Watson v. The United States of America et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS that Plf's Complaint, as amended, be DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to Plf's failure to state a constitutionally substantial claim; that Plf's 9 MOTION For Leave to Amend With Attache d Copies of The Official Check For $147,445.88 And Notice From The Underlying CV-91-78 Case In The Circuit Court Of Lowndes County Alabama and 10 MOTION For The Court To Serve The Six Parties With The Summons And Documents Filed On 5/29/2009 And Also With What Being Filed Today be DENIED as moot; Objections to R&R due by 8/31/2009. Signed by Honorable Wallace Capel, Jr on 8/18/2009. (wcl, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION TEDDY A. WATSON, Plaintiff, v. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:09cv19-WKW
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
O n January 7, 2009, Plaintiff filed a document styled "Federal Complaint Amending S t a te Complaints" (Doc. #1).1 On February 19, 2009, this matter was referred to the u n d e rs ig n e d Magistrate Judge for further proceedings or recommendation as may be a p p ro p ria te . (Doc. #2). On March 16, 2009, the Court entered an Order (Doc. #4) directing P la in tif f to amend his Complaint to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The C o u rt also specifically instructed Plaintiff to address apparent pleading and jurisdictional d e f ec ts within the Complaint.2 On April 10, 2009, Plaintiff filed a document styled "Federal
The following were named as defendants by Plaintiff: The United States of America; The State of Alabama; and "Jere L. Beasley of the Beasley Law Firm." The following were also docketed as defendants because Plaintiff "demanded" injunctive relief from them and because he provided summonses and service materials for each: then President-Elect Barack Obama; United States Senator John McCain; United States Representative Artur Davis; former United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey; United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Leura Canary; and Alabama Attorney General Troy King. In particular, the Court ordered Plaintiff to remedy his failure to provide adequate and appropriate service materials for each defendant named in his suit. Plaintiff filed different
A m e n d e d Complaint," which, upon review, did not fully address the concerns highlighted b y the Court. On April 21, 2009, Plaintiff filed a "Motion For Leave to Amend the Federal A m e n d e d Complaint on April 10, 2009," (Doc. #6) to which he attached his proposed a m e n d e d complaint. (Doc. #6). On May 21, 2009, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to A m e n d and ordered him, once again, to file a complaint compliant with the Federal Rules of C iv il Procedure. (Doc. #7). On May 29, 2009, Plaintiff filed another amended complaint. (D o c . #8). On June 22, 2009, Plaintiff filed a "Motion for Leave to Amend With Attached C o p ie s of the Official Check for $147,445.88 and Notice from the Underlying cv-91-78 case in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County Alabama" (Doc. #9) and "Motion for the Court to S e r v e the Six Parties With the Summons and Documents Filed on May 29, 2009 and Also W ith What Being Filed Today." (Doc. #10). T h e Court has expended considerable effort in attempting to decipher Plaintiff's v ariou s complaints. The complaints mostly consist of vague, confusing, and conclusory f a ctu a l allegations, cryptic references to previous suits in state and federal courts, and u b iq u ito u s citations to the esoterically indexed volumes of exhibits Plaintiff has provided.3
sets of materials for each Defendant, presumably because Plaintiff purported to seek different remedies - whether "civil jury" or civil or criminal "injunctive" relief - from each defendant. To this day, Plaintiff has not complied with this aspect of the Court's first order in this case. Thus, as the Court has sought to ascertain its jurisdiction over the intervening period, service of the materials provided by Defendant has not been effectuated. Plaintiff's substantive pleadings in this case presently total over two hundred pages, while the "exhibits" appended to his various pleadings - consisting mostly of correspondence Plaintiff has sent to various officials, pleadings from past cases, and photocopies of newspaper articles - easily surpass one thousand pages, not including the digital CD-R disks 2
