JEANNE M. KLIMOWICZ, Plaintiff, Appellant,
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, as indenture trustee for New Century Home Equity Loan Trust 2005-1 ET AL., Defendants, Appellees.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Timothy S. Hillman, U.S. District Judge]
Ellis O'Brien on brief for appellant.
M. Masterson and Shapiro Dorry Masterson, LLC on brief for
Lynch, Selya, and Thompson, Circuit Judges.
appeal, we are asked to revisit a case in which the plaintiff
fought tooth and nail in the Massachusetts state courts and
lost. Displeased by the result of the state-court
proceedings, she repaired to the federal district court and
sought to have that court address essentially the same
grievances. The district court rejected her importunings, and
the plaintiff now appeals. Concluding, as we do, that Supreme
Court case law divests federal courts of subject-matter
jurisdiction in such circumstances, see D.C. Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker
v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923), we
affirm the district court's order of dismissal.
much as this appeal follows the granting of a motion to
dismiss before the filing of any responsive pleading, we draw
the relevant facts from the plaintiff's complaint,
supplemented by matters of public record and matters
susceptible to judicial notice. See Banco Santander de
P.R. v. Lopez-Stubbe (In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers
Corp.), 324 F.3d 12, 14-15 (1st Cir. 2003). Even though
the facts are convoluted and the case has been litigated in
one form or another for many years, the controlling legal
issue is straightforward. Consequently, a sketch of the
relevant events and travel of the case will serve to put the
appeal into focus.
December of 2004, plaintiff-appellant Jeanne M. Klimowicz
executed a mortgage in favor of New Century Mortgage Company
(New Century) for real estate that she owned in Fitchburg,
Massachusetts. On or about May 24, 2006, the plaintiff filed
for protection under the United States Bankruptcy Code. Her
filing was converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding.
See 11 U.S.C. §§ 701-784. As part of that
proceeding, she challenged the validity of the New Century
mortgage. This challenge proved futile: the bankruptcy court
dismissed it because the plaintiff failed to serve New
year later, New Century itself filed for bankruptcy. It was
liquidated in due course, and the plaintiff's mortgage
was assigned to defendant-appellee Deutsche Bank National
Trust Company (Deutsche Bank). Thereafter, the plaintiff
defaulted on her payment obligations under the mortgage.
response to the plaintiff's default, Deutsche Bank
petitioned in the Massachusetts Land Court, seeking to
foreclose on the mortgaged property. The Land Court entered a
final judgment of foreclosure, after which Deutsche Bank
proceeded to arrange a foreclosure sale. Deutsche Bank proved
to be the highest bidder at the foreclosure sale and became
the record owner of the property.
Bank then commenced a summary process action in the Worcester
Housing Court, seeking to evict the plaintiff. In turn, the
plaintiff filed a counterclaim. Well into the summary process
action, the plaintiff introduced a new argument: she moved to
amend her counterclaim so as to challenge the validity of the
mortgage assignment. This strategy came to naught, as the
Housing Court denied her motion.
lengthy motion practice and other skirmishing in the summary
process action, the Housing Court - on January 14, 2016 -
entered a final judgment awarding possession of the property
to Deutsche Bank. The plaintiff appealed, but her appeal was
dismissed for failure to post the required bond.
five months after the conclusion of the summary process
action, the plaintiff sought another bite of the cherry.
Invoking diversity jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a), she filed a civil action against Deutsche
Bank in the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged
claims for wrongful foreclosure, violation of the
Massachusetts consumer protection statute, Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 93A, § 9(1), breach of the covenant of good faith
and fair dealing, and negligent infliction of emotional
distress. Deutsche Bank moved to dismiss. The district court
granted Deutsche Bank's motion, concluding, inter alia,
that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprived the
federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction. This timely
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
Consequently, a plaintiff who seeks to bring her suit in a
federal forum bears the burden of establishing that the
federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction. See
Gordo-González v. United States, 873 F.3d 32, 35
(1st Cir. 2017). The court below found that the