Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ratliff v. Todd

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

May 31, 2019

THAIRON RATLIFF, Plaintiff,
v.
TINA MARIE TODD/JOHNSON et al. Defendants.

          ENTRY ON PENDING MOTIONS

          RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE

         The pro se Plaintiff, Thairon Ratliff, and his former wife, Defendant Tina Marie Todd Johnson, had two children together. Following their divorce, Tina married Defendant Tyson Johnson, who filed petitions to adopt the children on March 23, 2017.

         His Complaint names as defendants Tina and Tyson Johnson; Tina's attorneys in the adoption proceedings, Meredith L. McIntyre and David A. Smith d/b/a McIntyre & Smith; his court-appointed attorneys in the adoption proceedings, Frederick Turner and Nicholas Smith; the court-appointed guardian ad litem in the adoption proceedings, Melissa Richardson[1]; the Clerk of the Lawrence Circuit Court, Billie Tumey; Judge Steven R. Galvin of the Monroe Circuit Court; and Judge Lynne E. Ellis of the Martin Circuit Court. Broadly, Plaintiff alleges that the opposing parties conspired with officers of the court to wrongfully grant his wife a divorce and then to fraudulently procure the adoption of his biological children. His Complaint consists of two counts: (1) fraud on the court against all named Defendants except Tina; and (2) spoliation of evidence against Tumey and Judge Galvin.

         Currently pending are seven motions: (1) Defendant Melissa Richardson's Motion to Dismiss; (2) Defendants Meredith L. McIntyre and David A. Smith's Motion to Dismiss; (3) Judge Steven R. Galvin and Judge Lynne E. Ellis's Motion to Dismiss; (4) Defendants Meredith L. McIntyre and David A. Smith's Motion for Ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss; (5) Defendant Frederick Anthony Turner's Motion to Dismiss; (6) Defendant Nicholas Siler's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; and (7) Defendant Billie Tumey's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds the Motions should be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff begins his Complaint with allegations against Judge Andrea McCord of the Lawrence Circuit Court regarding Plaintiff's divorce proceedings and the petitions to adopt his children. (Filing No. 1, Compl. at 3). He alleges the law firm that represented Tina and Tyson, McIntyre & Smith, “is a fictitious entity acting as a legal entity and filing paperwork in fraud in the wrong venue with the intent of hunting a judge as opposed to legal venue.” (Id. at 15). According to Plaintiff, Judge McCord knew there were fatal defects in the pleadings submitted by Tina and Tyson's lawyers, but “passe[d] the defective illegally filed” case to Judge Stephen Galvin, who was appointed Special Judge. (Id. at 5-6). Judge Galvin appointed Richardson as guardian ad litem. (Id. at 7).

         Plaintiff alleges Judge Galvin knew the children lived in Martin County and that the petitions for adoption were filed in Lawrence County. Under Plaintiff's interpretation of Indiana law, Judge Galvin had no jurisdiction over the petitions and should not have assumed it. (Id. at 6). Furthermore, Plaintiff claims, the documents in the adoption hearings were filed in Lawrence County, but hearings were being held in Monroe County. (Id. at 7). These hearings, he alleges, are not documented and the recordings from the hearings cannot be located. (Id.). “[Judge] Galvin's sessions in the foreign court of Monroe County is his spoliation of evidence and records in these adoptions.” (Id.).

         In addition, Plaintiff claims Judge Galvin illegally appointed Turner as court-appointed counsel against his wishes. (Id. at 6). Turner filed a motion for change of venue to Martin County allegedly without his consent. (Id. at 8). Judge Galvin granted the motion and ordered that the matter be transferred to Martin County. (Id.). Tumey, as Clerk of the Lawrence Circuit Court, “played a vital role in the spoliation of records” by transferring the Clerk's record in the adoption matters to Martin County pursuant to Judge Galvin's order. (Id. at 9-10).

         Judge Ellis of the Martin Circuit Court assumed jurisdiction even though Plaintiff (and not his attorney) had filed a document which “vacate[d] the judgment that transferred the adoptions.” (Id. at 11). According to Plaintiff, “[Judge] Ellis did not have jurisdiction holding onto defective pleadings filed in the wrong venue.” (Id. at 13). Judge Ellis “without informing [Plaintiff]” appointed Siler as counsel (apparently after Turner withdrew). (Id. at 12). Siler, like Turner, allegedly “appear[ed] in court and in conferences without consulting [Plaintiff]” and “fail[ed] to give proper notice of hearings.” (Id. at 12). Judge Ellis and Siler allegedly worked with Tyson and his attorneys “to stampede [his] rights and access to his children for profit and personal gain.” (Id. at 13). Plaintiff also alleges that Richardson, the guardian ad litem, performed an investigation of the children's home and “seemed to think it was honky-dory” even though Tyson “has a criminal history and was reported to be growing marijuana's [sic] home.” (Id.).

         Ultimately, Plaintiff alleges, he was “physically threatened with involuntarily incarceration 90 days without bail in civil contempt for any effort he made to seek his right to Due process and Self-Defense in his rights to his children.” (Id. at 18). Consequently, he was forced to move to Delta, Colorado on May 2, 2018, “in order to fight for his children here in Federal Court.” (Id. at 3, 15). He filed the present action on July 9, 2018.

         II. Discussion

         The parties' motions do not raise identical arguments but do share some in common. First, the attorneys-McIntyre, Smith, Siler, and Turner-argue the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives the court of subject matter jurisdiction. Second, McIntyre, Smith, Siler, and Richardson argue the court lacks diversity jurisdiction. And third, Judge Galvin, Judge Ellis, Richardson, and Tumey argue they are entitled to immunity from suit. The parties raise other arguments, but the court chooses to focus only on these dispositive issues.

         A. Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

         In Count I, Plaintiff alleges all Defendants, except for Tina, [2] committed a fraud ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.