Skipp et al v. Tittle et al
ORDER. For the reasons set forth in the attached, the case is hereby DISMISSED. Accordingly, the Clerk is instructed to close this case. The clerk is directed to mail a copy of this order, return receipt requested, to Plaintiff, and file pr oof of mailing and the return receipt on the docket. Finally, Ms. Skipp is hereby placed on notice that a further attempt to make any filing in this court (except a notice of appeal) related to the factual allegations raised in any of the ca ses dismissed in the attached ((i.e. Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224), Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01761), and Skipp et al. v. Tittle et al. (17-cv-01569)) could result in the imposition of a leave-to-file injunction, which would prevent her from making further filings related to the allegations in these cases in this court without special permission. Signed by Judge Michael P. Shea on 10/26/2017. (Self, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
SUSAN SKIPP, ET. AL.
No. 3:17-cv-01224 (MPS)
No. 3:17-cv-01569 (MPS)
No. 3:17-cv-01761 (MPS)
MARY BRIGHAM ET. AL.
Ruling and Warning of Potential Leave-To-File Injunction
This ruling addresses three cases filed in this court by pro se plaintiff Susan Skipp (“Ms.
Skipp”), all of which arise from Ms. Skipp’s ongoing attempts1 to regain custody of her children
from her ex-husband: Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224), Skipp et al. v. Tittle et al. (17cv-01569), and Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01761). The cases were consolidated
because they raise similar claims against different subsets of the same group of defendants. In
Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224), Ms. Skipp sets out sixteen counts against eighty
different defendants. She alleges defendants violated: (i) Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”) (counts one through twelve, fourteen); (ii) Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act (“Rehabilitation Act”) (count thirteen); (iii) the Family Educational Rights
and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) (count fifteen); and (iv) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Civil Rights
Act”) (count sixteen).2 In Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01569), Ms. Skipp brings a claim
The Connecticut Superior Court granted sole legal custody of Ms. Skipp’s children to
their father in 2012. See Tittle v. Skipp-Tittle, No. UWYFA104022992S, 2012 WL 5476915, at
*11-12 (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 16, 2012), aff'd, 150 Conn. App. 64, 89 A.3d 1039 (2014)
The count in question alleges sex discrimination and does not mention a source of law.
Given the nature of the allegations, however, the Court construes the claim as pertaining to the
Civil Rights Act. See McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (“[W]e read the
under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against United States District Court Judge Jeffrey Meyer. Finally,
in Skipp et al. v. Tittle et al. (17-cv-01569), Ms. Skipp petitions the court for a writ of habeas
corpus enjoining defendants, Ms. Skipp’s ex-husband and another, to return custody of Ms.
Skipp’s children to her.
Only the defendants in Skipp et al v. Brigham et al (17-cv-01224) have filed a motion to
dismiss. Defendants Mary Brigham and Mary Brigham Law LLC move to dismiss Ms. Skipp’s
second amended complaint in that case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2),
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(4), and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5). They also move to dismiss the complaint
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the defendants’ motion to
dismiss in that case is GRANTED. Ms. Skipp’s other cases, which bring similarly deficient
claims, are also DISMISSED. Finally, Ms. Skipp is hereby placed on notice that a further
attempt to make any filing in this court (except a notice of appeal) related to the factual
allegations raised in the complaints filed in any of these cases (i.e. Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al.
(17-cv-01224), Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01761), and Skipp et al. v. Tittle et al. (17cv-01569)) could result in the imposition of a leave-to-file injunction, which would prevent her
from making further filings related to the allegations in these cases in this court without special
A. Skipp et al v. Brigham et al (17-cv-01224) (Second Amended Complaint)
i. ADA (counts 1-12, 14)
pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that
they suggest.”) (internal quotations omitted).
Ms. Skipp sets out thirteen counts alleging violations of the ADA and 42 U.S.C. § 12203,
which prohibits retaliation, intimidation, or coercion targeted at parties that raise claims under
the ADA. (ECF No. 22 at 58-106, 108-109). Each count save for one ends with the same
allegation that “[a]ll defendants knew or should have known that the court had no jurisdiction to
open and modify the contract that two parents signed regarding the care, custody, financial
consideration (sic) of the two plaintiff minor children (sic) and such (sic) was an interference of
the plaintiff mothers (sic) right to contract, such interference is prohibited by 42 USC 12203
(sic).” (Id. at ¶ 172, 184, 193, 217, 243, 269, 282, 283, 300). The reference to “the court”
appears to refer to a 2012 Connecticut Superior Court decision that modified Ms. Skipp’s
custody of her children, granting sole legal custody of the children to their father. See Tittle v.
