Maxwell v. Frost Bank
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE - Having received the report of the United States Magistrate Judge, having considered Plaintiff's timely filed objection (Dkt. #48), and having conducted a de nov o review, this Court is of the opinion that the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct and adopts the Magistrate Judge's report (Dkt. 43 ) as the findings and conclusions of the Court. It is, therefore, ORDERED that De fendant's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 6 ) is GRANTED. It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Convert (Dkt. 31 ) is DENIED. All relief not previously granted is hereby denied. The Clerk is directed to close this civil action. Signed by Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III on 2/2/2017. (baf, )
United States District Court
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
JAMES T MAXWELL
Civil Action No. 4:16-CV-342
(Judge Mazzant/Judge Nowak)
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Came on for consideration the report of the United States Magistrate Judge in this action,
this matter having been heretofore referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636.
On December 23, 2016, the report of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. #43) was entered containing
proposed findings of fact and recommendations that Defendant Frost Bank’s Motion to Dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6) and Brief in Support (“Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss”) (Dkt. #6) be granted
and Plaintiff’s Motion to Treat Motion to Dismiss as Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule
56 (“Motion to Convert”) (Dkt. #31) be denied. Having received the report of the Magistrate Judge
(Dkt. #43), having considered Plaintiff’s timely filed objection (Dkt. #48), Defendant’s response
to Plaintiff’s objection (Dkt. #53) and having conducted a de novo review, the Court is of the
opinion that the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct, and the Court hereby
adopts the Magistrate Judge’s report (Dkt. #43) as the findings and conclusions of the Court.
The facts in this case originate from a Guaranty Agreement which obligated Plaintiff James
T. Maxwell (“Plaintiff”) to repay certain amounts of principal and interest should the named
borrower default. Plaintiff also, in connection therewith, executed an “Arbitration and Final
Agreement” which purported to add a waiver of jury trial to the Guaranty Agreement. The
underlying facts are set out in further detail by the Magistrate Judge, and are not repeated in their
entirety herein; rather the Court summarizes only those facts pertinent to Plaintiff’s objection (see
At the state court level, Plaintiff filed a request for jury trial which was stricken by the trial
court. The state court action thereafter proceeded to a bench trial, culminating in entry of a final
judgment in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal which was subsequently
dismissed, and then filed the instant suit requesting the Court to “declare that [Plaintiff] has not
waived his right to a trial by jury as provided by Amendment VII of the Constitution of the United
States, in [the State Court Action] and that any judgment against [Plaintiff] in that action, or in any
subsequent action by [Defendant] in any court, without a jury trial is a void judgment.”
The Magistrate Judge, after a hearing and review of all relevant pleadings, entered a report
and recommendation on December 23, 2016, recommending Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss be
granted (Dkt. #6) and Plaintiff’s Motion to Convert (Dkt. #31) be denied. Specifically, the
Magistrate Judge made the following conclusions: (1) the Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s
Complaint under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; (2) Plaintiff’s claims are barred by res judicata
and collateral estoppel, and (3) Plaintiff fails to state a claim for declaratory relief (Dkt. #43).
Moreover, with respect to the Motion to Convert, the Magistrate Judge found the attachments to
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss were properly considered and did not necessitate converting the
motion into one for summary judgment. Subsequent to the report and recommendation, on January
9, 2017, Plaintiff filed a “Response to Recommendation of Magistrate Judge,” which has been
construed as objections (Dkt. #48).1 On January 23, 2017, Defendant filed a response (Dkt. #53).
The Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s finding regarding the Motion to Convert. Plaintiff’s response, which the
Court has construed as an objection, does not address or touch in any way the finding that the Motion to Convert
should be denied. Plaintiff does request that the Court require Defendant to file a response to Plaintiff’s Motion for
Under the law, a party who files timely written objections to a magistrate judge’s report
and recommendation is entitled to a de novo determination of those findings or recommendations
to which the party specifically objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(2)-(3).
However, “[p]arties filing objections must specifically identify those findings [to which they
object]. Conclusive or general objections need not be considered by the district court. Nettles v.
Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404, 410 n.8 (5th Cir. 1982) (en banc), overruled on other grounds by
Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Ass’n, 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc); Chase Bank USA,
N.A. v. McLain, No. 1:12-CV-353, 2013 WL 713404, at *1 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 26, 2012).
Plaintiff’s objection herein does not identify or otherwise state any specific issue of law or
fact among those set forth in the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation with which he
disagrees; Plaintiff merely reiterates his underlying reason for filing suit:
My reason for coming to this Court was that I had been denied a jury trial in state
court. Seeing this as a constitutional issue, I was hopeful that a Federal court would
see it as worthy of protection. The only real factual issue was whether or not I had
agreed to waive my right to a jury trial.
(Dkt. #48). The Court has undertaken a de novo review of the report and recommendation and the
Court concludes that the Magistrate Judge’s findings and conclusions are correct. See Douglass,
79 F.3d at 1429 (noting that a district court may alternatively find the magistrate judge’s findings
and conclusions were correct even though a party did not properly object to the report and
The Magistrate Judge clearly outlined the law regarding the application of the RookerFeldman doctrine, and concluded that all elements are satisfied (Dkt. #43 at 9-12). The Court
Summary Judgment; in light of the Court’s determination herein that this cause should be dismissed, the Court denies
agrees. Having reviewed the face of Plaintiff’s live pleading, the only relief requested is a
declaration invalidating the state court’s determination that Plaintiff had waived his right to trial
by jury. No matter how it is couched, Plaintiff’s complaint remains a collateral attack on the state
court action and any threatened injuries flow from the state court judgment. Plaintiff seemingly
admitted as much at Hearing: when questioned by the Magistrate Judge regarding how the state
court action would be impacted by granting his requested relief, Plaintiff answered that the state
court judgment would have to be declared void. Plaintiff’s objection merely buttresses this fact as
Plaintiff also admits therein that his sole purpose in initiating this suit was to ask the Court to
decide whether or not he had waived his right to a jury trial (Dkt. #48). This court lacks jurisdiction
to review the state court’s decision to strike Plaintiff’s jury demand.
As to the other bars alleged to be applicable to Plaintiff’s claim, res judicata prohibits the
litigation of claims that were or could have been raised in a prior action, while collateral estoppel
precludes redundant litigation over issues previously adjudicated between the same parties. See
Cox v. Nueces Cty., 839 F.3d 418, 421 (5th Cir. 2016); Kaspar Wire Works, Inc. v. Leco Eng’g &
Mach., Inc., 575 F.2d 530, 535-36 (5th Cir. 1978). The Magistrate Judge found that “the issue
raised in this suit regarding Plaintiff’s entitlement to a jury trial is identical to that issue litigated
before the state trial court” (Dkt. #43). The Court once again agrees and cites to Plaintiff’s own
objection. Plaintiff admits that he was denied a trial by jury by the state court and would like this
Court to consider that issue anew (Dkt. #48). Plaintiff’s claim is barred by both res judicata and
Lastly, the Magistrate Judge found Plaintiff alleged no other causes of action, independent
from Plaintiff’s request for declaratory relief (Dkt. #43). Thus, no facts exist demonstrating the
existence of a continuing justiciable controversy in this case. See Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth,
300 U.S. 227. 239-41 (1937). As such, the determination that Plaintiff has failed to allege a claim
for declaratory relief is accurate. Accordingly, the Court finds Plaintiff’s objection is overruled.
Having received the report of the United States Magistrate Judge, having considered
Plaintiff’s timely filed objection (Dkt. #48), and having conducted a de novo review, this Court is
of the opinion that the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct and adopts the
Magistrate Judge’s report (Dkt. #43) as the findings and conclusions of the Court.
It is, therefore, ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt.#6) is GRANTED.
It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Convert (Dkt. #31) is DENIED.
All relief not previously granted is hereby denied.
The Clerk is directed to close this civil action.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SIGNED this 2nd day of February, 2017.
AMOS L. MAZZANT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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