United States District Court, District of Columbia
A. HOWELL Chief Judge
plaintiff, Ashante Yussuf, who is proceeding pro se,
filed, on August 3, 2018, in the Superior Court of the
District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) her
complaint, which the defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., timely
removed to this Court on September12, 2018. Pending before
the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss, ECF No. 7, on
grounds that the complaint fails to state a plausible claim
for relief and for lack of jurisdiction, under Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 8(a), 9(b), and 12(b)(1) and (6). Shortly
after the dismissal motion was filed, the Court issued an
Order, ECF No. 8, on September 25, 2018, advising the pro
se plaintiff of her obligations under the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure and the Local Civil Rules of this Court to
file an opposition to defendant's motion, and of the
consequences of her failure to oppose it. Specifically, the
Order advised plaintiff that, if she failed to file her
opposition by October 25, 2018 - a longer period than that
normally allowed under the applicable rules - the Court would
rule on defendant's motion without the benefit of her
position. Id. To date, plaintiff neither has filed
an opposition nor requested more time to do so. For the
reasons discussed below, defendant's motion is granted.
secured a mortgage loan from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. for her
former residence at 323 58th Street, N.E., Washington, DC
20019 (“the property”). See Compl. at 4,
ECF No. 4-1. The property was the subject of foreclosure
proceedings in the Superior Court, see generally
Def.'s Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss Compl.
(“Def.'s Mem.”), ECF No. 7-2, which defendant
initiated on November 11, 2015, id., Ex. 1 at 1. By
order, dated April 11, 2018, the Superior Court ratified the
sale of the property by the Trustees. Id., Ex. 2.
The matter concluded on August 3, 2018, with orders granting
defendant's Motion to Ratify Accounting, Release Bond,
and Close Case and denying plaintiff's Emergency Motion
to Vacate Default Judgment. Id., Ex. 1 at 5.
vague and conclusory language, plaintiff alleges
“wrongful foreclosure because of predatory lending,
wrongful denial of foreclosure, fraudulent hazardous
insurance, discrimination against African-Americans,
unethical business practices, and fraudulent business
practices.” Compl. at 1. In addition, plaintiff alleges
she is “part of several class action suits against
Wells Fargo, ” which have settled. Id. She
demands judgment in her favor in the sum of $500, 000.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction,
the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the
court's subject-matter jurisdiction over her claim by a
preponderance of the evidence. See Lujan v. Defs. of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); Arpaio v.
Obama, 797 F.3d 11, 19 (D.C. Cir. 2015).
‘“Federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction,' possessing ‘only that power
authorized by Constitution and statute.'” Gunn
v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (quoting
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994)). Indeed, federal courts are “forbidden
. . . from acting beyond our authority, ”
NetworkIP, LLC v. FCC, 548 F.3d 116, 120 (D.C. Cir.
2008), and, therefore, have “an affirmative obligation
‘to consider whether the constitutional and statutory
authority exist for us to hear each dispute, '”
James Madison Ltd. by Hecht v. Ludwig, 82 F.3d 1085,
1092 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (quoting Herbert v. Nat'l Acad.
of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 196 (D.C. Cir. 1992)). Absent
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the case.
See Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 506-07
(2006); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “the
‘complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Wood v. Moss, 572
U.S. 744, 757-58 (2014) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that is more than
‘“merely consistent with' a defendant's
liability, ” but “allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 556-57 (2007)).
considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction or for failure to plead a claim on which relief
can be granted, the complaint must be considered in its
entirety, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint
as true, even if doubtful in fact, and construe all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (considering 12(b)(6)
challenge); Am. Nat'l Ins. Co. v. FDIC, 642 F.3d
1137, 1139 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (considering 12(b)(1) challenge).
Nevertheless, the Court “need not accept inferences
drawn by plaintiff if such inferences are unsupported by
the facts set out in the complaint[ or] legal conclusions
cast in the form of factual allegations.” Kowal v.
MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir.
1994) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286
(1986)). While matters “outside the pleadings”
generally may not considered on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,
without converting the motion to one for summary judgment,
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d), the Court may, without triggering the
conversion rule, consider “documents incorporated into
the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may
take judicial notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor
Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007)
(citation omitted). In evaluating subject-matter jurisdiction,
however, the court may look beyond the complaint to
“undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the
complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the
court's resolution of disputed facts.”
Herbert, 974 F.2d at 197 (citations omitted).
upon a comparison of the Superior Court proceedings and the
instant complaint, this plaintiff's pending allegations
and claims against the defendant involve the same cause of
action between the same parties and has been brought to final
judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction. Defendant
argues, and the Court concurs, that “Wells Fargo's
right . . . to foreclose on the [p]roperty and the validity
of the foreclosure sale have already been determined to
finality” in the Superior Court. Def.'s Mem. at 6.
Where, as here, a subsequent lawsuit is filed “(1)
involving the same claims or cause of action, (2) between the
same parties or their privies, and (3) there has been a
final, valid judgment on the merits, (4) by a court of
competent jurisdiction, ” that lawsuit is barred under
the res judicata doctrine. Smalls v. United States,
471 F.3d 186, 192 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (citations omitted);
see also Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880, 892
(2008) (“The preclusive effect of a judgment is defined
by claim preclusion and issue preclusion, which are
collectively referred to as ‘res
judicata.'”); New Hampshire v. Maine, 532
U.S. 742, 748 (2001) (“Claim preclusion generally
refers to the effect of a prior judgment in foreclosing
successive litigation of the very same claim, whether or not
relitigation of the claim raises the same issues as the
earlier suit.”). Two claims need not be
“literally identical claims for res judicata to
apply[.]” Capitol Hill Grp. v. Pillsbury Winthrop
Shaw Pittman, LLP, 574 F.Supp.2d 143, 149 (D.D.C. 2008),
aff'd sub nom. Capitol Hill Grp. v. Pillsbury,
Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, LLC, 569 F.3d 485 (D.C. Cir.
2009). “Whether two cases implicate the same cause of
action turns on whether they share the same ‘nucleus of
facts.'” Drake v. FAA, 291 F.3d 59, 66
(D.C. Cir. 2002) (quoting Page v. United States, 729
F.2d 818, 820 (D.C. Cir. 1984)). Set against this legal
standard, the plaintiff's claims are thus barred and,
therefore, dismissal of the complaint is warranted under Rule
12(b)(6). See Stanton v. District of Columbia Court of
Appeals, 127 F.3d 72, 76-77 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (collecting
cases allowing parties to assert res judicata on
the doctrine of res judicata presented no bar,
plaintiff's claims are subject to dismissal on alternate
grounds. District courts lack jurisdiction to review
decisions of state or local courts, and the plaintiff's
claims here are “so ‘inextricably
intertwined' with a state court decision that ‘the
district court is in essence being called upon to review the
state court decision.'” Stanton, 127 F.3d
at 75 (quoting District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 n.16 (1983)); see also
Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994)
(under Rooker-Feldman doctrine, “a party
losing in state court is barred from seeking what in
substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in
a United States district court, based on the losing
party's claim that the state court's judgment itself
violates the loser's federal rights”);
Richardson v. District of Columbia Court of Appeals,
83 F.3d 1513, 1514 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (“[F]ederal
district courts lack jurisdiction to review judicial
decisions by state and District of Columbia courts.”).
The law is well-settled that the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine precludes this court “from exercising
appellate jurisdiction over final state-court judgments,
” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 463 (2006),
requiring dismissal of the complaint under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).
insofar as plaintiff alleges wrongful foreclosure, the
complaint fails to “allege sufficient facts to state a
plausible claim that [she] sustain[ed] damages by reason of a
foreclosure executed in a manner contrary to law.”
Tefera v. OneWest Bank, FSB, 19 F.Supp.3d 215, 222
(D.D.C. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted), appeal dismissed, No. 14-7039 (D.C. Cir.
Sept. 16, 2015). Her bare assertions that defendant's
conduct was wrongful, unlawful or fraudulent does not allege
adequately that defendant violated some provision of District
of Columbia law in the course of the foreclosure proceedings
in the Superior Court. See, e.g., Robinson v. Deutsche
Bank Nat'l Trust Co., 932 F.Supp.2d 95, 103-04
(D.D.C. 2013) (discussing wrongful foreclosure claim arising
from alleged violations of D.C. Code § 42-815). Nor does
a bare assertion of fraud “state with particularity the
circumstances constituting fraud or mistake.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). Absent allegations as to “the time,
place and content of the false misrepresentations, the fact
misrepresented and what was retained or given up as a
consequence of the fraud, ” and the identity of the
individuals involved, United States ex rel. Williams v.
Martin-Baker Aircraft Co., 389 F.3d 1251, 1256 (D.C.
Cir. 2004) (citations omitted), any fraud claim must be
alleges she is “a part of several class action suits
against Wells Fargo, ” Compl. at 1, identified as the
Pick-a Pay, Forced-Place Insurance, Flood Insurance, and TCPA
class action settlements, Def.'s Mem. at 3. The complaint
does not appear to assert a claim with respect to these
settlements, however, or indicate whether or what remedy
plaintiff is seeking from or as result of those settlements.
Similarly, the lack of factual allegations, coupled with
unsupported assertions of “unethical business
practices” and “predatory lending, ” Compl.
at 1, dooms these claims. Likewise, the absence of factual
allegations as to when or how defendant exhibited ...