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Sharyon Cosey v. Ameriquest Mortgage

November 18, 2011

SHARYON COSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERIQUEST MORTGAGE, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marvin E. Aspen, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before us are two motions to dismiss filed by the three remaining defendants in this action: Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank"), American Home Mortgage Servicing Incorporated ("AHMSI"), and CitiMortgage, Inc. ("CMI") (collectively "Defendants"). (Dkt. Nos. 87 & 98.) Defendants contend that Plaintiff Sharyon Cosey's four-count complaint must be dismissed for a variety of jurisdictional and procedural reasons. As set forth below, we grant the motions.

BACKGROUND

According to the complaint, Cosey bought her home in 1985 and refinanced with Argent Mortgage Company in 2003. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 15.) In 2004, Cosey took out an equity home loan with Argent, which at some point transferred ownership of the loan to Ameriquest Mortgage Company. (Id. ¶¶ 17--20.) After losing her job, Cosey fell behind on her mortgage payments in 2006. (Id. ¶ 21.) About that same time, Deutsche Bank purchased ownership of Cosey's loan from Ameriquest and, on March 28, 2006, initiated a foreclosure action in the Circuit Court of Cook County. (Id. ¶ 22; see also Dkt. No. 100, Defs.' Exs. C (Assignment of Mortgage) & D (Complaint to Foreclose Mortgage).) A final judgment of foreclosure followed in 2007. (Compl. ¶ 23; see also Dkt. No. 100, Defs.' Ex. E (Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale).)

Cosey continued to fight the impending foreclosure, however, both with and without counsel. (Compl. ¶¶ 28--30.) For example, Cosey informed the Circuit Court that she never had a loan with Ameriquest. (Id. ¶ 28.) Moreover, Cosey "protested at the time of the confirmation and order, that any loan documents presented in foreclosure were fraudulent and disingenuous." (Id. ¶ 29.) Nonetheless, the judicial sale proceeded on June 19, 2009. (Id. ¶ 29.)

On June 29, 2009, Cosey reviewed the Circuit Court file and noticed that "the signatures, initials and dates on the mortgage documents had been forged." (Id. ¶ 30.) She then hired a lawyer to file a petition with the Circuit Court and present this new information before the proceedings terminated. (Id. ¶¶ 31--32.) Her lawyer neglected to do so, however, and her own pro se petition was denied as untimely. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 34.) Accordingly, the August 20, 2009 order finalizing the foreclosure and sale was left unchallenged. (Id. ¶ 32; see also Dkt. No. 100, Defs.' Ex. F (Order Approving Foreclosure Report of Sale and Distribution).) Cosey filed this lawsuit on September 15, 2010, about a year after the foreclosure became final.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) and (b)(6) are meant to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case. Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). A court may grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) only if a complaint lacks "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ---, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949--50 (2009) (extending Twombly from antitrust to litigation generally and stating that a court's determination "whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task"); Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nev., N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618--19 (7th Cir. 2007); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776--77 (7th Cir. 2007). "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." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. In evaluating a motion to dismiss, we must accept all well-pled allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Id. at 1949--50.

Rule 12(b)(1) requires dismissal of claims over which the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Jurisdiction is the "power to decide" and must be conferred upon the federal court. In re Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R.R. Co., 794 F.2d 1182, 1188 (7th Cir. 1986). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, we may look beyond the complaint to other evidence submitted by the parties to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists. See United Transp. Union v. Gateway W. Ry. Co., 78 F.3d 1208, 1210 (7th Cir. 1996). A plaintiff faced with a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss bears the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met. See Kontos v. U.S. Dep't Labor, 826 F.2d 573, 576 (7th Cir. 1987).

ANALYSIS

In their motions, Defendants argue that we lack subject matter jurisdiction over Cosey's claims pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Defendants also contend, inter alia, that certain statutes of limitation bar Cosey's suit. (See, e.g., CMI's Mem. at 8--14; Deutsche Bank & AHMSI Mem. at 15.) We begin with the Rooker-Feldman issue, however, as it is jurisdictional.

I. Rooker-Feldman

"Simply put, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine 'precludes lower federal court jurisdiction over claims seeking review of state court judgments . . . [because] no matter how erroneous or unconstitutional the state court judgment may be, the Supreme Court of the United States is the only federal court that could have jurisdiction to review a state court judgment.'" Taylor v. Fed'l Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n, 374 F.3d 529, 532 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Brokaw v. Weaver, 305 F.3d 660, 664 (7th Cir. 2002)); see Crawford v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 647 F.3d 642, 645 (7th Cir. 2011). This narrow doctrine deprives us of jurisdiction to hear "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." Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284, 125 S. Ct. 1517, 1521--22 (2005); see Byrd v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 407 F. Supp. 2d 937, 942 (N.D. Ill. 2005).

In addition to prohibiting direct review of state-court rulings by federal district courts, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars claims that are "inextricably intertwined" with a state-court judgment, "such that success in federal court would require overturning the state court decision." Epps v. Creditnet, Inc., 320 F.3d 756, 759 (7th Cir. 2003); Taylor, 374 F.3d at 532--33; Brokaw, 305 F.3d at 664. In examining whether a federal claim is "inextricably intertwined," the crucial inquiry "is whether 'the district court is in essence being called upon to review the state-court decision.'" Ritter v. Ross, 992 F.2d 750, 754 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Dist. of Columbia Ct. of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 483--484 n.16, 103 S. Ct. 1303, 1316 n.16 (1983)); Taylor, 374 F.3d at 533. To that end, we consider whether the state-court judgment caused the injury of which the plaintiff complains, "or, ...


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