United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ERIC A. GUY, Plaintiff,
BRIAN MOYNIHAN, et al., Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER
R. Underhill United States District Judge
Guy,  pro se, has moved for an
emergency stay of ejectment and for an injunction against
foreclosure proceedings currently pending in Connecticut
Superior Court. Various defendants have moved to dismiss on
the basis of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine,
res judicata, the Anti-Injunction Act, the Eleventh
Amendment, absolute judicial immunity, Younger
abstention, insufficient service of process, and failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because,
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, I lack
subject matter jurisdiction to review the state court
judgment, I grant the defendants' motions and dismiss
Standard of Review
case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction . . . when the district court lacks the
statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.”
Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d
Cir. 2000). A party who seeks to invoke a court's
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that it exists
by alleging facts to demonstrate that the legal basis for the
dispute allows it to be adjudicated in federal court.
Thompson v. Cnty. of Franklin, 15 F.3d 245, 249 (2d
Cir. 1994) (citing Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490,
518 (1975)). Although I “accept as true all material
allegations of the complaint, and . . . construe the
complaint in favor of the complaining party, ” I may
consider materials outside the record for the purpose of
determining whether subject matter jurisdiction exists.
Id. (quoting Warth, 522 U.S. at 501).
owned property in Windsor, Connecticut, which was the subject
of a foreclosure action by Bank of America in Connecticut
Superior Court. See Compl., Bank of America v.
Guy, Doc. No. HHD-CV-14-6055975-S (Conn. Super. Ct. Dec.
11, 2014). On June 29, 2015, the state court entered a
judgment of strict foreclosure against Guy's property.
Judgment, Doc. No. 117.00, Bank of America v. Guy
(June 29, 2015). Guy filed several motions to open the
judgment, see Mot. Open Judgment, Doc. No. 129.00,
Bank of America v. Guy (Nov. 20, 2015); Mot. Open
Judgment, Doc. No. 133.00, Bank of America v. Guy
(Jan. 4, 2016); Mot. Open Judgment, Doc. No. 139.00, Bank
of America v. Guy (May 2, 2016); Mot. Open Judgment,
Doc. No. 148.00 (Oct. 31, 2016), all of which were denied.
See Order, Doc. No. 129.86, Bank of America v.
Guy (Dec. 21, 2015); Order, Doc. No. 133.86, Bank of
America v. Guy (June 2, 2016); Order, Doc. No. 139.86,
Bank of America v. Guy (May 18, 2016); Order, Doc.
No. 148.86, Bank of America v. Guy (Nov. 21, 2016).
Guy also appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court,
see Doc. No. 146.00, Bank of America v. Guy
(July 19, 2016), but his appeal was dismissed as moot.
See Order, Doc. No. 147.00, Bank of America v.
Guy (Oct. 21, 2016).
state court issued an execution of ejectment against Guy on
December 29, 2016.Doc. No. 154.00, Bank of America v.
Guy (Dec. 29, 2016). On January 4, 2017, Guy filed a
complaint in this court against various defendants, including
Bank of America and its CEO, Brian Moynihan; Bank of
America's attorneys in the state court action; several
judges of the Connecticut Superior Court; and the State of
Connecticut. See Compl., Doc. No. 1, Guy v.
Moynihan, 3:17-cv-00014 (SRU) (D. Conn. Jan. 4, 2017).
Essentially, Guy alleges that the state court lacked
jurisdiction and that the proceedings violated his rights
protected by the Constitution of the United States, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1343(a)(3), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See
Id. at 1-2, 8-9. Guy simultaneously filed a motion for
an injunction to abate the state court proceedings (styled as
a “motion to intervene”), Doc. No. 3; a motion
for emergency stay of ejectment, Doc. No. 4; and a motion to
vacate the state court judgment, Doc. No. 5.
and Bank of America (collectively, “Bank of
America”) appeared in the action on March 31, 2017.
Doc. No. 11. Judge Anthony Avallone of the Connecticut
Superior Court and the State of Connecticut (collectively,
“the State”) appeared on April 28, 2017. Doc. No.
