FARZAN v. BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING LLC et al
OPINION filed. Signed by Chief Judge Freda L. Wolfson on 2/17/2021. (abr, )
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*NOT FOR PUBLICATON*
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-03330-FLW
BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC., et
WOLFSON, Chief Judge:
This matter arises out of a state foreclosure action and related proceedings in the United
States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey (“USBC”). After petitioning for Chapter
13 bankruptcy, pro se Plaintiff Reva Farzan filed an Adversary Complaint against Bayview Loan
Servicing, LLC, its law firm Schiller, Knapp, Lefkowitz, & Hertzal LLP, and Samantha Dickie, a
notary (collectively, “Defendants”). Farzan alleged that Defendants forged various documents
relating to his mortgage. The USBC dismissed Farzan’s Adversary Complaint under the RookerFeldman doctrine, holding that the lower federal courts cannot hear cases that are essentially
appeals from state court judgments. The question on appeal is whether that dismissal was proper.1
For the following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the USBC’s Order granting Defendants’ Motion
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In the alternative, Defendants move to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief under Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6). See Def. Br. II, at 14, 29-32. Because I decide this appeal on subject matter jurisdiction
grounds, I need not address that issue.
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Because of the complicated and lengthy procedural history in this case, but the parties’
narrow dispute on appeal, the Court recounts only certain facts it deems relevant.2 Farzan executed
a mortgage for the property located at 23 Twin Terrace, Holmdel, New Jersey, with American
Mortgage Network, Inc., on February 14, 2005, in the amount of $359,650. In 2009, Mortgage
Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., a nominee of American Mortgage, assigned the note to J.P.
Morgan Chase, which then assigned it to Bayview in 2014. Bayview and Farzan executed a loan
modification in 2015. Still, the loan went into default, and in 2016, Bayview initiated a foreclose
action in Superior Court, Monmouth County, Chancery Division. See Def. Br. II, Ex. A.
Farzan vigorously contested the foreclosure action. In his state court Answer, he contended
that the assignments were “fraudulent,” the signatures on them were forged, the signatories lacked
the authority to execute them in any event, Bayview could not foreclose because it did not possess
the original mortgage note, and he never agreed to the modification. Id., Ex. B., at 3, 6, 14-16.
Bayview moved for summary judgment in January 2017, which the court granted, notwithstanding
the fact that J.P. Morgan Chase lost the note. Id., Exs. C-E. Then, for the better part of two years,
Farzan filed numerous appeals, dismissal motions, removal motions, and motions for a stay, id.,
Exs. G-H, as well as a separate federal action against J.P. Morgan Chase,3 id., Exs. I-J, all of which
rehashed the contentions in his Answer. None was successful. The state court entered final
judgment on September 3, 2019. Id., Ex. F.
A more detailed factual and procedural history can be found in the USBC’s Opinion and Order
granting stay relief to Bayview and denying Farzan’s motion to disallow Bayview’s claim. See In re Farzan,
No. 19-29256, 2020 WL 2769046, at *1-4 (Bankr. D.N.J. May 20, 2020).
