Susan Lynne Rohe v. Wells Fargo Bank

Case Type:
Case Status:
19-13947 (11th Circuit, Feb 18,2021) Published
In affirming the district court's order denying a chapter 13 debtor's petition under the All Writs Act, which sought an order declaring certain actions taken in a state court foreclosure proceeding were void and damages against the lender's counsel, the Eleventh Circuit held that district court properly concluded it could not issue an such an order because the district court did not have jurisdiction over any underlying proceeding where it could properly issue the order and the bankruptcy court was "well-equipped" to address alleged violations of the automatic stay and removal issues.
Procedural context:
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida affirmed.
Wells Fargo initiated a foreclosure action against the debtor in 2013. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2016 due to a defect in the endorsement of the note. Wells Fargo corrected the deficiency and brought a second foreclosure action, ultimately obtaining a final judgment of foreclosure against the debtor in December 2018. The debtor appealed the judgment in January 2019 and filed a voluntary petition for relief under chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code in February 2019. As a result of the bankruptcy filing, the trial court stayed the foreclosure action, but the appellate court declined to stay the appeal, based on its precedent holding that the automatic stay does not apply to appeals brought by the debtor. In July 2019, the bankruptcy court granted Wells Fargo relief from the automatic stay to allow the lender to proceed with the foreclosure action and subsequently denied the debtor's motion for reconsideration of the order granting stay relief. The debtor appealed the order and filed a notice of removal in the foreclosure action, removing the lawsuit to bankruptcy court, which initiated an adversary proceeding and terminated the state court's jurisdiction over the proceedings pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9027(c). On August 21, 2019, the appellate court nevertheless issued an order affirming the judgment of foreclosure and granting Wells Fargo's motion for appellate attorney's fees. Shortly thereafter, the trial court rescheduled the foreclosure sale. Wells Fargo moved to dismiss the adversary proceeding, asserting that the case was not removable. The bankruptcy court dismissed the adversary proceeding with prejudice "nunc pro tunc" to the filing of the notice of removal, but did not remand the case to the state courts. The debtor appealed the order of dismissal, and in the appeal, filed a petition seeking an order under the All Writs Act to address the alleged violations of the automatic stay. The debtor sought a determination that the state appellate court's order disposing of her appeal of the foreclosure judgment and the order of the trial court resetting the foreclosure sale were void and actual damages against the lender and its counsel. The district court sua sponte dismissed the debtor petition with prejudice, based on its conclusion that the court lacked jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The debtor appealed the district court's order.
Wilson, Grant, and Tjoflat, Circuit Judges

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