Walter v. BAC Home Loans Servicing LP
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Signed by the Honorable Robert M. Dow, Jr. on 7/11/2017. For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction 15 . Civil case terminated. Mailed notice to plaintiff by the deputy. (cdh, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
BAC HOME LOAN SERVICING, LP,
Case No. 16-cv-09120
Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Cathy Walter brings this action alleging that the state court proceedings related
to the foreclosure of her home in Glenwood, Illinois were improper. Currently before the Court
is Defendant’s motion to dismiss .
For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants
Defendant’s motion  and dismisses the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The
Court will enter final judgment and close the case.
This case involves the foreclosure of real property located at 702 Fitzhenry Court,
Glenwood, Illinois (“the property”). [1 (Complaint), at 2.] Plaintiff alleges that she is an active
duty member of the military. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that on or about May 31, 2006, she
purchased the property through the benefit of a loan in the amount of $169,600 from
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. [See id.] Plaintiff asserts that in exchange for the loan, Plaintiff
executed a mortgage and promissory note to Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., who subsequently
transferred the mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as
nominee for Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. [Id.] In 2009, Defendant1 brought foreclosure
proceedings against Plaintiff, alleging that she had defaulted on her loan repayment obligations.
[Id.] Plaintiff contends that she never was served with a summons or with complaint in the
mortgage foreclosure action. [Id.] Plaintiff alleges that a special representative appointed by the
Circuit Court of Cook County stated that Plaintiff’s roommate, Thaddeus Little, was served on
August 8, 2013. [Id. at 3.] However, Plaintiff contends that service was defective because Little
is not a resident of 702 Fitzhenry Court, is not a member of Plaintiff’s household, and is not
related to Plaintiff. [Id. at 4.] Plaintiff further alleges that an order was entered staying the
proceedings but that Defendant continued to pursue the foreclosure action despite the stay. [Id.
at 3.] Ultimately, a judgment of foreclosure was entered against Plaintiff in 2014. [Id.]
Plaintiff did not appeal the state court’s judgment of foreclosure or order approving sale
of the property. [15, at 3]. Instead, Plaintiff filed the current action challenging the state court
foreclosure judgment on multiple grounds. First, Plaintiff alleges that the state court judgment is
void for lack of jurisdiction because the service upon her was defective. Plaintiff further alleges
that due to her status as an active duty member of the military, the Circuit Court entered a stay on
the foreclosure proceedings and that Defendant violated the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act by
proceeding with the foreclosure action despite the stay. 2 [1, at 4–5.] Plaintiff asks this Court to
declare that the foreclosure judgment against Plaintiff is void, conclude that Defendant “has no
jurisdiction over the Plaintiff,” order that the property be returned to Plaintiff, “restrain[ ]”
Defendant “from taking any further action to foreclose the property in issue,” and award Plaintiff
The foreclosure complaint was brought by BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, formerly known as
Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP. [1, at ¶ 4.] In 2011, BAC Home Loan Servicing merged with
and into Bank of America, N.A. [15, at 1 n.1.] The Court will refer to Countrywide Home Loans
Servicing LP, BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, and Bank of America, N.A. as “Defendant.”
The Court notes that the report by the special representative in the state foreclosure action found that the
mortgage foreclosure stay provisions were inapplicable. [1, Exhibit 2, at 1–2.]
attorney’s fees, expenses, costs, and compensatory damages “in an amount exceeding $75,000.”
[Id., at 4–6.] Defendant moves to dismiss on multiple grounds, including lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.3
A Rule 12(b)(1) motion seeks dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction is
satisfied. Glaser v. Wound Care Consultants, Inc., 570 F.3d 907, 913 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court
may take judicial notice of matters in public record, including court documents, in deciding a
motion to dismiss without converting it to a motion for summary judgment. Henson v. CSC
Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994). If the Court determines at any time that it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss the action as to all defendants. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(h)(3); Ricketts v. Midwest Nat. Bank, 874 F.2d 1177, 1181 (7th Cir. 1989).
Defendant moves to dismiss on multiple grounds. Defendant argues that (1) Plaintiff’s
claims are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; (2) Plaintiff’s claims fail to comply with the
pleading requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a); and (3) Plaintiff fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.
Since Defendant’s Rooker-Feldman argument is
dispositive, the Court will refrain from addressing Defendant’s other arguments for dismissal.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed under the RookerFeldman doctrine because it is an impermissible attempt to circumvent the state court’s
foreclosure judgment. Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, lower federal courts—such as this
The Court set a deadline of May 26, 2017 for Defendant’s reply brief, but no reply has been filed. Thus,
the Court will decide Defendant’s motion to dismiss  based on Defendant’s opening brief and
Plaintiff’s response brief. See Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006) (holding
that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to accept a response brief filed three days late
or in granting summary judgment without considering the late-filed response).
