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Bedasee v. First Franklin

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

February 8, 2017


          ORDER [1]


         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint (Doc. #10) filed on August 22, 2016. Plaintiffs pro se Owen and Sandie Bedasee filed no response in opposition, but instead moved for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Doc. #26) and an Amended Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Doc. #27), which includes a proposed amended complaint. Defendants filed a response in opposition to the requests to amend (Doc. #28) on November 23, 2016. For the reasons set forth below the motion to dismiss is granted and this case is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


         This case involves another attempt by Plaintiffs to litigate their dissatisfaction with the underlying state court foreclosure proceedings. On July 8, 2005, Plaintiffs executed and delivered a promissory note in favor of Defendants in the principal amount of $320, 000.00, which was secured by a first mortgage recorded in O.R. Book 3865, Page 224 of the Public Records of Collier County, Florida (the “Mortgage”). (Doc. #1 at ¶ 29; Doc. #1-1). The Mortgage encumbers that certain residential property at 4060 18th Avenue N.E., Naples, Florida (the “Property”). (Doc. #1 at ¶ 8; Doc. #1-1).

         Plaintiffs defaulted under the promissory note and Defendant National City Bank sued to foreclose the Mortgage on March 27, 2009, in the Circuit Court for Collier County, Florida, Case No. 2008-CA-2261 (the “Foreclosure Action”). (See generallyDoc. #1 at Count I (“Lack of Standing/Wrongful Foreclosure”)). A final judgment was entered in the Foreclosure Action on August 12, 2014 (the “Foreclosure Judgment”), which foreclosed the Mortgage on the Property and set the initial sale date of September 10, 2014. However, numerous delays to the foreclosure sale followed; most recently, on January 8, 2017, Plaintiffs removed the Foreclosure Action to this Court, Case No. 2:17-cv-31-99CM, which was remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on February 2, 2017.[2] While attempting to remove the foreclosure action to this Court, Plaintiffs filed the instant ten-count[3] Complaint against Defendants on July 25, 2016, alleging numerous claims, including wrongful foreclosure. (Doc. #1). Plaintiffs assert that Defendants were not entitled to foreclose the Mortgage in the Foreclosure Action and as a result, Plaintiffs are entitled to injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages. Defendants argue that the Court has no jurisdiction to relieve Plaintiffs of the underlying judgment.


         1. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and are obligated to inquire about jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking. SeeKokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Univ. of S. Ala. v. American Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999) ("[I]t is well settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking." (citations omitted)). "Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause." Univ. of S. Ala., 168 F.3d at 410. Subject matter jurisdiction relates to the Court's power to adjudicate a case. Morrison v. Nat'l Austl. Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010); Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U.S. 154 (2010). “[A] court must first determine whether it has proper subject matter jurisdiction before addressing the substantive issues.” Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1366 (11th Cir. 1994). If jurisdiction is found to be lacking, the Court cannot proceed at all; its sole remaining duty is to state that it lacks jurisdiction and dismiss the case. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998); see also University of S. Ala. v. The Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[O]nce a federal court determines that it is without subject matter jurisdiction, the court is powerless to continue.”).

         Because Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, their pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by an attorney and will be liberally construed. Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003). Liberally construing the Complaint, Plaintiffs appear to assert challenges to the foreclosure of their real property in Naples, Florida. (Doc. #1). They request possession of the Property and that the Court quiet title and allege that Defendants committed various wrongful and fraudulent acts during their home purchase and in the foreclosure proceedings.

         District courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil cases arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (emphasis added). “The well-pleaded-complaint rule has long governed whether a case ‘arises under' federal law for purposes of § 1331.” Holmes Grp., Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 830 (2002) (citation omitted). That rule “provides that whether a case 'arises under' federal law must be determined from what necessarily appears in the plaintiff's statement of his own claim[.]” Id. (citation omitted). In other words, “federal jurisdiction generally exists ‘only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.;” Id. at 831 (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (emphasis in original)).

         Here, the Court agrees with Defendants' argument that because the Florida state court has already entered a final judgment of foreclosure against Plaintiffs, this Court has no jurisdiction to relieve them from that judgment. Plaintiffs cannot challenge the state court's final decision in the foreclosure proceeding without running afoul of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review a final state court decision. See Nicholson v. Shafe, 558 F.3d 1266, 1270-72 (11th Cir. 2009). The doctrine divorces federal courts from reviewing “state court final judgments because that task is reserved for state appellate courts or, as a last resort, the United States Supreme Court.” Nivia v. Nation Star Mortg., LLC, 620 F. App'x 822, 824 (11th Cir. 2015); see also Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005) (stating a federal district court lacks 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”). Plaintiffs could have raised their claims in the foreclosure action as either affirmative defenses or counterclaims[4] and this Court cannot act as an appellate court to the state court foreclosure proceedings and final judgment. Therefore, the Complaint (Doc. #1) is due to be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.[5]

         2. Plaintiffs' Request to Amend

         Plaintiffs request leave to file a nineteen-court shot-gun amended complaint under the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution for denial of due process and deprivation of civil rights for Defendants' acting under color of law, whose actions caused Plaintiffs damages and injury for taking their Property. (Doc. #26). “The decision whether to grant leave to amend a complaint is within the sole discretion of the district court.” Laurie v. Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, 256 F.3d 1266, 1274 (11th Cir. 2001). A substantial justification for denying a timely-filed motion for leave to amend includes bad faith, dilatory motive by the movant, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, and futility of allowance of the amendment. Id.

         The Court denies leave to file the proposed amendment because the proposed Amended Complaint suffers from the same infirmities as the initial Complaint, and therefore, amendment would be futile.[6] It also appears to have been filed in bad faith for dilatory reasons as the Court has on numerous occasions either remanded or dismissed ...

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