Scott v. Bentley et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER - For the reasons explained above, the Court grants Judge Woodroofs motion to dismiss. The Court dismisses with prejudice Mr. Scotts § 1983 and his ADA claim for damages against Judge Woodroof. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 9/22/2016. (KEK)
2016 Sep-22 PM 03:44
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CALVIN W. SCOTT,
JAMES WOODROOF, Judge
Limestone County, and THE
THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN,
Case No.: 5:15-CV-00056-MHH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This memorandum opinion discusses pro se plaintiff Calvin Scott’s claims
against Alabama Circuit Court Judge James Woodroof. In his second amended
complaint, Mr. Scott alleges that while Judge Woodroof was presiding over Mr.
Scott’s divorce action in Limestone County, Alabama, Judge Woodroof denied his
(Mr. Scott’s) rights under the Due Process Clause and violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA). (See Doc. 79, pp. 2-3, 5, 11-12, 17-18).1 During a
September 8, 2016 telephone conference in this action, the Court gave Mr. Scott an
opportunity to clarify his claims. (See Doc. 127, p. 1, n. 2). Mr. Scott explained
that with respect to Judge Woodroof, he seeks to be made whole pursuant to 42
Mr. Scott’s second amended complaint is the operative complaint in this matter. (See Doc. 127,
U.S.C. § 1983 and the ADA.
Relying on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), Judge Woodroof has moved to dismiss Mr. Scott’s § 1983
and ADA claims. (Doc. 81). As explained below, the Court does not have subject
matter jurisdiction over Mr. Scott’s § 1983 claim, and Judge Woodroof is immune
from Mr. Scott’s ADA claim for damages. Therefore, the Court will dismiss Mr.
Scott’s § 1983 and his ADA claim for damages against Judge Woodroof.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(1) Standard
Rule 12(b)(1) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). A defendant may present
either a facial or a factual challenge to subject matter jurisdiction. Morrison v.
Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 924 (11th Cir. 2003). If it is apparent from the face
of the complaint that the plaintiff has pled facts that confer subject matter
jurisdiction under a statute, then a court must deny a defendant’s 12(b)(1) motion.
Houston v. Marod Supermarkets, Inc., 733 F.3d 1323, 1335 (11th Cir. 2013). In
conducting a facial analysis, a court must take the allegations of the complaint as
true. Houston, 733 F.3d at 1335. In contrast, when a defendant mounts a factual
challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, a district court may consider extrinsic
evidence and weigh the facts to determine whether it may exercise jurisdiction.
Houston, 733 F.3d at 1336.
Rule 12(b)(6) Standard
Rule 12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint
against the “liberal pleading standards set forth by Rule 8(a)(2).” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). “Generally, to survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)]
motion to dismiss and meet the requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), a complaint
need not contain ‘detailed factual allegations,’ but rather ‘only enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Maledy v. City of Enterprise, 2012
WL 1028176, *1 (M.D. Ala. March 2012) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement
needs only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests.’” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
“Thus, the pleading standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
evaluates the plausibility of the facts alleged, and the notice stemming from a
complaint’s allegations.” Keene v. Prine, 477 Fed. Appx. 575, 583 (11th Cir.
2012). “Where those two requirements are met . . . the form of the complaint is not
significant if it alleges facts upon which relief can be granted, even if it fails to
categorize correctly the legal theory giving rise to the claim.” Id.
This is particularly true with respect to pro se complaints. Courts must
liberally construe pro se documents. Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94. “‘[A] pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.’” Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976)); see also Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262 (11th Cir.
1998) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted
by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.”). Cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)
(“Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice.”). Still, the Court “may not
serve as de facto counsel for a party, or … rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading
in order to sustain an action.”
Ausar-El ex. rel. Small, Jr. v. BAC (Bank of
America) Home Loans Servicing LP, 448 Fed. Appx. 1, 2 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotations and citations omitted).
When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a district court accepts
as true the allegations in the complaint and construes the allegations in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. See Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharms. Inc., 781 F.3d
1296, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015).