Skipp-Tittle, No. UWYFA104022992S, 2012 WL 5476915, at *11-12 (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 16,
2012), aff'd, 150 Conn. App. 64 (2014). Nearly all of the defendants listed in Ms. Skipp’s counts
either denied her subsequent legal challenges,3 or had some connection to Ms. Skipp’s attempts
to challenge the Superior Court’s decision over the past five years.4
Ms. Skipp lists as defendants the Connecticut Judiciary, along with various state and
federal judges that ruled against her claims challenging the initial modification of her custody
Ms. Skipp has been involved in repeated litigation challenging the 2012 Superior
Court decision in one way or another. See, e.g., Tittle v. Skipp-Tittle, 150 Conn. App. 64, 65
(2014) (appealing the 2012 decision); Skipp v. Bozzuto, No. UWYCV155016784S, 2015 WL
1087391, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 23, 2015), reconsideration denied, No.
UWYCV155016784S, 2015 WL 1426464 (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 9, 2015) (filing a habeas
corpus claim to restore custody of her children; Skipp v. Bozzuto, No. UWYCV155016784S,
2015 WL 1426464, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 9, 2015) (applying for reconsideration of
court’s denial of her habeas corpus claim); Skipp v. Connecticut Judicial Branch, No. 3:14-CV00141 JAM, 2015 WL 1401989, at *1 (D. Conn. Mar. 26, 2015) (attempting to void the prior
state court decisions); Skipp v. Brigham, No. LLICV165008059S, 2016 WL 7138684, at *1
(Conn. Super. Ct. Nov. 2, 2016) (asserting claims against the guardian ad litem appointed by the
Connecticut Superior Court for Ms. Skipp’s children); Skipp v. Tittle, No. UWYFA175018400S,
The twelfth count is the only one that does not end with the sentence noting that the
defendants listed “knew or should have known” that the state court lacked the jurisdiction
necessary to modify Ms. Skipp’s custody of her children. (Id. at ¶ 302). That count, which
identifies as defendants the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation
Courts (CCAFCC), along with several related actors, alleges that the listed defendants “used
plaintiff’s family to obtain federal ‘access’ grants via [funding from a congressional initiative] to
further discriminate against [plaintiffs].” (Id.).
ii. Rehabilitation Act (count 13)
Ms. Skipp also alleges a violation of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.,
against two judges, two states, and various actors associated with these entities. She contends
that each defendant receives federal funding either “directly or indirectly,” and that all of them
refused to provide her with the reasonable accommodations necessary for her to take part in their
judicial forums. (Id. at ¶ 303, 314). The complaint also avers that defendants’ refusal to provide
Ms. Skipp with the necessary reasonable accommodations constituted part of a pattern of
discrimination against single mothers perpetrated in order to receive federal funding via the
“Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HRMF) initiative.” (Id. at ¶ 310).
iii. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (count 15)
Ms. Skipp contends that one Pimm Moses, an administrator at her children’s elementary
school, violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, by
refusing to provide Ms. Skipp with her children’s educational records. (Id. at ¶ 319).
iv. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (count 16)
2017 WL 778552, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Jan. 31, 2017) (again filing a habeas claim in attempt
to restore custody of children).
Ms. Skipp alleges that defendants “gave plaintiff’s former husband [greater] access to the
children” without cause in order to obtain federal funding via the HRMF initiative. (Id. at ¶ 319321).
B. Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01569) (amended complaint)
Ms. Skipp sets out a complaint against United States District Judge Jeffrey Meyer under
the onus of Bivens v. Six Unknown Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(ECF No. 7 at ¶ 1-2).5 In her complaint, Ms. Skipp contends that Judge Meyer “endeavored to
obstruct justice, engaged in selective prosecution and colluded with several of the Defendants.”
(Id. at ¶ 7). She also alleges that Judge Meyer discriminated against her based on her disabilities
throughout her judicial proceedings before him, thereby violating the ADA. (Id. at ¶ 13-15).
Finally, Ms. Skipp contends that Judge Meyer’s rulings against her constituted discrimination
based upon her disability. (Id. at ¶ 33).
