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Fullerton Ave. Land Dev. Ltd. v. Cianciulli

Citation: 33 ELR 20095
No. No. 01-7992, 48 Fed. Appx. 813/(2d Cir., 10/10/2002)

The court holds that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to hear individuals' claim that their due process rights were violated when city officials terminated their building permit without first conducting a hearing or independent investigation on the validity of permit violation charges levied against them by the state environmental agency. The court first holds that it is deprived of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because in the second of two proceedings brought by the individuals in state court, the state court decided identical issues raised in the present suit. Although the state court decision was entered after a federal district court held that the individuals were collaterally estopped from litigating their due process claims as a result of the first state court proceeding, that is of no significance because the Rooker-Feldman doctrine implicates subject matter jurisdiction and must be applied by the court. The doctrine bars not only claims that would involve direct review of a state court decision, but also claims that are "inextricably intertwined" with a state court decision. Additionally, the individuals' claim does not involve a general constitutional challenge, which would place their case beyond the scope of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Further, while the individuals claimed that their state and federal cases sought different damages, the state court already ruled on the identical issues presented by the individuals' federal action and the individuals had a full and fair opportunity to litigate their claims.

Counsel for Appellants
Michele M. Bonsignore
Law Offices of Michele Bonsignore
11 Jackson Ave., Scarsdale NY 10583
(914) 793-6303

Counsel for Appellees
Ching Wah Chin, Ass’t Corporation Counsel
Office of Corporation Counsel
Yonkers NY 10701
(914) 377-6240