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MacIntyre v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

June 28, 2019




         This case alleges that Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase) falsified signatures and indorsements on a promissory note, thereby permitting it to fraudulently obtain a judgment in Colorado state court authorizing a foreclosure sale of Ms. MacIntyre's property. Chase moves to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 12.) In addition to responding, Ms. MacIntyre moves to strike Chase's motion because it was filed before service of the Complaint. (Doc. 20.) Because this case seeks to reopen a matter that was decided by a final decision of a Colorado state court, the Court has no jurisdiction to resolve it. Therefore, the case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Unless specifically noted, the following allegations are drawn from the Complaint (Doc. #1) and are taken as true. See Wilson v. Montano, 715 F.3d 847, 850 n.1 (10th Cir. 2013).

         Holly MacIntyre was the owner of real residential property in Jefferson County, Colorado. On January 10, 2003, she executed a $100, 000 promissory note made payable to Broker One Lending and secured by a deed of trust on the property. On December 16, 2014, Chase-claiming to be the holder of the note- sought a judgment permitting it to conduct a foreclosure sale of the property. During the trial in state court, Chase knowingly produced a different, “forged and falsified” note bearing a “simulated handwritten indorsement apparently made by Broker One Lending to Flagstar Bank” and “simulated ink-stamped indorsement in blank, apparently made by Flagstar Bank, but not actually made by Flagstar Bank.” At the state trial, “Chase disputed every allegation that MacIntyre made there about the falsification of the false notes and the signatures.” After weighing the evidence, the “state court concluded that Chase is the ‘holder' of the purported ‘note' and issued a judgment of judicial foreclosure against MacIntyre.”

         Ms. MacIntyre appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals and filed three motions to stay execution of the foreclosure judgment. Chase's attorneys obtained denials of all three motions to stay by “using fraudulent misrepresentations of fact and law.” On January 21, 2016, the property was sold at a sheriff's sale. On April 28, 2016, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the foreclosure judgment. Ms. MacIntyre sought certiorari review in the Colorado Supreme Court, but she later filed a “suggestion of mootness and motion to dismiss as moot, ” and the high court dismissed on mootness grounds on January 3, 2017.

         On January 18, 2019, proceeding pro se, Ms. MacIntyre filed this case alleging that “Chase's fraud in the foreclosure proceeding has caused [her] extraordinary financial damage by the irreversible loss of her primary residence. . . . Chase's foreclosure fraud was solidified by the fraudulent tactics it used in thwarting the indispensable stay she needed to have any possibility of reversing the foreclosure judgment on appeal.” In the Complaint, she argued that the “mootness of her appeals” entitles her to have her foreclosure judgment vacated-a theory she alleged she would test with forthcoming appellate filings.

         Counsel for Chase appeared on February 7 and waived service on behalf of Chase. On February 28, Chase filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under either the Rooker-Feldman or Younger doctrines. Chase further submits that the Complaint fails to state a claim because Ms. MacIntyre is estopped from relitigating certain issues, she filed more than a year beyond the applicable statute of limitations period, and she is unable to plead the necessary fraud element of reliance.

         On March 28, Ms. MacIntyre filed a “motion to vacate judgment as moot” in the Colorado Court of Appeals. (Doc. 19-1.) On April 11, the Court of Appeals ordered: “Appellant's motion to vacate the judgment as moot is denied. Case was mandated on January 4, 2017. No. further motion to vacate will be considered.” (Doc. 22-1, at 2.)

         On April 5, Ms. MacIntyre served Chase with the Complaint. On April 9, she moved to strike the motion to dismiss as premature solely because it was filed before service of the Complaint. She further responded to the motion to dismiss by singularly addressing Chase's invocation of collateral estoppel. The Court considers the parties' motions together.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Courts must hold pro se litigants' pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Because Ms. MacIntyre is pro se, the Court reads the Complaint broadly for facts that could be sufficient to state a valid claim, Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 & n.3 (10th Cir. 1991), or which might “evince[] a basis for the court's subject-matter jurisdiction.” Kucera v. Cent. Intelligence Agency, 754 Fed.Appx. 735, 736 (10th Cir. 2018). At the same time, where the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction is in question, the Court is not constrained to accept a complaint's allegations as true. Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002-03 (10th Cir. 1995). And here, Ms. MacIntyre supplied the Court with her unsuccessful post-Complaint appellate filings, which may bear on the jurisdictional question.

         The Court's principle concern is whether it has the power to hear this case. Federal courts “have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party, ” and thus a court may sua sponte raise the question of whether there is subject matter jurisdiction “at any stage in the litigation.” Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 501 (2006). Therefore, if Chase is correct that the Court does not have jurisdiction, whether its motion to dismiss should be stricken is immaterial considering the Court's ongoing obligation to evaluate its own jurisdiction. The Rooker-Feldman and Younger doctrines raised by Chase both implicate the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 281 (2005); Chapman v. Oklahoma, 472 F.3d 747, 748 (10th Cir. 2006).

         Rooker-Feldman takes its name from the Supreme Court's decisions in Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). In Rooker, plaintiffs previously defeated in state court filed suit in a federal district court alleging that the adverse state court judgment was unconstitutional and asking that it be declared “null and void.” 263 U.S. at 414-15. The Supreme Court stated that even if the state court was wrong, “that did not make the judgment void, but merely left it open to reversal or modification in an appropriate and timely appellate proceeding, ” and such was not the province of the federal district courts. Id. at 415-16. In Feldman, the Supreme Court similarly concluded that a federal district court lacked ...

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