United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
THOMAS L. MEROS, Plaintiff,
CHRISTA A. DIMON, et al. Defendants.
Deavers Magistrate Judge
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss of
Defendants Daniel Ranke (ECF. No. 22); Nasser Youseff (ECF
No. 23); Ralph McAllister and James Sweeney (ECF No. 28);
Miguel Chiappero and Sharon Chiappero (ECF No. 29); and W.
Martin Midian and Monica Redman (ECF No. 59), as well as a
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings by Defendant Dean Rooney
(ECF No. 32), a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendant
James Tekavec (ECF No. 61), and Motions to Declare Plaintiff
a Vexatious Litigator by Defendants Ranke and Youseff (ECF
Nos. 22, 24). For the reasons stated below, Defendants'
motions are GRANTED. Plaintiff Thomas
Meros' claims against Defendants are
DISMISSED and Plaintiff is declared a
a disbarred attorney, filed a complaint against numerous
defendants. The complaint, though long and difficult to
follow, appears to arise from seven sets of facts. First,
Meros alleges that the “RICO scheme commenced on
September 29, 1993” when Defendant Judge James J.
Sweeney granted judgment on two cognovit notes against
Plaintiff Meros in favor of Mero's former client, Layla
Shaheen. (ECF No. 4 at ¶ 102). Judge Sweeney ordered
Meros to post $5, 000 for payment to Shaheen and then issued
a contempt order against Meros on August 29, 1994 when he
failed to make the payment. (Id. at ¶¶ 48,
137). Meros appealed the cognovit notes judgment to the
Eighth District Court of Appeals but the case was dismissed
on October 24, 1994 because Meros failed to file the required
praecipe. (Id. at ¶ 117). Meros alleges that he
did, in fact, file the required praecipe, but Judge Sweeney
and Defendant Ranke, who was a law clerk for the Eighth
District Court of Appeals, “tamper[ed] with the
computers” and “conspired to steal and retain the
praecipe and conceal from the justice system that the
praecipe had been properly filed.” (Id. at
¶¶ 41, 43, 107).
Meros alleges that Defendants Judge McCallister and Judge
Sweeney conspired to issue monetary sanctions against Meros.
(Id. at ¶¶ 186, 286). In 1995, McCallister
issued sanctions against Meros and his client. (Id.
at ¶¶ 177, 178, 186, 191, 288). Meros appealed and
the appellate court reversed the sanctions. (Id. at
Meros alleges that Defendants Miguel and Sharon Chiappero,
along with their attorney Defendant Rooney, conspired to
defraud him in connection with the sale of Meros' home to
the Chiapperos. (Id. at ¶¶ 198, 208, 211,
249). Meros filed for bankruptcy and sold his home to the
Chiapperos in 1998 during the bankruptcy proceedings.
(Id. at ¶¶ 198, 199, 235). In 2007, Meros
sued the Chiapperos over the real estate transaction. Meros
alleges that the Chiapperos committed perjury in connection
with the 2007 lawsuit. (Id. at ¶¶ 206,
211, 213). The court found in favor of the Chiapperos.
(Id. at ¶ 247). In April of 2013, the
bankruptcy court issued a judgment against Meros in
connection with the home sale issue. (Id. at
¶¶ 1, 213, 227, 247).
Meros alleges that Defendants Youseff, Tekavec, and Rorapaugh
conspired to deprive him of attorney's fees in a lawsuit.
Meros represented Youseff's company, Physicians
Diagnostic Imaging (“PDI”) in an insurance
coverage action against Grange Mutual Casualty Company.
(Id. at ¶¶ 308, 309). In July of 1997,
judgment was entered in Youseff and Meros' favor.
(Id. at ¶ 316). After the judgment, Meros sued
Youseff, PDI, Grange, and an attorney for Grange to recover
his legal fees. See Thomas L. Meros Co., LPA, et
al. v. Grange Mut. Cas. Co., et al., Franklin County
Common Please Court Case No. 97CVH98346. After the dispute
was settled, Meros then filed another action regarding the
PDI attorney fees issue, asserting claims against numerous
defendants, including Defendant Rorapaugh, who was in-house
counsel for Grange at the time, alleging that attorneys
working for Grange falsified the claims file in the previous
PDI litigation and when Meros uncovered that fact Rorapaugh
retaliated by leaving Meros' name off of the judgment
check. See Meros v. Rorapaugh, et al., Franklin
County Common Please Court Case No. 99CVH01-201; (ECF No. 4
at ¶¶ 314, 319, 321, 322, 331). The case was
ultimately dismissed. Meros alleges that Youseff and
Tekavec-who became Youseff's attorney after Meros-filed a
fraudulent malpractice claim against him in the bankruptcy
proceeding related to the PDI case. (Id. at
¶¶ 317, 327, 330, 331). He alleges that Youseff,
Tekavec, and Rorapaugh conspired with Trustee Ginley, who
passed away in 1999, during the proceedings. (Id. at
¶¶ 176, 342, 348, 351).