The Hon. Michael A. Shipp, U.S.D.J., dismissed the action against J.P. Morgan Chase under the
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On October 10, 2019, before the state court deadline to appeal the judgment, Farzan filed
for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. See Case No. 19-29256, ECF No. 1. In connection with that petition,
on November 4, 2019, he filed an Adversary Complaint challenging the authenticity of the 2009
and 2014 assignments and the 2015 loan modification. Def. Br. II, Ex. K; see Case No. 19-02228,
ECF No. 1. In short, as Farzan has maintained since the beginning, Bayview has no standing to
foreclose because of the allegedly forged or fraudulent documents, which he claims he never
signed, and he has no obligation to pay the mortgage or judgment. Bayview moved to dismiss.4
In a hearing on January 28, 2020, Farzan admitted that he had already litigated the
foreclosure in state court, see Case No. 20-03330, ECF No. 2, Ex. 3 (Jan. 28 Hearing), at T4:1113, and did not have an appeal pending there, id. at T3:21-24, but nevertheless was “disputing”
Bayview’s “standing to foreclose.” Id. at T6:20-22. The USBC explained that “the State court has
made a decision on that already,” which “is not for me to re-review.” Id. at T7:1-12. Farzan
responded that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine “does not apply when there’s a fraud,” id. at T7:1316, but the USBC noted that “the State court Judge found that there was no fraud . . . . [s]o, [the
Court] can’t revisit that” either. Id. at T7:17-20. Farzan then alleged forgery, but the USBC noted
once again that Farzan “brought all that up to the State court judge.” Id. at T8:12-16. Accordingly,
in an oral decision, the USBC “dismiss[ed] the complaint . . . based on . . . the Rooker-Feldman
Since Rooker-Feldman concerns the subject matter jurisdiction of the lower federal courts, Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(1) governs Defendants’ dismissal motion and Farzan, as the party asserting jurisdiction, bears
the burden of establishing that a federal court has authority to hear his Adversary Complaint. See Packard
v. Provident Nat’l Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1045 (3d Cir. 1993). Likewise, because Rooker-Feldman is a facial
attack on jurisdiction rather than a factual one, see In re JOL Advisors, Inc., No. 15-7912, 2017 WL 772912,
at *7 (D.N.J. Feb. 28, 2017); Frame v. Lowe, No. 09-2673, 2010 WL 503024, at *5-6 (D.N.J. Feb. 8, 2010);
In re Farrington, No. 17-26505, 2019 WL 1149881, at *4 (D.N.J. Mar. 11, 2019), I must consider the
allegations in the Adversary Complaint in the light most favorable to Farzan. See Gould Elecs., Inc. v.
United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000) (“The facial attack does offer similar safeguards to the
plaintiff [as a 12(b)(6) motion]: the court must consider the allegations of the complaint as true.”).
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doctrine that says that [federal courts] can’t do anything about facts and issues that were presented
before a State court that the State court has decided already.”5 Id. at T12:22-13:1.
Unsatisfied with the outcome, Farzan appealed. The question is whether Rooker-Feldman
bars the USBC from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over the claims in Farzan’s Adversary
Complaint.6 Farzan insists the answer is no for reasons which are difficult to discern, but which
seem to center on whether there is actually a final judgment in the state court foreclosure action
and whether Rooker-Feldman exempts allegations of fraud. Defendants contend that the USBC
“properly concluded that it lack[ed] jurisdiction” because “all of [Farzan’s] claims are inextricably
tied to the underlying foreclosure proceeding and either were, or could have been litigated in that
action,” Def. Br. I, at 9, and as such, constitute “a collateral attack on the state court [judgment].”
Def. Br. II, at 14.
Since Farzan filed his appeal, two important events have occurred in the underlying
bankruptcy proceedings. First, the USBC granted stay relief to Bayview, which enabled it to
commence foreclosure proceedings. See In re Farzan, No. 19-29256, 2020 WL 2769046, at *1011 (Bankr. D.N.J. May 20, 2020). Farzan appealed that decision, but I dismissed it on October 20,
2020, for failure to prosecute. See ECF No. 87; In re New Century TRS Holdings, Inc., 619 Fed.
App’x. 46, 48 (3d Cir. 2015) (finding that a court, “in its discretion, may dismiss a bankruptcy
appeal [on such grounds]”). Second, the USBC issued an Order confirming Farzan’s Modified
Alternatively, the USBC noted that the abstention doctrine bars Farzan’s Adversary Complaint.
See, e.g., Case No. 20-03330, ECF No. 2, Ex. 3 (Jan. 28 hearing), at T7:8-12 (“[T]he State court is where
you should be.”); id. at T12:23-24 (“I’m dismissing the complaint against Bayview based on the abstention
doctrine and Rooker-Feldman.”).
Because I resolve this matter under Rooker-Feldman, I do not reach the various other arguments
advanced by Defendants, such as abstention, New Jersey’s entire controversy doctrine, which broadly
encompasses principles of claim preclusion, and collateral estoppel. See Def. Br. II, at 20-28.
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Chapter 13 Plan on July 16, 2020. See Case No. 19-29256, ECF No. 84. That Order provides that
Bayview “will be paid outside of the  Plan.” Id. at 3.
This Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). “[T]he nature of the issues presented
on appeal” determines the “proper standard of review.” In re Beers, No. 09-1666, 2009 WL
4282270, at *3 (D.N.J. Nov. 30, 2009). I review factual findings for clear error, Am. Flint Glass
Workers union v. Anchor Resolution Corp., 197 F.3d 76, 80 (3d Cir. 1999), exercise of discretion
for abuse thereof, In re United Healthcare Sys., Inc., 396 F.3d 247, 249 (3d Cir. 2005), and
conclusions of law de novo. Mellon Bank, N.A. v. Metro Common’s, Inc., 945 F.2d 635, 642 (3d
There does not appear to be a factual dispute here. Instead, Farzan objects to the legal
conclusion reached by the USBC in granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss—namely, that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars subject matter jurisdiction. I review that de novo. See In re JOL
Advisors, Inc., No. 15-7912, 2017 WL 772912, at *7 (D.N.J. Feb. 28, 2017) (applying de
novo review when a bankruptcy court granted a motion to dismiss); In re Farrington, No. 1726505, 2019 WL 1149881, at *3 (D.N.J. Mar. 11, 2019) (applying de novo review when a
bankruptcy court invoked Rooker-Feldman). Where a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
under Rooker-Feldman, as here, dismissal is appropriate. Jacobsen v. Citi Mortg. Inc., No. 171555, 2017 WL 3877848, at *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 5, 2017), aff’d sub nom., 715 Fed. App’x. 222 (3d
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine “prevents the lower federal courts from exercising
jurisdiction over cases brought by state-court losers challenging state-court judgments rendered
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before the district court proceedings commenced.” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 460 (2006). It
is implicated when, “in order to grant the federal plaintiff the relief sought, the federal court must
determine that the state court judgment was erroneously entered or must take action that would
render that judgment ineffectual.” FOCUS v. Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, 75 F.3d
834, 840 (3d Cir. 1996). It applies “equally to federal bankruptcy courts.” In re Madera, 586 F.3d
228, 232 (3d Cir. 2006); In re Knapper, 407 F.3d 573, 582 (3d Cir. 2005). A federal court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rooker-Feldman when “(1) the federal plaintiff lost in state
court; (2) the plaintiff complain[s] of injuries caused by [the] state-court judgments; (3) those
judgments were rendered before the federal suit was filed; and (4) the plaintiff is inviting the
district court to review and reject the state judgments.” Great Western Mining & Mineral Co. v.
Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 167-69 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi
Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 283 (2005)).
A. Farzan Lost in State Court and Judgment Was Rendered Before This Suit
The first and third Rooker-Feldman elements are satisfied in this case. Farzan lost the
foreclosure action at summary judgment in January 2017, the state court entered final judgment in
September 2019, Farzan did not file his Chapter 13 petition until October 2019, and he did not file
the present Adversary Complaint until November 2019. Accord In re Farrington, 2019 WL
1149881, at *4 (“In or around May 2017, Appellant was the losing party in the Foreclosure Action
in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Appellant did not file the Bankruptcy Action until August
2017 and did not file her Adversary Complaint in the Bankruptcy Court until December 2017, i.e.,
several months after the Superior Court entered final judgment against [her].”).
Farzan insists that “judgment” was not actually “rendered” before he filed his Adversary
Complaint because he may still appeal in state court. See Pl. Br., at 14 (“The alleged final judgment
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order of 9/3/2019 has not been affirmed by the Supreme Court of NJ.”); id. at 10-11 (“The case
has not been in the NJ Appellate Division. The case has not been in the Supreme Court of NJ.
Judge Gravelle ignored that.”). As a rule, a Rooker-Feldman judgment obtains when state
proceedings have ended. State proceedings are deemed to end in three situations: “the highest start
court in which review is available has affirmed . . . and there is nothing left to be resolved,” the
“state action has reached a point where neither party seeks further action,” for example when a
party voluntary terminates litigation or lets the appeals period expire, or all of the federal questions
are decided even if state issues remain. Malhan v. Sec’y of State, 938 F.3d 453, 459-61 (3d Cir.
2019). Farzan invokes the first situation, which tracks the final judgment rule governing the
Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Id.; Federacion De Meastros de Puerto Rico v. Junta de
Relaciones del Trabajo de Puerto Rico, 410 F.3d at 17, 24, n.10 (1st Cir. 2005) (observing same).