P lain tiff also lodges a number of bizarre, fanciful, and untenable demands for civil, criminal, a n d injunctive relief.4 In a search for clarity, the Court has also reviewed portions of the re c o rd s in some of the other actions Plaintiff has brought in this Court, which appear co n ce rne d with the same factual scenario at the heart of this matter. See, e.g., Watson v. B e a s le y , et al., Civ. Case No. 2:98-cv-1023-ID-VPM (M.D. Ala. Sept. 11, 1998), Watson v. Z e n tn e r, et al., Civ. Case No. 2:02-cv-1214-MEF-SRW (M.D. Ala. Oct. 31, 2002), Watson v . Beasley, et al., Civil Case No. 2:04-cv-667-WHA-SRW (M.D. Ala. July 13, 2004), Watson v . Beasley, et al., Civil Case No. 2:05-cv-179-MHT-SRW (M.D. Ala. Feb. 25, 2005), and W a ts o n v. Beasley, et al., 2:06-cv-978-MEF-WC (M.D. Ala. Oct. 30, 2006). At best, despite h a v in g ordered Plaintiff, on two separate occasions, to file a complaint which clearly states th e basis for the Court's jurisdiction and includes the "short and plain statement" co n tem p lated by Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court can only hazard
filed with the original Complaint which contain substantial additional documents. For what it is worth, the "media exhibits" - meaning newspaper articles - that Plaintiff has appended to his various pleadings cover a wide range of apparently disparate topics but appear particularly fixated on, inter alia, the biography of Jere Beasley and coverage of the Beasley Law Firm's involvement in notable and completely unrelated litigation in various courts, the prosecutions of Don Siegleman, Richard Scrushy, and John Goff, the appointment of U.S. District Judges William Keith Watkins and Kristi DuBose, and the federal government's passage of the recent "stimulus package." For instance, Plaintiff has demanded, inter alia, "the federal congressional impeachment of the four U.S. district judges in Montgomery Al [sic]," Complaint (Doc. #1) at 6; that "federal officials," including the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, "remove" his various state court complaints to federal court, Id. at 8; the "appointment of a special federal prosecutor" to represent certain parties in this suit, Id. at 10; and that Congressman Artur Davis meet with or phone Plaintiff in order to discuss ways to settle this matter, Federal Amended Complaint (Doc. #5) at 4-5. 3
a modestly educated guess about the specific facts with which Plaintiff is aggrieved and the re lie f he seeks in this case. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to file a comprehensive and in t e llig i b le complaint which reasonably enables judicial review or an appropriate response b y a defendant.5 N e v e rth e l e s s , because the Court has, from the beginning of this litigation, been c o n c ern e d about its jurisdiction to hear this matter,6 the Court must establish some factual o u tline to inform the Court's determination of its jurisdiction. Pursuant to the Court's re v ie w , it appears that Plaintiff's suit is concerned with an attorney fee dispute between P la in tif f and a law firm in the state courts of Alabama. As a result of this dispute, which has b e e n ongoing for approximately thirteen years, Plaintiff has filed numerous cases, in this c o u rt and in various state courts, against persons involved in the case which spawned the fee d is p u te , as well as a host of other actors considered culpable by Plaintiff. Plaintiff was represented by the law firm presently known as Beasley, Allen, Crow,
Further complicating the Court's efforts to satisfy itself of its jurisdiction to hear this matter is that Plaintiff has essentially failed to abide by the Court's various orders that he amend his complaint. While Plaintiff has timely responded to each order to amend, he has failed to address the Court's core concern: that he produce a single, concise document which clearly states the grounds for the Court's jurisdiction and presents a well-pleaded claim for relief. Instead, it appears that each amended complaint Plaintiff has filed is intended as more of a supplement to the preceding complaints. See, e.g., Amended Complaint (Doc. #8) at 2-3 (presenting new factual allegations of constitutional violations from March 27, 2009, through April 29, 2009). Aside from frustrating this Court's efforts, this practice violates the Court's orders and ignores the law governing amendment of complaints as discussed in a previous Court order. See Order (Doc. #7) at 1-2. The Court notes that it may inquire, sua sponte, into its jurisdiction at any time during the course of litigation. Univ. Of South Alabama v. American Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999).