Meros alleges that the defendants conspired to destroy his
law practice by taking away his law license. (Id. at
¶¶ 2, 8, 20, 30, 31, 374). Meros was first
suspended from the practice of law in 1998. Disciplinary
Counsel v. Meros, 699 N.E.2d 458 (Ohio 1998). Following
his filing suit against his former client Shaheen, an
attorney, and several judges including Judge Sweeney, the
Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the
Supreme Court found that Meros had engaged in conduct that
was prejudicial to the administration of justice, engaged in
conduct that adversely reflected upon his fitness to practice
law, failed to preserve the confidence of a client, and
asserted a position merely to harass or maliciously injure
another, and suspended Meros from practice for 18 months.
Id. at 459. Meros was permanently disbarred for
additional ethical infractions, including his failure to
cooperate with a disciplinary investigation, in July 2000.
See Cuyahoga Cty. Bar Ass'n. v. Meros, 731
N.E.2d 629 (Ohio 2000). Meros alleges that Defendant
Coughlin, a member of the Ohio Disciplinary Counsel,
“totally abdicated his duties and
responsibilities” in relation to these disciplinary
hearings. (ECF No. 4 at ¶ 31).
Meros alleges that Defendants E. Sweeney (an Assistant U.S.
Attorney), Stone (an attorney at the Ohio Disciplinary
Counsel's Office), Hilbert (an Investigative
Coordinator), and Dimon (an Assistant Attorney General at the
Ohio Attorney General's Office) conspired to prevent
Meros from receiving redress for his alleged harms by failing
to investigate his complaints against other defendants. (ECF
No. 4 at ¶¶ 22, 23, 31, 348, 344, 352-54, 360, 378,
381, 382). Meros met FBI agent William T'Kindt in 1996 to
ask him to investigate Judge Sweeney, but Mr. T'Kindt
stated that E. Sweeney would not allow the investigation.
(Id. at ¶ 277). Meros then met with Special
Agent Michael Massie of the FBI in 2004 to discuss the RICO
conspiracy at issue here, and sent Massie a flow chart
detailing the RICO enterprise. (Id. at ¶¶
276, 278). Meros petitioned various individuals to
investigate the conspiracy in 2010, and then met with Massie
again in 2013. (Id. at 279). On March 16, 2016,
Meros submitted disciplinary complaints about Defendants J.
Sweeney, McCallister, and Ranke to Defendant Stone in the
Ohio Disciplinary Counsel, who did not pursue disciplinary
proceedings. (Id. at ¶¶ 23, 252, 388).
Meros also sent Defendant Hilbert emails explaining the RICO
conspiracy but he did not investigate Meros' claims.
(Id. at 366, 371-373). Defendant Dimon read
Meros' blog exposing the conspiracy, but she too declined
to investigate. (Id. at ¶¶ 361, 363, 365).
Meros alleges that Defendants E. Sweeney, Dimon, Midian, and
Redman conspired to prevent Meros from receiving redress from
collections of his tax debt. (Id. at ¶¶
21-23, 44, 272-75, 353 on p. 157). On August 30, 2016,
Defendants Redman and Midian, who are collection attorneys,
told Meros that Defendant Dimon contacted them to pursue
Meros for a tax deficiency. (Id. at ¶¶ 1,
356 on p. 158-59). These collection efforts arise from a debt
that has been owed for over 18 years. (Id. at
¶¶ 274, 356, 362 on p. 161).
January 2017, Meros filed a complaint in the Franklin County
Court of Common Pleas which was removed to this Court by
Defendant Emily Sweeney on February 2, 2017. (See
ECF Nos. 1, 4). The complaint alleges violations of the
federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
(“RICO”) and the Ohio Corrupt Practice Act
(“OCPA”), as well as violations of Meros'
civil rights under 42 U.S.C § 1983. This rambling,
182-page complaint contains allegations about a purported
“complex but perpetual criminal enterprise” with
“many actors committing many predicate and overt
acts” dating back to 1993. (ECF No 4 at ¶ 1).
Meros alleges that this “RICO enterprise” exists
to destroy his ability to earn a living through the practice
of law and divest Meros of all of his property. (Id.
at ¶ 2). Meros claims damages to his business and law
practice, loss of wages and goodwill, and harm to his
reputation resulting from Defendants' enterprise.
(See id. at ¶¶ 143, 158). In the remainder
of the 400-paragraph RICO complaint, Meros accuses various
defendants of tampering with evidence (see Id. at
¶ 3), “depriving the citizens of Ohio of an honest
court and justice system” (id. at ¶ 6),
extortion and bribery (see, e.g.,
id.at ¶ 48), and fraud. (See, e.g.,
id. at ¶ 55). In paragraphs that regularly span
half of a page, Meros addresses nonsensical topics and
discusses the conduct of individuals not even named as
parties to the lawsuit.
reality, it appears that Meros' RICO claims are tied to
those associated with the loss of his law license-a result
reached after multiple disciplinary and judicial proceedings.
