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Rogers v. Baeverstad

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

November 15, 2019

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,
v.
MARK BAEVERSTAD, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          HOLLY A. BRADY JUDGE

         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, has sued the individuals and entities he believes are responsible for depriving him of the ability to advance a 2013 medical malpractice action through the courts. He asserts that “[t]he primary cause of this action is a widespread criminal enterprise that's engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity involving numerous RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] predicate acts during the past four (4) calendar years targeted directly against Plaintiff.” (Amd. Verified Compl. (“Compl.”) 2, ECF No. 26.) Plaintiff alleges that the purpose of the racketeering enterprise was to “willfully and maliciously inflict severe and sustained hardship upon the Plaintiff with the specific intent to deprive, impair and obstruct the Plaintiff from advancing his medical malpractice claim.” (Id.)

         The Defendants have moved for dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and, alternatively, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff alleges that all the attorneys (Mark Baeverstad, Jason Scheele), state court judges or magistrates (Craig Bobay, Nancy Eschoff Boyer, Phillip Houk), Indiana Court of Appeals Judges (John G. Baker, Terry A. Crone, John Sharpnack, Rudolph R. Pyle, Nancy Vaidek), Indiana Supreme Court Justices (Loretta H. Rush, Robert D. Rucker, Stephen H. David, Mark Massa, Geoffrey G. Slaughter), and administrative personnel (Marry Willis) who had any involvement in the medical malpractice litigation that he pursued after his mother's death were part of a “syndicate” that Baeverstad “formed . . . for the sole purpose of stripping the Plaintiff of his rights to due process.” (Compl. 6; see also Id. 50 (alleging that Baeverstad formed “a racketeering ring to commit whatever necessary acts, predicate or otherwise, to ensure the foreseeable dismissal of the Plaintiff's medical malpractice claim . . . involving the death of his mother”).) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Michael J. Packnett, as the CEO of Parkview was a “benefactor” of the Defendants' “racketeering conduct to ensure the white privileged CEO was protected and not deposed” in connection with the malpractice action. (Pl.'s Br. 10, ECF No. 19.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Judge Boyer committed a predicate act when she took a bribe from Baeverstad, with the assistance of Scheele, which resulted in obstruction of justice in connection with a discovery dispute. (Compl. 6-13.) He alleges that the Court of Appeals judges, Baker, Crone, and Sharpnack, also accepted a bribe from Baeverstad, “created phantom orders, ” and did not consider his briefs but, instead, accepted the “racist and bigoted rhetoric” of Baeverstad. (Id. 13-22.) According to Plaintiff's complaint allegations, his appeal of the Court of Appeals decision was not successful because the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court were complicit in the scheme to deny him due process. (Id. 23-27.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Judge Bobay, who Plaintiff attempted to have recused from the medical malpractice case, accepted “a bribe from Baeverstead to resort to whatever means necessary to preside over the Plaintiff's claim and ultimately dismiss it.” (Id. 28.) Judge Bobay, in turn, extended a bribe to Willis so that she would not accept Plaintiff's filing with the Indiana Supreme Court and Judge Bobay could remain presiding over the case. (Id. 29-45.) According to Plaintiff, Judge Bobay committed a fraud upon the court, which entitles Plaintiff to relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). (Id. 49 (arguing that “any and all decisions rendered by Judge Bobay must be vacated” and Plaintiff “awarded a default judgment”).)

         Plaintiff's allegations against Magistrate Judge Houk pertain to Plaintiff's role as the executor of the Estate of Premius Rogers. Plaintiff alleges that Magistrate Judge Houk committed “perjury” in court and wrongfully attempted to remove Plaintiff as executor. (Compl. 75-81.)

         ANALYSIS

         A case may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) when the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter. “Subject-matter jurisdiction is the first question in every case, and if the court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction it must proceed no further.” Illinois v. City of Chi., 137 F.3d 474, 478 (7th Cir. 1998). When a district court rules upon an issue of subject matter jurisdiction, it must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs. Capitol Leasing Co. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993).

         The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents a lower federal court from exercising jurisdiction over cases that challenge the outcome of a state court proceeding. See Mains v. Citibank, N.A., 852 F.3d 669, 675 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). Federal courts lack jurisdiction over such claims because “the Supreme Court of the United States is the only federal court that may review judgments entered by state courts in civil litigation.” Harold v. Steel, 773 F.3d 884, 885 (7th Cir. 2014). The federal court should ask “whether the federal plaintiff is alleging that his injury was caused by the state-court judgment.” Mains, 852 F.3d at 675 (citing Richardson v. Koch Law Firm, P.C., 768 F.3d 732, 733 (7th Cir. 2014)). Rooker-Feldman does not apply unless there is “no way for the injury complained of by a plaintiff to be separated from a state court judgment.” Id.

Rooker-Feldman thus applies where the plaintiff seeks relief that is tantamount to vacating the state judgment. Taylor v. Fannie Mae, 374 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir. 2004). But if the suit does not seek to vacate the judgment of the state court and instead seeks damages for independently unlawful conduct, it is not barred by Rooker-Feldman.

Id.

         Plaintiff argues that his lawsuit is not an attempt to have the state court rulings reversed in his medical malpractice claim. (Pl.'s Brief 3, ECF No. 29.) Rather, “[h]e wants the Defendants punished for their collective conduct in acting in the absence of ...


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