M ethv in, Portis & Miles, P.C., ("Beasley Law Firm") in at least two state-court matters d a t i n g back at least to the early 1990s. In one matter, described as the "Lowndes County C S X case," the Beasley Law Firm secured an offer to settle a workplace injury claim on b e h a lf of Plaintiff. Subsequently, there was an apparent falling-out between Plaintiff and the B e a sle y Law Firm stemming from one or both of the matters in which they were involved. P la in tif f terminated the Beasley Law Firm's attorney relationship and, after briefly obtaining s u c c e s s o r counsel, ultimately proceeded to complete negotiating the settlement with CSX pro s e . The Beasley Law Firm asserted a lien against any settlement funds owed Plaintiff p u rsu a n t to its attorney-client contract. Plaintiff was initially given approximately one-half o f the gross settlement funds deposited with the state court. The remainder was held by the L o w n d e s County Circuit Court over the intervening approximately thirteen years as Plaintiff litig a te d the Beasley Law Firm's entitlement to its claimed portion of the settlement p roc ee d s. Finally, in April, 2009, after Plaintiff initiated the instant matter, the Circuit Court e n te re d an Order granting the Beasley Law Firm's Motion to Dismiss, denying any of P lain tiff 's claims against the Firm, and awarding it $112,783.45, plus interest, in fees for its re p re se n ta tio n of Plaintiff. F r o m this admittedly peculiar skeleton of facts concerning a state court attorney fee d is p u te , Plaintiff unravels a vast conspiracy in which myriad actors within the state and f e d e ra l judicial and political establishments are allegedly complicit in a concerted effort to d e p riv e him of his property and other rights. According to Plaintiff, the scope of the
c o n sp ira c y is sweeping and its object sinister.7 However, as described above, this highly a tte n u a te d conspiracy is only vaguely and conclusorily drawn by Plaintiff in his pleadings. In short, it appears Plaintiff surmises the conspiracy from the repeated setbacks he has su f f e re d in his attempts to litigate his cause in various courts and instigate investigations into th e conspiracy by government officials. While a conspiracy to deprive a citizen of protected c o n stitu tio n a l rights, whether entered into by public or private actors, certainly may fall w ith in the ambit of this Court's subject-matter jurisdiction,8 see 28U.S.C. § 1343(a) and 42 U .S .C . §§ 1981, 1983, & 1985,9 the Court's duty to inquire into its jurisdiction entails more s c ru tin y than simply resting upon such nominal labels or magic words when they are buried in the text of otherwise attenuated, frivolous arguments, allegations, and conclusions. See S o u th p a rk Square Limited v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, 565 F.2d 338, 341-43 (5th Cir. 1 9 7 7 ) (claim alleging a "taking" of plaintiff's property was insubstantial and district court sh o u ld not have exercised subject-matter jurisdiction).1 0
Indeed, in a phone call with the undersigned's chamber's staff, Plaintiff conveyed his belief that certain actors in the alleged conspiracy are plotting to have him killed. Hence, Plaintiff's expressed desire to have this case settled quietly or "out of court." See Federal Amended Complaint (Doc. #5) at 4. Other asserted bases for this Court's exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's "jury demands," namely the federal criminal wire fraud statute, see Amendment to Federal Amended Complaint (Doc. #6) at attach.1, page 12, are without merit. Plaintiff posits these provisions of law as bases for his "demands for civil jury relief." Complaint (Doc. #1) at 16. Decisions of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals prior to September 30, 1981, have been adopted as binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc). 6
10 9 8
T h e Supreme Court of the United States has long recognized that "federal courts are w ith o u t power to entertain claims otherwise within their jurisdiction if they are so attenuated a n d unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit, . . . obviously frivolous, . . . or no lo n g e r open to discussion." Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974) (quotations and c ita tio n s omitted). The Supreme Court has clarified that this "[c]onstitutional