Because he may still appeal, Farzan claims, state proceedings have not ended, “the highest state
court in which review is available” has not “affirmed,” and there is no judgment in the sense of
Farzan is incorrect. To begin, although “appeals from final judgments of courts shall be
filed within 45 days,” N.J. Ct. R. 2:4-1, a window which Farzan missed long ago, 11 U.S.C. §
362(a) automatically stays all judicial and foreclosure proceedings against a debtor who files for
bankruptcy, and Farzan filed his Chapter 13 petition at the eleventh hour, just before the deadline
to appeal the September 2019 judgment, presumably tolling whatever time remained in the appeals
period. See, e.g., Ass’n of St. Croix Condominium Owners v. St. Croix Hotel Corp., 682 F.2d 446,
448 (3d Cir. 1982) (requiring courts to read § 362(a) “to stay all appeals in proceedings that were
originally brought against the debtor, regardless of whether the debtor is the appellant or
appellee”); Lambert v. Blackwell, 387 F.3d 210, 240 n.25 (3d Cir. 2004) (“[A]n automatic stay
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obviates the state court’s jurisdiction and renders [any further] decision void ab initio.”); In re
Myers, 491 F.3d 120, 127 (3d Cir. 2007) (collecting cases holding that “actions taken in violation
of [a] stay are void”).
Critically, however, the USBC granted stay relief to Bayview on May 27, 2020, see 11
U.S.C. 362(d)(1), allowing Bayview to proceed with foreclosure and/or collect on the state court
judgment. In re Farzan, 2020 WL 2769046, at *10-11 (finding significant prejudice to Bayview
and holding that “Farzan may go to the State Court to pursue his appellate rights there,” which “is
in a better position to evaluate . . . success on the merits, as th[is] matter primarily implicates state
law”). The USBC did not stay its decision pending appeal. Id. at *10 (writing that “the State Court
has its own provisions for stay pending appeal,” which Farzan may invoke, and that “[o]ver the
course of the months or years that his [many] appeals are pending, he will continue to reside in the
Property while making no payments to Bayview,” which is “inequitable”). Farzan attempted to
appeal, but I dismissed it. See Case No. 19-29256, ECF No. 87; supra.
As a result, the state court action resumed as soon as the USBC lifted the stay, and Farzan’s
remaining time to appeal the judgment began to run at that point. See, e.g., In re Wilson, 116 F.3d
87, 90 (3d Cir. 1997) (upholding stay relief to enable a creditor to appeal in state court, and citing
Rooker-Feldman); In re Mager, 614 B.R. 504, 511 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2020) (granting stay relief and
permitting further “proceeding[s] in the pending state court actions”); In re Schaffer, 597 B.R. 777,
794 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2019) (granting stay relief and permitting “the Movants to resume, and
liquidate, their claims against the Debtor in the State Court”); In re Lehigh Valley Properties, Inc.,
482 B.R. 127, 131-32 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2012) (granting stay relief “to allow the litigation to proceed
in the state court,” because Rooker-Feldman “quite simply and equally clearly prohibits me from
[reviewing the state court decision]”); In re Pedro, No. 11-21071, 2011 WL 3741504, at *7 (Bankr.
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E.D. Pa. 2011) (“The stay prevents the  claim from finally being heard by the most logical,
practical court to hear it—the state court.”); In re Dunlop, 378 B.R. 85, 93 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2007)
(relying on Rooker-Feldman to terminate a stay because the state court already “upheld the . . .
foreclosure sale”); Matter of Highway Truck Drivers and Helpers Local Union 107, 98 B.R. 698,
705 (E.D. Pa. 1989) (affirming stay relief on the grounds that state court appeal was debtor’s “only
vehicle to attack the adverse judgment”); Metz v. Poughkeepsie Sav. Bank, 165 B.R. 769, 771
(Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 1994) (granting stay relief to allow appeal of state court judgment); In re
Cohoes Industrial Terminal, Inc., 70 B.R. 214 (S.D.N.Y. 1986) (granting stay relief when debtor’s
right to possession had been extinguished pre-bankruptcy by state court order), aff’d, 831 F.2d 283
(2d Cir. 1987); see also H.R. Rep. No. 595, 95th Cong., 1st Sess., 341 (1977) (stating, in the
context of stay relief, that “[i]t will often be more appropriate to permit proceedings to continue in
their place of origin”).
There is no indication that Farzan ever appealed the final judgment in state court after the
USBC granted stay relief, much less within whatever time remained under N.J. Ct. R. 2:4-1.7
Indeed, in his initial brief in this matter, filed on June 1, 2020, Farzan acknowledged that the USBC
had already lifted the stay, but stated that “I have not filed any other appeal or petition for review.”
