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Walker v. Seldman

January 18, 2007

LE BON BRUCE WALKER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEIL SELDMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The claims of Plaintiffs Le Bon Bruce Walker ("Walker") and Selker, LLC ("Selker")arise from the disposition of real property and money by Selker's then managing member, Defendant Neil Seldman ("Seldman").*fn1 Defendants are numerous individuals and business entities that were involved, to varying degrees, in the purchase or sale of certain real estate.*fn2 In his Second Amended Complaint, Walker argues that the transactions at issue support claims for the following: 1) violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C §§ 1961-68; 2) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 3) "fraudulent conveyance"; 4) conspiracy to commit fraud; 5) "collusion and unjust enrichment"; and 6) breach of contract.

Defendants First American, Eastern Market, Davis, and Emrey have filed a counterclaim against Walker and Selker to quiet title in some of the real property at issue, and they have filed cross-claims against Seldman for fraud, indemnification, and breach of warranty.

The matter is currently before the Court on motions to dismiss and/or motions for summary judgment by almost every Defendant.*fn3 Based on the pleadings, motions, oppositions, replies, and the entire record, for the reasons stated below, the Court grants summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiffs' RICO and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims.

Additionally, many of the motions challenge the Court's subject matter jurisdiction to entertain Plaintiffs' claims.

Contrary to certain Defendants' contentions, Plaintiffs' claims are not jurisdictionally barred by 28 U.S.C. § 1257; however, as discussed below, Plaintiffs' federal claims are precluded by res judicata, and Plaintiffs cannot establish diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Therefore, the only remaining basis for jurisdiction over the parties' state-law claims, counterclaims, and cross-claims would be pendant jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, which the Court declines to exercise in this case.

I. BACKGROUND*fn4

A. Disputed Real Estate Transactions

On January 27, 2000, Defendant Seldman loaned Plaintiff Walker $174,000.00. In exchange, Walker executed a promissory note bearing interest and terms of repayment. Walker also executed a deed of trust on real property he owned, which is located at 1922 3rd Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, as security for the note.

Defendants Stewart and Menist were substitute trustees under the deed of trust.

On June 7, 2000, Seldman and Walker became business partners doing business as Seldman-Walker, LLC and later as Selker. Walker and Seldman established Selker for the purpose of owning, operating, renovating, and developing real property. Plaintiff Walker held a 70% interest in Selker, and Defendant Seldman held a 30% interest. Walker was originally Selker's managing member, but relinquished his duties to Seldman in June of 2001.*fn5 Walker also transferred 20% of his 70% interest in Selker to Seldman at that time, but claims he never received any consideration for his shares.*fn6

Selker owned and managed real properties in northwest Washington, D.C. at 503 Rhode Island Avenue, 1934 3rd Street, 1964 2nd Street, and 1350 Meridian Place. After Seldman became managing member of Selker, he sold the company's properties. Defendants Steed, Woldehanna, Emery, and Monast are purchasers of these properties that had belonged to Selker.*fn7 Steed purchased the property located at 501 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W., Woldehanna purchased 1934 3rd Street, N.W., Emery purchased 1964 2nd Street, N.W., and Monast purchased 1350 Meridian Place, N.W.*fn8

Walker argues that these Defendants are liable to him because they purchased the properties with constructive notice of his interest in the real estate. Walker claims that Seldman sold the properties for prices below market value "for the purpose of creating a deficit in [Selker's] finances" so that Seldman could "fraudulently obtain money from [him]."

Defendants Miller, City Title, Davis, Eastern Market, and First American are individuals and business entities that facilitated sales and purchases of Selker properties. Miller brokered sales, City Title conducted property settlement transactions, Davis provided services as a real estate agent, Eastern Market is an escrow company, and First American provided services as a title insurance company. Walker argues that these Defendants are liable to him because they assisted Seldman in disposing of Selker's real ...


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