United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
DEXTER ROGERS, Individually and as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF CARRIE BELL ROGERS and as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF PREMIUS ROGERS, Plaintiff,
ALLEN SUPERIOR COURT, JUDGE NANCY ESHCOFF BOYER, JUDGE STANLEY A. LEVINE, JUDGE WENDY DAVIS, PARKVIEW HOSPITAL INC., MICHAEL J. PACKNETT, CEO OF PARKVIEW HEALTH, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss [ECF No.
30], filed by the Defendants Hon. Nancy Eschoff Boyer, Hon.
Stanley A. Levine, Hon. Wendy Davis, and the Allen Superior
Court (collectively “the Defendants”), pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The pro se
Plaintiff, Dexter Rogers, Individually and as Personal
Representative of the Estate of Carrie Bell Rogers, and as
Personal Representative of the Estate of Premius Rogers,
filed the Complaint [ECF No. 1] against the Defendants on
January 29, 2016, in relation to an ongoing medical
malpractice case in the Allen Superior Court pending under
02D03-1401-CT-39 (“the state case”). Also before
the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion to Strike [ECF No.
45] and the Plaintiff's Motion for a Hearing [ECF No.
66]. The Court will consider both of these Motions in
conjunction with the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
reasons stated in this Opinion and Order, the Court finds
that the Plaintiff's claims against the Defendants are
barred because the Defendants are entitled to immunity and
the issues presented by the Plaintiff pose considerations
making abstention appropriate. Accordingly, the Motion to
Dismiss is granted, and the Plaintiff's pending Motions
are termed as moot.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742
F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009)). Although pro se complaints are to be
liberally construed and are held to a less stringent standard
than pleadings drafted by lawyers, Luevano v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013), and a
court may also consider facts alleged in a pro se
plaintiff's brief in opposition to a motion to dismiss
when considering the sufficiency of the complaint (if the
facts are “consistent with the allegations in the
complaint”), Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304, 311
(7th Cir. 2015), the factual allegations in the complaint
must nevertheless be enough to raise a right to relief above
a speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Factual allegations are accepted as true at the pleading
stage, but “allegations in the form of legal
conclusions are insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.” Adams, 742 F.3d at 728 (internal
Complaint stems from an ongoing medical malpractice claim
initiated by the Plaintiff on June 23, 2013, in Allen
Superior Court. Since the Plaintiff's state complaint was
filed, the Plaintiff alleges that various Allen Superior
Court judges violated Indiana rules and procedure and
discriminated against him because of his race. Accordingly,
the Plaintiff filed suit in federal court, invoking Title VI
of the Civil Rights Act of 1962, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d
et seq., as the grounds for relief. The statute
provides that “[n]o person in the United States shall,
on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded
from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be
subject to discrimination under any program or activity
receiving Federal financial assistance.” Id.
§ 2000d. The Complaint seeks declaratory, injunctive,
and compensatory relief, and attorney's
Plaintiff alleges that Judge Levine, who first presided over
the state case, engaged in ex parte communications with state
defense counsel and allowed state case defense counsel to
conduct discovery abuses, including making alleged
misrepresentations and failing to abide by Indiana Trial Rule
12(F) by filing a motion to dismiss and then withdrawing it.
The Plaintiff claims that these actions demonstrate Judge
Levine's “gross and willful disregard for the trial
rules” because there was no “admonishment and/or
sanction” of state defense counsel. (Compl.
¶¶ 6, 12-14.) Furthermore, the Plaintiff alleges
that Judge Levine failed to hear the Plaintiff's motion
and therefore, denied the Plaintiff access to the court.
case was subsequently reassigned to Judge Boyer and the
Plaintiff alleges that Judge Boyer similarly “did not
admonish and/or sanction” state defense counsel for
violating a court order regarding discovery, prevented the
Plaintiff's access to the court by denying the
Plaintiff's motions (but granting state defense
counsel's motion), provided state defense counsel with
“legal advice”, admonished the Plaintiff to act
civilly during a deposition, and deprived the Plaintiff of
his due process rights. (Compl. ¶¶ 45-58, 64, 71,
76-77, 80.) The Plaintiff alleges that his race was the
motivating reason behind Judge Boyer's actions.
Plaintiff also alleges that he properly requested ex parte
communications with then Chief Judge Davis, pursuant to the
Indiana Trial Rules, but Chief Judge Davis refused to engage
in ex parte communications with him regarding the state case.
Finally, the Plaintiff alleges that the Allen Superior Court
deprived him of his due process rights. The Plaintiff claims
that his race was the reason behind these acts.
Defendants assert that they are entitled to dismissal
because: (1) they are absolutely immune from suit and (2) the
Younger doctrine requires that this Court abstain
from deciding the Plaintiff's request for declaratory and
injunctive relief. If the Court proceeds into an analysis of
whether the Plaintiff's allegations state a claim
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and/or 42 U.S.C. §
2000d, the Defendants argue that: (1) the Defendants are not
“persons” subject to suit under § 1983 and
are thus entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and (2) the
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. The Court has addressed these arguments below.
The Defendants Are Immune From Suit.