Pl. Br., at 10. Then, in his reply brief, filed on July 16, 2020, the same day the USBC confirmed
his Modified Chapter 13 Plan, Farzan repeatedly referenced the stay relief order without ever
stating that he appealed the final judgment in state court. See, e.g., Pl. Rep. Br., at 3-4, 23 (“I have
appealed the orders of 5/27/20 [to this Court].”). The foreclosure judgment is final—and no longer
Also relevant here: both the Appellate Division and New Jersey Supreme Court have denied
appeals relating to the 2017 summary judgment order. Pl. Rep. Br., at 13-14, 16 (“I filed interlocutory
appeals in the NJ Appellate Division to complain. They denied me . . . . I filed interlocutory appeals to the
Supreme Court of NJ; they denied my complaints.”); see also Case No. 20-03330, ECF No. 2, Ex. 3 (Jan.
28 Hearing), at T3:21-24 (“[D]o you have an appeal pending in the State court?” “No.”).
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reviewable—to that extent. Accord Erlandson v. Northglenn Mun. Court, 528 F.3d 785, 788 n.3
(10th Cir. 2008) (finding that a state court proceeding was final under Rooker-Feldman once the
Colorado Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s certiorari petition).
Alternatively, after the USBC confirmed his Modified Chapter 13 Plan on July 16, 2020,
Farzan did not appeal it or move for a stay pending appeal, which independently terminated the
automatic stay and started the clock on the appeals period in state court. See, e.g., In re Ernst, 45
B.R. 700, 702-03 (Bankr. D. Minn. 1985) (holding that a confirmed plan “automatically
terminated” a stay, even if the USBC “retained jurisdiction,” thus allowing “a party to seek his
remedy . . . under the plan in a state court having jurisdiction”); see also 11 U.S.C. § 1327(a) (“The
provisions of a confirmed plan bind the debtor and each creditor, whether or not the claim of such
creditor is provided for by the plan, and whether or not such creditor has objected to, has accepted,
or has rejected the plan.”); In re Simpson, 240 B.R. 559 (8th Cir. BAP 1999) (mooting an appeal
from an order denying a motion to terminate an automatic stay upon confirmation plan); In re
Simons, 113 B.R. 942, 949 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 1990) (explaining that a confirmed plan supersedes
Because Farzan’s appeals period began to run again when the USBC granted stay relief or
confirmed his Modified Chapter 13 Plan, and hence ended in August 2020 at the latest,8 he may
Although the USBC made its Rooker-Feldman determination in January 2020, but did not grant
stay relief or confirm Farzan’s plan until later, that timeline does not control on appeal, because I have to
assess subject matter jurisdiction at every stage of the litigation. See Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 455
(2004) (“A litigant generally may raise a court’s lack of subject-matter jurisdiction at any time in the same
civil action, even initially at the highest appellate instance.”); Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475
U.S. 534, 541 (1986) (“[E]very federal appellate court has a special obligation to satisfy itself not only of
its own jurisdiction, but also of the lower courts in a case under review.”) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted); Mansfield, Coldwater & Lake Mich. Ry. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884) (stating
that a challenge to a federal court’s jurisdiction may be made at any stage, and the court should raise it
sua sponte). At this point, because the state court appeals period has expired, judgment has been rendered
in the sense of Rooker-Feldman. In any event, even if Rooker-Feldman did not previously apply, res
judicata, collateral estoppel, and/or abstention would have, as the USBC noted in the hearing on January
28, 2020. Supra, note 5; see In re Randall, 358 B.R. 145, 164-66 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2006) (applying res
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no longer seek further review in state court, there is a “‘final judgment or decree rendered by the
highest court of a State in which a decision could be had’” in the sense of 28 U.S.C. § 1257,
Malhan, 938 F.3d at 459 (quoting Federacion, 410 F.3d at 24), and judgment has been “rendered”
for Rooker-Feldman purposes. The first and third Rooker-Feldman elements are, in turn, satisfied.
B. Farzan Complains of an Injury from the State Judgment and Seeks to Overturn It
The second and fourth Rooker-Feldman elements are “closely related” and “key” to
determining “whether a federal suit presents an independent, non-barred claim.” Great W. Mining,
615 F.3d at 166, 168. Because Farzan complains that he is injured by his obligation to pay
Bayview, since he is not liable on the mortgage and Bayview allegedly procured the note by fraud,
and through his Adversary Complaint, asks this Court to declare that Bayview has no claim against
him and that the judgment is erroneous, these elements are also satisfied here.