On December 29, 2010, Mr. Scott filed an action for divorce in the Circuit
Court of Limestone County, Alabama, in a case styled Calvin Scott v. Lucille Scott,
DR-2010-900020.00. (Doc. 2 in DR-2010-900020.00).2
represented Mr. Scott in the divorce proceeding. (See e.g., Docs. 2, 36 in DR2010-900020.00; see also December 29, 2010 and July 28, 2011 docket entries in
DR-2010-900020.00 listing attorneys for Mr. Scott). In November 2011, while
Mr. Scott still was represented by an attorney, Judge Woodroof set the Scott
divorce case for trial on March 19, 2012. (Doc. 48 in DR-2010-900020.00).
Eventually, Judge Woodroof allowed Mr. Scott’s attorneys to withdraw. (Docs. 32
and 62 in DR-2010-900020.00). By early 2012, Mr. Scott was proceeding pro se
(without counsel) in his divorce action. (See February 21, 2012 docket entry in
DR-2010-900020.00 listing attorney for Mr. Scott as “PRO SE”).
On February 17, 2012, Mr. Scott submitted a motion to “Request  A
Postponement For Medical Reasons.” (Doc. 74 in DR-2010-900020.00).3 In the
Mr. Scott’s second amended complaint mentions this state court action. (See Doc. 79, pp. 2-5,
11, 17-18). The record for the state court action is available on the Alacourt website. The Court
takes judicial notice of that record. See Horne v. Potter, 392 Fed. Appx. 800, 802 (11th Cir.
2010) (district court properly took judicial notice of documents related to the plaintiff’s previous
civil action because the documents “were public records that were ‘not subject to reasonable
dispute’ because they were ‘capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources
whose accuracy could not reasonably be questioned.’”) (quoting Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); other
internal citations omitted). The Court cites to entries on the Alacourt case action summary by
document and case number.
The state court clerk docketed the motion on February 21, 2012.
motion, Mr. Scott “request[ed]  postponement of further action” in his divorce
action “because the judge told [Mr. Scott that he] should have l;egal [sic] counsel.”
(Doc. 74 in DR-2010-900020.00). The motion continues:
Plaintiff have [sic] been under treatment of this disorder since he was
injured in the line of duty in a riot while working as a correctional
officer the plaintiff was attacked by two [C]uban detainees with razors
while working in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) on 11/06/1984 the
plaintiff discussed what the judge had told him with his current
psychiatrist on 02/08/12 Scarya Kumar, 219 Longwood Dr.
Huntsville, [A]labama on 02/08/2012 and was advised the plaintiff
that the judge was right, and  even  though the situation in the
home it would be in the plaintiff[’]s best interest to obtain legal
representation, because that a divorce after 35 yrs., and a[t] the age of
60 the plaintiff will need medical insurance to pay for care that is not
a part of the workers compensation claim.
(Doc. 74 in DR-2010-900020.00).4
On February 21, 2012, the state court clerk docketed a letter regarding Mr.
Scott that the clerk received from Dr. Scariya Kumaramangalam.5 The letter is
dated February 8, 2012. (Doc. 75 in DR-2010-900020.00). The letter states: “To
whomever it may concern: This patient is under my psychiatric care suffering
from major depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is emotionally not
ready to face divorce hearing on 2/9/12.” (Doc. 75). Mr. Scott alleges that this
The motion also contains information related to Mr. Scott’s workers’ compensation benefits.
(Doc. 74, ¶¶ 3-5 in DR-2010-900020.00).
The letter is stamped filed on February 17, 2012. A February 17, 2012 entry on the state court
docket states “SCANNED – LETTER,” but there is no document associated with the February
17, 2012 docket entry.
letter put Judge Woodroof on notice that he (Mr. Scott) “was no longer capable of
representing himself at trial.” (Doc. 79, p. 17, ¶ 41).
Judge Woodroof did not respond to Mr. Scott’s request to continue the
divorce proceedings. (Doc. 79, p. 17, ¶¶ 40-41). Judge Woodroof called the Scott
divorce case for trial on March 19, 2012. (See Doc. 89 in DR-2010-900020.00).6
On March 26, 2012, Mr. Scott moved to the Atlanta area, and he filed a notice of
change of address with the United States Postal Service. (Doc. 79, p. 8, ¶ 23). The
state court docket does not contain a notice of change of address. Mr. Scott did not
receive information from the state court for several weeks. (Doc. 79, p. 8, ¶ 23).
On April 18, 2012, Judge Woodroof issued a final order of divorce. (Doc.
