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Maria Rivera Barragan v. Juan Morales; Josefina Morales; and Peter Brazil

February 16, 2012

MARIA RIVERA BARRAGAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JUAN MORALES; JOSEFINA MORALES; AND PETER BRAZIL,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard R. Lloyd United States Magistrate Judge

E-filed February 16, 2012

NOT FOR CITATION

ORDER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION AND DENYING ALL PENDING MOTIONS

Pre so plaintiff Maria Rivera Barragan brings suit against defendants Juan Morales, Josefina Morales, and Peter Brazil (collectively, "defendants") alleging forgery, fraud, misrepresentation, 19 and conspiracy in connection with the transfer of real property that both Barragan and the Moraleses 20 claim to own. Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint"). Barragan seeks money damages from all defendants and 21 urges the California State Bar to investigate attorney Brazil for his allegedly improper behavior in a 22 related state court action. Id. Finally, she also alleges that the Monterey County Superior Court, 23 which has not been named in this lawsuit, deprived her of her right to a fair hearing when it entered 24 a default judgment against her. Id. at 3. 25

Barragan filed her complaint as a removal action, but, in reality, it is an original complaint.*fn1

While the complaint does not clearly articulate her claims, she seeks, in essence, a refund of the money she paid the Moraleses for the subject property, and a reversal of a default judgment that the 2 state court entered against her.*fn2

The defendants have been served, but have not appeared in this action. Barragan requested 4 entry of default against the defendants, which the Clerk of the Court entered on December 20, 2011.

Dkt. Nos. 12-14. Barragan then moved for entry of default judgment against the defendants, and 6 also moved for summary judgment. Dkt. Nos. 15-18. Barragan has consented to the undersigned's 7 jurisdiction. Defendants have not opposed the motions. The court deemed these motions suitable for 8 determination without oral argument, and vacated the January 31, 2012 hearing.

116 S. Ct. 494, 133 L. Ed. 2d 461 (1995) (Ginsburg, J., concurring) ("[o]f course, every federal 14 court, whether trial or appellate, is obliged to notice want of subject matter jurisdiction on its own 15 motion"). If the court determines that it does not have subject-matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss 16 the claim. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(h)(3). A lack of jurisdiction is presumed unless the party asserting 17 jurisdiction establishes that it exists. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 18

Federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions "arising under the Constitution, 20 laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A claim "arises under" federal law if, 21 based on the "well-pleaded complaint rule," the plaintiff alleges a federal cause of action. Vaden v. Discovery Bank, 129 S. Ct. 1262, 1272 (2009). The federal district courts have no jurisdiction to 23 review state-court judgments rendered before district court proceedings commenced. This is known 24 as the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291 25

I.SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

LEGAL STANDARD

Even if no party challenges subject matter jurisdiction, the court has a duty to raise the issue sua sponte whenever it is perceived. Things Remembered, Inc. v. Petrarca, 516 U.S. 124, 132 n.1, 13 (1994). Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court liberally construes her complaint. Id. 19 (2005); see also Noel v. Hall, 341 F.3d 1148, 1163 (9th Cir. 2003). "If a federal plaintiff asserts as a legal wrong an allegedly erroneous decision by a state court, and seeks relief from a state court 2 judgment based on that decision, Rooker-Feldman bars subject matter jurisdiction in federal district 3 court." Noel, 341 F.3d at 1164. The court must consider the relief sought by the federal court 4 plaintiff-a claim that seeks the "undoing" of a prior state court judgment is "clearly barred" by the 5 doctrine. Bianchi v. Rylaarsdam, 334 F.3d 895, 900 (9th Cir. 2003).

Barragan makes only one allegation in her complaint that can be construed as attempting to 8 state a claim arising under federal law. In relevant part, ...


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