United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge
case seeks relief from an order rendered in and relief
obtainable in a foreclosure action currently pending in the
Connecticut Superior Court. The Complaint does not allege
that Plaintiff Ralph Server, Jr. (“Server, Jr.”)
has sought relief from the Connecticut Appellate or Supreme
Courts. See [Dkt. 1 (Compl.)]. The Connecticut Judicial
Branch website does not reveal an appeal of the Superior
Court decision. Server, Jr. seeks declaratory judgment and
rescission of the note and mortgage under TILA and an
injunction prohibiting Defendant Nation Star Mortgage, LLC
(“Nation Star”) from foreclosing on his property.
See Id. ¶¶ 1, 11.Server, Jr. also claims to
have state law claims, “including but not limited
todetermination of status as holder in due course under Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 47-31 on the one hand, and equitable action
for quiet title in Chancery Court. . . .” Id.
¶ 2. Nation Star has moved to dismiss this case in its
entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and, in the alternative, for failure to
state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the following
reasons, the Court GRANTS this motion for Server, Jr.'s
failure to establish subject matter jurisdiction.
Jr. entered into a mortgage and a promissory note with the
Community Home Equity Conversion Corporation
(“CHECC”) on July 1, 2009. See [Dkt. 1 ¶ 1;
Dkt. 7 (Mot. Dismiss) at 32-50 of PDF]. The property is
located in Wallingford, Connecticut. [Dkt. 1 ¶ 1]. CHECC
later endorsed the note to Bank of America, which then in
2012 assigned the note to Nation Star. Id. ¶ 4.
Nation Star is a debt collector incorporated in Texas with
its principle place of business located in that state.
Id. ¶ 8.
March 2015, Nation Star instituted a foreclosure action
against Server, Jr. in Connecticut state court. [Dkt. 7 at 24
of PDF]. Judge Cronan of the Superior Court in the
Judicial District of New Haven at Meriden determined that
Nation Star was the proper party in the foreclosure action as
the possessor of the original promissory note. See
Id. at 27 of PDF. On December 2, 2015, Server, Jr. filed
an Answer and Special Defenses. Id. at 25 of PDF.
Then on February 25, 2016, Server, Jr. filed a Motion to
Dismiss / Motion to Strike and after the parties completed
briefing Judge Cronan issued a decision denying Server,
Jr.'s motion. See Id. at 25. With respect to
procedure, Judge Cronan ruled that Server, Jr. waived his
right to file a motion to strike after filing the answer and
special defenses on December 2, 2015. Id. at 30 of
PDF. Judge Cronan then addressed the merits of the motion and
found that under Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans,
Inc., 135 S.Ct. 790 (2015), rescission is effected when
a borrower notifies the creditor of his or her intention to
rescind so long as the notice is provided within three years
of the transaction, but that in the present case Server, Jr.
did not timely rescind the mortgage because he issued the
notice on September 21, 2015, well over three years after the
transaction in July 2009. Id. at 31 of PDF. The
following week Server, Jr. filed a Motion to Reargue /
Reconsider, which Judge Cronan denied on May 25, 2016.
Id. at 25 of PDF. As noted above, Server, Jr. does
not appear to have appealed the ruling. To date the matter
receiving the Order denying Server, Jr.'s Motion to
Dismiss / Motion to Strike, Server, Jr. filed the instant
action with this Court in September 2016. Server, Jr.
contends that any debt owed to any party is due to the
presently unknown but “true holder in due course”
of the note, not Nation Star as it is not in privity with
Server, Jr. [Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 4, 7]. Server, Jr. also
believes that he has a right to rescind the mortgage and note
simply by providing notice despite having unsuccessfully
litigated the issues in state court. Id. ¶ 10.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. . . .”
Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013). Subject matter
jurisdiction is not waivable, and a lack of subject matter
jurisdiction may be raised at any time, by a party or the
court sua sponte. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S.