89 in DR-2010-900020.00; see also Doc. 93, pp. 27-30). Mr. Scott received a
copy of the final order of divorce from his ex-wife. (Doc. 79, p. 8, ¶ 23). The
order awarded to Mr. Scott “all and exclusive right, title and interest in and to all
bank accounts and all other accounts, financial assets, entitlements and benefits in
his  sole name. . . .” (Doc. 93, p. 28).7 The order also awarded to Mr. Scott half
of the proceeds from the sale of the marital residence and property. (Doc. 93, p.
It is unclear from the state court docket whether a hearing took place on February 9, 2012. A
February 9, 2012 docket entry states “OTHER/NO ACTION.” The final order of divorce states
that a hearing was held on February 9, 2012. (Doc. 93, p. 28).
Likewise, the order awarded to Ms. Scott “all and exclusive right, title and interest in and to all
bank accounts and all other accounts, financial assets, entitlements and benefits in  her sole
name. . . .” (Doc. 93, p. 28).
28).8 The order awarded to Mr. Scott certain personal property and two vehicles.
(Doc. 93, pp. 28-29).9 The order did not award Mr. Scott a portion of his ex-wife’s
retirement benefits. (Doc. 93, p. 27). Instead, the order states that each spouse
shall keep his or her respective retirement benefits. (See Doc. 93, p. 28).
Mr. Scott appealed the final order of divorce to the Alabama Court of Civil
Appeals. (Doc. 81-2; Doc. 91 in DR-2010-900020.00). The Alabama Court of
Civil Appeals dismissed Mr. Scott’s appeal for failure to prosecute because Mr.
Scott did not pay either the trial court clerk for the clerk’s record or the court
reporter for the transcript.
(Doc. 81-3; Doc. 94 and Doc. 95 in DR-2010-
Mr. Scott then filed this lawsuit.10
He alleges that Judge Woodroof
wrongfully withheld from him federal spousal retirement benefits, issued other
The order awarded Ms. Scott “all right, title and interest in and to the parties’ marital residence
and property” and required Ms. Scott to maintain the mortgage, taxes, and interest on the
property until the property is sold. The order instructed Mr. Scott to sign a deed evidencing the
award of the marital residence to his ex-wife. (Doc. 93, p. 28). The order also instructed Mr.
Scott to remove his personal property from the marital residence within 31 days of entry of the
final order of divorce and authorized law enforcement to assist if Mr. Scott did not comply.
(Doc. 93, p. 28).
The order awarded to Ms. Scott other personal property and two different vehicles. (Doc. 93, p.
29). With respect to personal property, the order states that “[Mr. Scott] is awarded the personal
property set out on the attached Exhibit ‘A.’” (Doc. 93, p. 28; see also Doc. 89, p. 3 in DR2010-900020.00). The order stated that “[Ms. Scott] is awarded the personal property set out on
the attached Exhibit ‘B.’” (Doc. 93, p. 28). The Court has not located either “Exhibit A” or
“Exhibit B” in the state court record or in the electronic record in this action.
Mr. Scott initially filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Georgia. (Doc. 1). On January 6, 2015, Judge Richard Story entered an order transferring the
action to this Court. (Doc. 44).
“coercive” orders, and held a divorce trial without ruling on Mr. Scott’s motion for
a continuance or ordering a mental competency evaluation. (Doc. 79; transcript of
September 8, 2016 telephone conference).
Mr. Scott attached to his submissions in this case a number of medical
records that he did not submit to Judge Woodroof before or after Judge Woodroof
entered a final order of divorce. (See Doc. 93, pp. 13, 18-26, 31-32). Mr. Scott’s
second amended complaint in this action also adds additional detail regarding his
medical condition that he did not include in his motion for a continuance that he
filed before Judge Woodroof:
[T]he plaintiff requested a continuance for mental health reasons, in
the proceedings, while the plaintiff sought further psychiatric
treatment for his condition because, as a Federal employee injured on
duty, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Workers Compensation,
took over, and scheduled the plaintiff for a battery of test[s], mental,
and physical evaluations. Some of these evaluations were in other
cities, and the psychological evaluation was scheduled in Nashville
Tennessee, with Dr. Casey Ar[n]ey, and during the evaluation doctor
Arney felt that the situation in the plaintiff’s home was potentially
explosive, and that the plaintiff should try to stay away from conflict
with his wife. That was [t]he reason why the plaintiff relocated to
Atlanta[,] Georgia, because of his lack of financial means, the plaintiff
went to live with a friend.