C. Skipp et al. v. Tittle et al. (17-cv-01761)
Ms. Skipp also filed a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking the
return of her children into her custody. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 3.). She alleges that the children are
currently residing in Houston, Texas, in the custody of defendants Shawn Tittle and Laura Choi.6
(Id. at ¶ 9-10). Ms. Skipp advances a number of allegations in her petition, all of which center
Although the case caption and Ms. Skipp’s complaint list Mary Brigham and Mary
Brigham Law LLC as defendants, the only defendant named in Ms. Skipp’s complaint is Judge
Meyer. (ECF. No. 7 at 1). Also, Ms. Skipp’s complaint states that she brings her action “against
Jeffrey Meyer” and does not specify any other defendants. (Id. at ¶ 2). Finally, the only
defendant mentioned in the allegations in Ms. Skipp’s complaint is Judge Meyer. (See generally
id.). In light of this, the Court construes Ms. Skipp’s complaint as naming only Judge Meyer as a
defendant in this action.
Shawn Tittle is the father of Ms. Skipp’s children. See Tittle v. Skipp-Tittle, No.
UWYFA104022992S, 2012 WL 5476915, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 16, 2012), aff'd, 150
Conn. App. 64 (2014).
around the contention that the divestiture of the children from Ms. Skipp’s custody violated her
constitutional rights. (Id. at ¶ 6-19).
“Dismissal of a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) is proper
‘when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.’” Ford v.
D.C. 37 Union Local 1549, 579 F.3d 187, 188 (2d Cir. 2009), quoting Makarova v. United
States, 301 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). A district court may dismiss a case sua sponte if it
determines that subject matter jurisdiction does not exist. See Lyndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co.
v. Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 701-702 (2d Cir. 2000) (“Unlike failure of personal jurisdiction, failure
of subject matter jurisdiction is not waivable and may be raised at any time by a party or by the
court sua sponte. If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action must be dismissed.”). In
determining whether subject matter jurisdiction exists, “the court must take all facts alleged in
the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Natural
Resources Defense Council v. Johnson, 461 F.3d 164, 171 (2d Cir. 2006). A district court may
also “refer to evidence beyond the pleadings” in determining whether subject matter jurisdiction
exists. Makarova, 201 F.3d at 113. “The plaintiff bears the burden of proving subject matter
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.” Aurecchione v. Schoolman Tranp. Sys, Inc.,
426 F.3d 635, 638 (2d Cir. 2005).
Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether plaintiffs have alleged
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Under Twombly, the Court accepts as true all of the complaint’s factual
allegations – but not conclusory allegations – when evaluating a motion to dismiss. Id. at 572.
The Court must “draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.” Vietnam Ass’n
for Victims of Agent Orange v. Dow Chem. Co., 517 F.3d 104, 115 (2d Cir. 2008). “When a
complaint is based solely on wholly conclusory allegations and provides no factual support for
such claims, it is appropriate to grant defendants[’] motion to dismiss.” Scott v. Town of Monroe,
306 F. Supp. 2d 191, 198 (D. Conn. 2004). For a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, “[a]fter
the court strips away conclusory allegations, there must remain sufficient well-pleaded factual
allegations to nudge plaintiff’s claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” In re
Fosamax Products Liab. Litig., No. 09-cv-1412, 2010 WL 1654156, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 9, 2010).
In cases with a pro se plaintiff, “the complaint, however, inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Boykin v. Keycorp, 521 F.3d 202,
214 (2d Cir. 2008), quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). A district court may
dismiss a frivolous action sua sponte. See Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh Street Tenants Corp.,
221 F.3d 362, 364 (2d Cir. 2000) (“[W]e hold that district courts may dismiss a frivolous complaint
sua sponte. . . .”).7
The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review the majority of Ms. Skipp’s claims in
Skipp v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224). Ms. Skipp alleges in nearly every count of her complaint
The Court also possesses the authority to dismiss Ms. Skipp’s claims sua sponte for
frivolousness based on her request to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (court “shall dismiss the case at any time if the
court determines that” the action is “frivolous” or “fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted”); Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363 (2d Cir. 2000) (“If
[plaintiff] had sought to proceed in forma pauperis, dismissal would have been mandatory under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).”).
that defendants discriminated against her by accepting or enforcing the rulings of the Connecticut
Superior Court granting custody of her children to her ex-husband.8 Counts one through eleven
and fourteen, in particular, end with the same allegation that the defendants “knew or should have
known” that the Connecticut Superior Court did not have jurisdiction over the cases involving Ms.
