United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Gwendolyn P. Irvan, Plaintiff,
Steven Cooper, Kevin Busch, Tait lundgren, stacey whittman, scott Miller, Marios Kararrayinnis, The Foster & Buick Law Group, Llc, and WeedCutting, Inc., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
S. Shah United States District Judge.
Gwendolyn Irvan filed a pro se complaint against
defendants based on the handling of her state-court divorce
case and the disposition of certain property. Defendants
Steven Cooper, Kevin Busch, Tait Lundgren, Marios Karayannis,
and the Foster and Buick Law Group, LLC have filed motions to
dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated
below, these motions are granted. This case is dismissed in
its entirety against all Defendants.
following facts are drawn from Irvan's complaint as well
as several state-court orders. Courts can take judicial
notice of documents that are contained in the public record.
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. Thompson, 161
F.3d 449, 456 (7th Cir. 1998).
November 1, 1992, Irvan and defendant Scott Miller were
married. On November 22, 2013, a judgment was entered in
Illinois state court dissolving that marriage. As part of
that order, the court ordered the sale of the marital
residence and a farm located in Waterman, Illinois. The
proceeds of this sale were to be added to the marital estate.
January 20, 2016, the state-court judge appointed defendant
Tait Lundgren as Receiver to sell these properties, and
Lundgren received permission to retain defendant Foster &
Buick Law Group, LLC as counsel in his role as Receiver. The
judge granted Lundgren broad discretion in his role, saying
that Lundgren was permitted “to utilize whatever means
he feels appropriate to effectuate the sale.”
submitted a motion in state court to purchase the Waterman
farm. On March 29, 2016, the court denied Irvan's motion
and ordered that the property be sold to a third party, who
made a $340, 000 cash offer. Irvan moved to reconsider that
order. The court denied the motion for reconsideration on May
2, 2016, and also denied Irvan's motion to stay the sale.
same day, Irvan filed a pro se complaint with this
court, naming seven parties as defendants, all of whom had
some involvement in her divorce case. She has sued her
ex-husband, the state-court judge who presided over the case,
the court-appointed receiver and his law firm, and her own
attorneys. She alleges that she was deprived of the
opportunity to purchase the Waterman property because of her
sex, marital status, and disability status. Among the many
allegations in her complaint, she claims that the state-court
judge harassed her, the court-appointed receiver defrauded
her, and various defendants violated state and federal
housing statutes that prohibit discrimination.
12(b)(1) motion challenges jurisdiction in federal court, and
the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the elements
necessary for jurisdiction. Scanlan v. Eisenberg,
669 F.3d 838, 841-42 (7th Cir. 2012). A court may look
outside of the complaint's allegations and consider
whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue of
jurisdiction. Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897
(7th Cir. 1995). For purposes of a motion under Rule 12(b)(1)
or Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and construes all reasonable inferences
in favor of the plaintiff. Scanlan, 669 F.3d at 841.
Jurisdiction and the Rooker-Feldman
“first thing a federal judge should do when a complaint
is filed is check to see that federal jurisdiction is
properly alleged.” Wisconsin Knife Works v.
Nat'l Metal Crafters, 781 F.2d 1280, 1282 (7th Cir.
1986). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes federal
district courts from “exercising jurisdiction over
cases brought by state court losers challenging state court
judgments rendered before the district court proceedings
commenced.” Sykes v. Cook Cty. Circuit Court Prob.
Div., 837 F.3d 736, 741 (7th Cir. 2016). No matter how
erroneous or unconstitutional a state-court judgment may be,
the only federal court with jurisdiction to review such a
judgment is the Supreme Court of the United States. Brown
v. Bowman, 668 F.3d 437, 442 (7th Cir. 2012). While the
courts of appeals disagree about whether the doctrine is
limited to final state-court decisions or whether
interlocutory decisions are also precluded from review, the
Seventh Circuit has suggested that the federal district
courts lack jurisdiction over any state-court
judgment. See Harold v. Steel, 773 F.3d 884, 886
(7th Cir. 2014) (“Nothing in the Supreme Court's
decisions suggests that state-court decisions too provisional
to deserve review within the state's own system can be
reviewed by federal district and appellate courts. . . . A
truly interlocutory decision should not be subject to review
in any court.”).
Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies in two
instances. First, it applies when a plaintiff asks a federal
district court to overturn an adverse state judgment.
Brown, 668 F.3d at 442. Second, the doctrine applies
when a plaintiff's claim is “inextricably
intertwined” with a state-court judgment. Id.