United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Terrance Hollowell filed a pro se complaint against
a number of Defendants, asking this Court to find that a
prior state court foreclosure on his residence was wrongful,
to vacate and set aside the resulting foreclosure sale, to
cancel the related sheriff's sale, and to quiet title in his
favor against all defendants. [DE 1 at 9] Basically, he wants
to return to his same position before the state foreclosure
proceeding. As far as causes of action go, Hollowell first
alleges that each of the defendants violated his
Constitutional rights by “preparing and filing false
documents, and foreclosing upon the Subject Property without
having legal authority and/or proper documentation to do
so.” [DE 1 ¶ 23] He also alleges that the
defendants knew or should have known about this lack of legal
authority, and that they thereby committed fraud by
facilitating the foreclosure. [DE 1 ¶¶
in this case are various attorneys from three law firms that
played a part in the underlying state court foreclosure
action: the “Reisenfeld” defendants (Joel E.
Bornkamp, Timothy D. McKay, Robert E. Altman III, April N.
Pinder, Phyllis A. Carmer, and Bradley C. Crosley); the
“Bose” defendants (David J. Jurkiewicz and
Christina M. Bruno); and the “Dykema” defendants
(Louis Chronowski, Jordan Huttenlocker, and Maria A.
defendants have filed three separate motions to dismiss. [DE
8; 20; 32] All three sets of defendants advance the arguments
that Hollowell's complaint should either be dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine or precluded via res
judicata. [DE 9; 21; 33] The Bose and Dykema defendants
further argue that Hollowell has failed to state claims for
fraud and for a constitutional deprivation under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. [DE 21; 33] For the reasons stated herein, the
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case
because doing so would amount to entertaining an appeal of
Hollowell's state foreclosure action. Therefore, his
complaint will be dismissed by way of the
February 29, 2008, Hollowell executed and delivered a
promissory note to Residential Loan Centers of America, Inc.
(“RLCA”). As security for the debt created by the
note, Hollowell executed a mortgage on the subject property
(1314 Hudson Street, Elkhart, Indiana) in favor of Mortgage
Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS”) as
nominee for RLCA. The mortgage was recorded in the Office of
the Recorder of Elkhart County, Indiana on March 3, 2008 as
Instrument No. 2008-05486.
endorsed the note specially to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
(“JPM”). JPM endorsed the note in blank. MERS, as
nominee for RLCA, assigned its interest in the mortgage to
Chase Home Finance, LLC (“Chase”) on October 24,
2008. The Assignment was recorded in the Elkhart County
Recorder's Office on November 5, 2008 as Instrument No.
2008-26093. Hollowell contests the validity of this
April 16, 2012, JPM filed a Complaint on Note and to
Foreclose Mortgage against Hollowell and Cynthia Harris (a
co-borrower) in Elkhart Superior Court, Cause No.
20D01-1204-MF-00304. JPM was represented therein by the
Reisenfeld and Bose defendants, and by defendant
Huttenlocker. Hollowell and Ms. Harris were served on April
24, 2012, however, they failed to timely answer the
foreclosure complaint and the state court granted a default
judgment and decree of foreclosure on November 14,
instant matter is but the latest installment in a string of
lawsuits (filed by Hollowell) related to and challenging the
state foreclosure action. On May 25, 2013, Hollowell and Ms.
Harris filed a federal lawsuit against JPM in this District,
Case No. 3:13-cv-490. The court dismissed that case on the
basis of res judicata. Then, Hollowell pursued two
distinct adversary proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for
this District, one in 2013 (Case No. 13-03028) and the other
in 2015 (Case No. 15-03048). The court dismissed both
actions, describing Hollowell's filings and conduct in
the second case as “abusive” because he used the
court “as a vehicle to obstruct the Defendants'
efforts to enforce their judgments and to unnecessarily
protract the proceedings.” [Case No. 15-03048, DE 29 at
2-3] More recently, on March 17, 2017, Hollowell filed a
state court action in Elkhart Superior Court (Cause No.
200002-1703-cc-432) against the exact same defendants as
here. The state court dismissed that action a month later on
the basis of res judicata; essentially, Hollowell
brought the same claims as in his earlier federal case, and
merely substituted JPM's former foreclosure counsel for
the bank itself. Finally, Hollowell filed the instant lawsuit
on August 7, 2017. [DE 1]
12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of claims over which
the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. In analyzing a
motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true all
well-pled factual allegations and must draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Long v. Shorebank
Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). Further,
“[t]he district court may properly look beyond the
jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever
evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether
in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.”
Id. (citations omitted). The burden of establishing
proper federal subject matter jurisdiction rests on the party
asserting it, which in this case is Mr. Hollowell.
Muscarello v. Ogle Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 610
F.3d 416, 425 (7th Cir. 2010).
the absence of a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the Court is
“obligated to review its own jurisdiction sua
sponte.” Caterpillar Fin. Servs. Corp. v.
Peoples Nat. Bank, N.A., Civil No. 10-298, 2011 WL
5403501, *1 (S.D. Ill. Nov. 8, 2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(h)(3); Hammes v. AAMCO Transmissions, Inc., 33
F.3d 774, 778 (7th Cir. 1994) (“the court has an
independent duty to satisfy itself that it has subject-matter
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which holds that
“lower federal courts do not have subject matter
jurisdiction over claims seeking review of state court
judgments.” Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182
F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). This doctrine “requires
a party seeking review of a state court judgment or
presenting a claim that a state judicial proceeding has
violated their constitutional rights to pursue relief through
the state court system and ultimately to the Supreme
Court.” Id. “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. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n, 374 F.3d
529, 532 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotations and alterations
omitted). That is true even where, as here, a plaintiff
asserts that the state court judgment violated his civil
rights. Holt v. Lake Cnty. Bd. of ...