Skipp. (Id. at ¶ 172, 184, 193, 217, 243, 269, 282, 283, 269, 300). Counts thirteen and sixteen
contend that various state court decisions were motivated by discrimination against Ms. Skipp.
Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal district court does not possess the authority
to reverse a state court judgment. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., 544 U.S.
280, 284 (2005) (internal quotation marks omitted). As a result, if a party’s federal claim is
“inextricably intertwined” with a state court judgment, a federal district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction to review the claim. See Hoblock v. Albany County Bd. Of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 86
(2d Cir. 2005). Thus, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal district courts from entertaining
“cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments
rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and
rejection of those judgments.” Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 284. The Second Circuit has laid out a
four-part standard to determine the applicability of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine:
“First, the federal-court plaintiff must have lost in state court. Second, the plaintiff must
‘complain of injuries caused by [a] state-court judgment[.]’ Third, the plaintiff must
‘invite district court review and rejection of [that] judgment.’ Fourth, the state-court
judgment must have been ‘rendered before the district court proceedings commenced.’—
i.e., Rooker-Feldman has no application to federal-court suits proceeding in parallel with
ongoing state-court litigation.”
Hoblock, 422 F.3d at 85 (quoting Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 284).
Notably, the doctrine applies
when “a federal suit complains of injury from a state-court judgment, even if it appears to complain
Many of the counts specifically assail the judges that delivered the adverse opinions in
question. (See, e.g., ECF No. 22 at ¶ 149, 164, 175, 181, 187, 195, 202, 207, 224, 235).
only of a third party’s actions, when the third party’s actions are produced by a state-court
judgment and not simply ratified, acquiesced in, or left unpunished by it.” Id. at 88.
Thirteen of the counts in Ms. Skipp’s second amended complaint in Skipp v. Brigham et
al. (17-cv-01224) meet the four factors of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. First, Ms. Skipp lost in
several state court proceedings below, as these counts document extensively. Second, the statecourt judgments in question were rendered prior to the commencement of the proceedings before
this Court in early 2017. Third, by alleging that defendants violated the ADA by following
Connecticut state court orders or, in the case of counts thirteen and sixteen, issuing said orders,
Ms. Skipp alleges an injury caused by the state-court judgments.9 See Hoblock, 522 F.3d at 85.
Finally, in requesting redress against defendants for accepting the dictates of the state court, Ms.
Skipp invites the Court to reject those judgments. Compare id. at 88 (“[I]f the state has taken
custody of a child pursuant to a state judgment, the parent cannot escape Rooker-Feldman simply
by alleging in federal court that he was injured by the state employees who took his child rather
than by the judgment authorizing them to take the child.”); Yaki v. Kondratyeva, 340 Fed. Appx.
683, 684 (2d Cir. 2009) (Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred claim by defendant challenging injuries
Ms. Skipp’s thirteenth count in Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224) does not
directly challenge the Connecticut Superior Court decisions granting her ex-husband sole
custody of her children but rather the court’s alleged failure to provide her with necessary
reasonable accommodations under the Rehabilitation Act. As Judge Meyer determined when
Ms. Skipp advanced a similar claim in front of him, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars such
challenges to state court determinations of the reasonable accommodations necessary for a party.
See Skipp v. Connecticut Judicial Branch, No. 3:14-CV-00141 JAM, 2015 WL 1401989, at *6
(D. Conn. Mar. 26, 2015), appeal dismissed (July 6, 2015); Richter v. Connecticut Judicial
Branch, No. 3:12CV1638 JBA, 2014 WL 1281444, at *8 (D. Conn. Mar. 27, 2014), aff'd, 600 F.
