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Hackett v. Bank of New York Mellon

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 5, 2019

DOUGLAS B. HACKETT, Plaintiff,
v.
THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, FKA THE BANK OF NEW YORK, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE CERTIFICATEHOLDERS OF THE CWALT, INC., ALTERNATIVE LOAN TRUST 2006-OA10 MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-OA10. Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AND DENYING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

          DERRICK K. WATSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On April 1, 2019, Plaintiff Douglas B. Hackett, proceeding pro se, filed a First Amended Complaint (FAC) against Defendant Bank of New York Mellon (“BONY”), alleging that BONY effectively stole his real property and violated his right to due process through its allegedly improper and fraudulent foreclosure of his home. Hackett also filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Hackett seeks the return of his real property, an injunction to prevent his eviction, compensatory damages, and the return of mortgage payments made.

         On April 16, 2019, BONY moved to dismiss the FAC on various grounds, including the applicability of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and res judicata. Because the claims and relief sought in the FAC are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, and the FAC is DISMISSED for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Because amendment would be futile, leave to amend is DENIED. Hackett's motion for a TRO (or preliminary injunction) is DENIED as moot.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2006, Hackett purchased a home at 82-955 Aka Ala Street, Captain Cook, Hawaii (the subject property). Motion to Dismiss (MTD), Dkt. No. 23, Ex. A, Signed Promissory Note. The subject property was purchased through a mortgage loan (Mortgage) from Countrywide Home Loans. Id. The Mortgage was then assigned to Defendant BONY. Id., Assignment of Mortgage. On March 6, 2012, BONY commenced judicial foreclosure proceedings in the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit, State of Hawaii, Civil No. 12-1-140K. FAC, Ex 1.[1] On October 25, 2016, the State court issued its Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law, and Order Granting [BONY's] Third Motion for Summary Judgment for Foreclosure Against All Defendants and for Interlocutory Decree of Foreclosure. MTD, Ex. C; Ex. L, Docket Report, Entry #245.

         Hackett subsequently filed several actions related to this foreclosure in various courts, including State-court motions, bankruptcy court proceedings, and another civil case in the Federal District Court for the District of Hawaii, which Judge Seabright dismissed on August 7, 2017 on the basis of res judicata. See MTD, Ex. L; Hackett v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 16-cv-00358-JMS-RLP (D. Haw. 2017).

         On January 14, 2019, Hackett initiated the instant suit, filing a Complaint and Motion for Injunctive Relief (TRO). Dkt. No. 1. During the February 28, 2019 status conference on Hackett's TRO, the Court instructed Hackett to consider the preclusive effect of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine in deciding how to proceed. Dkt. No. 12.

         Hackett filed an Amended Complaint (FAC) on April 1, 2019. Dkt. No. 19. Therein, Hackett asserts thirteen counts against BONY, alleging various inexact causes of action, which the Court here seeks to interpret.[2] Id. First, Hackett alleges the loss of real and personal property under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. Second, Hackett claims that BONY, and possibly its predecessors, perpetrated fraud on the courts in obtaining the foreclosure of the subject property. Id.

         More specifically, Hackett alleges that he tendered full payment of the Promissory Note to BONY by presenting an “international promissory note” on March 28, 2018, two years after the termination of the foreclosure proceedings in the Third Circuit. TRO Reply, Dkt. No. 37, Ex. 1. He also appears to allege that he sold the subject property to himself at some point, such that the foreclosure of the property was a violation of his alter ego's (the purchaser's) rights. MTD Opposition, Dkt. No. 35. Hackett supports these assertions with documents that resemble legal instruments but are not, including a notarized “financing statement” securing the purchase of the subject property in a sale from Hackett to himself; a document prepared by Hackett wherein “DOUGLAS BRUCE HACKETT” grants exclusive power of attorney to “Douglas Bruce Hackett”; and a “Legal Notice” disclaiming any law enforcement efforts against him. MTD Opposition, Ex. 1.

         Along with the FAC, Hackett filed a second TRO.[3] Id. Hackett seeks injunctive relief to prevent BONY from evicting him from the subject property. TRO Motion at 1. In support of this Motion, Hackett attaches a “Notice to Vacate” issued by a law firm representing BONY, the titleholder of the subject property, dated May 10, 2019. Id., Ex. 1.

         Liberally construing the FAC, apart from the claims brought under the Constitution, it appears that Hackett's claims sound in fraud. Among other things, Hackett seeks the return of his real property, an injunction to prevent his eviction and monetary damages in the amount of $1, 620, 000. FAC at 48.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         BONY argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents Hackett from bringing some or all of his claims. “The Rooker-Feldman doctrine recognizes that federal district courts generally lack subject matter jurisdiction to review state court judgments.” Fontana Empire Ctr., LLC v. City of Fontana, 307 F.3d 987, 992 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923)). The Court, therefore, construes this argument as one challenging the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, which is properly brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) (concerning lack of subject matter ...


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