This is not the first lawsuit Meros has brought against those
he perceives as responsible for the loss of his law license.
Indeed, Meros has filed litigation in state court, and three
previous federal cases arising out of the loss of his law
license: Meros v. Kilbane, et al., Northern District
of Ohio, No. 1:95-cv-1660; Meros v. O'Donnell,
et al., Northern District of Ohio, No. 1:07-cv-436;
and Meros v. Sweeney, et al., Southern
District of Ohio, No. 2:00-cv-396. All of these cases were
dismissed. (See id.).
September 27, 2017, this Court granted the motions to dismiss
of Defendants E. Sweeney, Rorapaugh, Coughlan, Dimon, and
Hilbert because Meros failed to respond to the motions as
required by the local rules. (ECF No. 60). The remaining
defendants now move to dismiss Meros' complaint on a
variety of grounds, including lack of jurisdiction, failure
to state a claim, and statute of limitations. Defendants
Youseff, McAllister, Miguel and Sharon Chiappero, Rooney,
Midian, Redman, and Tekavec's motions are currently
unanswered.During the pendency of these dispositive
motions, Meros has filed frequent requests for extensions and
other nondispositive motions. (See, e.g.,
ECF Nos. 35, 39, 55, 56). Meros did file timely objections to
Defendants Ranke and Sweeney's motions to dismiss. (ECF
Nos. 30, 33).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
bring their motions to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted and Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. “A motion to dismiss based
on Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction must
be considered before a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” HSBC Mortg. Servs., Inc. v. Horn,
No. 1:07CV699, 2008 WL 4449497, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 30,
2008). This order is necessary because “the Rule
12(b)(6) challenge becomes moot if this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction.” Whitestone Grp., Inc. v.
Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA., No.
2:15-CV-962, 2016 WL 1117595, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 21,
considering motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, “[t]he Sixth Circuit has distinguished
between facial and factual attacks.” Id.
Facial challenges merely question the sufficiency of the
pleading, whereas factual attacks challenge the factual
existence of subject matter jurisdiction. United States
v. Ritchie, 15 F.3d 592, 598 (6th Cir.1994). In
reviewing a facial challenge, the trial court takes the
allegations as true and employs standards similar to 12(b)(6)
safeguards. Ohio Nat. Life Ins. Co. v. U.S., 922
F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir.1990). In reviewing a factual
challenge, no presumptive truthfulness applies and the trial
court “is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself
as to the existence of its power to hear the case.”
Ritchie, 15 F.3d at 598. In considering motions to
dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, courts may
look to evidence outside the pleadings. Nichols v.
Muskingum College, 318 F.3d 674, 677 (6th Cir. 2003).
Court may dismiss a cause of action under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for “failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Such a motion
“is a test of the plaintiff's cause of action as
stated in the complaint, not a challenge to the
plaintiff's factual allegations.” Golden v.
City of Columbus, 404 F.3d 950, 958-59 (6th Cir. 2005).
The Court must construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Total Benefits
Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue
Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008). The Court is
not required, however, to accept as true mere legal
conclusions unsupported by factual allegations. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although liberal,
Rule 12(b)(6) requires more than bare assertions of legal
conclusions. Allard v. Weitzman, 991 F.2d 1236, 1240
(6th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). Generally, a complaint
must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In short, a complaint's factual
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). It must contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
pro se litigant's allegations are held to a less
stringent standard than those in pleadings drafted by
attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). Even so, courts are unwilling to “abrogate
basic pleading essentials in pro se suits.”
See Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir.
1989) (collecting cases). Indeed, courts are not required to
entertain a pro se plaintiff's claim that
“defies comprehension” or allegations that amount
to nothing more than “incoherent ramblings.”
Roper v. Ford Motor Co., No. 1:09-cv-427, 2010 WL
2670827, at *4 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 6, 2010), report and
recommendation adopted, 2010 WL 2670697 (S.D. Ohio July
1, 2010) (internal citations omitted).
ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court may consider matters
outside the pleadings without converting the motion into one
for summary judgment if those matters “simply fill in
the contours and details of the plaintiff's complaint,
and add nothing new.” Yeary v. Goodwill
Indus.-Knoxville, Inc., 107 F.3d 443, 445 (6th Cir.
1997). Such matters include documents attached to or
incorporated into the Complaint, and public documents of
which the Court can take judicial notice. See Jackson v.
City of Columbus, 194 F.3d 737, 745 (6th Cir. 1999),
abrogated on other grounds by Swierkiewicz v.
Sorema, 534 U.S. 506 (2002).