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Barclay v. Clemons

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

December 11, 2019

Shawn David Barclay, Plaintiff
v.
Jason Clemons, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JEFFREY J. HELMICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Background and History

         Pro se Plaintiff Shawn David Barclay filed this action against Jason Clemons and Thomas Durham. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Durham verbally contracted with him to perform repairs to a boat and transport it in exchange for the boat itself. He contends he has a maritime lien on the vessel and is entitled to an arrest in rem to obtain possession and title to the boat.

         Plaintiff's Complaint contains very few facts. Much of the information about Plaintiff's legal claim comes from documents he filed in a parallel state court action, which he initiated in October 2019, prior to filing this action in federal court. See Barclay v. Clemons, No. 2019 CV 0566 (Erie Cty Ct. Comm. Pl. filed Oct. 4, 2019).

         The disputes at issue in both cases are the ownership of a boat and what monies, if any, are owed to Plaintiff for repairs he made to it. The boat originally belonged to Michael Hasenmeier, who stored it on dry land at the Bay View Storage lot. The lot and the storage business was owned by the Durham family. Hasenmeier abandoned the boat, owing storage fees to the Durham family. In lieu of paying those fees, he agreed to sign over the title of the boat to Thomas Durham.

         Plaintiff was homeless in 2016. He occupied the boat on the lot for ten days from June 20, 2016 to June 30, 2016, until his presence was discovered by Durham. At that point, he was told he could not live on the boat on the lot due to insurance reasons. Plaintiff contends, however, that Durham told him he could have the boat if he could remove it from the lot. The boat was in bad condition and removal was not possible without substantial repairs. Plaintiff was permitted to enter the yard to work on the boat from July 5, 2016 to September 7, 2016. He lived in a motel during this time. When the weather became inclement, Plaintiff left the area with the intention of returning in the spring to continue work.

         In July 2017, Durham informed Plaintiff that the land was being sold to Clemons. Durham gave Plaintiff another chance to remove the boat; however, Plaintiff found it difficult to find someone to remove the boat without insurance and a title. Durham was not willing to transfer title to the boat unless Plaintiff removed it from the lot. Durham had a boat trailer but would not assist Plaintiff with removing it saying it was Plaintiff's responsibility if he wanted the boat. Plaintiff asked Clemons to help him move it, but Clemons refused saying the boat was too old and unsafe to move. Plaintiff left the United States for Canada saying he had run out of money and would return the following spring.

         Plaintiff returned in the summer of 2018 and learned that the sale of the land was not complete. He contends he was not obligated to pay rent for the lot space as he and Durham had an oral agreement that the boat could stay there free of charge. Plaintiff returned to Canada in September 2018 with the understanding that Durham would contact him if the land sold.

         In July 2019, Plaintiff returned to the United States to check on property in Minnesota. He assumed the boat had been lost but was surprised to see that it was still on the lot. He learned that the property had been sold to Clemons on July 13, 2019. Durham also transferred title to the boat to Clemons, as it was on the lot. Plaintiff arrived in Ohio on September 4, 2019. He begged Clemons not to scrap the boat and allow him to keep it in the yard until he could move it. Clemons told him if he wanted the boat to be kept on the lot, he would have to pay rent. Plaintiff asked for the title and Clemons refused. Clemons offered to transfer the title to Plaintiff if he removed the boat from the lot. Plaintiff once again was unable to find someone willing to move the boat.

         Fearful that Clemons would scrap the boat, Plaintiff filed a civil action in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas against Clemons, Durham, and Durham's wife. On October 23, 2019, he also filed a Motion for Temporary Injunction to prevent Clemons from destroying the boat while the action is pending and permitting him to come onto the lot to secure transfer of the boat. The court conducted an ex parte hearing on the Motion and denied it, stating that Plaintiff did not have standing to bring the Motion because he was not then nor was he ever the titled owner of the boat. The Defendants answered the Complaint and Plaintiff filed responses. That matter is still pending in state court on the issues of what interest, if any, Plaintiff has in the boat and whether monies are owed to Plaintiff for work he performed on the boat.

         Following the denial of his Motion, Plaintiff filed the within is action on November 19, 2019, claiming he has a maritime lien on the boat due to the work he performed on it. He claims he had an oral agreement with Durham, the boat's owner, to repair the boat and arrange transport in exchange for payment. He alleges payment was to be the boat itself. He contends he was not paid for his services and therefore he has a maritime lien on the vessel. He seeks to enforce this lien through an arrest in rem of the boat and has demanded that the United States Marshals seize the boat. He asks this Court to award him title to the vessel.

         Standard of Review

         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), I am 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). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks “plausibility in the Complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007).

         A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. The Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than “an unadorned, the-Defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet this ...


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