United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE.
matter is before the court on defendant Greg Hamstra's
motion to dismiss. (DE # 6.) For the reasons identified
below, defendant's motion will be granted.
Jodi Hamstra brought the present suit against her ex-husband,
defendant Greg Hamstra, for actions he allegedly took during
the course of the parties' dissolution of marriage
proceedings before the Jasper County Superior Court. (DE # 1
at 1.) According to Jodi, during the course of these
proceedings Greg intentionally misled her regarding his
ownership of a certain marital asset, leading to her
acceptance of an unfavorable property settlement agreement.
complaint alleges the following facts, which this court
accepts as true for purposes of the pending motion to
dismiss. At the time of the dissolution proceedings, Greg and
a third party, Mitchell Van Kley, were members and managers
of GJMS, LLC, an entity that owned various parcels of real
estate. (Id. at 2.) Jodi argues that Greg's
membership interest in GJMS was a marital asset.
(Id.) During the course of discovery, Greg provided
Jodi with a GJMS Financial Summary report which showed that
GJMS owned four properties, including a property known as
“French Lick.” (Id.) On March 16, 2016,
GJMS sold the French Lick property for $630, 000 - yet Greg
never disclosed the sale of the property during the course of
discovery. (Id.) Jodi alleges that Greg
intentionally withheld this information. (Id.) Jodi
also alleges that Kley conspired with Greg to conceal the
sale of the property by testifying at his deposition on May 2
and 3, 2016, that the French Lick property was an asset of
20, 2016, Jodi and Greg participated in a mediation that
resulted in a settlement agreement regarding the marital
assets. (Id. at 3.) As part of the settlement, Jodi
received 100% of Greg's membership interest in GJMS.
(Id.) The settlement agreement also stated that Greg
would obtain the agreement of the other members of GJMS to
transfer their interests to Jodi. This was later accomplished
through a separate, out-of-court agreement. (DE # 1-1 at 7;
DE # 9 at 2.) Jodi alleges that she agreed to the settlement
based on her understanding that GJMS owned four properties,
including French Lick, and claims that she would not have
agreed to the terms of the settlement if she had known GJMS
no longer owned French Lick. (Id.) In her complaint,
Jodi argues that Greg's intentional omission and
misrepresentation constitutes fraud. (Id. at 4.)
now moves to dismiss the claims against him on the basis that
this court lacks jurisdiction to consider Jodi's claims.
(DE # 6 at 1.) He argues that the complaint poses an
impermissible collateral attack on the Jasper County Superior
Court's dissolution decree, which incorporated the
property settlement agreement. (DE # 6-1 at 4.) Though he
does not identify them as such, Greg's motion raises two
issues: (1) whether this court is deprived of subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine; and (2) whether Jodi's claims are barred by the
collateral estoppel doctrine. Jodi responded to both of these
arguments. Greg failed to file a reply brief and the time to
do so has passed. This matter is now ripe for resolution.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) asserts that the court
lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter. A Rule 12(b)(1)
motion can present either a facial or factual challenge to
subject matter jurisdiction. Apex Digital, Inc. V. Sears,
Roebucks & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 443-44 (7th Cir.
2009). A facial attack is a challenge to the sufficiency of
the pleading itself. Id. When such a challenge has
been presented, the court takes all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff. Id. at 444. “In
contrast, a factual challenge lies where ‘the complaint
is formally sufficient but the contention is that there is
in fact no subject matter jurisdiction.'”
Id. (quoting United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus
Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir.2003)) (emphasis
in original). Where there is a factual challenge to subject
matter jurisdiction, “the district court may properly
look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint .
. . to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction
exists.” Sapperstein v. Hager, 188 F.3d 852,
855 (7th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Here, Greg presents a facial challenge to this
court's subject matter jurisdiction.
reviewing a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must construe
the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party, accept all well-pleaded facts as
true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-movant. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007); Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 595
F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). Under the liberal
notice-pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the complaint need only contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff
must plead “factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
argues that the only court that may exercise jurisdiction
over this matter is the court that entered the dissolution
decree. Greg's argument appears to be rooted in the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Jodi contends that this
doctrine is inapplicable because she does not seek to
overturn the state court judgment, but seeks damages for
fraud that imposed an extrajudicial injury, citing Iqbal
v. Patel, 780 F.3d 728 (7th Cir. 2015).
Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives federal district
courts of subject matter 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 ...