006.46. See Miller v. PennyMac Corp., 2013 WL 5234437 (Del. Sept. 16, 2013). Plaintiff
appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware. The Delaware Supreme
Court set forth the following facts:
On February 12, 2007, the Millers executed and delivered a
mortgage agreement to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems,
Inc., as nominee for American Brokers Conduit. The mortgage
document secured Mark Miller's obligations under a note and
became a first priority lien on the Millers' property. The Millers
stopped making payments on the loan in July 2008. In December
2008, the Millers were notified that they were in default. The
default was not cured, and the loan was accelerated. On May 11,
2009, American Brokers Conduit assigned the mortgage to
CitiMortgage. In November 2011, CitiMortgage filed a complaint
against the Millers seeking all sums due under the mortgage. On
October 4, 2012, CitiMortgage assigned the mortgage to
PennyMac. The Superior Court, over the Millers' objection,
permitted PennyMac's substitution as plaintiff in the case.
Following a trial on January 24, 2013, the Superior Court entered a
judgment in PennyMac's favor in the amount of$477,006.46.
Id. at* 1.
Plaintiff raised three issues on appeal: (1) the Superior Court erred in allowing PennyMac
to be substituted for CitiMortgage as the plaintiff; (2) the Superior Court erred in refusing to
grant the Millers' request for a continuance and in denying their request to amend their answer;
and (3) the Superior Court erred in failing to accept the Millers' defense of avoidance of the
mortgage. ld. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court, finding:
(1) no error oflaw in the Superior Court's conclusion that PennyMac was the holder in due
course of the note and the mortgage and thus had standing to enforce the debt by pursuing an in
rem mortgage proceeding against the Millers; (2) the Superior Court's denial of the Millers'
motion for a continuance was neither arbitrary nor capricious; and (3) there was no basis to
review the third issue on appeal. Id. at *2-3.
On January 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed an emergency notice of application and ex parte
application for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, asking this Court to
enjoin Defendant and its "officers, agents, servants, employees, affiliates, and attorneys, and
those persons in active concert or participation or privities with any of them, from taking
possession of' Plaintiffs real property. 1 (D .1. 24 at ~ 2)
An applicant for a temporary restraining order must meet the same standards as an
applicant for a preliminary injunction. See NutriSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises., Inc., 112
Although titled "ex parte," Plaintiff served a copy of the motion upon defense counsel.
F.3d 689, 693 (3d Cir. 1997) ("NutraSweet f') (stating temporary restraining order that continued
beyond time permissible under Fed. R. Civ. P. 65 must be treated as preliminary injunction and
must meet standards applicable to preliminary injunctions); see also In re FKF Madison Park
Group Owner, LLC, 2011 WL 350306, at *4 (Bankr. D. Del. Jan. 31, 2011). A preliminary
injunction is "an extraordinary remedy that should be granted only if (1) the plaintiff is likely to
succeed on the merits; (2) denial will result in irreparable harm to the plaintiff;
(3) granting the injunction will not result in irreparable harm to the defendant; and (4) granting
the injunction is in the public interest." NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises, Inc., 176 F.3d
151, 153 (3d Cir. 1999) ("NutraSweet If'). "[F]ailure to establish any element in [a plaintiffs]
favor renders a preliminary injunction inappropriate." /d.
Plaintiff seeks to restrain Defendant from taking possession of his real property known as
25205 Mastermark Lane, Millsboro, Delaware. Plaintiff asserts that the taking of his real
property is based upon a "void series [of] documents [as] evidence[d] before this court in the
complaint." (D.I. 24
4) Plaintiff argues that Defendant is attempting to dispossess him of
his property which is unique and irreplaceable and that great and irreparable injury will result to
Plaintiff before the matter can be heard.
Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits for reasons that
begin with the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which prohibits this Court from maintaining subject
matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs request because it effectively seeks to vacate orders of the
Superior Court and the Delaware Supreme Court. "The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents the
lower federal courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases brought by 'state-court losers'
challenging 'state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced."'
Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 460 (2006). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars Plaintiffs claim
because the relief he seeks would require "( 1) the federal court [to] determine that the state court
judgment was erroneously entered ... , or (2) the federal court [to] take an action that would
negate the state court's judgment .... " In re Knapper, 407 F.3d 573, 581 (3d Cir. 2005). In the
mortgage foreclosure action, the Superior Court ruled against Plaintiff, and this judgment was
affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court. By his present motion, Plaintiff essentially asks this
Court to determine that the State Court rulings were erroneously entered and to grant relief in the
form of an injunction to preclude Defendant from executing the State Court judgment entered in
its favor. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes this relief.
For the above reasons, the Court will deny the motion for an emergency notice of
application and ex parte application for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
(D.I. 24) An appropriate Order follows. 2
Although Plaintiffs motion is filed under seal, the Court has not granted permission for
it to be sealed and perceives no basis for it being sealed. Accordingly, the Court will direct the
Clerk of Court to unseal the motion.
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