United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ANDREW U.D. STRAW, Plaintiff,
STATE OF INDIANA, Defendant.
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND
DENYING AS MOOT OTHER PENDING MOTIONS
William T. Lawrence, Judge
Andrew Straw has filed another in a string of lawsuits in
which he alleges the State of Indiana, its officials, or
federal courts violated his civil rights or his rights under
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the instant
action, Straw names the State of Indiana as the defendant and
attempts to recast his previous unsuccessful claims as a
claim that the Indiana Constitution is to blame for the
alleged ADA violations. The State has moved to dismiss the
action (Dkt. No. 19). The motion is fully briefed and the
Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion
for the reasons set forth below.
discussed in an order dismissing one of Straw's earlier
actions, he was conditionally admitted to the Indiana bar on
June 7, 2002, while he was employed as a statistical analyst
with the Indiana Supreme Court's Division of State Court
Administration (STAD). Straw's employment with STAD
apparently was terminated in July 2002. Straw v. Ind.
Sup. Ct., No. 17-cv-2513-RLY-DML, 2017 WL 6316313 at *1
(S.D. Ind. Dec. 11, 2017) (citing Straw's complaint in
Straw v. Ind. Sup. Ct., No. 15-cv-01015-RLY-DKL
(S.D. Ind. filed June 28, 2015 at Dkt. No. 1)).
August 15, 2014, Straw presented the Indiana Supreme Court
with a “Petition for Redress of Grievances”
seeking, among other things, compensation and an apology for
the court's alleged discrimination in his bar admission
and his employment. He apparently received no relief on this
petition. Complaint, No. 15-cv-1015, ¶¶ 74-77.
September 3, 2014, Indiana Supreme Court employee Brenda
Rodeheffer filed a “Request for Investigation”
with the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme
Court, stating that she believed Straw was unfit to practice
law. Complaint, No. 15-cv-1015, Ex. EE. The Disciplinary
Commission investigated Rodeheffer's allegations and
initiated attorney disciplinary proceedings against Straw on
January 11, 2016. On February 14, 2017, the Indiana Supreme
Court suspended Straw from the practice of law, based on his
conduct as an attorney in four ADA-related federal court
cases. Specifically, the court found that Straw violated
Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 3.1, which prohibits
“bringing a proceeding or asserting an issue therein
unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is
not frivolous.” Dkt. No. 1-4.
filed this action on November 8, 2017. On February 16, 2018,
the State filed a motion to dismiss, contending in part that
Straw's claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata
and that the Court lacks jurisdiction under the
seeks monetary damages of $300, 000. He also asks this Court
to make several declarations of law, all of which ultimately
are premised on his contention that the Indiana Supreme Court
discriminated against him in violation of the ADA.
has litigated this claim ad nauseam and lost.
See Straw v. Ind. Sup. Ct., No.
1:17-cv-02513-RLY-DML, 2017 WL 6316313 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 11,
2017), aff'd, No. 17-3596, 2018 WL 1309802 (7th
Cir. Jan. 29, 2018), cert. denied; Straw v. Ind.
Sup. Ct., No. 1:16-cv-3483-JMS-TAB, 2017 WL 289958 (S.D.
Ind. Jan. 23, 2017), aff'd, 692 Fed.Appx. 291
(7th Cir. 2017), reh'g and reh'g en banc
denied, cert. denied; Straw v. Ind. Sup.
Ct., No. 1:15-cv-1015-RLY-DKL, 2016 WL 344720 (S.D. Ind.
Jan. 28, 2016), appeal dismissed, No. 18-1497 (7th
Cir. Mar. 27, 2018), cert. dismissed. The State
therefore contends that Straw's suit is barred by the
doctrine of res judicata.
res judicata, a final judgment on the merits of an action
precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating
issues that were or could have been raised in that
action.'” Barr v. Bd. of Trustees of W. Ill.
Univ., 796 F.3d 837, 839 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980)). Res
judicata's purpose is well-illustrated by this case; the
doctrine safeguards limited judicial resources and protects
litigants from vexatious lawsuits. Id. Straw
attempts to duck the res judicata bar by contending this suit
is different. Here, he blames the Indiana Constitution for
the alleged ADA violations. But “‘a mere change
in the legal theory does not create a new cause of
action.'” Lim v. Cent. DuPage Hosp., 972
F.2d 758, 763 (7th Cir. 1992) (quoting Car Carriers, Inc.
v. Ford Motor Co., 789 F.2d 589, 593 (7th Cir. 1986)).
Res judicata bars this action.
extent Straw attempts to use this lawsuit as a vehicle to
appeal the Indiana Supreme Court's suspension of his law
license, this Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it. The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine “prevents lower
federal courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases
brought by state court losers challenging state court
judgments rendered before the district court proceedings
commenced.” Sykes v. Cook Cty. Cir. Ct. Prob.
Div., 837 F.3d 736, 741 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing
Exxon-Mobil v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S.
280, 284 (2005)); see also Johnson v. Sup. Ct. of
Ill., 165 F.3d ...