Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
LLOYD T. WHITAKER, TRUSTEE Plaintiff-Appellee
PARU SELVAM, LLC, et al. Defendants-Appellees and ANNAMALAI ANNAMALAI Defendant-Appellant
Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
KOZAR, Atty. Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
STEPHEN LINNEN, Atty. Attorney for Defendants-Appellees
ANNAMALAI ANNAMALAI, Defendant-Appellant, Pro Se
1} Annamalai Annamalai appeals pro se from the trial
court's decision and entry sustaining in part the
plaintiff-appellee's motion to bar further filings.
2} In his sole assignment of error, Annamalai
contends the trial court abused its discretion by entering
"a blanket and sweeping" order prohibiting him from
any further filings in this case.
3} The present case is docketed as a
certificate-of-judgment filing, Montgomery County Case No.
13-CJ-189656, involving a 2013 judgment issued by a federal
court in Georgia. The original judgment against Annamalai was
in excess of $1.4 million plus interest. The judgment was
filed in the trial court below in July 2013, and a
certificate of judgment was issued. Thereafter, the
proceedings below, and in two related trial court cases,
primarily concerned the appointment of a receiver who oversaw
the sale of a building in downtown Dayton in which Annamalai
had had an interest. Those two cases were 13-CV-3168 which
began as a real estate tax foreclosure for the described
building, and 13-CV-4016 which was a complaint to set aside
or avoid fraudulent transfers of title to the building to
other entities. On May 25, 2016 an entry was filed in those
other cases being a "Decision, Order and Entry
Confirming Receiver's Distribution of Proceeds from Sale
of Real Property and Approving Receiver's Report."
Although that entry had the CJ case number in its caption,
along with each of the CV cases, the entry was not filed in,
and is not part of the docketed record in the CJ case. Based
on our review of the record, nothing remains to be done in
the present case, the property has been sold, the proceeds
distributed and the sale and distribution has been confirmed.
Nevertheless, in June, July, and August 2016, Annamalai, who
currently is a federal-prison inmate, filed twenty-three pro
se motions raising a multitude of patently frivolous issues.
The trial court separately addressed and rejected each of
these motions in a seventeen-page September 12, 2016
decision. (Doc. # 26).
4} In August 2016, the plaintiff-appellee moved to
bar Annamalai from further filings in this case. Annamalai
responded to the motion the following month. (Doc. #27). In a
January 9, 2017 decision, the trial court found it necessary
to preclude further filings by Annamalai. Noting that he
had "filed more than twenty motions, all without merit,
within a three-month period, " the trial court precluded
any additional filings other than a notice of appeal. (Doc. #
31 at 16). Although the trial court declined to declare
Annamalai a vexatious litigator under Ohio's
vexatious-litigator statute, it cited its "inherent
authority" to restrict the access of pro se litigants
who repeatedly make frivolous filings in a particular case.
(Id. at 15, quoting Hiddens. v. Leibold, 2d
Dist. Montgomery No. 23376, 2010-Ohio-4532, ¶ 18 (citing
5} On appeal, Annamalai focuses on the trial
court's alleged deprivation of his due process rights by
failing to provide him with notice or an opportunity to be
heard prior to imposing a filing ban. Although he couches his
argument in various terms (citing due process, equal
protection, and access to the courts), his claim is that the
trial court abused its discretion because it failed to warn
him, failed to give him an opportunity to be heard, failed to
charge him with making frivolous or bad-faith filings, and
failed to make any such finding.
6} Upon review, we find Annamalai's argument to
be unpersuasive. The numerous motions he filed were frivolous
because they pertained to a related but separate and
completed foreclosure action involving the sale of the
downtown Dayton building mentioned above. When Annamalai
filed his motions, which were repetitive, largely
incomprehensible and unrelated to this
certificate-of-judgment docketing, the building already had
been sold and the proceeds had been distributed. See
Montgomery C.P. No. 2013 CV 03168 (May 25, 2016 Decision,
Order, and Entry Confirming Receiver's Distribution of
Proceeds from Sale of Real Property and Approving
Receiver's Final Report). By relying on its inherent
authority to limit frivolous filings by pro se litigants in a
specific case,  the trial court necessarily determined
that Annamalai's dozens of motions were frivolous. We see
no abuse of discretion in that determination. We also reject
Annamalai's argument about a lack of notice or an
opportunity to be heard. The plaintiff's motion to bar
further filings gave him notice that his ability to continue
filing documents was being challenged. Annamalai also had an
opportunity to be heard on the issue when he filed his
September 15, 2016 response to the motion to bar further
filings. (Doc. #27).
7} Because each of the Appellant's motions
relate to the sale of the building in question and the
application of the Certificate of Judgment only to that
building we perceive the court's order limiting of
filings in this case to be related to the application of the
certificate of judgment to the sale of the specific building
in question, distribution of proceeds therefrom and
completion of that foreclosure. Whether the trial court's
order affects the application of the certificate of judgment
to some other asset or execution upon some other property in
the future was not before the trial court or before us.
8} For the foregoing reasons, we overrule
Annamalai's assignment of error. The trial ...