Rojo v. Lopez
ORDER DISMISSING CASE Closing Case. Motions terminated: 4 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Rosario Rojo, 5 MOTION for Referral to Volunteer Attorney Program filed by Rosario Rojo. Signed by Judge Marcia G. Cooke o n 6/16/2016. (tm) NOTICE: If there are sealed documents in this case, they may be unsealed after 1 year or as directed by Court Order, unless they have been designated to be permanently sealed. See Local Rule 5.4 and Administrative Order 2014-69.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 16-22111-Civ-COOKE
PETER R. LOPEZ, individually
and in his official capacity,
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
Plaintiff Rosario Rojo (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Rojo”), proceeding pro se, filed her
Verified Complaint (ECF No. 1) on June 9, 2016 alleging a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 as a result of Defendant Judge Peter R. Lopez’s unconstitutional actions and abuse of
power. See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Judge Peter R. Lopez “denied [her] the right to be heard,” “ignored [her] request for
recusal,” and “engaged in egregious discrimination by refusing to hear [her] claims and/or
motions and in issuing final judgment.” Id. She seeks relief in the form of an order from
this Court removing Judge Peter R. Lopez from her case in state court, vacating his prior
orders, and reassigning her case to a different judge. Id.
After a review of Plaintiff’s Verified Complaint, the record, relevant legal authorities,
and for the reasons discussed herein, I find that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over this action. Therefore, the matter is dismissed and this case closed.
Before addressing the merits of a case, a court must first determine whether subject
matter jurisdiction exists. See Wernick v. Matthews, 524 F.2d 543, 545 (5th Cir. 1975) (“[W]e
are not free to disregard the jurisdictional issue, for without jurisdiction we are powerless to
consider the merits. If we lack jurisdiction, it is our duty to notice that fact sua sponte.”);1
Decisions of the former Fifth Circuit issued before October 1, 1981 are binding precedent in the
Eleventh Circuit. See Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc).
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subjectmatter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).
Subject matter jurisdiction
“involves the court’s competency to consider a given type of case,” so it “cannot be waived
or otherwise conferred upon the court by the parties.” Jackson v. Seaboard Coast Line R.R.
Co., 678 F.2d 992, 1000 (11th Cir. 1982).
Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal district court generally lacks jurisdiction
to review final judgments of a state court. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 414-16 (1923). RookerFeldman applies to “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by
state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and
inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi
Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). The doctrine bars claims “that were actually
raised in the state court and those ‘inextricably intertwined’ with that state judgment.”
Figueroa v. MERSCORP, Inc., 766 F. Supp. 2d 1305, 1316 (S.D. Fla. 2011) (citing Casale v.
Tillman, 558 F.3d 1258, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam), aff’d, 477 F. App’x 558 (11th
Cir. 2012) (per curiam). “A claim is inextricably intertwined if it would effectively nullify
the state court judgment or [if] it succeeds only to the extent that the state court wrongly
decided the issues.”
Casale, 558 F.3d at 1260 (citations and internal quotation marks
Here, although Plaintiff purports to bring a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, she
essentially seeks review of orders, including a final judgment of foreclosure, entered against
her in an underlying state court action. Because she challenges the validity of the decisions
of Defendant Judge Peter R. Lopez in an underlying state court action, her claim (if
successful) would effectively nullify the state court’s orders, including its final judgment of
foreclosure, or would indicate that the state court wrongly entered that judgment. The
present claim is, therefore, inextricably intertwined with the state court judgment, and this
Court lacks jurisdiction to consider it.
Having determined that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff’s
claim, it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED that Plaintiff’s Verified Complaint (ECF No. 1)
is DISMISSED without prejudice.2 The Clerk shall CLOSE this case. All pending motions,
if any, are DENIED as moot.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, at Miami, Florida, this 16th day of June
Copies furnished to:
Rosario Rojo, pro se
Alternatively, as Plaintiff has failed to state a discernable cause of action, the Court also dismisses
her Verified Complaint without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(1).
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