App'x 804 (2d Cir. 2015) (dismissing state court plaintiff’s claims against state court for
violations of the ADA pursuant to Rooker-Feldman doctrine); Watley v. Keller, 3:13cv1858
(RNC), 2013 WL 6842743, at *2 (D.Conn. Dec. 27, 2013) (“Plaintiffs’ claims against the
Judicial Branch and Judge Keller directly challenge state court decisions that certain services
available under the ADA did not have to be provided to the plaintiffs during the course of their
arising out of state court decisions). These counts must therefore be dismissed under Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(1),10 as this Court does not possess the subject matter jurisdiction to review them.11
Many of these claims also suffer from other defects that would warrant their dismissal
in any event. Under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, a plaintiff may not “relitigat[e] in a
subsequent proceeding an issue of fact or law that was fully and fairly litigated in a prior
proceeding.” Purdy v. Zeldes, 337 F.3d 253, 258 (2d Cir. 2003). Collateral estoppel applies
when “(1) the identical issue was raised in a previous proceeding; (2) the issue was actually
litigated and decided in the previous proceeding; (3) the party had a full and fair opportunity to
litigate the issue; and (4) the resolution of the issue was necessary to support a valid and final
judgment on the merits.” Id. (quoting Interoceanica Corp. v. Sound Pilots, Inc., 107 F.3d 86, 91
(2d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Ms. Skipp’s claims under the ADA and
Rehabilitation Act are nearly identical to those she brought in a prior proceeding before this
court. See Skipp v. Connecticut Judicial Branch, No. 3:14-CV-00141 JAM, 2015 WL 1401989,
at *3 (D. Conn. Mar. 26, 2015), appeal dismissed (July 6, 2015). In that case, Ms. Skipp alleged
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based in part upon defendants’ purported failure to provide her
with reasonable accommodations for her mental illness under the ADA during her various state
court proceedings. See id. at *3. Judge Meyer dismissed plaintiff’s claims in part on the basis
that they “would . . . require [him] to sit in judgment of determinations made by state courts
respecting accommodations that were made for plaintiff’s disability” in violation of the RookerFeldman doctrine. See id. at *6 Since many of Ms. Skipp’s claims before this court are identical
to those dismissed by Judge Meyer under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, they fall within the
ambit of collateral estoppel with respect to that issue here. See Fulani v. Bentsen, 862 F. Supp.
1140, 1150 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (plaintiff bringing claims previously dismissed for lack of standing
collaterally estopped from litigating issue of standing); Jaeger v. Cellco P'ship, 936 F. Supp. 2d
87, 96 n. 6 (D. Conn. 2013) (“Even where a prior case was dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, courts have nevertheless ‘applied collateral estoppel to the issue of standing.’”)
(quoting Hollander v. Members of the Bd. Of Regents of The Univ. of the State of N.Y., No. 10cv-9277 (LTS), 2011 WL 5222912, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 31, 2011)) (emphasis omitted). Thus,
Ms. Skipp’s claims pertaining to alleged discrimination during Connecticut state court
proceedings previously raised in her case before Judge Meyer are collaterally estopped.
Finally, even if Ms. Skipp’s claims in question were free of the fatal procedural defects
listed above, they would still fall under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The claims do not set out
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
Count thirteen of Ms. Skipp’s second amended complaint in Skipp et al. v. Brigham et
al. (17-cv-01224) also names two federal judges as defendants for allegedly failing to take into
account Ms. Skipp’s disability. (ECF No. 22, ¶ 302). While this portion of the count is not
subject to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, it must be dismissed on the grounds of judicial
immunity in any event. See, infra, Section B.iii.
Ms. Skipp’s remaining claims against various state and federal judges, along with persons
or entities carrying out court orders on their account, are barred by immunity. This category of
claims includes two of the remaining counts in Ms. Skipp’s second amended complaint in Skipp
v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224) (counts 12-13), and the lone count contained in her amended
complaint in Skipp v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01569). There are two immunity doctrines that
preclude Ms. Skipp’s claims.
i. Judicial Immunity
The first of these doctrines is judicial immunity. “It is well settled that judges generally
have absolute immunity from suits for money damages for their judicial actions.” Bliven v. Hunt,
579 F.3d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 2009). This doctrine of judicial immunity exists to ensure “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.” Id., quoting Bradley v.
Fisher, 80 U.S. 335, 347 (1871). Although the doctrine sprang from the common law, see Pierson
v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967) (noting the common law origin of judicial immunity), it has also
been expanded by statute to include most actions for injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See
42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“[I]n any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken
in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree
was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.”). Judicial immunity is not absolute, however,
as judges do not enjoy immunity for “nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the judge’s
judicial capacity.” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). “[T]he factors determining whether
an act by a judge is a ‘judicial’ one relate to the nature of the act itself, i.e., whether it is a function
normally performed by a judge, and to the expectations of the parties, i.e., whether they dealt with
the judge in his judicial capacity.” Bliven, 579 F.3d at 210, quoting Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S.
