United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
David G. Johnson, II, Plaintiff
Judge Joseph Howe, et al., Defendants
G. CARR SR. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is about a judgment entered in July 2019 in a case filed
in Toledo Municipal Court concerning a land contract, Case
No. 18-19416 (“State Court Case”). Plaintiff sues
Judge Joseph Howe, who presided over the State Court Case,
Attorney Thomas Yoder, who represented the plaintiffs in the
State Court Case, and the City of Toledo. (Doc. 1).
filed a motion to proceed with this case in forma
pauperis (Doc. 2), and I grant that motion. But for the
reasons that follow, I dismiss this action.
Davis and Ireen Ali-Davis (collectively, “Davis”)
entered into a land installment contract
(“Contract”) with David Johnson (the Plaintiff in
this action) concerning property located at 16 E. Sylvania
Ave, Toledo, Ohio (the “Property”). Represented
by Thomas Yoder, Davis filed the State Court Case alleging
that David Johnson failed to make the payments required by
the Contract. Although David Johnson is named in the body of
the complaint in the State Court Case, and in the Contract
attached thereto, the name of the defendant appearing in the
caption of the State Court Case is “Douglas Johnson,
” not David Johnson. Plaintiff attaches the complaint
and docket in the State Court Case to the Complaint in this
action. (Doc. 1-10 and 1-11).
action, Plaintiff alleges that he was never served, nor was a
party, in the State Court Case. But Plaintiff also alleges
here that he was served with the judgment entered against him
in the State Court Case. (Doc. 1 at 4). That judgment (Doc.
1-12) identifies David Johnson as the defendant in the State
Court Case caption and states in the body of the entry that
David Johnson breached the Contract for the Property. Also
attached to the Complaint in this action is an emergency
motion (Doc. 1-1) filed by David Johnson in the State Court
Case to vacate the judgment entered against him. In that
motion, David Johnson argued that Davis' lawyer, Thomas
Yoder, perpetrated a fraud in the State Court Case by naming
“Douglas Johnson, ” rather than David Johnson, as
the defendant and, as a result, Judge Howe lacked
jurisdiction over the State Court Case.
October 2019, Judge Howe adopted the original judgment
entered in July 2019 and granted Davis immediate possession
of the Property. In the October judgment, Judge Howe noted
that David Johnson's objection to mediation was denied
yet he failed to appear at the mediation or respond to
documents filed by Davis.
instant action, Plaintiff alleges that defendant Yoder
conspired with or tricked Judge Howe into acting without
jurisdiction over Plaintiff and the Property. (Doc. 1 at 4).
For relief, Plaintiff asks that I vacate the judgment entered
in the State Court Case, restore the Property to his name,
award compensatory damages in the amount of $75, 000.00 and
punitive damages in the amount of $350, 000.00. (Id.
Standard of Review
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He
alleges that Defendants deprived him of the Property without
due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. Although pro se
pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v.
MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam);
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the
Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis
action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d
1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of
Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). An
action has no arguable basis in law when a defendant is
immune from suit or when a Plaintiff claims a violation of a
legal interest which clearly does not exist.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
The Rooker -Feldman Doctrine
courts “have a duty to consider their subject matter
jurisdiction in regard to every case and may raise the issue
sua sponte.” Answers in Genesis, Inc. v.
Creation Ministries Int'l, Ltd., 556 F.3d
459, 465 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). “If the
court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that “a federal
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review a
state court decision.” Pittman v. Cuyahoga Cty.
Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 241 Fed.Appx.
285, 287 (6th Cir. 2007). The doctrine “is confined to
cases of the kind from which the doctrine acquired its name:
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.” Exxon
Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280,
284 (2005). Whether the doctrine applies depends on
“the source of the injury the plaintiff alleges in the
federal complaint.” McCormick v. Braverman,
451 F.3d 382, 393 (6th Cir. 2006). “If the source of
the injury is the state court decision, then the