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Tompson v. Lancelot Court Condominium Association

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

June 9, 2016

Judith Tompson
v.
Lancelot Court Condominium Association.

          Judith Tompson, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff, Judith Tompson, has filed a complaint (doc. no. 1), which is before the court for preliminary review. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(2).

         Preliminary Review Standard

         The magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of complaints filed in forma pauperis. The magistrate judge may recommend to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if, among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(2). In conducting its preliminary review, the court construes pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). The complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief.'" See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

         Background

         Tompson resides at Lancelot Court Condominiums ("Lancelot") in Salem, New Hampshire. Tompson alleges that Lancelot is a New Hampshire corporation. Lancelot sued Tompson in the New Hampshire Superior Court in Rockingham County, to enforce a lien for unpaid assessments, pursuant to N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B:56. In that action, summary judgment was granted to Lancelot on the issue of liability. Lancelot obtained a jury award of $17, 000.00 in damages. Lancelot's motion for costs and attorneys' fees totaling almost $22, 750.00 above the jury award, was also granted. Tompson appealed, and the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court decisions and verdict. See Lancelot Ct. Condo. Ass'n v. Tompson, No. 2015-0252 (N.H. Apr. 29, 2016).

         Plaintiff then filed this action, captioning it both as a "Notice of Appeal" and as a "Complaint." See Doc. No. 1, at 1 ("Complaint"); Doc. No. 1-2 ("Notice of Appeal"). Plaintiff cites a series of federal laws, federal procedural rules, state laws, treatises, the Restatement, and the Taking Clause as providing the bases for her assertion that this court has federal question jurisdiction in this case. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, specifically, review and reversal of the state courts' decisions in her case. Plaintiff has not asserted a claim for damages.

         Discussion

         I. Rooker-Feldman

         Plaintiff has the burden of proving that this court has subject matter jurisdiction here. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). As plaintiff seeks this court's reversal of the NHSC decision in the state proceedings, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides grounds for dismissing this action. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that, as a general rule, federal district courts should not sit in direct review of state court decisions. See D.C. Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine divests this court of jurisdiction over "cases brought by state-court losers [complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and] inviting district court review and rejection of [the state court's] judgments.'" Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 532 (2011) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). As the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies here, Tompson's claims should be dismissed.

         II. No Diversity Jurisdiction

         Plaintiff's complaint states that Lancelot is incorporated in New Hampshire and has a principal place of business in New Hampshire. Plaintiff further alleges that Lancelot's fiscal agent resides in Massachusetts. Defendant Lancelot, like plaintiff, is a citizen of New Hampshire. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c). Cf. Francesco v. Beacon Ct. Condo., No. 07 CIV. 2766(LMM), 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3826, at *8, 2009 WL 174184, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2009) (unincorporated condominium association in New York is deemed to be citizen of ...


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