United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C HANKS JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Beverly Ann Garcia's (“Garcia”)
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Dkt. 98.
After reviewing the motion, the response, the reply, and the
applicable law, the motion is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART.
Background and Prior Proceedings
23, 1999, a Galveston County court entered a Final Decree of
Divorce between the Plaintiff, Joe Blessett
(“Blessett”), and Garcia. Dkt. 31-1. The decree
also established Blessett's paternity over a child born
during the marriage and ordered him to pay child support
payments of $800 each month. Id. at 11. After
Blessett consistently defaulted on this child support
obligation for sixteen years, the county court entered an
order in favor of Garcia confirming child support arrearage
in the amount of $131, 923.14. Dkt. 31-2.
a year later, Garcia used that order to apply for a judicial
writ of withholding to garnish Blessett's wages and to
place a child support lien on some of Blessett's real
property. Dkt. 31-3; Dkt. 31-4. In response, Blessett filed a
lawsuit against Garcia to have the child support liens
released. Dkt. 31-6. Garcia answered the lawsuit, and then
asserted counterclaims of her own for “a cumulative
money judgment” and for a declaratory judgment that
Blessett did not own any real property that was exempt from
foreclosure. Dkt. 31-17. On June 30, 2017, the Galveston
County court granted Summary Judgment in favor of Garcia on
each of her counterclaims. Dkt. 31-32. Blessett did not file
a motion for new trial nor did he appeal the county
court's order. Dkt. 31 at 11. Subsequently, Garcia
foreclosed on Blessett's property, which was ultimately
sold at public auction in partial satisfaction of the child
support arrears he owes. Id.
Blessett's property was sold at public auction, he has
filed this and several other lawsuits in this Court to
collaterally attack the state-court orders that led to the
foreclosure of his property. On March 4, 2019, the Court
dismissed this suit under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, because the Court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction to collaterally review state court Judgments.
Dkt. 82. Two days later, the Fifth Circuit partially vacated
an order dismissing another suit initiated by Blessett on
Rooker-Feldman grounds. See Blessett v. Tex.
Office of the AG Galveston Cty. Child Support Enf't Div.
(Blessett Appellate Decision), 756 Fed.Appx. 445, 446
(5th Cir. 2019). In an abundance of caution, the Court
withdrew the order of dismissal that it issued in this case
and allowed Blessett an opportunity to amend his complaint
consistent with the Fifth Circuit's order in the parallel
case. Dkt. 88.
amended complaint, Blessett asserts five separate
“counts” of fraud against Garcia. Dkt. 93. Garcia
now moves to dismiss Blessett's amended complaint under
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 27.003(a). For
the reasons stated below, the Court finds that Garcia's
motion to dismiss should be granted in part on 12(b)(1) and
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.”
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan v. Layale Enters. (In re
B-727 Aircraft), 272 F.3d 264, 269 (5th Cir. 2001).
Thus, a federal district court is required to presume that it
does not have the jurisdiction to rule on a matter until
“the party asserting jurisdiction” can prove
otherwise. Griffith v. Alcon Research, Ltd., 712
Fed.Appx. 406, 408 (5th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks
omitted). To make its case, the party asserting jurisdiction
may direct the Court to look at “(1) the complaint
alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts
evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by
undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed
facts.” Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d
158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). Ultimately, a court cannot dismiss
a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction unless
“it appears certain that [a party] cannot prove any set
of facts” in support of its assertion that jurisdiction
is appropriate in federal court. Bombardier Aero. Emple.
Welfare Benefits Plan v. Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough,
P.C., 354 F.3d 348, 351 (5th Cir. 2003).
party is successful in establishing that the Court has
jurisdiction to hear a dispute, the Court may still dismiss
the dispute where the party fails “to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). The Court's task in this inquiry is to
determine whether “the plaintiff has stated a legally
cognizable claim that is plausible” on its face.
Shandong Yinguang Chem. Indus. Joint Stock Co. v.
Potter, 607 F.3d 1029, 1032 (5th Cir. 2010). With
respect to fraud claims, a Plaintiff must “state with
particularity the circumstances constituting the fraud”
in order to survive this inquiry. Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). This
means that a court will dismiss the case unless the plaintiff
can adequately plead “the who, what, when, where, and
how to be laid out” for a particular fraud allegation.
Benchmark Electronics, Inc. v. J.M. Huber Corp., 343
F.3d 719, 724 (5th Cir. 2003). In evaluating a
plaintiff's pleadings, the Court will not “strain
to find inferences favorable to the plaintiff, ” nor
will it “accept conclusory allegations, unwarranted
deductions or legal conclusions.” Barrie v.
Intervoice-Brite, Inc., 397 F.3d 249, 254-55 (5th Cir.
Dismissal on 12(b)(1) grounds
asserts that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over this dispute, because Blessett's complaint asks the
Court to “review, modify, or reverse” state court
orders, which is expressly prohibited by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Dkt. 98 at 17. The Court
agrees and dismisses Blessett's complaint to the extent
that it “collaterally attack[s] the state court divorce
decree, ” “judgments concerning paternity and
child support, ” or the foreclosure order. See
Blessett Appellate Decision, 756 Fed.Appx. at 445-446.
federal law, the Supreme Court has exclusive “authority
to review a state-court judgment.” Exxon Mobil
Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 283
(2005); 28 U.S.C.S. § 1257 (2018). Therefore, a federal
district court cannot modify or reverse a state court
judgment unless Congress authorizes it to do so. Burciaga
v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 871 F.3d 380, 384
(5th Cir. 2017). Casually referred to as
Rooker-Feldman, this doctrine was created to bar
“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.”
Houston v. Queen, 606 Fed.Appx. 725, 730 (5th Cir.
2015). In Exxon, the Supreme Court explained that
this doctrine is triggered by the existence of “four
elements: (1) a state-court loser; (2) alleging harm ...