(Doc. 79, pp. 7-8, ¶ 21). Mr. Scott did not file a post-judgment Rule 60(b) motion
in state court or otherwise present this supplemental medical information to Judge
Woodroof for consideration.
On this record, the Court considers Judge Woodroof’s motion to dismiss.
The Rooker-Feldman Doctrine Bars Mr. Scott’s § 1983 Claim.
“The Rooker-Feldman doctrine makes clear that federal district courts
cannot review state court final judgments because that task is reserved for state
appellate courts or, as a last resort, the United States Supreme Court.” Casale v.
Tillman, 558 F.3d 1258, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009). “The doctrine applies both to
federal claims raised in the state court and to those ‘inextricably intertwined’ with
the state court’s judgment.” Id. “A federal claim is inextricably intertwined with a
state court judgment if the federal claim succeeds only to the extent that the state
court wrongly decided the issues before it.” Goodman ex rel. Goodman v. Sipos,
259 F.3d 1327, 1332 (11th. Cir. 2001) (internal citation omitted). “However, even
if a claim is ‘inextricably intertwined’ with the state court’s judgment, the [RookerFeldman] doctrine does not apply if the plaintiff had no ‘reasonable opportunity to
raise his federal claim in state proceedings.’” Id. (quoting Powell v. Powell, 80
F.3d 464, 467 (11th Cir. 1996)).
According to Mr. Scott, his action under § 1983 “is not an appeal of a
divorce, instead it is an action to be made whole.” (Doc. 101, p. 3; see also
transcript of September 8, 2016 telephone conference). Mr. Scott seeks “monetary
damages for Federal Civil Rights violations.”
(Doc. 116, p. 7).
understands that Mr. Scott is not trying to undo the divorce judgment, but binding
precedent requires the Court to focus “on the federal claim’s relationship to the
issues involved in the state court proceeding, instead of on the type of relief sought
by the plaintiff.” Goodman, 259 F.3d at 1333 (“The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is
broad enough to bar all federal claims which were, or should have been, central to
the state court decision, even if those claims seek a form of relief that might not
have been available from the state court.”).
In his second amended complaint, and as clarified during the September 8,
2016 telephone conference in this action, Mr. Scott alleges that Judge Woodroof
denied his Constitutional right to due process when Judge Woodroof: (1) “issued
an order barring payments of former spouse benefits to [Mr. Scott], from the OPM
[Office of Personnel Management] in violation of Title 5 CFR; Sec. 828.236(a)
which states that state courts lack the authority to order the OPM to delay, or not
pay benefits,” (2) “failed to respond to [Mr. Scott’s]  Motion for a Continuance
for Medical Reasons, and when [Judge Woodroof] failed to order a mental
competency evaluation of [Mr. Scott],” and (3) “issued a coercive order, ordering
[Mr. Scott] to sign a Quit Claim deed transferring his interest in the marital home
to his former wife, so that the home could be sold and the proceeds divided
between [Mr. Scott] and [his] former wife.” (Doc. 79, pp. 11, ¶¶ 29-30).11
Relying on Mr. Scott’s request for damages based on Judge Woodroof’s failure to rule on the
state court “Motion for a Continuance for Medical Reasons,” Judge Woodroof argues that the
Court should dismiss Mr. Scott’s § 1983 claim because Mr. Scott cannot maintain a § 1983 claim
The first and third grounds for Mr. Scott’s § 1983 claim are based on Mr.
Scott’s dissatisfaction with the manner in which Judge Woodroof divided martial
property. Mr. Scott alleges that Judge Woodroof awarded “all of the marital
property, bank accounts, Thrift Savings account, and retirement benefits to his
former wife” and that he “was put  out of his home after a 35 [year] marriage, at
the age of 61 with nothing, thus requiring him to rely on the kindness of friends
and family.” (Doc. 79, p. 18, ¶ 42; Doc. 79, p. 20, ¶ 47). The final order of
divorce did not leave Mr. Scott empty-handed. (See supra pp. 7-8). But even if it
had, Mr. Scott’s arguments concerning the way in which Judge Woodroof divided
the marital assets “strike at the heart of the state court’s proceedings” because Mr.
Scott’s § 1983 claim “succeeds only to the extent that the state court wrongly
decided” how to divide the marital property. Goodman, 259 F.3d at 1332.