17. Bank of America moved to dismiss pursuant to Rules
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on April 20, 2017, arguing that
Guy's claims “are barred by the
Rooker-Feldman and res judicata
doctrines, as well as the Anti-Injunction Act, ” and
that Guy “fails to . . . plead a cognizable legal
basis for relief.” Bank of America's Mot. Dismiss,
Doc. No. 16, at 1. The State moved to dismiss pursuant to
Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) on April 28, 2017,
contending that Guy's claims “are barred in their
entirety by (1) the Eleventh Amendment; (2) absolute judicial
immunity; (3) the Younger abstention doctrine; (4)
the Anti-Injunction Act; (5) improper and insufficient
service of process; and (6) failure to state a claim.”
State's Mot. Dismiss, Doc. No. 19, at 1.
responded to the motions to dismiss and filed a petition for
writ of mandamus on May 2. 2017. Doc. No. 20. Neither he nor
the defendants requested oral argument.
America and the State have raised numerous grounds for
dismissing Guy's lawsuit. Because I conclude that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine is sufficient to
dispose of Guy's case in its entirety, I will address
only that basis for dismissal.
a federal suit follows a state suit, the former may be
prohibited by the so-called Rooker-Feldman
doctrine in certain circumstances.” Hoblock v.
Albany Cnty. Bd. of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 83-84 (2d
Cir. 2005). Named for two Supreme Court cases-Rooker v.
Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and D.C.
Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983)- the
doctrine “established the clear principle that federal
district courts lack jurisdiction over suits that are, in
substance, appeals from state court judgments.” See
Hoblock, 422 F.3d at 84. Because a federal statute, 28
U.S.C. § 1257, “vests authority to review a state
court's judgment solely in th[e] [Supreme] Court, ”
Rooker and Feldman held that federal
district courts “lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction” to hear cases seeking to “overturn
an injurious state-court judgment.” See Exxon Mobil
Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291-92
Rooker-Feldman doctrine to apply,
“four requirements” must be satisfied.
McKithen v. Brown, 626 F.3d 143, 154 (2d Cir. 2010).
First, the plaintiff must have “lost in state
court.” Id. Second, the plaintiff must
“complain of injuries caused by the state court
judgment.” Id. Third, the plaintiff must
“invite district court review of that judgment.
Id. And fourth, “the state court judgment
[must have been] entered before the plaintiff's federal
suit commenced.” Id. In the absence of those
criteria, Rooker-Feldman “does not
deprive a district court of subject-matter jurisdiction
‘simply because a party attempts to litigate in federal
court a matter previously litigated in state
court.'” Hoblock, 422 F.3d at 85 (quoting
Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. at 293). Rather,
the federal plaintiff must “complain of injuries
caused by state-court judgments . . . and invit[e]
district court review and rejection of those
documents.” Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S.
at 284 (emphasis added). If a plaintiff raises
“independent claims, ” even if those claims
“involve the identical subject matter and parties as
previous state-court suits, ” then the case is not
barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
Id. at 293; Hoblock, 422 F.3d at 85.
in this Circuit have consistently held that any attack on a
judgment of foreclosure is clearly barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, ” and
Guy's claims are no exception. See Gonzalez v. Ocwen
Home Loan Serv., 74 F.Supp.3d 504, 517-18 (D. Conn.
2015), aff'd, 632 F. App'x 32 (2d Cir. 2016)
(summary order). Guy “lost in the state foreclosure
action, and the foreclosure judgment was entered before [Guy]
filed his . . . federal complaint.” Vossbrinck v.
Accredited Home Lenders, 773 F.3d 423, 426 (2d Cir.
2014) (per curiam). Moreover, Guy explicitly
“complain[s] of injury from a state-court
judgment.” Hoblock, 422 F.3d at 85. In his
complaint, Guy alleges that he “never had the rights to
a fair hearing or trial” because “the opposing
party [never] had to . . . appear to testify in Superior
Court.” Compl., Doc. No. 1, at 9. He also contends that
the state court lacked jurisdiction, with the result that the
judgment against him “deprived [him] of life, liberty,
property, and due process of law.” Id.
Guy's claimed injuries “were caused by the
Foreclosure Judgment because the foreclosure would not have