United States District Court, D. Nevada
Carolyn Warren, Plaintiff, Pro se, Las Vegas, NV.
ORDER RE: OBJECTIONS
TO REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [Doc. 5] AND EMERGENCY MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION [Doc. 2]
Jennifer A. Dorsey, United States District Judge.
Pro se plaintiff Carolyn Warren became embroiled in a dispute with her landlord, RK Properties, over several issues with her Las Vegas, Nevada, apartment unit; she filed an action in Nevada state court, which was referred to mediation on July 17, 2014. Doc. 4 at 2, 4-7. Although the results of mediation are not disclosed, Warren then sued in federal court on September 25, 2014 " because the Regional Justice Court didn't help." Id. at 2, 4-7, 43. The matter was referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach for initial screening of the action as an in forma pauperis matter. In his screening order, Magistrate Judge Ferenbach notes that Warren's suit, as pled, is a de facto challenge to her state court adjudication, which this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review, and he recommends I dismiss Warren's complaint without leave to amend. See Doc. 3. Warren " objects" to the recommendation by arguing, for the first time, that she brings suit under several federal statutes and that her state-court mediation has nothing to do with the instant suit. Doc. 5. I agree with Magistrate Judge Ferenbach's recommended dismissal of Warren's claims under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, overrule Warren's objections, and primarily adopt Judge Ferenbach's report and recommendation. However, and based solely on the arguments Warren chose not to clearly present to Magistrate Judge Ferenbach for consideration, I permit Warren 30 days to file a proper motion for leave to file an amended complaint. I also deny without prejudice Warren's emergency motion for a preliminary injunction.
This case results from a troubled relationship between Warren and RK. On July 11, 2014, Warren informed RK of several apartment-related maintenance and safety concerns and of alleged harassment by RK's employees. See Doc. 4 at 30. On July 15, 2014, Warren applied for a protective order action against Dwayne Anthony, an RK employee, in the Las Vegas Justice Court. Id. at 5. The case was referred to mediation on July 17, 2014, the results of which are not disclosed. Id. at 43. On July 21, 2014, RK mailed Warren a letter in which it " vehemently denies all allegations of wrongdoing by its employees--and specifically, that any employee engaged in harassing conduct or threatened harm towards you or your occupants." Id. at 31.
On August 7, 2014, inspection of Warren's apartment revealed a " mold like substance." Doc. 4 at 20. On September 8, 2014, Warren notified RK that she would not cooperate with mold-remediation efforts. Id. at 22 On September 18, 2014, Warren's landlord gave her a 5-day notice to temporarily vacate her apartment for 2-3 days for mold remediation, during which time she would receive free accommodations at a local hotel plus a food allowance of $25 per person. Id. The letter indicated that if Warren failed to comply with RK's efforts to remove the mold, she would be in violation of her lease terms, and the lease would be terminated. Id. On September 19, 2014, Warren received a note from Dr. Jeff Willoughby, who advised against Warren's continued residence in an apartment where mold was present; he recommended that Warren " be accommodated into a different unit for health reasons." Doc. 4 at 41. On September 24, 2014, Warren received a 24-hour notice of her landlord's intent to enter the premises for mold remediation. Id. at 23.
Warren sued RK, William Rance King, Jr., Traci Parsons, and Steven Marzullo in this court on September 25, 2014. Her two-page, handwritten complaint states that she brought suit in this forum " because the Regional Justice Court didn't help." Id. at 2. Her complaint requests assistance in complying with her doctor's orders and relocating her and her daughters to another dwelling " to prevent further damage to our health." Id. Warren's complaint cites no law or other authority supporting her allegations. She also attaches various Nevada state court filings, doctors notes, apartment inspection reports, and correspondence in no particular order. Id. at 3-44. None of her attached documents are referenced in the body of her two-page complaint.
In his initial screening order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach recommends dismissing Warren's complaint without leave to amend because Warren's suit is a de facto appeal of her state court proceedings for which the proper remedy was to appeal her state court decision in the state court system, not to seek review by a federal court. Doc. 3 at 4.
A U.S. magistrate judge may be designated to " conduct hearings . . . and to submit proposed findings of fact and recommendations" regarding the disposition of motions before the Court. A party may file objections to these proposed findings and recommendations, which the district court reviews de novo. The standard of review applied to the unobjected-to portions of the report and recommendation is left to the district judge's discretion.
Warren lodges a procedural objection to the report and recommendation and two substantive " objections" to Judge Ferenbach's findings. The first challenges his application of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine as a general matter; the second impliedly admits that her original complaint failed to do anything more than challenge her unfavorable adjudication in Nevada state court, but she requests leave to amend her complaint. See Doc. 5.
A. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars Warren's claims as currently pled.
Warren first generally objects to Magistrate Judge Ferenbach's ruling that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction " because it denies Plaintiff all access to the courts and involves violations of Due Process of Law under Title II of the ADA and the ADAAA of 2008." Doc. 5 at 2.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), " If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."  The Rooker--Feldman doctrine recognizes that a district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review--directly or indirectly--a state court judgment. Its application " is confined to cases of the kind from which the doctrine acquired its name: 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 those judgments."  The doctrine also bars relitigation of issues that are " inextricably intertwined" with a state court judgment. Thus, the ...