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Robinson v. Section 23 Property Owner's Association, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 18, 2018

ALBERT ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SECTION 23 PROPERTY OWNER'S ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ALBERT ROBINSON P.O. BOX 1961 SUWANEE, GA 30024 Plaintiff appearing pro se

          GREGG DOUGLAS WEINSTOCK VIGORITO, BARKER, PATTERSON, NICHOLS & PORTER LLP 300 GARDEN CITY PLAZA SUITE 308 GARDEN CITY, NY 11 530 On behalf of Defendants Section 23, Property Owner's Association, Inc., James Shaefer, John McNamara, Auto Owners Insurance Co., The Law Firm of Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., Richard Barton Akin, II, Michael Paul Versnik, and Patricia Schaefer

          DAVID JAMES MELVIN FRESH LEGAL PERSPECTIVE, PL 6930 W. LINEBAUGH AVE TAMPA, FL 33625 On behalf of Keathel Chauncey, Fresh Legal Perspective, Ellie Teng, Scott Hundley, Zachary Heathcote, Suzanne Barnhart, Bruce Emerson, Bonafide Properties, LLC, David Melvin, and Chelsea Smith-Scott

          GARY ROBERT SHENDELL LINDSAY SAMANTHA KATZ SHENDELL & POLLOCK P.L. 2700 N. MILITARY TRAIL SUITE 150 BOCA RATON, FL 33431 On behalf of Defendants Curtright Collins Truitt and The Law Firm of Curtright C. Truitt PA

          STAN WISNIEWSKI 25164 MARION AVENUE PUNTA GORDA, FL 33950 Defendant appearing pro se

          STEVEN JOSEPH BUTCHER 1720 E C478 WEBSTER, FL 33597 Defendant appearing pro se

          JAMIE ELAINE MILLER 1720 E C478 WEBSTER, FL 33597 Defendant appearing pro se

          DEVIN CRAIG SHULER 18081 BRACKEN CIRCLE PORT CHARLOTTE, FL 33948 Defendant appearing pro se

          DAVID KEITH OAKS P.O. BOX 473 LYNN, NC 28750-0473 Defendant appearing pro se

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff, Albert Robinson, appearing pro se, claims that the various actions of the twenty-six individual and corporate defendants relating to the possession and ultimate foreclosure of his mother's home in Punta Gorda, Florida, where he and his family resided, constituted a massive conspiracy under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), among other claims. Pending before the Court are the motions of Defendants to dismiss Plaintiff's claims, primarily on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. Several of the Defendants have moved for sanctions. Also pending are eight motions filed by Plaintiff for relief in his favor. For the reasons expressed below, Plaintiff's claims against all Defendants will be dismissed with prejudice and all other motions will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Jane B. Robinson, as trustee for the Jane B. Robinson revocable trust, owned a home at 25264 Padre Lane, Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida. On August 1, 2014, the community development manager, Section 23 Property Owners Association, Inc. (“Section 23”), filed a foreclosure action in the state court in Charlotte County.[1] Plaintiff, Albert Robinson, the son of Jane B. Robinson, lived in the home. Plaintiff disputed the foreclosure on several bases, including a bankruptcy case relating to Jane B. Robinson pending in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.[2]

         On September 21, 2015, the state court entered a final summary judgment of foreclosure in favor of Section 23 and set a foreclosure sale to occur on October 12, 2015. Defendant Keathel Chauncey, as trustee for the 25264 Padre Ln Land Trust, was the successful bidder at the foreclosure sale and was issued a certificate of title. On November 24, 2015, Chauncey moved the state court to vacate the sale due to questions regarding the automatic stay in Jane Robinson's bankruptcy case. The court held a hearing on the motion on January 11, 2016, determined that the sale did not violate the automatic stay, and found that the sale should be upheld.

         On December 24, 2015, Plaintiff appealed the case to the Florida Second District Court of Appeals. Plaintiff withdrew the appeal after the court issued a notice to show cause regarding Plaintiff's failure to file his initial brief. On March 1, 2016, Chauncey received a Writ of Possession for the property, which required Plaintiff to vacate the premises.

         During this time and thereafter, Plaintiff filed many cases against the same Defendants here and others in Florida state court, [3] the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, [4] and New Jersey state court.[5] The subject of all of his cases, including this case, arises out of his residence at his mother's home in Florida. Beginning with disputes over the enforcement of deed restrictions, such as parking and property maintenance, Plaintiff's cases have evolved into claims against essentially every person or entity that has been involved either directly or indirectly in the ultimate foreclosure of the Punta Gorda house and his resulting eviction from the property. The main thrust of Plaintiff's claims is that all the Defendants have conspired to illegally purchase his mother's home and steal all of his personal and intellectual property inside. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have done so to quash his investigation of their international money laundering and fraud scheme.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims, primarily because this Court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over them, and because venue for Plaintiff's claims is improper here. (Docket No. 23, 51, 55, 58, 63, 70, 72, 89, 95, 97, 102, 110.) Several Defendants have also moved for sanctions against Plaintiff. (Docket No. 101.) Plaintiff filed an omnibus opposition to Defendants' motions (Docket No. 116), and he has filed two motions for summary judgment in his favor (Docket No. 81, 91), as well as motions for default judgment and other miscellaneous motions (Docket No. 75, 87, 90, 115, 124). The Court has reviewed all the motions, in addition to all the parties' correspondence directed to the Court.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject matter jurisdiction

         Plaintiff asserts that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over his federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         B. Analysis

         Defendants argue that because they are citizens of Florida and otherwise have no contacts with New Jersey this Court may not exercise personal jurisdiction over them without violating due process. Defendants also argue that New Jersey is not the proper venue for Plaintiff's claims because the property at issue is located, and Plaintiff's allegations regarding Defendants' actions relative to the property and the fraud scheme in general all arise, in Florida.

         Plaintiff claims that personal jurisdiction and venue are proper here because of a “Terms and Conditions” provision in a contract he posted at the Punta Gorda home while he was living there. That document states, “By entering the property . . . you agree to litigate any and all claims . . . directed towards the Robinsons in the U.S. District Court chosen by the Robinsons.” (Docket No. 10-17 at 65.) Plaintiff contends this is a mutual agreement between Plaintiff and Defendants, and they have therefore consented to appear in this Court - the U.S. District Court of his choosing. Plaintiff also argues that because Section 23 sent numerous letters to him in New Jersey it has sufficient minimum contacts with New Jersey. Plaintiff further argues that because he has established sufficient contacts for one Defendant, jurisdiction over the other Defendants is satisfied for his RICO claims.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) provides for dismissal of an action when the Court does not have personal jurisdiction over a defendant. “Once challenged, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction.” O'Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd., 496 F.3d 312, 316 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Gen. Elec. Co. v. Deutz AG, 270 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir. 2001)). In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court must “accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as true and construe disputed facts in favor of the plaintiff.” Carteret Sav. Bank v. Shushan, 954 F.2d 141, 142 n.1 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 817 (1992) (citations omitted).

         A defendant is subject to the jurisdiction of a United States district court if the defendant “is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A). “A federal court sitting in New Jersey has jurisdiction over parties to the extent provided under New Jersey state law.” Miller Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Smith, 384 F.3d 93, 96 (3d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). The New Jersey long-arm statute “permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the fullest limits of due process.” IMO Indus., Inc. v. Kiekert AG, 155 F.3d 254, 259 (3d Cir. 1998) (citing DeJames v. Magnificence Carriers, Inc., 654 F.2d 280, 284 (3d Cir. 1981)).

         Under the Due Process clause, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant is appropriate when the defendant has “certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe Co. ...


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