Starks v. Wells Fargo, NA et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed without prejudice. A separate judgment will be entered in accordance with this Memorandum and Order. Ordered by Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (TEL)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
KEVIN ISAAC STARKS,
WELLS FARGO, NA, WACHOVIA
WORLD SAVINGS INC., and ERIC H.
CASE NO. 8:12CV6
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas transferred this
matter to this court on January 4, 2012. (Filing No. 3.) Plaintiff is a prisoner who has been
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 9.) On February 24, 2012, Plaintiff
paid the initial partial filing fee. (See Docket Sheet.) The court now conducts an initial
review of Plaintiff’s’ claims to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Summarized and condensed, Plaintiff’s Complaint relates entirely to the January
2008 foreclosure of his home located in Douglas County, Nebraska. (Filing No. 7.) Plaintiff
alleges that the foreclosure occurred even though he did not receive proper notice of his
mortgage default, certain dates had been forged on critical documents, his deed was not
properly recorded, and the foreclosure sale was made fraudulently and without a public
auction. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 2-3.) Plaintiff alleges that, because of these defects in the
process, the January 2008 foreclosure of his home “was never completed.” (Id. at CM/ECF
p. 3.) Plaintiff requests damages in the amount of $1,300,000, that the court declare “null
and void the foreclosure on this real property in favor of the plaintiff,” and other relief
relating to the state foreclosure action. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 4.)
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review prisoner and in forma pauperis complaints seeking
relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and
1915A. The court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous
or malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
A pro se plaintiff must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their claims
across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be dismissed” for
failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009), (“A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff’s
complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780
F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However, a pro se plaintiff’s allegations must be
construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 104344 (8th Cir. 2002), (citations omitted).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
Plaintiff brings his claims pursuant to “diversity jurisdiction.” (Filing No. 7 at CM/ECF
p. 1.) However, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits lower federal courts from exercising
appellate review of state court judgments. Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416
(1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983). In
fact, federal district courts do not have jurisdiction “over challenges to state-court decisions
. . . even if those challenges allege that the state court’s action was unconstitutional.”
Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486; see also Ballinger v. Culotta, 322 F.3d 546, 548-49 (8th Cir.
2003), (dismissing claims under Rooker-Feldman doctrine where the relief requested in the
complaint would effectively reverse or undermine the state court decision or void its ruling
and noting that “[f]ederal district courts thus may not ‘exercis[e] jurisdiction over general
constitutional claims that are ‘inextricably intertwined’ with specific claims already
adjudicated in state court”) (citation omitted). Put simply, a federal district court does not
possess authority to review or alter final judgments of a state court judicial proceeding.
Plaintiff’s pleadings show that Defendants completed foreclosure proceedings in
Nebraska state court in 2008, and have already transferred Plaintiff’s former home at least
one time since. (Filing No. 7 at CM/ECF pp. 5-15.) In addition, Plaintiff requests more than
one million dollars in damages, and requests that this court declare the state-court
foreclosure proceedings “null and void,” essentially returning his home to him. (Id. at
CM/ECF p. 3.) Although Plaintiff claims several deficiencies in the foreclosure process,
awarding Plaintiff the relief he seeks would effectively void the state-court action. As set
forth above, the “Rooker-Feldman doctrine” bars this court from correcting or altering a
state court judgment, and no declaratory or injunctive relief is available in this court to do
so. In light of this, Plaintiff’s claims are dismissed. However, the court will dismiss
Plaintiff’s Complaint without prejudice to reassertion in the state court, to the extent
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed without prejudice; and
A separate judgment will be entered in accordance with this Memorandum
DATED this 6th day of March, 2012.
BY THE COURT:
s/Laurie Smith Camp
Chief United States District Judge
*This opinion may contain hyperlinks to other documents or Web sites. The U.S.
District Court for the District of Nebraska does not endorse, recommend, approve, or
guarantee any third parties or the services or products they provide on their Web sites.
Likewise, the court has no agreements with any of these third parties or their Web sites.
The court accepts no responsibility for the availability or functionality of any hyperlink.
Thus, the fact that a hyperlink ceases to work or directs the user to some other site does
not affect the opinion of the court.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?