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Jaye v. Shipp

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

March 29, 2018

Chris Ann JAYE, Plaintiff,
v.
Federal Judge Michael SHIPP, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Chris Ann Jaye brings, for the fourth time in federal court, a sprawling lawsuit alleging a vast conspiracy among members of the federal and New Jersey judiciaries, governments, private companies, and their employees, premised on legal actions taken against her years ago. Today, the Court considers the motions to dismiss of Brown, Moskowitz & Kallen and Steve Rowland (ECF No. 14); Knuckles, Komosinsky & Manfro, and Haley Pope, Selene Finance LLC, and Wilmington Savings Fund Society (ECF No. 22); Rutter & Roy and Williams Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (ECF No. 25); Margolis Edelstein (ECF No. 26); Mary Melfi (ECF No. 33); Allied World Insurance Company (ECF No. 36); Erick Spronck and Robert A. Stephenson (ECF No. 54); Kenneth Sauter and Hill Wallack (ECF No. 58); and John Hoffman, Judith Irizzari, Christopher Koos, Christopher Porrino, Brian Wilson, Ione Curva, and Caroline Record (ECF No. 73). Defendant Steve Rowland has also moved for an order for Plaintiff to show cause that she should not be subject to a filing injunction. (ECF No. 35.)

         Plaintiff, for her part, has submitted several motions for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 66, 81, 82, 93.) Plaintiff has also sought to bar Steve Rowland from filing documents in the district court. (ECF No. 114.)

         As Plaintiffs complaint appears to be an attempt at relitigating issues that have already been decided, sometimes numerous times, and is otherwise replete with unfounded and conclusory allegations, all the Defendants' motions and Rowland's request for an order to show cause are GRANTED and Plaintiffs motions for summary judgment and to enjoin Rowland from future filings are DENIED.

         I. THE FACTS

         A. Past Litigation

         This case arises from a condominium dispute that has since developed into a sprawling case involving dozens of people. Plaintiff is, or at least was, a condominium unit owner with the Oak Knoll Village Condominium Association (the “OK Owners Association”), an entity including among its membership defendants Robert Stephenson and Erick Spronck. See Jaye v. Oak Knoll Vill. Condo. Owners Ass'n, No. 15-8324, 2016 WL 7013468, at *3 (D.N.J. Nov. 30, 2016).[1] In March 2012, Plaintiff brought numerous claims against the OK Owners Association in the Superior Court of New Jersey, bringing claims for harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, contempt, and violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p. See id.

         Plaintiffs initial complaint rested, at least in part, on a belief that the OK Owners Association had discriminated against her in an effort to expel her from the community; they had allegedly labeled her “delusional” and a “conspiracy theorist.” 2016 WL 7013468, at *2. The OK Owners Association, for its part, maintained that Plaintiff had been delinquent in paying various condominium fees to them, and filed a counterclaim seeking $6, 529.92 in damages. Id. The court granted summary judgment on this counterclaim. Id. In two subsequent suits brought by the OK Owners Association in 2014 and 2015, both dealing with the same delinquency issues, judgment was entered against Plaintiff for $8, 448 and 11, 812.58, respectively. Id. Although not at all apparent from the face of Plaintiff's complaint, the New Jersey Appellate Division summarized the gestalt of her dispute on its review:

[Jaye] is, and at all relevant times was, a unit owner at Oak Knoll Village [OKV], a condominium community. [Jaye] failed to pay her common element expenses. As a result of the delinquency in those expenses, OKV instituted legal action seeking a judgment against appellant for the outstanding amount. Prior to the entry of judgment, a settlement was reached between the parties whereby in exchange for a “zero-out” of the claimed balance owed by appellant to OKV, [Jaye] would commence payment of the common element charges. Notwithstanding the agreement, [Jaye] ceased payments after a few months. Thereafter, OKV instituted another action by way of counterclaim seeking judgment for unpaid common element expenses and counsel fees. OKV filed a motion for summary judgment which appellant opposed on grounds other than OKV's entitlement to the outstanding fees and costs. The judge, after providing [Jaye] with the opportunity to contest the quantum of fees and costs sought by OKV, granted the motion.

Jaye v. Oak Knoll Vill. Condo. Owners Ass'n, No. A-4856-12T2, 2014 WL 7691938 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. Jan. 28, 2015). The Appellate Division affirmed. It also noted that “appellant raises several arguments on appeal which are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion.” 2014 WL 7691938, at *2.

         Plaintiff's apparent failure to pay condominium fees has since expanded into an allegation of a massive conspiracy among members of the state and federal judiciaries, legal entities of the State of New Jersey, and several private parties and court personnel. Tracking the precise nature of the many proceedings in which Plaintiff has been involved is beyond the scope of this opinion, but we begin with what appears to be her first lawsuit against a judge. In October 2013, Plaintiff brought suit against the Honorable Yolanda Ciccone, alleging constitutional violations arising from Judge Ciccone's rulings in a state court litigation rejecting Plaintiff's claims. The trial court dismissed the case on grounds of judicial immunity, Plaintiff appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed. See generally Jaye v. Ciccone, No. A-3817-13T2, 2016 WL 731927, at *1 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. Feb. 25, 2016). Plaintiff eventually sued the appellate judges on this panel.