The second element is viewed, primarily, as “an inquiry into the source of the plaintiff’s
injury.” Great W. Mining, 615 F.3d at 166. Farzan alleges that Bayview had no right to foreclose
on his home because it had no right to collect on the note, and it had no right to collect on the note
because every link in the chain of assignments is fraudulent, including apparently the documents
he signed modifying the loan in 2015. See, e.g., Pl. Rep. Br., at 24 (describing “four forged
documents”). Hence, in Farzan’s view, Bayview has no standing to foreclosure, he has no liability
on the mortgage, and there is no legitimate basis for the judgment. Even when viewed in the light
most favorable to Farzan, it is “abundantly clear” that Farzan “attacks” the judgment itself, which
he seeks not to pay. See Gage v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA AS, 521 Fed. App’x. 49, 51 (3d Cir. 2013)
judicata to bar a claim where Rooker-Feldman did not); In re Assante, 470 B.R. 707, 712 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)
(applying collateral estoppel to same effect); Ruffolo v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 2014 WL 4979699 (D.N.J.
Oct. 3, 2014) (applying abstention doctrine to bar a federal challenge to a state court foreclosure); St. Clair
v. Wertzberger, 637 F. Supp. 2d 251, 255 (D.N.J. 2009) (same); DiPietro v. Landis Title Co., No. 11-5110,
2012 WL 2116404 (D.N.J. June 11, 2012) (same).
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(concluding same); McMahon v. Washington State Bank, No. 05-122, 2005 WL 1648204, at *2
(W.D. Wis. 2005) (“[T]he requested remedy, avoidance of the [September 2019 order], reveals
that the injury stems from the foreclosure and the essence of the claim is to overturn that state court
judgment.”). It is further clear that the state court heard, litigated, and rejected precisely these
claims, which Farzan now recycles in the Adversary Complaint. See In re Kajla, No. 18-22208,
2019 WL 6456120, at *3 (D.N.J. Nov. 30, 2019) (“[Plaintiff] re-asserted the same, previously
rejected, claims of Appellees’ allegedly fraudulent conduct in his Adversary Complaint.”).
Regardless, Farzan’s claims cannot be separated from the judgment because they are predicated
on the belief that the judgment is wrong. See Diehl v. Connell, 382 Fed. App’x. 127, 129 (3d Cir.
2010) (applying Rooker-Feldman where “to grant relief . . . [the court] would be required to find
that the state court judgment is erroneous.”); In re Knapper, 407 F.3d at 580 (applying RookerFeldman where claims are “inextricably linked” with state court judgment).
Still, Farzan argues, because Defendants procured the judgment through fraud, his
Adversary Complaint asserts an “independent claim” not barred by Rooker-Feldman. This
argument is not entirely without merit. See, e.g., Frame v. Lowe, No. 09-2673, 2010 WL 503024,
at *6 (D.N.J. Feb. 8, 2010) (accepting a similar argument, albeit under different facts). It is
nevertheless unpersuasive and unavailing here. First, as the USBC pointed out, Farzan made an
identical argument in state court, many times over, unsuccessfully. See In re Kajla, 2019 WL
6456120, at *3 (applying Rooker-Feldman despite plaintiff’s repeated claims “contest[ing] the
validity of certain assignments of the loan documents”); Lawson v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co.,
No. 18-14855, 2019 WL 4386746, at *3-4 (D.N.J. Sept. 13, 2019) (rejecting plaintiff’s repeated
claims that defendant lacked standing to foreclose “due to fraud in the assignment process”); In re
Ward, 423 B.R. 22, 28 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2010) (“[T]he Rooker-Feldman doctrine  appl[ied] . . .
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even though the party argued that the judgment was procured by fraud.”); Estate of Keys v. Union
Planters Bank, N.A., 578 F. Supp. 2d 629, 637 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (same).
Second, the Third Circuit has repeatedly and explicitly held, in the foreclosure context, that
a plaintiff cannot “evade Rooker-Feldman by arguing on appeal that he was not injured by the
foreclosure judgment, but rather by [defendant’s] purportedly fraudulent actions.” Gage, 521 Fed.
