762 Fed.Appx. 976 (11th Cir. 2019), 18-13186, Kowallek v. Relation Insurance Services of Florida, Inc.

Docket Nº:18-13186
Citation:762 Fed.Appx. 976
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:Daniel E. KOWALLEK, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. RELATION INSURANCE SERVICES OF FLORIDA, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:William Jeffrey Barnes, Denver, CO, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Michael J. Hofmann, Cynthia Lowery-Graber, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Denver, CO, for Defendants-Appellees
Judge Panel:Before TJOFLAT, JORDAN and BLACK, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 18, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 976

762 Fed.Appx. 976 (11th Cir. 2019)

Daniel E. KOWALLEK, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

RELATION INSURANCE SERVICES OF FLORIDA, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 18-13186

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

March 18, 2019

Editorial Note:

DO NOT PUBLISH. (See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 11th Cir. Rule 36-2.)

Page 977

William Jeffrey Barnes, Denver, CO, for Plaintiffs-Appellants

Michael J. Hofmann, Cynthia Lowery-Graber, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Denver, CO, for Defendants-Appellees

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, D.C. Docket No. 2:18-cv-14149-JEM

Before TJOFLAT, JORDAN and BLACK, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Daniel Kowallek, proceeding pro se, appeals from the district court’s order dismissing his complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Kowallek challenges the procedure employed by the district court and contends the district court improperly applied the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to his claim for unjust enrichment. After review, we affirm.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Procedural Issues 1

Kowallek first contends the magistrate judge prematurely issued her report and recommendation without giving him an opportunity to respond to Appellee Relation Insurance Services of Florida, Inc.’s (Relation) renewed motion to dismiss his complaint.2 That challenge lacks merit because, among other reasons, Kowallek’s response was before the district court when it determined whether to adopt the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation. Thus, even if we were to assume the magistrate judge erred by prematurely issuing her

Page 978

report and recommendation, Kowallek suffered no resulting prejudice.3

B. Rooker-Feldman4

Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the lower federal courts lack jurisdiction to review final judgments issued by state courts. See Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., 713 F.3d 1066, 1072 (11th Cir. 2013). But the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is narrow in scope. See id. (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284, 125 S.Ct. 1517, 161 L.Ed.2d 454 (2005) ). It applies only to "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." Nicholson v. Shafe, 558 F.3d 1266, 1273 (11th Cir. 2009) (quotation omitted).5

To determine whether a claim invites rejection of a state court decision, we consider whether the claim "was either (1) one actually adjudicated by a state court or (2) one ‘inextricably intertwined’ with a state court judgment." Target Media Partners v. Specialty Marketing Corp., 881 F.3d 1279, 1286 (11th Cir. 2018). A claim is inextricably intertwined "if it asks to effectively nullify the state court judgment, or it succeeds only to the extent that the state court wrongly decided the issues." Id. (quotation omitted). But a claim is not inextricably intertwined unless it "rais[es] a question that was or should have been properly before the state court." Id.

Kowallek contends his unjust-enrichment claim is independent of the state court’s judgment for purposes of Rooker-Feldman, because he could establish an unjust-enrichment claim under Florida law without referencing that judgment. But the relevant inquiry is not whether Kowallek’s claim necessarily references the state court’s judgment; it is whether Kowallek’s claim seeks to "effectively nullify the state court judgment [or] succeeds only to the extent that the state court wrongly decided the issues." Target Media Partners, 881 F.3d at 1286 (emphasis added).

According to Kowalleks amended statement of his...

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