Mr. Scott’s argument that Judge Woodroof violated Mr. Scott’s due process
rights when Judge Woodroof failed to respond to Mr. Scott’s motion to continue or
order a mental competency exam before holding a hearing regarding Mr. Scott’s
divorce petition also fails because Mr. Scott could have (and perhaps still could)
“‘in lieu of – or in addition to – [an] ADA cause of action if the only alleged deprivation is the
[plaintiff’s] rights created by  the ADA.’” (Doc. 128, pp. 3-4 quoting Badillo v. Thorpe, 158
Fed. Appx. 208, 213 (11th Cir. 2005)). Mr. Scott’s § 1983 claim encompasses more than his
complaint that Judge Woodroof failed to respond to the motion for a continuance. Mr. Scott’s §
1983 claim also is based on Judge Woodroof’s failure to order a mental competency evaluation
and the manner in which Judge Woodroof divided certain marital property. Because Mr. Scott’s
§ 1983 claim alleges deprivations of rights beyond those created by the ADA, the Court will not
dismiss Mr. Scott’s § 1983 claim on this ground.
present his due process arguments to the state court. Alabama law permits litigants
to raise constitutional challenges in state court. See e.g., Davis v. Davis, 183 So.
3d 976, 979 (Ala. Civ. App. 2015) (husband challenged in trial court and an on
appeal denial of due process rights in divorce action); Ex parte Montgomery, 79
So. 3d 660, 670 (Ala. Civ. App. 2011) (reviewing on appeal a husband’s argument
that the trial court denied his due process rights in a divorce action by entering an
order without affording the husband an opportunity to be heard). Mr. Scott could
have raised his due process argument when he appealed from the divorce
judgment, and he could have filed a motion for post-judgment relief in the trial
Therefore, pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court dismisses
Mr. Scott’s § 1983 claim. See Casale, 558 F.3d at 1261 (holding that the RookerFeldman doctrine barred a complaint seeking to invalidate a state court contempt
order issued as part of a divorce action and explaining that if the plaintiff “believed
the state court’s result was based on a legal error, the proper response was the same
one open to all litigants who are unhappy with the judgment of a trial court: direct
As discussed at page 8, supra, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ultimately dismissed Mr.
Scott’s appeal for lack of prosecution because Mr. Scott did not pay the trial court clerk for the
clerk’s record, and he did not pay the court reporter for the transcript. (Doc. 81-3; Doc. 94 and
Doc. 95 in DR-2010-900020.00).
Mr. Scott’s ADA Claim for Damages Fails Because Judge
Woodroof is Entitled to Judicial Immunity.
Mr. Scott maintains that Judge Woodroof violated the ADA by failing to
acknowledge or respond to his motion for a continuance, which Mr. Scott views as
a request for an accommodation under Title II of the ADA. (Doc. 79, p. 8, ¶ 22).
As relief for the alleged ADA violation, Mr. Scott seeks “to be made whole.”
(Doc. 100, p. 2; Doc. 101, p. 3; transcript of September 8, 2016 telephone
conference). In other words, Mr. Scott’s ADA claim is one for damages. (See
Doc. 79, pp. 20-22). Resolution of Mr. Scott’s ADA claim does not require the
Court to determine if the “state court wrongly decided the issues before it.”
Goodman, 259 F.3d at 1332. Therefore, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not bar
Mr. Scott’s ADA claim. See id. However, Mr. Scott’s ADA claim fails because
Judge Woodroof is entitled to judicial immunity.
Title II of the ADA provides:
Subject to the provisions of this [title], no qualified individual with a
disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from
participation in or be denied the benefits of the service, programs, or
activities of a public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any
42 U.S.C. § 12132. “To state a claim under Title II of the ADA, a plaintiff must
allege: (1) that he is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) that he was
excluded from participation in . . . or denied the benefits of the service, programs,
or activities of a public entity or otherwise discriminated [against] by such entity;
(3) by reason for such disability.” Shotz v. Cates, 256 F.3d 1077, 1079 (11th Cir.
2001) (internal quotation omitted) (alterations in original). Assuming that Mr.
