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WARE v. BANK

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division


April 3, 2003

JOYCE WARE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COLE TAYLOR BANK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: James B. Moran, Senior Judge, United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Joyce Ware filed a complaint alleging libel by defendants arising from a mortgage foreclosure suit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Along with the complaint, she filed a petition to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, plaintiff's petition is denied and her complaint is dismissed.

As part of the initial review of a petition to proceed in forma pauperis, we conduct an Initial review of the claims and dismiss the complaint if we determine that the action is frivolous or malicious, it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks damages from a defendant who is immune from such relict 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii); Alston v. Debruyn, 13 F.3d 1036, 1039 (7th Cir. 1994). We review the claim using the same standard as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), we dismiss a claim only if it appears beyond a doubt that there exist no facts to support the allegations. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Complaints by pro se parties should "be liberally construed and not held to the stringent standards expected of pleadings drafted by lawyers." McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000).

Plaintiff describes her case as removal of a state court action. On December 23, 2002, Judge Nancy Arnold entered summary judgment for plaintiff Cole Taylor Bank against Ware and other defendants. Plaintiff now appears to claim that this previous lawsuit was improperly decided because the plaintiffs in that suit had insufficient evidence to foreclose against her and that their prosecution of the foreclosure suit libeled her. To the extent that Ware asks us to review the determinations made by the court in the state court suit, we are barred from doing so by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co, 263 U.S. 413 (1923). We cannot grant a removal notice in order to basically serve as a state appellate court.

We cannot find any other claim in plaintiff's complaint that would satisfy the requirements of Rule 8. If plaintiff claims that her civil rights were violated by the earlier decision, we are again precluded from reviewing the decision by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Plaintiff cannot prevail on a libel claim based on the earlier litigation because defendants are Immune from civil suit for statements made that are pertinent to the litigation. Medow v. Flavin, 782 N.E.2d 733, 744, 270 Ill. Dec. 174, 185 (Ill.App. 1st Dist. 2002). The complaint and exhibits do not provide any notice to defendants as to plaintiff's claims.

We finally note that we likely do not have subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. Plaintiff states that we have diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the defendants (at least some of them) are residents of Illinois and she is not a resident of the United States. In order to make this possible, plaintiff has attempted to relinquish her United States citizenship by sending a letter to the President. For purposes of § 1332, a party is considered a citizen of the state of her domicile. See Galva Foundry Co. v. Heiden, 924 F.2d 729, 729-30 (7th Cir. 1991). A party generally must move to and plan on remaining in a new state in order to become a citizen for purposes of diversity jurisdiction and not simply use citizenship to manufacture diversity. See Sadat v. Mertes, 615 F.2d 1176, 1180-81 (7th Cir. 1980). In other words, even if plaintiff is able to state a claim against these defendants, we will likely be unable to hear this case.

For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis is denied and her complaint is dismissed.

JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE

Decision by Court. This action came to trial or hearing before the Court. The issues have been tried or heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that plaintiffs petition to proceed in forma pauperis is denied and her complaint is dismissed.

20030403

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