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Trapp v. State

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 11, 2017

DENARD C. TRAPP, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al.,. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SHERIDAN, U.S.D. JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss brought on behalf of Defendants, the State of New Jersey and the Honorable Patricia Del Buono Cleary, P.J. Ch. (ECF No. 11).

         I.

         This case arises from Plaintiffs dissatisfaction with Mortgage Foreclosure proceedings that took place in state court. In brief, On April 5, 2013, a Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint, Docket No. F-011243-13, was filed by GDBTI Trust 2011-1 ("GDBT") in the Monmouth County Superior Court, Chancery Division, against Plaintiff Denard Trapp ("Trapp") regarding a property located in Monmouth County, NJ. (ECF No. 1 "Complaint" pg.l, 3). An order granting summary judgment in favor of GDBT was filed on November 21, 2013, by Judge Cleary - a named Defendant in this matter. (Def. Br. Ex. B). The action was then returned to the Office of Foreclosure to proceed uncontested. (Id. Ex. F).

         On April 30, 2014, Trapp filed a complaint with this Court (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-02746-PGS-DEA) seeking to quiet title with respect to the property that was the subject of GDBT's foreclosure. (Id. Ex. G). Thereafter, GDBT filed a motion to dismiss which was heard on March 26, 2015 and granted based on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (Id. Ex. D). An order issued on March 27, 2015, dismissed the matter with prejudice. (Id. Ex. E). The order was appealed to the Third Circuit which affirmed this Court's decision. (See Trapp v. AMS Servicing LLC, 616 Fed.Appx. 46 (3d Cir.2015).

         Trapp filed a new complaint with this Court on September 26, 2015, against GDBT, arising from the same Superior Court foreclosure. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss which this Court granted on December 20, 2016. (Def. Br. Ex. I). Prior to disposition by this Court, on April 13, 2016, Judge Cleary heard oral argument on an "emergent application for stay of removal of applicant" filed by Trapp in the Superior Court foreclosure action. (Id. Ex. H). At the hearing, Trapp argued that GDBT "could not be the holder in due course of [his] mortgage because [... ] they are not licensed or registered to do business in the State of New Jersey." [Ex. H, 4:17]. He also argued that GDBT doesn't "have access to any [New Jersey] courts. So how could GDBT do any foreclosures, have any mortgages, or be the holding in good standing of [his] mortgage" [Ex. H, 5:4-7]. GDBT counsel did not respond to Trapp's argument. [Ex. H, 5:18].

         Judge Cleary opinied,

... this is at least the third time that Mr. Trapp has come here seeking to stay the eviction .... So I find that Mr. Trapp has had numerous opportunities to object to this judgment of foreclosure. He never asked for a reconsideration of the order granting summary judgment. His argument first time was standing. Then he has changed his argument. I find that there is no reason at this time to stay the eviction. I will deny the application.

Ex.H. (9:10-10:4).

         Plaintiff filed this action on September 27, 2016, requesting review of the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth Vicinage, with respect to the Superior Court mortgage foreclosure action. (Compl. pg. 1). Plaintiff also argues that Judge Cleary acted outside the scope of her authority and jurisdiction by allowing GDBT to use the courts of New Jersey. As this Court understands it, Plaintiff alleges that by reviewing and deciding a case over which it had no jurisdiction, both the State and Judge Cleary violated his due process rights. (Compl. pg. 5). Though the property being foreclosed is located in Monmouth Court, Plaintiff argues that GDBT is not registered with the State of New Jersey, and does not do business in the state, which according to Plaintiff would deny GDBT access to any property in Monmouth County, in the State of New Jersey, also barring them from accessing the courts of New Jersey. (Id. pg. 3). Plaintiff raised the same argument at the hearing held on April 13, 2016 before Judge Cleary, at which time counsel for GDBT did not respond to the argument. Plaintiff contends that counsel's failure to reply, should be interpreted as "acquiescence" to the court's lack of jurisdiction. (Compl. pg. 4). Plaintiff argues that Judge Cleary should have dismissed this matter after hearing the attorney's failure to respond or rebut to Plaintiffs questions. (Id.). On May 26, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss arguing that Plaintiffs claims are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and that Judge Cleary is protected by Judicial Immunity. [ECF No. 11]. The motion is unopposed.

         II.

         First, the Court notes that Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and for that reason "we construe his complaint in the way most favorable to him." Can v. Sharp, 454 F.2d 271, 272 (3d Cir. 1971).

         Next, we review Defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Defendant argues that this claim is barred by the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine which prevents this Court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over the case. This doctrine takes its name from two cases in which the Supreme Court has applied it to defeat federal subject-matter jurisdiction: Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923), and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). Rooker-Feldman is a "narrow doctrine" that "applies only in limited circumstances." Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 464-66 (2006).

         "The Supreme Court held that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is confined to 'is confined to cases of the kind from which the doctrine acquired its name: 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."' Great Western Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 ...


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