349, 362 (1978). As a general matter, “acts arising out of, or related to, individual cases before
the judge are considered judicial in nature.” See id. at 210.
ii. Quasi-Judicial Immunity
The doctrine of quasi-judicial immunity extends judicial immunity to “certain others who
perform functions closely associated with the judicial process.” Oliva v. Heller, 839 F.2d 37, 39
(2d Cir. 1988) (quoting Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S. 193, 200 (1985)) (internal quotation marks
omitted). “To determine which persons are covered under quasi-judicial immunity, ‘the Supreme
court follows a functional approach, under which [a]bsolute immunity flows not from rank or title
or location within the Government, but from the nature of the responsibilities of the individual
officer.’” McKeown v. N.Y. State Com’n on Judicial Conduct, 377 Fed. Appx. 121, 124 (2d Cir.
2010) (some quotation marks omitted and alterations in original) (quoting Oliva, 839 F.2d at 39).
Only those officials performing functions “integrally related to an ongoing judicial proceeding”
are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. Bliven, 579 F.3d at 210. As a general matter, this category
includes officials acting under a court order. See Bowers v. U.S., 931 F. Supp. 2d 358, 367 (D.
Conn. 2013) (official executing valid order from a District Court entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity); Roland v. Phillips, 19 F.3d 552, 556 (11th Cir. 1994) (law enforcement officials
operating in furtherance of facially valid court order entitled to quasi-judicial immunity).
The twin doctrines of immunity listed above foreclose several of Ms. Skipp’s remaining
claims. First, the entirety of the complaint set out in Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01569)
must be dismissed, as it brings a claim against Judge Meyer based solely upon his judicial conduct
in Ms. Skipp’s cases before him. In directly targeting Judge Meyer’s judicial decisions, Ms.
Skipp’s claim implicates the heart of judicial immunity. Although Ms. Skipp advances various
allegations of discrimination and bad faith against Judge Meyer, such claims are unavailing against
the doctrine of judicial immunity. See Bliven, 579 F.3d at 209 (“[E]ven allegations of bad faith or
malice cannot overcome judicial immunity.”). The same logic applies to the inclusion of Judge
Meyer and United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Schiff in Ms. Skipp’s thirteenth count of
her second amended complaint in Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224).
Second, Ms. Skipp’s claims against various affiliates of the Connecticut Superior Court for
their actions carrying out court orders trigger the doctrine of quasi-judicial immunity. Thus, Ms.
Skipp’s twelfth count of her complaint in Skipp et al. v. Brigham et al. (17-cv-01224) must be
dismissed, as it assails the Connecticut Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (CAFCC),
along with various other related entities,12 for undertaking actions in response to Connecticut
Superior Court orders. See Collins v. West Hartford Police Dept., 380 F. Supp. 2d 83, 91 (D.
Conn. 2005) (parties acting as agent of Probate Court entitled to quasi-judicial immunity);
Cleavinger, 474 U.S. at 200 (quasi-judicial immunity extends to those “who perform functions
closely associated with the judicial process”). The state actors named as defendants for their roles
in carrying out various court orders throughout Ms. Skipp’s complaints also fall under this
rationale.13 Thus, these counts must be dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failing to state
a legally valid claim.
Ms. Skipp’s fifteenth count of her second amended complaint in Skipp et al. v. Brigham et
al. (17-cv-01224) alleges a violation of FERPA against an administrator at her daughter’s
This count lists the CAFCC, the “Association of Family and Consiliatory Courts
(sic),” and several members of the organization. (ECF No. 22, ¶ 302).
The immunity concerns listed above also apply to the vast majority of Ms. Skipp’s
claims dismissed under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, almost all of which assailed parties for
complying with court orders.
elementary school. FERPA, however, does not provide a private right of action. See Gonzaga
University v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 289 (2002) (holding that “FERPA’s nondisclosure provisions fail
to confer enforceable rights” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Thus, this count must also be dismissed
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
Ms. Skipp’s remaining claim concerns her petition for habeas corpus in Skipp et al. v. Tittle
et al. (17-cv-01761). This is Ms. Skipp’s third petition for habeas corpus relating to the custody
of her children filed in this court. Her previous two actions were dismissed by Judge Meyer and
myself on the basis of a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Skipp et al. v. Connecticut et al.,
3:16-cv-1194-MPS (Doc. #7); Skipp et al. v. Paxton et al., 3:16-cv-01619-JAM (Doc. #5). Ms.
Skipp’s present petition suffers from the same deficiencies as her prior ones.