Scott could state a Title II ADA claim against Judge Woodroof, Judge Woodroof is
immune from Mr. Scott’s ADA claim for damages.13
In the Eleventh Circuit, “[j]udges are entitled to absolute judicial immunity
from damages for those acts taken while they are acting in their judicial capacity
unless they acted in the clear absence of all jurisdiction.” Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d
1234, 1239 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks and citations
“Like other forms of official immunity, judicial immunity is an
immunity from suit, not just from ultimate assessment of damages.” Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). Judicial immunity applies “even when the judge’s
acts are in error, malicious, or were in excess of his or her jurisdiction.” Bolin, 225
F.3d at 1239 (citing Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978)). “Although
unfairness and injustice to a litigant may result on occasion, ‘it is a general
principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a
judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon
his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to himself.’”
Mireles, 502 U.S. at 10 (quoting Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335, 347 (1872)).
At the pleading stage, the Court accepts as true Mr. Scott’s allegation that he suffers from
PTSD which is a disability within the meaning of the ADA and that Judge Woodroof failed to
grant Mr. Scott’s request for an accommodation. (See Doc. 79, p. 7, ¶ 20; Doc. 79, p. 8, ¶ 22).
The state court clerk assigned Mr. Scott’s divorce action to Judge Woodroof,
and Judge Woodroof was acting within his judicial capacity when he failed to
respond to Mr. Scott’s request to continue the divorce proceeding. Mr. Scott
contends that Judge Woodroof violated the ADA because he failed to rule on a
motion in a case that was pending before him. This omission is no less judicial
simply because it constitutes a failure to act rather than an affirmative judicial
decision. Implicitly acknowledging this point, Mr. Scott alleges that “[a]t all
material times, Judge Woodroof . . . was wearing his official robe and sitting on the
bench in a court room, and acting in the course and scope of his duties as an
Alabama state circuit court judge.” (Doc. 79, p. 11, ¶ 28). Accordingly, Judge
Woodroof is immune from Mr. Scott’s ADA claim for damages. See Bolin, 225
F.3d at1239; see also Badillo v. Thorpe, 158 Fed. Appx. 208, 211 (11th Cir. 2005)
(affirming dismissal of state court litigant’s ADA claim against a circuit court
judge because a “claim for money damages against [the judge] based upon the
ADA  is barred by the doctrine of judicial immunity”).
Judicial immunity would not bar prospective injunctive relief against Judge
Woodroof. See Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 541-42 (1984). However, in his
second amended complaint, as clarified during the September 8, 2016 telephone
conference, Mr. Scott does not seek to enjoin Judge Woodroof from refusing to
accommodate a disability in the future, and Mr. Scott has not alleged facts that
plausibly suggest that Judge Woodroof would have an opportunity to violate Mr.
Scott’s rights under the ADA in the future. Conceivably, Mr. Scott may appear
before Judge Woodroof again if he decides to file a post-judgment motion in state
court; however, as it stands, the facts in Mr. Scott’s second amended complaint do
not sufficiently state a claim for prospective injunctive relief. Therefore, Mr.
Scott’s ADA claim against Judge Woodroof fails.
See Koziara v. City of
Casselberry, 392 F.3d 1302, 1305 (11th Cir. 2004) (“For a plaintiff seeking
prospective relief to have standing, he ‘must show a sufficient likelihood that he
will be affected by the allegedly unlawful conduct in the future.’”) (quoting
Johnson v. Bd. of Regents, 263 F.3d 1234, 1265 (11th Cir. 2001)); Nat’l Parks
Conservation Ass’n v. Norton, 324 F.3d 1229, 1241 (11th Cir. 2003) (“[W]here a
plaintiff seeks prospective injunctive relief, [he] must demonstrate a ‘real and
immediate threat’ of future injury. . . .”) (quoting City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461
U.S. 95, 103-04 (1983)).14
For the reasons explained above, the Court grants Judge Woodroof’s motion
to dismiss. The Court dismisses with prejudice Mr. Scott’s § 1983 and his ADA
claim for damages against Judge Woodroof.
To the extent that Mr. Scott seeks injunctive relief, he seeks relief in the nature of an order
vacating or amending the judgment from the Limestone County Circuit Court. (See Doc. 79, p.
21; Doc. 92; Doc. 93, pp. 27-30). As the Court explained during the September 8, 2016
telephone conference in this action, Mr. Scott must seek such relief before the state court. (See
Doc. 127, p. 2).
The Court asks the Clerk to please mail a copy of this memorandum opinion
and order to Mr. Scott.
DONE and ORDERED this September 22, 2016.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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