United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Aaron Coates, proceeding pro se, has filed a
51-page, 228-paragraph prolix complaint pertaining to his
resignation from Valeo Financial Advisors in late 2014 and a
state court lawsuit that followed. The thirty-six named
defendants include state court judges and court personnel, a
former Indiana state legislator, a local university and its
president, Valeo, the law firm that represented it in the
state court action, the firm's attorneys, paralegals, and
even the wife of one of its partners, just to name a few.
Coates mainly claims that Defendants conspired against him in
violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1962, 1964. He also alleges several state law
unfair competition claims, mixed with a hodge-podge of
forgery, obstruction of justice, civil rights, and due
process allegations aimed at various parties.
Defendants have filed several motions to dismiss this
complaint, and those motions are ripe for review. For the
reasons stated herein, the Court will dismiss Coates's
complaint in its entirety, but with leave to amend.
story begins with his 2014 resignation from Valeo, where he
had worked as a financial advisor since September 2009.
Following his departure, Valeo sought to assess a
compensation penalty on Coates for violating provisions of
his employment agreement. Coates resisted and so Valeo filed
a lawsuit against him in Marion County (Indiana) Superior
Court. Valeo was represented in this action by the law firm
Hoover Hull. Shortly after the lawsuit began, Valeo
successfully sought to have the case transferred to a
different judge, and Judge Heather Welch was randomly
assigned, setting off a fantastical conspiracy theory that
purports to explain why Coates ultimately did not prevail.
the transfer to Judge Welch, in Coates's eyes, poisoned
his chances. Judge Welch is a graduate of Valparaiso
University Law School, which had been censored by the
American Bar Association and announced its plans to close
around the time of Valeo's lawsuit. Coates alleges that,
because Judge Welch likely aspires to a higher judicial
position, the fact that she graduated from a censored law
school could reflect poorly on her in the eyes of a judicial
selection committee, and so she desired to gain influence
with individuals who could stop the school's closing.
Conveniently, shortly after Judge Welch took over Valeo's
lawsuit, Hoover Hull hired Valparaiso University's
president's daughter as an associate attorney. This
connection allegedly compromised Judge Welch's judicial
independence in favor of her desire to keep the law school
open for the sake of her own reputation and future job
prospects. According to Coates, she consequently allowed
Hoover Hull's attorneys to draft her orders in
Valeo's favor and abused Indiana's Rules of Trial
Procedure to keep Coates from transferring the litigation to
a different judge. Valeo eventually secured judgment against
additionally alleges that, during the pendency of the state
court action, Valeo induced Gibson Insurance Agency to pump
Coates for information about his legal position by funneling
business toward Gibson. He also claims that the wife of one
of Hoover Hull's partners arranged for then-state
legislator David Ober to land the job as the head of the
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. In exchange, Ober
sponsored a piece of legislation that strengthened
Valeo's case against Coates. Coates further maintains
that court staff at both the trial and appellate levels
torpedoed his attempts to appeal by forging court records to
his detriment. The Court could go on, but this is enough to
convey the tenor of Coates's complaint. Basically, he
believes that every person or entity to even have
tangentially come into contact with his case conspired with
one another to sabotage it.
reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court construes the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepts the factual
allegations as true, and draws all reasonable inferences in
the plaintiff's favor. Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar,
Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). A complaint must
contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That statement must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief
that is plausible on its face, Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), and raise a right to relief above
the speculative level. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). However, a plaintiff's claim
need only be plausible, not probable. Indep. Trust Corp.
v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 935 (7th
Cir. 2012). Evaluating whether a plaintiff's claim is
sufficiently plausible to survive a motion to dismiss is
“‘a context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.'” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671
F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678).
Coates's allegations touch on a number of claims, such as
RICO, unfair competition, unspecified constitutional
violations, etc. None of his claims that seek to invoke the
Court's original jurisdiction, however, satisfy the
pleading requirements articulated above. Because of this, the
Court will dismiss the instant complaint, without prejudice.
state a claim for a RICO violation, Coates must allege
sufficient facts to support each of the following elements:
(1) conduct (2) of an enterprise (3) through a pattern (4) of
racketeering activity. Sedima v. Imrex Co., 473 U.S.
479, 496 (1985) (footnote omitted); Goren v. New Vision
Int'l, Inc., 156 F.3d 721, 727 (7th Cir. 1998). The
Court need not parse the complaint for facts applicable to
each of these elements, however, because Coates has failed to
adequately allege continuity, or a pattern of racketeering.
order to satisfy this element, “the alleged acts of
wrongdoing must not only be related, but must ‘amount
to or pose a threat of continued criminal
activity.'” Gamboa v. Velez, 457 F.3d 703,
705 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting H.J. Inc. v. Nw.
Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 239 (1989)). “This is
true whether the misconduct at issue is considered a
‘close-ended' scheme (a completed scheme that, by
its duration, can carry an implicit threat of future harm) or
‘open-ended' scheme (a scheme that, by its
intrinsic (e.g., business-as-usual) nature, threatens
repetition and thus future harm).” Id. at
705-06 (citing Roger Whitmore's Auto. Servs., Inc. v.
Lake County, 424 F.3d 659, ...