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Davis v. Carter

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

August 5, 2019

THEODORE K. DAVIS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
BARBARA SCHNEIDER CARTER, et al., Defendants.

          Black, J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          STEPHANIE K. BOWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         On July 26, 2019, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, paid the requisite filing fee and filed the above-captioned case. On the same date, Plaintiff filed two motions, which are appropriately construed as motions seeking preliminary injunctive relief and/or a temporary restraining order. Pursuant to local practice, this case has been referred to the undersigned magistrate judge. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned now recommends that this case be DISMISSED sua sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or alternatively, for failure to state any claim. Consistent with the recommended dismissal, Plaintiff's two pending motions should be DENIED.

         I. Background

         On May 31, 2019, the same plaintiff filed a motion seeking leave to file No. 1:19-cv-414 in this Court in forma pauperis, or without payment of fees. (Doc. 1). On June 6, 2019, the undersigned granted Plaintiff's motion in the referenced case, [1] but simultaneously filed a Report and Recommendation that recommended the dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). (See No. 1:19-cv-414, Docs. 2, 4). On June 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed objections to the dismissal of his case with prejudice. (Doc. 5). Plaintiff's objections, together with the R&R, remain pending before the district judge, as does Plaintiff's more recently filed motion to voluntarily dismiss his original case. (Id., Docs. 4-6).

         On the same date Plaintiff moved to voluntarily dismiss No. 1:19-cv-414, Plaintiff opened the above-captioned new case by paying the requisite filing fee. Plaintiff's new 19-page complaint is accompanied by 26 pages of exhibits.[2] Despite asserting new causes of action, all allegations in the above-captioned case relate to state court domestic relations proceedings. However, while No. 1:19-cv-414 named only Judge Schneider Carter, Plaintiff names as additional Defendants his ex-wife's attorneys including the Lampe Law Office, LLC, two individual attorneys from that office (M. Lynn Lampe and Adam C. Gedling), and his ex-wife, Kim Davis. The exhibits to the new complaint, together with the allegations contained therein, confirm that Plaintiff is alleging that his ex-wife and her counsel engaged in improper conduct in the domestic relations case over which Judge Schneider Carter presides. Plaintiff alleges violations of his Fourteenth Amendment rights, and asserts claims of extortion, coercion, racketeering, violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, fraud on the court, and illegal ex parte communication. (Doc. 1 at 2). All claims are based on state court proceedings and/or rulings issued by Judge Schneider Carter between February 2018 and June 12, 2019. As relief, Plaintiff seeks an Order overturning the state court's prior rulings, various forms of monetary damages including attorney's fees, and “other relief that the Court deems just and proper.” (Id. at 15).

         As stated, Plaintiff filed two motions with his complaint: (1) Motion for “Relief of Judgment, Vacate the Order(s) DR2013-12 1277 Butler County, Ohio, (Doc. 3); and (2) Emergency Motion to Stay Support Order DR1013-12-1277, (Doc. 4). Both motions are construed as motions seeking preliminary injunctive relief and/or a temporary restraining order. In the first motion, Plaintiff seeks “an emergency hearing to STAY all previous orders [of the state court] and support since Plaintiff has been overpaying support beginning December 2014, and the ex-spouse has not only hindered efforts to determine her true income but committed fraud and other criminal acts that justifies an immediate relief.” (Doc. 3 at 7). In the second “Emergency Motion, ” Plaintiff similarly seeks a “Stay of the $1550.00 [previously ordered by the state court] plus 2% paid to CSEA…until the conclusion through the court, of this case.” (Doc. 4 at 2).

         II. This Case Should Be Dismissed Sua Sponte

         Because Plaintiff paid the full filing fee in his new case, his complaint is not subject to statutory sua sponte screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Nevertheless, this Court retains the authority to dismiss frivolous lawsuits under Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999). Moreover, a federal court has the obligation to dismiss a lawsuit at any time that it determines it is without subject matter jurisdiction.

         A. Defendant Schneider Carter is Entitled to Immunity

         As previously noted in No. 1:19-cv-414, the first identified Defendant is an Ohio state court judge in the Domestic Relations Division of the Butler County Court. For all the reasons stated in the R&R filed in that case, Judge Schneider Carter is entitled to absolute judicial immunity and should be dismissed from this lawsuit. See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991); Pearson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967); Barrett v. Harrington, 130 F.3d 246, 255 (6th Cir. 1997). Judges retain absolute immunity even if they act maliciously or corruptly, as long as they are performing judicial acts and have jurisdiction over the subject matter giving rise to the suit against them. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978); Stern v. Mascio, 262 F.3d 600, 607 (6th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff's new allegations that Judge Schneider Carter engaged in ex parte communications with his ex-wife or her attorneys during her oversight of the state court proceedings do not overcome her absolute immunity. Alexander v. Rosen, 804 F.3d 1203, 1208 (6th Cir. 2015).

         B. The Court Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction; Alternatively, the Complaint Fails to State Any Claim

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Plaintiff's latest complaint lacks factual content or context from which the Court may reasonably infer the basis for federal jurisdiction over any claim that Plaintiff may have against any identified Defendant.

         Although Plaintiff invokes federal question jurisdiction, no such jurisdiction exists. For this Court to have federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, a plaintiff must allege facts showing the cause of action involves an issue of federal law. See Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63 (1987). Plaintiff challenges the outcome of a family law dispute that arose in state court. (See, e.g., Doc. 1 at 6, “Through trial Plaintiff will prove the $10, ...


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