134, 141 (2012); see also Sebelius v. Auburn Reg'l
Med. Ctr., 568 U.S. 145, 153 (2013) (“Objections
to a tribunal's jurisdiction can be raised at any time,
even by a party that once conceded the tribunal's
subject-matter jurisdiction over the controversy.”). If
a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss
the action. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
“district court must take all uncontroverted facts in
the complaint [ ] as true, and draw all reasonable inferences
in favor of the party asserting jurisdiction.”
Tandon v. Captain's Cove Marina of Bridgeport,
Inc., 752 F.3d 239, 243 (2d Cir. 2014). However,
“where jurisdictional facts are placed in dispute, the
court has the power and obligation to decide issues of fact
by reference to evidence outside the pleadings. . . .”
Id. “In that case, the party asserting subject
matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that it exists.”
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal district courts may not
exercise subject matter jurisdiction over suits that are, in
substance, appeals from statecourt judgments. Rooker v.
Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 414-15 (1923);
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462 (1983); Gonzalez v. Ocwen Home Loan
Servicing, 74 F.Supp.3d 504, 513 (D. Conn. 2015)
(stating the Rooker-Feldman doctrine depends on “the
causal relationship between the state-court judgment and the
injury of which the party complains in federal court, ”
not the similarity between the claims) (quoting McKithen
v. Brown, 481 F.3d 89, 97-98 (2d Cir. 2007)). The
doctrine is limited to “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.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Industries Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). There are
four requirements for the application of the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine: (1) the party raising the claim must have lost in
state court; (2) that party's injuries must be caused by
the state court judgment; (3) that party's claims must
invite the district court to review and reject the state
court judgment; and (4) the state court judgment must have
been rendered prior to the commencement of the federal court
proceedings. See Vossbrinck v. Accredited Home Lenders,
Inc., 773 F.3d 423, 426 (2d Cir. 2014); Hoblock v.
Albany Cty Bd. of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 85 (2d Cir.
2005) (interpreting the requirements set forth by Exxon Mobil
Corp. as a four-factor test).
judgment is final for Rooker-Feldman purposes where
“the state proceedings [have] ended.” Exxon Mobil
Corp., 544 U.S. at 291. While Rooker-Feldman's timing
requirement “will usually be straightforward, ”
the present case falls within the category of cases which
“present difficult questions as to whether ‘the
state proceedings have ‘ended' within the meaning
of Rooker-Feldman on the federal questions at
issue.'” Hoblock, 422 F.3d at 89 (quoting
Federacion de Maestros de P.R. v. Junta de Relaciones del
Trabajo de P.R., 410 F.3d 17, 25 (1st Cir. 2005)).
Indeed, while the Second Circuit has traditionally applied
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to interlocutory state court
orders, much of this case law has been abrogated because the
Exxon Mobil Corp. ruling confined the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
to a narrower set of cases than previously interpreted by
many circuit courts including our own. See Green v.
Mattingly, 585 F.3d 97, 101 (2d Cir. 2009).
prior to the commencement of this action, the Connecticut
Superior Court made two critical rulings. First, Judge Cronan
determined that Nation Star was a proper party in the action.
See [Dkt. 7 at 27 of PDF]. Second, Judge Cronan denied
Server, Jr.'s Motion to Dismiss / Motion to Strike for
improper procedure and for failure to rescind the mortgage
within the three-year statute of limitations, and thus he
allowed foreclosure proceedings to go forward. See
Id. at 31 of PDF. Thus, the Superior Court ruled on
the holder in due course and TILA claims presented in this
case. Server, Jr. filed a Motion to Reargue/Reconsider, which
Judge Cronan denied on March 25, 2016. Id. at 25 of
PDF. There is no indication from the docket that he appealed
either ruling, the foreclosure action remains pending, and
there is indeed still the possibility that Server, Jr. could
raise any and all defenses which may exist against the
foreclosure and prevail in state court despite these two