         Plaintiff next sued several state government agencies, alleging that the New Jersey Attorney General; a Deputy Attorney General; several members of the New Jersey judiciary who had presided over proceedings involving her, including Judge Ciccone; and state court personnel were in league against her. See Jaye v. Hoffman, No. CIV.A. 14-7471 JAP, 2015 WL 540315, at *3 (D.N.J. Feb. 10, 2015) (Pisano, J.). Judge Pisano first heard the matter at the district court level, but it was later assigned to Judge Sheridan. (Order, Jaye v. Hoffman, 14-7471 (D.N.J. Dec. 21, 2015), ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff sued Judge Sheridan, and subsequently moved to recuse him; the motion was granted. (Order at 1, Jaye v. Hoffman, 14-7471 (D.N.J. July 23, 2015), ECF No. 25.) Thereafter, the case was assigned to Judge Shipp, who dismissed Plaintiff's second amended complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. (Op. at 2, Jaye v. Hoffman, 14-7471 (D.N.J. Dec. 21, 2015), ECF No. 64.) The Third Circuit later affirmed dismissal of this case, noting that, inter alia, Judge Shipp's denial of Plaintiff's “Motion to Vacate” was proper, for Plaintiff “essentially sought to relitigate issues the District Court had already decided.” See Jaye v. Attorney Gen. New Jersey, 706 F. App'x 781, 784 (3d Cir. 2017). The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on appeal. Jaye v. Porrino, 138 S.Ct. 927 (2018).

         During the pendency of these appeals, yet another case, mentioned above and dealing with the same factual predicate and many of the same defendants-indeed, many of this case's defendants-was also dismissed with prejudice by Judge Shipp. See Jaye v. Oak Knoll Vill. Condo. Owners Ass'n, No. 15-8324, 2016 WL 7013468, at *3 (D.N.J. Nov. 30, 2016). Margolis Edelstein, a law firm, defended 15 of the 39 defendants in this matter. Rutter & Roy, another law firm, defended Williams Transcontinental Gas Pipeline.

         As a consequence of their defense work, Margolis Edelstein and Rutter & Roy, along with their clients, are now Defendants in this matter-Plaintiff alleges they have revealed their involvement in this ever-expanding conspiracy. For its part, Williams Transcontinental Gas Pipeline appears to have been sued for its operation of three natural gas pipelines crossing portions of the common elements of the Oak Knoll Village Condominium Owners' Association; why it was sued was apparently a mystery to Judge Shipp.[2] We note, furthermore, that although it is utterly unclear from the face of Plaintiff's complaint, the Court surmises that former New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, former New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman, Christopher Koos, Deputy Attorney General Ione Curva, Brian Wilson, Judith Irizzari, and Caroline Record have been sued for their past representation of various state-employed clients. The Court is unable to determine what, if any, involvement Allied World Insurance Company had in this, but Plaintiff has sued it as well. Ultimately, this matter, although dismissed at the pleading stage, still managed to generate more than 383 filings as Plaintiff waged her paper blitzkrieg.

         Also during this time, Plaintiff filed another suit dealing with the same allegations and an ever-growing set of defendants, which was dismissed with prejudice as to all parties save one. (Order at 2, Jaye v. Hoffman, 16-7771 (D.N.J. Aug. 9, 2017), ECF No. 81.) Shortly thereafter, that defendant, Mary Melfi, a Defendant in this action, was dismissed from the case on grounds of judicial immunity. (See Op. at 1, 16-7771, (D.N.J. March 28, 2018), ECF No. 111.)

         While this maelstrom raged, Plaintiff also sued Judge Shipp, filing the instant action on July 18, 2017. (ECF No. 1.)

         That, then, is one line of controversy in this case; a new one began on March 4, 2016, when Defendant Wilmington Savings Fund Society commenced a foreclosure action against Plaintiff in the Superior Court of New Jersey. The foreclosure action was commenced through its mortgage loan servicer Selene Finance, LP, acting through its counsel Knuckles, Komosinsky & Manfro, LLP. Plaintiff's answer asserted numerous affirmative defenses, including fraud, lack of standing, illegality, failure to comply with the New Jersey Rules of Court, and violations of the FDCPA. Following discovery, Wilmington Savings, through its counsel, Defendant John E. Brigandi, filed a motion for summary judgment addressing each of the affirmative defenses. Plaintiff filed a cross motion. Wilmington Savings' motion was granted, and Plaintiff's was denied. See Order, Wilmington Savings Fund Society v. Jaye, No. F-6447-16 ( N.J.Super. Ct. Sept. 23, 2016). Plaintiff then filed two motion for reconsideration, each denied in succession; she filed a motion to vacate default, which was also denied; she sought interlocutory appeal, which was, again, denied. After Wilmington Savings filed a motion for final judgment for entry of a final judgment of foreclosure, which was granted, Plaintiff then filed a motion to vacate that final judgment. This, too, was denied. She filed an emergent application with the New Jersey Appellate Division; this was denied. And when she filed the same with the New Jersey Supreme Court, it, too, denied review of her theory of a denial of her due process rights. Plaintiff sued all these individuals as well, as well as several judges, including Justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

         B. The Instant Action

         This action originally named several judges, including nearly all of the ones mentioned above, as defendants, but all judicial officer defendants were dismissed. (ECF No. 8.)[3] The remaining defendants are:

1. former New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman, Christopher Koos, Ione Curva, Brian Wilson, Judith Irizzari, and Caroline Record (the “State Defendants”);
2. Erick Spronck and Robert A. Stephenson;
3. Steve Rowland and the law firm of Brown, Moskowitz & Kallen;
4. Haley Pope, Jim Jaret, John Brigandi, Selene Finance LLC, the Wilmington Savings Fund Society, and the law firm of Knuckles, Komosinsky & Manfro (the “Wilmington Savings Defendants”);
5. Allied World Insurance Company;
6. Hill Wallack and Kenneth Sauter;
7. Williams Transcontinental Gas Pipeline and the law firm of ...

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