The Supreme Court has declined to extend the availability of the federal writ to challenges
to state child-custody decisions, even those based upon alleged constitutional defects. See Lehman
v. Lycoming Cty. Children’s Servs. Agency, 458 U.S. 502, 511-12 (1982) (“E]xtending the federal
writ to challenges to state child-custody decisions-challenges based on alleged constitutional
defects collateral to the actual custody decision would be an unprecedented expansion of the
jurisdiction of the lower federal courts.”); Neustein v. Orbach, 732 F. Supp. 333, 340 (E.D.N.Y.
1990) (“In Lehman v. Lycoming County Children’s Services, 458 U.S. 502 (1982), the Supreme
Court categorically refused to extend the writ of habeas corpus to confer jurisdiction on federal
courts to consider collateral challenges to state court judgments that involuntarily terminate
parental rights.”). Thus, this court lacks the jurisdiction necessary to consider Ms. Skipp’s claim.
Even if this were not the case, this Court would lack jurisdiction to consider Ms. Skipp’s
habeas claim in any event, as the writ is only available within the district of confinement. See
Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 442 (2004) (holding that “for core habeas petitions challenging
present physical confinement, jurisdiction lies in only one district: the district of confinement”);
Schottenstein v. Schottenstein, 230 F.R.D. 355, 361 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (noting that court lacked
jurisdiction over plaintiff’s habeas petition for the return of his daughters who lived in Ohio). As
Ms. Skipp notes in her petition, her daughters’ “place of confinement” is Houston, Texas, which
is under the jurisdiction of the Southern District of Texas. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 9). Thus, Ms. Skipp’s
habeas complaint must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).
WARNING OF LEAVE-TO-FILE INJUNCTION IF PLAINTIFF SKIPP
CONTINUES TO MAKE FRIVOLOUS FILINGS
Ms. Skipp has pursued similar claims to those she makes in the present cases repeatedly in
both federal and state court. As noted above, Ms. Skipp filed a complaint similar to the present
actions in this court two years ago assailing the state court decisions resulting in the loss of Ms.
Skipp’s custody of her children. See Skipp v. Connecticut Judicial Branch, No. 3:14-CV-00141
JAM, 2015 WL 1401989 (D. Conn. Mar. 26, 2015), appeal dismissed (July 6, 2015). She then
filed two successive habeas petitions nearly identical to the one in the present case, both of which
were dismissed for similar reasons. See Skipp et al. v. Connecticut et al., 3:16-cv-1194-MPS (Doc.
#7); Skipp et al. v. Paxton et al., 3:16-cv-01619-JAM (Doc. #5). After filing another suit in
Connecticut Superior Court, Ms. Skipp initiated the original action in this case (Skipp et al. v.
Brigham et al., 17-cv-01224) by attempting to remove that case to the Southern District of New
York.14 (See ECF No. 2). She then filed the two other actions which the Court disposes of in this
case, both of which contain similar allegations to her numerous prior complaints. Although Ms.
Chief Judge McMahon of the Southern District of New York construed the order as a
new civil complaint and transferred the matter to this court. (See ECF # 4).
Skipp’s complaints are not a carbon copy of her previous actions in state and federal court, they
present a very similar attempt to use this court to conduct an end run around the state courts that
have addressed her claims over the past several years. Ms. Skipp’s suits also target a number of
defendants who have repeatedly had to defend against her meritless claims for some time now.
Although a pro se party must always be granted more leniency than a party represented
by counsel, see, e.g., Coombe, 174 F.3d at 280, the Court will not hesitate to impose sanctions in
response to vexatious litigation. In particular, the Court has authority to impose a leave-to-file
injunction upon Ms. Skipp under the All Writs Statute. See Matter of Hartford Textile Corp.,
681 F.2d 895, 897 (2d Cir. 1982) ("The equity power of a court to give injunctive relief against
vexatious litigation is an ancient one which has been codified in the All Writs Statute, 28 U.S.C.
s 1651(a)."). A leave-to-file injunction could prevent Ms. Skipp from filing any further suits in
this Court that arose from the same events that have been the subject of these and previous
actions, except under certain, restrictive conditions. If Ms. Skipp makes any further filings in
this Court (except a notice of appeal) setting forth similar allegations, she will leave the Court
with little choice other than to exercise this power.
For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff’s actions referenced herein are dismissed.
The clerk is directed to mail a copy of this order, return receipt requested, to Plaintiff, and
file proof of mailing and the return receipt on the docket.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
October 26, 2017
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