United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND DISMISSING CASE WITH PREJUDICE
DAVID M. LAWSON, District Judge.
This case is before the Court on objections by the plaintiff to two reports filed by Magistrate Judge David R. Grand recommending that the defendants' case-dispositive motions be granted and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be denied. The plaintiff filed the present action on September 13, 2013 seeking: (1) relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) from a state court judgment of possession in favor of the plaintiff's mortgage lender, which was entered after a foreclosure sale of his home; (2) recision of the allegedly fraudulently recorded mortgage and note against the plaintiff's property; (3) statutory damages under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., for collection of a false or fraudulent debt; (4) damages and injunctive relief under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1964, based on an alleged conspiracy among the defendants to commit "fraud upon the court" during the foreclosure and eviction proceedings; (5) compensatory damages in excess of $19 million for the "theft" of the plaintiff's home and assorted items of personal property allegedly contained therein at the time of the foreclosure, including "intellectual property" in the form of computer software and an extensive comic book collection; and (6) punitive damages in excess of $12 million. The case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge David R. Grand to conduct all pretrial proceedings. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgement seeking judgment as a matter of law on all of the twenty-four claims raised in the complaint. The defendants, in several groups, filed motions seeking dismissal of the complaint in its entirety under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and 12(c). On July 11, 2014, Magistrate Judge Grand filed a report in which he recommended that the Court deny the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant the motions to dismiss filed by defendants Dykema Law Firm, Michael Blalock, Jong Ju Chang, WMC Mortgage, LLC, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., and DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc. On January 7, 2015, the magistrate judge filed a second report in which he recommended that the Court grant the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by defendants Night Lor and Maiya O. Yang. The plaintiff filed timely objections to both of those recommendations and the matter is before the Court.
The magistrate judge summarized the facts of the case as disclosed by the pleadings and motion papers. They need not be repeated here, except to note that the plaintiff is challenging the foreclosure of a mortgage on residential property in Clarkston, Michigan. The plaintiff obtained a $520, 000 mortgage in 2006, and defaulted on the loan in 2010 after making only one payment in two and one-half years. Foreclosure proceedings ensued, which resulted in a sheriff's sale, expiration of the redemption period, sheriff's deed, a state court lawsuit against the various mortgage lenders and servicers, and eviction proceedings, all of which resulted in adverse judgments against the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed the present lawsuit after he began serving a 51-month federal sentence for mortgage fraud, related in part to the Clarkston property.
Addressing the various defendants' motions to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b), Judge Grand suggested that the plaintiff's claims in this case amounted to a thinly-veiled attempt to seek review of the adverse state court proceedings, and therefore this Court had no subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Moreover, even if subject matter jurisdiction existed, the magistrate judge suggested, the claims would be barred by the doctrines of claim preclusion or issue preclusion. He also concluded that the counts based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) failed to state actionable claims because they sought relief other than relief from a prior judgment, and the case was not filed in the same court that rendered the challenged judgment. Based on those conclusions, Judge Grand reasoned that the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment could not succeed. The magistrate judge reached the same conclusions on the motion by defendants Lor and Yang for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). He recommended that the case be dismissed with prejudice against all defendants.
The plaintiff filed substantially the same objections to each report and recommendation. The objections, like most of the plaintiff's earlier filings, mostly consist of extended quotations of statutes, court rules, and case law relating to various subjects, only some of which are relevant to plaintiff's claims and the magistrate judge's findings and conclusions. The Court will address the salient points stated within each objection, listing them in the order they were presented in the longer of the two filings, and combining the treatment of substantially duplicative objections raised in both filings.
The filing of timely objections to a report and recommendation requires the Court to "make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981). This de novo review requires the Court to re-examine all of the relevant evidence previously reviewed by the magistrate judge in order to determine whether the recommendation should be accepted, rejected, or modified in whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
"The filing of objections provides the district court with the opportunity to consider the specific contentions of the parties and to correct any errors immediately, " Walters, 638 F.2d at 950, enabling the court "to focus attention on those issues - factual and legal - that are at the heart of the parties' dispute, " Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). As a result, "[o]nly those specific objections to the magistrate's report made to the district court will be preserved for appellate review; making some objections but failing to raise others will not preserve all the objections a party may have.'" McClanahan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 837 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Smith v. Detroit Fed'n of Teachers Local 231, 829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)).
In his first objection, the plaintiff argues that the magistrate judge erred in failing to afford him the generosity of construction due to the pleadings of a pro se party, and that under such an indulgent review the complaint states several plausible claims for relief. The plaintiff further contends that, to the extent his pleadings were deemed insufficient, the magistrate judge erred by denying his motion for leave to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies.
Contrary to the plaintiff's position, the magistrate afforded substantial latitude to the plaintiff in attempting to discern any viable claim for relief from the extensive and somewhat hard-to-follow pleadings. The magistrate judge attributed to the complaint exactly the claims that the plaintiff contends he has attempted to plead, including, most prominently, the central claim of "fraud on the court." However, "[t]he leniency granted to pro se [litigants]... is not boundless." Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d. 710, 714 (6th Cir. 2004). Although a pro se litigant's complaint is to be construed liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), the complaint still must plead facts sufficient to show a redressable legal wrong has been committed, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Dekoven v. Bell, 140 F.Supp.2d 748, 755 (E.D. Mich. 2001). Even under the most charitable construction, the complaint here fails to set forth any such claim.
Moreover, in response to the motion for a more definite statement filed by defendants Night and Lor, the magistrate judge did allow the plaintiff to file a first amended complaint [dkt. #69], to attempt to clarify the insufficient allegations. The factual allegations set forth in the plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint [dkt. #90] are materially indistinguishable from those set forth in the original complaint, and the plaintiff has not suggested any additional facts that he could plead that would rescue any of the ...