United States District Court, D. Maine
ANTOINE A GIROUARD and JESSICA A. GIROUARD, Plaintiffs,
WELLS FARGO BANK NA, Defendant.
ORDER OF REMAND
E. Walker United States District Judge
explained below, I conclude that the United States District
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction on jurisprudential
Antoine A. Girouard and Jessica A. Girouard, were the victors
of a Maine District Court foreclosure action brought by
Defendant, Wells Fargo on an accelerated promissory note.
See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Girouard, 123
A.3d 216 (Me. 2015) (vacating district court order that
dismissed foreclosure action without prejudice and remanding
with instruction to grant judgment in favor of the
Girouards). The foreclosure proceeding concluded when the
Maine District Court entered judgment for the Girouards on
the basis of Wells Fargo's failure to properly provide
notice of the mortgagors' right to cure. Eighth District
Court Order on Defendants' Mot. for Summary J., ECF No.
commenced this action by filing in the Maine Superior Court a
complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief.
Specifically, Plaintiffs requested that the state court
declare that the mortgage is no longer enforceable and enjoin
Defendant, Wells Fargo to discharge the mortgage, because
Plaintiffs obtained judgment in their favor in the
foreclosure action. Defendant removed the action to this
Court, citing diversity jurisdiction, and asserted with its
answer counterclaims for declaratory relief and unjust
“any civil action brought in a State court of which the
district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the
defendants, to the district court of the United States for
the district and division embracing the place where such
action is pending.” 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441(a). While
the parties to this action are diverse, and while the
controversy over the enforceability of a promissory note and
mortgage can be valued at over $75, 000, jurisprudential
principles that limit the exercise of subject matter
jurisdiction call for remand of the action to state court.
contend that, as a matter of state law, they are entitled to
a declaratory judgment dispelling the cloud on their title
created by the undischarged mortgage and an order that
enjoins any further attempt at collection or foreclosure and
requires the current holder of the mortgage to discharge it.
Assuming Plaintiffs are correct, their action should proceed
in state court under Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 70.
Conceivably, upon remand, the Maine Superior Court can
transfer the matter to the Maine District Court to permit
that proceeding to take place in the proper venue.
Regardless, even if the Superior Court retains the matter for
adjudication on the current pleadings, the matter raised by
Plaintiff's complaint does not belong in federal
district courts regularly dismiss, on jurisdictional grounds,
actions brought by “state-court losers”
challenging state-court judgments rendered before the
commencement of the new action. Lance v. Dennis, 546
U.S. 459, 460 (2006) (per curiam). Although this case was not
commenced in federal court, and although Plaintiffs were the
winners rather than the losers in state court, Plaintiffs
seek to achieve in this action supplemental relief that they
say they are entitled to by dint of the state court judgment.
Simply stated, it is not the duty of the federal district
courts to supplement the relief awarded in final state court
judgments, any more that it is the duty of federal district
courts to issue orders that invalidate final state court
judgments. Cf. Armistead v. C & M Transp.,
Inc., 49 F.3d 43, 47-48 (1st Cir. 1995) (citing
Barrow v. Hunton, 99 U.S. 80, 82-83 (1879)
(explaining that federal courts may not exercise control over
state proceedings by entertaining supplementary actions which
are but incidents of state suits); and MacKay v.
Pfeil, 827 F.2d 540, 545 & n.12 (9th Cir. 1987)
(holding that a request for declaratory relief that does not
state a new case arising upon new facts, but in reality seeks
review and correction of a state court judgment is not within
federal court's original jurisdiction)).
view, an abstention doctrine must apply under these
circumstances, and the most likely candidate is the
Colorado River abstention doctrine. While federal
courts have a “‘virtually unflagging
obligation' to exercise their lawful jurisdiction and
resolve the matters properly before them, ”
Nazario-Lugo v. Caribevision Holdings,
Inc., 670 F.3d 109, 114 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting
Colo. River Water Conserv. Dist. v. United States,
424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976)), the duty “is not absolute,
and departure from it is permitted ‘in otherwise
exceptional circumstances, where denying a federal forum
would clearly serve an important countervailing
interest.'” Id. (quoting Quackenbush
v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716 (1996)).
given that the relief requested in this action should have
been part and parcel of the state court judgment - assuming
Plaintiffs are correct on the merits - there is a
“clear” justification for according deference to
state court proceedings. Colorado River abstention
is warranted where the state court exercised jurisdiction
over a res, the institution of the new suit by Plaintiff to
obtain declaratory and injunctive remedies involves piecemeal
litigation where the state court has already completed it
proceedings, state law controls the merits and a declaration
by this Court is not binding in future state court
proceedings,  the state forum is an ideal forum for
litigation of interests arising from the foreclosure of real
property and was the forum Defendant selected for its failed
foreclosure action, and Defendant's removal of the action
from state court is at odds with its earlier decision to
pursue foreclosure against Plaintiffs in state court.
Nazario-Lugo, 670 F.3d at 114 (collecting
Colorado River factors). In short, consigning this
matter to the state court ensures the “comprehensive
disposition of litigation” in the forum that already
ruled on the foreclosure matter. Colo. River, 424
U.S. at 817-19.
prior, non-final interlocutory order issued in this matter is
hereby vacated pursuant to Rule 54(b) and the case is
remanded to the state court.
 On October 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed
an amended complaint to join Wilmington Savings Fund Society,
to whom Defendant Wells Fargo evidently assigned the mortgage