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Cobige v. PHH

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 30, 2015

Cobige Plaintiff(s),
v.
PHH Defendant(s)

ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Dkt. Nos. 26, 28, and 31) are granted. The Amended Complaint is dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction.

STATEMENT

Pro se plaintiff Andre Cobige filed a Complaint on November 21, 2014 seeking to quiet title to the property located at 737 Bonaventure Drive in Oswego, Illinois. Cobige filed a substantially similar Amended Complaint on January 6, 2015. (Dkt. No. 13). The property in question was the subject of a foreclosure action in the Circuit Court of Kendall County, Illinois, Case No. 11 CH 1339. ( See Dkt. No. 30). Cobige's wife was named as the defendant in that lawsuit as her name appeared on the deed, mortgage, and note. Cobige was not a party to that action. After Cobige's attempt to intervene to challenge the foreclosure proceeding proved unsuccessful and the state court entered a judgment of foreclosure, Cobige turned to federal court and filed this action disputing the title and ownership of the same property. In this action, Cobige names several parties he claims had some involvement with the underlying mortgage that was at issue in the state foreclosure proceedings, namely PHH Mortgage Corporation, Mortgage Contracting Services, Amcore Bank, Colwell Banker, and Russ Weglarz. Cobige alleges that the process by which the mortgage was securitized was improper and that the foreclosure is therefore invalid. He further alleges violations of rights secured under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Cobige seeks punitive damages in addition to quiet title. The Defendant PHH Mortgage Corporation moved to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The remaining defendants joined that motion. Because the Amended Complaint alleges neither the existence of a federal question or diversity of citizenship, the Amended Complaint is dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) challenges the subject matter jurisdiction of the Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "The burden of proof on a 12(b)(1) issue is on the party asserting jurisdiction." United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003), overruled on other grounds by Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., 683 F.3d 845 (7th Cir. 2012). In a facial challenge such as this one, all well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 443 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court must determine whether the plaintiff's allegations, taken as true, are sufficient to establish the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court construes the allegations of a pro se complaint liberally. See Childress v. Walker, No. 14-1204, 2015 WL 2408070, at *1 n.1 (7th Cir. May 21, 2015) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

DISCUSSION

I. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is inapplicable

Defendants argue primarily that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives the Court of subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal district courts from exercising 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." Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005); see also D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923). "The doctrine does not apply to lawsuits by persons who... were not a party to the state-court proceeding." Sheetz v. Norwood, No. 14-1732, 2015 WL 1411936, at *2 (7th Cir. Mar. 30, 2015) (citing Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 464-65 (2006)); see also Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 287 ("the doctrine has no application to a federal suit brought by a nonparty to the state suit").

The doctrine is not applicable here because Cobige was not a party to the state court foreclosure proceeding. In that proceeding, PHH Mortgage obtained a judgment of foreclosure and sale on real property held in the name of Tiffani Wilson, Cobige's wife. ( See Dkt. No. 30). Wilson's name, not Cobige's, appeared on the note, mortgage, and deed to the property. Cobige sought to intervene in the proceeding, but "the state court denied [Cobige's] motion and found that [Cobige] was not on the deed to the [737 Bonaventure Drive] and had no title to it." (Dkt. No. 26 p. 1; see also Dkt. No. 30 p. 86). Thus, Cobige was "a nonparty to the state suit" and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine "has no application" to his federal suit. See Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 287.

II. The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction

A. The Complaint does not state a federal claim

The Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants have violated his First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and seeks redress pursuant to either 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).[1] In his response, Cobige alludes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq . The Amended Complaint does not cite any additional federal statutes and the court cannot discern any other potential ...


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