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Rooker-Feldman Doctrine Inapplicable To Some Claims, Says Indiana Court

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine generally will bar a borrower’s post-foreclosure federal court case against a lender.  I’ve written about this doctrine on four prior occasions, so for background and the basics click hereHochstetler v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99403 (N.D. Ind. 2013) (.pdf) is different from the other cases about which I’ve written because the Court found that three of the plaintiff borrower’s claims could not be dismissed pursuant to Rooker-Feldman “because they assert independent claims for relief.”  The implication is that the Court felt that the three claims were not "inextricably intertwined" with the prior state court foreclosure action.

FDCPA.  The borrower, in this residential/consumer case, made claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which provides relief “that can be granted without setting aside the judgment of foreclosure,” said the Court.  If and only if the alleged violations of the FDCPA were completed before the state court judgment, the Court could provide relief for such violations.  Thus Rooker-Feldman did not bar this cause of action in Hochstetler.

TILA.  The borrower also asserted claims under the Truth in Lending Act, another consumer protection statute (not applicable in commercial cases).  See, 15 USC 1640(a)(1).  In Hochstetler, the borrower alleged that the lender misrepresented the terms of the mortgage before the signing of the mortgage.  The Court concluded that the claim could not be denied under Rooker-Feldman.  (I respectfully question this result, given the other opinions describing the doctrine.)

Intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The Court held that this cause of action also passed the Rooker-Feldman test because the borrower asserted a claim for relief “outside the scope of the state court judgment.”  (Again, I wonder about the correctness of this holding given the scope of the doctrine as presented in other cases.)

Dismissed.  The borrower averred a handful of other claims that were dismissed via Rooker-Feldman.  Further, despite passing the Rooker-Feldman test, the Court dismissed the borrower's FDCPA, TILA and IIED claims based upon Rule 12(b)(6) for the failure to state a claim for relief.  So, the lender ultimately was able to achieve a dismissal of the entire case.          

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