Federal judge refuses to review state court action arising from foreclosure and ejectment

By Jon Campisi | Jan 31, 2013

A U.S. District Court judge has refused to review a federal case initiated by a Philadelphia man against the city’s sheriff, acting sheriff and the attorneys who had represented a loan services company involved in an underlying case that arose from the foreclosure and subsequent ejectment of the man’s property.

In his federal complaint, Omar Jamaladdin asserted that the federal court has jurisdiction over his case, citing various federal statutes and constitutional amendments that were allegedly violated through the defendants’ actions.

Judge Thomas N. O’Neill, Jr., of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, however, noted in a Jan. 29 memorandum that it appears as though the plaintiff is seeking to have the federal court review the propriety of a state court ejectment action, which the jurist stated is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine that says a district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to conduct a review in this type of case.

“Stated another way, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars claims where entertaining the federal claim would be the equivalent of appellate review of the state court Order,” O’Neill wrote.

O’Neill further wrote that the plaintiff failed to state any cognizable claim against the City of Philadelphia, nor has the man stated claims against Sheriff Jewell Williams and the previous acting sheriff, Barbara Deeley.

O’Neill wrote that sheriffs are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity when executing the sale of a property pursuant to a “facially valid court order.”

Finally, O’Neill wrote that the complaint, which he called “vague and unintelligible,” fails to state a claim against attorneys Scott Dietterick and Martha Von Rosenstiel.

The two lawyers had represented Aurora Loan Services in its mortgage foreclosure action filed against Jamaladdin, the plaintiff in this case, back in September 2010, the court docket sheet in the state case shows.

The record further shows that in mid-November of this year, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Idee C. Fox denied a motion by Jamaladdin to vacate the judgment.

In dismissing the federal action with prejudice, O’Neill wrote that it is apparent from reading the complaint that it is “nothing more than an improper attempt by plaintiff to avoid the judgment of eviction rendered by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.”

O’Neill’s ruling comes after the defendants in the federal action all filed motions for dismissal.

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