WILLIAMS v. STEPHANO BROTHERS REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT ASSOC.
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE WENDY BEETLESTONE ON 5/9/2017. 5/10/2017 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE.(kp, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MAY 10 20)7
KATE BARKMAN, Clerk
STEPHANO BROTHERS REAL ESTATE
Plaintiff Deborah Williams brings this civil action against Stephano Brothers Real Estate
Investment Associates ("Stephano Brothers") following proceedings in state court. For the
following reasons, the Court will grant Williams leave to proceed informa paupeirs and dismiss
her complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
It appears that Stephano Brothers was Williams's landlord. The complaint and documents
attached to the complaint reflect that Stephano Brothers initiated ejectment proceedings against
Williams on the basis that she failed to pay rent. Although Williams alleges that she did in fact
pay her rent, Stephano Brothers was successful in evicting her.
After losing in state court, Williams filed her complaint in this court. She alleges that "[i]n
each court below, despite compelling evidence to the contrary of Stephano Brothers claim, the
deck has been stacked against [her]." (Compl.
III.C.) She asks this Court to "reverse the
decisions of the lower court," return her rent, and award her additional damages. (Id
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Court grants Williams leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that she is
not capable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. As Williams is proceeding in
forma pauperis, the Court must screen her complaint to determine whether it is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks relief from an immune defendant. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Furthermore, "[i]fthe court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). As Williams is
proceedingpro se, the Court construes her allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d
333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, "federal district courts lack jurisdiction over suits
that are essentially appeals from state-court judgments." Great W Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox
Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 165 (3d Cir. 2010). Based on that principle, the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine deprives a federal district court of jurisdiction over "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." Id.
at 166 (quotations omitted). Williams, who lost in state court, filed this action seeking reversal
of the state courts' judgments because the state courts' rulings were allegedly incorrect.
Accordingly, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case because Williams is
essentially seeking to appeal judgments entered against her in state court. 1
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. As Williams cannot cure the jurisdictional defects in her claims, she will not be
Even if the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not apply, there is no basis for federal jurisdiction
over this case. The complaint does not raise any issues of federal law and the parties are not
citizens of different states. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1332.
given leave to file an amended complaint. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103,
114 (3d Cir. 2002). An appropriate order follows.
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