in s u b s ta n tia lity" doctrine also embraces claims considered "essentially fictitious." Id. (in te rn a l quotations omitted). "Essentially fictitious" claims are often characterized by a lle g a tio n s of, inter alia, "bizarre conspiracy theories" and other "fantastic" phenomena. B e st v. Kelly, 39 F.3d 328, 330 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Accordingly, courts have dismissed feep a id complaints prior to service of process, for want of subject matter jurisdiction, where the p la in tif f 's claims hinged on fantastic and frivolous allegations of conspiracies or other d e lu s io n a l beliefs. See, e.g., Kolev v. Davidi, 2008 WL 4447561 at *3 (C.D. Cal. 2008) (c o m p la in t alleges vast Zionist conspiracy affecting all facets of plaintiff's life). Ultimately, a Court assessing the "substantiality" of a presented claim "must ask `whether there is any le g a l substance to the position the plaintiff is presenting.'" Southpark Square Limited, 565 F .2 d at 342. A claim lacking the required "foundation of plausibility" is insubstantial and d e p riv e s the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. Id. Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(h)(3) of the F e d e ra l Rules of Civil Procedure provide the mechanisms by which a federal court may, in its discretion, dismiss a suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction owing to the "plainly and in d is p u ta b ly frivolous" allegations of the complaint. Ledford v. Peeples, 568 F.3d 1258,
1 2 8 7 (11th Cir. 2009). T o the extent the Court can discern the conspiracy allegations undergirding Plaintiff's c o m p lain t, they can only be considered frivolous or fantastic. Distilled to its most basic e le m e n ts , Plaintiff's conspiracy charge appears to be as follows: "since 1994, federal ju d g e s/p ro s e c u to rs in Montgomery Al. [sic] have repeated[ly] used the authority of federal g o v e rn m e n t and taxpayers [sic] money to conspire to obstruct federal criminal and/or civil p ro s e c u tio n on the Beasley Firm lawyers, for conspiring to unlawfully represent Defendant W a ts o n 's behalf in the "Lowndes CV-92-03 civil cow case for a felony crime . . . which the B e a sle y Firm lawyers conspired to connect to Plaintiff Watson Civil case against CSX in the L o w n d e s CV-91-78 case." Complaint (Doc. #1) at 20 (all emphasis in original). See also A m e n d m e n t to Federal Amended Complaint (Doc. #6) at attach.1, page 10-12. Plaintiff also a lle g e s related, subsumed conspiracies involving "trial lawyers," state court judges, United S ta te s' Attorneys, and the Alabama Attorney General, but in all instances the object of the o v e ra rc h in g "conspiracy" is consistent: obstruct Plaintiff's efforts to ensnare the Beasley Law F irm in civil or criminal investigations and prohibit Plaintiff from recovering that portion of h is settlement funds which is subject to the lien in state court. Plaintiff's vague and obscure a lleg a tio n s about a conspiracy involving numerous of the judges of this court, as well as state jud g es, state and federal prosecutors, "trial lawyers," and others he has dragged into court o v e r the years - culled as they are from actions and rulings in his various lawsuits and the f a ilu re to instigate investigations by law enforcement - are patently frivolous and fantastic.
A s such, they are "constitutionally insubstantial" and insufficient to sustain this Court's e x e rc ise of subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Complaint, as amended, is d u e to be dismissed. F o r all of the foregoing reasons, the undersigned Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS th a t Plaintiff's Complaint, as amended, be DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction d u e to Plaintiff's failure to state a constitutionally substantial claim. The undersigned further R E C O M M E N D S that Plaintiff's "Motion For Leave To Amend With Attached Copies Of T h e Official Check For $147,445.88 And Notice From The Underlying CV-91-78 Case In T h e Circuit Court Of Lowndes County Alabama" (Doc. #9) and Motion For The Court To S e r v e The Six Parties With The Summons And Documents Filed On May 29, 2009 And Also W ith What Being Filed Today (Doc. #10) be DENIED as moot. It is further O R D E R E D that Plaintiff is DIRECTED to file any objections to the said R e c o m m e n d a tio n on or before August 31, 2009. Any objections filed must specifically id e n tif y the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation to which Plaintiff objects. F riv o lo u s, conclusive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. P la in tif f is advised that this Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not appealable. F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations in the M a g is tra te Judge's report shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the District C o u rt of issues covered in the report and shall bar the party from attacking on appeal factual
f in d in g s in the report accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain e rr o r or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5th C ir. 1982). See also Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11th Cir. 1982). D O N E this 18th day of August, 2009.
/s/ Wallace Capel, Jr. W A L L A C E CAPEL, JR. U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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