Court—do not have subject matter jurisdiction over claims seeking review of state court
judgments. Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Rooker v.
Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415–16 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482–86 (1983)). The doctrine applies both to claims that were actually
raised before the state court and also to claims that are inextricably intertwined with state court
determinations. Id. The Supreme Court of the United States is the only federal court that has
jurisdiction to review a state court judgment, “no matter how erroneous or unconstitutional the
state court judgment may be.” Remer v. Burlington Area Sch. Dist., 205 F.3d 990, 996 (7th Cir.
To determine the applicability of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, “the fundamental and
appropriate question to ask is whether the injury alleged by the federal plaintiff resulted from the
state court judgment itself or is distinct from that judgment.” Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182
F.3d 548, 555 (7th Cir. 1999) (quoting Garry v. Geils, 82 F.3d 1362, 1365 (7th Cir. 1996))
(internal quotation marks omitted). If the injury alleged results from the state court judgment
itself, the claim is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Id. In contrast, if the alleged injury
is distinct from and not inextricably intertwined with the state court judgment, then the doctrine
does not apply. Id.
In this case, Plaintiff argues that this Court should void the state court’s foreclosure
judgment because the state court improperly asserted jurisdiction over Plaintiff despite deficient
service of process and because Defendant pursued foreclosure despite an alleged stay of the
proceedings. However, these are arguments that could have been raised in the state court
foreclosure action, either before the Circuit Court of Cook County or in a timely appellate
proceeding in state court. Plaintiff does not raise any independent claims. Further, all of the
relief sought by Plaintiff in this case is essentially a request that this Court reject the state court’s
judgment. [See 1, at 4 (asking the Court to find that the state court orders are void); id. at 5
(asking the Court to “find[ ] that the [state court’s] order of foreclosure entered against the
Plaintiff is void” and to undo the foreclosure); id., at 6–7 (asking the Court to return the parties to
pre-foreclosure “status quo” and to “restrain[ ]” Defendant “from taking any further action to
foreclose the property at issue”).] Thus, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars Plaintiff’s federal
suit. See Taylor v. Fed. Nat. Mortg. Ass’n, 374 F.3d 529, 532 (7th Cir. 2004) (“Claims that
directly seek to set aside a state court judgment are de facto appeals and are barred without
Plaintiff argues that her claims should be governed by principles of preclusion, rather
than the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. [See 27, at 2–3.] According to Plaintiff, Exxon Mobil Corp
v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., 544 U.S. 280 (2005), stands for the proposition that federal court
subject matter jurisdiction is not automatically negated by the filing of a state court judgment.
Plaintiff contends that subject matter jurisdiction over her claims is instead controlled by
preclusion doctrine and argues that since she has not “had her day in court,” this Court is not
precluded from adjudicating the merits of her claim. [27, at 3.]
However, this argument fails because it is premised on a misreading of Exxon Mobil, 544
U.S. at 280. In Exxon Mobil, the Supreme Court concluded that Rooker-Feldman did not apply
because the plaintiff was not asking the federal court to “undo” the state court judgment. 544
U.S. at 293. Rather, the plaintiff had filed parallels suits in federal district court and state court.
Id. at 292 (“When there is parallel state and federal litigation, Rooker–Feldman is not triggered
simply by the entry of judgment in state court.”). In contrast, Plaintiff filed this suit in federal
court after a final judgment was rendered in state court and specifically seeks to have this Court
review and overturn the state court’s final judgment. As such, it is exactly the sort of claim over
which this Court is barred from exercising subject matter jurisdiction under Rooker-Feldman.
See Riddle v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co., 599 F. App’x 598, 600 (7th Cir. 2015) (holding that
Rooker-Feldman barred plaintiff’s claim that foreclosure was invalid because of insufficient
service of process in state proceedings); Kelly v. Med-1 Solutions, LLC, 548 F.3d 600, 604–05
(7th Cir. 2008) (holding that Rooker-Feldman barred district court from reviewing claims that
state court judgments were obtained through actions which violated a federal statute); Schmitt v.
Schmitt, 324 F.3d 484, 487 (7th Cir. 2003) (rejecting as frivolous the argument that RookerFeldman did not bar district court from reviewing state court decisions regarding jurisdiction).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction . The Court will enter final judgment and close the case.
Date: July 11, 2017
Robert M. Dow, Jr.
United States District Judge
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