App’x. at 50-51 (rejecting plaintiff’s claim that defendant “had no right to foreclosure on the
property and therefore committed ‘criminal acts”); Mann v. Nat’l City Bank of Ind., 471 Fed.
App’x. 101, 105 (3d Cir. 2012) (“[Plaintiff’s] allegations that . . .defendants threatened . . .
foreclosure when they had no right to do so is nothing more than an attack on the state court
judgment.”); Moncrief v. Chase Manhattan Mortg. Corp., 275 Fed. App’x. 149, 152-53 (3d Cir.
2008) (applying Rooker-Feldman even though plaintiff argued that defendants procured the
foreclosure through “fraud”); Ayres-Fountain v. E. Sav. Bank, 153 Fed. App’x. 91, 92 (3d Cir.
2005) (concluding same); see also Macintyre v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 827 Fed. App’x.
812 (10th Cir. 2020) (holding that Rooker-Feldman applied where cause of action would require
federal court to find that state court orders were fraudulently procured). To that extent, the fraud
exception to Rooker-Feldman, if one exists at all, is exceedingly narrow under these
circumstances. Where Rooker-Feldman has been found inapplicable, the plaintiff has sought
money damages under a separate cause of action not available in the state court proceeding, not to
vacate the foreclosure judgment, contrary to this case, where Farzan seeks a declaration that he
has no obligations to Bayview. See Goddard v. Citibank, N.A., No. 04-5317, 2006 WL 842925, at
*6 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 27, 2006).
Finally, as to the fourth Rooker-Feldman element, the question is whether Farzan asks this
Court “to determine that the prior judgment was [in]correctly decided.” In re Sabertooth LLC, 443
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B.R. 671, 681 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2011); see also Great Western, 615 F.3d at 168-69. The nature of
the relief Farzan seeks is critical. In re Randall, 358 B.R. 145, 155-56 (Bankr. E.D. Pa.
2006) (“[T]he relief sought (as opposed to the issues raised) by the federal plaintiff will be
Farzan clearly attempts to “change the state court result” through this action. In re
Knapper, 407 F.3d at 582 (quoting In re Goetzman, 91 F.3d 1173, 1177 (8th Cir. 1996)). The state
court determined that Bayview owns the mortgage note even though J.P. Morgan lost it, Farzan
owes Bayview over $500,000, and foreclosure proceedings may commence. See Def. Br. II, Ex. F
(“ORDERED and ADJUDGED that [Bayview] is entitled to have the sum of $587,525.87 . . . to
be raised in the first place out of the mortgaged premises.”). Farzan asks this Court to vacate that
judgment, permanently enjoin those proceedings, declare that he is not liable on the mortgage, and
release him from obligations thereunder for reasons—fraud and forgery—which courts have
consistently rejected. See, e.g., Pl. Rep. Br., at 28-29 (describing various failed efforts to vacate
the judgment, and writing that “I hope [this Court] reviews this case de novo”). “Implicit in the
[state court’s September 2019 order] was that court’s determination that the Mortgage was valid,”
yet Farzan’s Adversary Complaint “asks [me] to draw a different conclusion.” Thompson v.
Ameriquest Mortg. Co., No. 03-3256, 2003 WL 22012207, at *3 (N.D. Ill. 2003); In re Holler, 342
B.R. 212, 221 (Bankr. W.D. Pa. 2006) (holding that, due to a state court foreclosure judgment, the
court had no jurisdiction over a debtor’s assertion that a mortgage assignment was invalid).
Because Farzan attempts to undo the state court decision and produce the opposite outcome, it is
“precisely what Rooker-Feldman prohibits.” In re Knapper, 407 F.3d at 582; Willoughby v.
Zucker, Goldberg & Ackerman, LLC, No. 13-7062, 2014 WL 2711177, at *4 (D.N.J. June 16,
2014) (“This type of action is exactly what Rooker-Feldman is meant to prevent: an attempt to
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invalidate the final judgment of foreclosure . . . from a state court.”).
Farzan lost in state court on the issue whether Bayview has standing to foreclose on his
home. That resulted in a judgment entered before he filed his Adversary Complaint. The appeals
period has long since expired, which ended the state proceedings for Rooker-Feldman purposes.
Accordingly, the Court AFFIRMS the USBC’s Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
DATED: February 17, 2021
/s/ Freda L. Wolfson
Hon. Freda L. Wolfson
U.S. Chief District Judge
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