United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on the memorandum and
recommendation (“M&R”) of Magistrate Judge
James E. Gates, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), wherein it is recommended that the court
dismiss plaintiff's complaint on frivolity review under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Plaintiff timely objected to
the M&R. (DE 14). In this posture, the matter is ripe for
ruling. For the reasons stated herein, the court adopts the
M&R as its own and dismisses the complaint as frivolous.
October 11, 2016, plaintiff filed an application to proceed
in forma pauperis (“IFP”) and a proposed
complaint with exhibits, asserting claims against defendant
arising from his representation of her then husband, the late
Robert Gribble,  in a divorce proceeding against plaintiff
in the Chancery Court of DeSoto County, Mississippi.
Plaintiff alleges that defendant's fraudulent actions
during the course of the divorce proceedings caused her
substantial pain and suffering and exposed her to identity
theft. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of
$10, 000, 000.00, as well as injunctive relief.
March 30, 2017, the magistrate judge granted plaintiff's
IFP petition and issued an M&R, recommending dismissal of
plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Specifically, the magistrate judge recommends
dismissing plaintiff's claims for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine,
pursuant to District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983) and Rooker v. Fidelity
Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). Alternatively, the
magistrate judge recommends dismissing plaintiff's claims
as barred by the applicable statute of limitations. See
e.g., Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Corr., 64 F.3d
951, 955 (4th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff filed an objection to the
M&R on April 6, 2017.
Standard of Review
district court reviews de novo those portions of a
magistrate judge's M&R to which specific objections
are filed. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The court does not
perform a de novo review where a party makes only
“general and conclusory objections that do not direct
the court to a specific error in the magistrate's
proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). Absent a
specific and timely filed objection, the court reviews only
for “clear error, ” and need not give any
explanation for adopting the M&R. Diamond v. Colonial
Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir.
1983). Upon careful review of the record, “the court
may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court may dismiss an action
that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against
a defendant who is immune from such relief. A complaint may
be found frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact.” Neizke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim
if it does not “contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, ” sufficient to “allow
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). In
evaluating whether a claim has been stated, “[the]
court accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes those
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, ”
but does not consider “legal conclusions, elements of a
cause of action, . . . bare assertions devoid of further
factual enhancement [, ] . . . unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions or arguments.” Nemet
Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d
250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
raises a general objection that does not direct the court to
a specific error in the M&R. Rather, plaintiff's
objection reiterates her claims against defendant, again
explaining how defendant's allegedly fraudulent actions
in the state court divorce proceedings injured her.
considered review of the M&R and the record in this case,
the court adopts the analysis and conclusions of the M&R.
The court finds that plaintiff's general objection
provides no reason to disturb the cogent analysis in the
M&R. Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, district
courts are divested of subject matter jurisdiction to hear
actions “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 of those judgements.” Exxon Mobil
Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284
(2005). The doctrine applies “when the loser in state
court files suit in the federal district court seeking
redress for any injury allegedly caused by the state
court's decision itself.” Davani v. Va.
Dep't of Transp., 434 F.3d 712, 713 (4th Cir. 2006).
In this case, after the divorce proceedings concluded,
plaintiff filed a petition to set aside the divorce decree.
(Attachment A, DE 12 at 12-14). On December 20, 2012, the
Chancery Court of DeSoto County dismissed the petition with
prejudice. (Attachment B, DE 12 at 16). Accordingly,
plaintiffs claims seeking to have the court review the state
court's entry of divorce, and decisions related thereto,
must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
on the foregoing, and upon de novo review of the M&R and
the record in this case, the court ADOPTS the recommendation
of the magistrate judge. Plaintiff s claims are DISMISSED
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ...