Zelesnik v. Beshear et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) Paula Zelesniks Complaint 2 is DISMISSED; (2) The Court will enter an appropriate judgment; and (3) Within twenty-one (21) days, Zelesnik shall SHOW CAUSE why the Court should not impose the filing restrictions described above.. Signed by Judge David L. Bunning on 11/16/2020.(KRB)cc: CORand Paula Zelesnik by US Mail
Case: 2:20-cv-00162-DLB Doc #: 7 Filed: 11/16/20 Page: 1 of 5 - Page ID#: 27
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 20-162-DLB
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STEVE BESHEAR, et al.,
*** *** *** ***
Plaintiff Paula Zelesnik has filed a pro se Complaint (Doc. # 2), and the Court has
granted her Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis by separate Order. This matter is
before the Court to conduct the initial screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F. 3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010).
Zelesnik’s Complaint lists 18 Defendants (including the Governor of Ohio, the
former Governor of Kentucky, the University of Cincinnati, as well as an array of federal,
state, and local officials and entities), but makes allegations against none of them.
Instead, she makes a confusing allegation about an aircraft engine design that is similar
to one produced by General Electric, and states that she “want[s] [her] name off all GE
engines commercial and military,” as well as from publications by Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base. From there, her Complaint devolves into a string of incomprehensible
references to prior threats and criminal charges. (Doc. # 2).
In these respects, Zelesnik’s current submission is not meaningfully different from
prior lawsuits she has filed in federal court. A review of the Court’s online PACER
database indicates that since 2017, Zelesnik has filed twenty-nine (29) federal lawsuits in
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the federal district courts of Kentucky and Ohio and has taken four appeals to the Sixth
Circuit. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in dismissing
the first of these complaints, described it as “rambling, difficult to decipher, and borders
on the delusional.” Zelesnik v. Univ. of Cincinnati, No. 1: 17-cv-210-TSB-KLL (S.D. Ohio
2017). And many of her complaints have repeated the same apparent claims regarding
an aircraft engine design. See, e.g., Zelesnik v. GE Aircraft Engines, No. 1: 17-cv-211SJD-SKB (S.D. Ohio 2017).
After the repeated rejection of her claims by federal courts in Ohio, Zelesnik began
filing suit in this Court. In her prior lawsuits filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky,
Zelesnik named a Kentucky official as a defendant with no apparent basis for doing so,
as the events giving rise to her claims arose only in Ohio. All of these complaints were
summarily dismissed pursuant to Apple v. Glenn, 183 F. 3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999), in
which the Sixth Circuit affirmed the sua sponte dismissal a pro se complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction where the allegations were “totally implausible, attenuated,
unsubstantial, frivolous, devoid of merits, or no longer open to discission.” Cf. Zelesnik
v. Bevin, No. 2: 18-cv-113-WOB (E.D. Ky. 2018); Zelesnik v. McConnell, No. 2: 20-cv143-JMH (E.D. Ky. 2020); Zelesnik v. Massie, No. 2: 20-cv-157-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2020).
Zelesnik’s present Complaint is dismissed for the same reasons.
Moreover, the Court finds that sanctions are warranted. By 2018, after it had
repeatedly cautioned Zelesnik that her conduct invited sanctions, the Northern District of
Ohio barred her from proceeding in forma pauperis. Zelesnik v. Ohio, No. 1: 18-cv-2471DAP (N.D. Ohio 2018). In addition, the Southern District of Ohio recently barred Zelesnik
from filing any new complaints unless she submits a certified statement from a licensed
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attorney that the claims asserted in her proposed complaint are supported by a good faith
basis in fact and law. Zelesnik v. Rice, No. 1: 20-CV-56-TSB-SKB (S.D. Ohio 2020) (Doc.
# 8 therein).
Zelesnik has filed the same nearly-incomprehensible claims in more than two
dozen lawsuits. In a handful of those cases, Zelesnik has named co-plaintiffs in the
complaint who were either fictitious or self-evidently not witting and/or willing participants.
Further, in almost all of the cases Plaintiff has filed, she has not provided an accurate
mailing address. Indeed, over the last three years, she has provided nearly a dozen
different mailing addresses. Unsurprisingly, in almost all of her prior cases, the district
courts’ orders, opinions, and judgments were returned as undeliverable. Zelesnik repeats
that pattern here. The address given in her Complaint in this case, 801 Plum Street in
Cincinnati, Ohio, is the address for City Hall. The address given in her fee motion—2368
Victory Parkway in Cincinnati, Ohio—is both different from that listed in her Complaint
and appears to be the address for a former attorney (either for Zelesnik or for a former
adversary). See Zelesnik v. Summit Behavioral Healthcare, No. 1: 19-cv-978-TSB-SKB
(S.D. Ohio 2019) (Doc. # 7 therein); Zelesnik v. Rice, No. 1: 20-cv-566-TSB-SKB (S.D.
Ohio 2020) (Doc. # 10 therein). Plaintiff’s actual address is (or might be) in or near
Cleveland, Ohio. See Zelesnik v. Bevin, No. 2: 18-cv-113-WOB (E.D. Ky. 2018) (Docs.
# 11 and 12 therein).
Based on Zelesnik’s repeated abuse of the right to file suit, appropriate sanctions
are warranted. Zelesnik is proceeding pro se, and the Court takes seriously its obligation
to afford additional latitude to parties who are not educated or experienced in the
eccentricities of the law or its practice. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 596 (1972). Yet,
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that forgiving approach has never “[been] interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those
who proceed without counsel,” McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993), and
courts have never allowed “the right of self-representation [to be used as] a license to
abuse the dignity of the courtroom.” Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 835 n.46 (1975).
It is well established that a court possesses the inherent authority to control
proceedings before it, and to take any and all necessary and appropriate steps to manage
its docket. Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991). Where a party repeatedly
takes actions that interfere with the orderly processing of cases or that undermine the
dignity and solemnity of court proceedings, a court may impose appropriate sanctions to
prevent such conduct, Chambers, 501 U.S. at 45-46, including entry of an order
prospectively requiring the vexatious litigant to obtain permission from the Court before
filing any new lawsuit, Filipas v. Lemons, 835 F.2d 1145, 1146 (6th Cir. 1987); Maxberry
v. S.E.C., 879 F.3d 222, 224 (6th Cir. 1989). That remedy is appropriate here. Ortman
v. Thomas, 99 F.3d 807, 811 (6th Cir. 1996) (“[I]t is permissible to require one who has
abused the legal process to make a showing that a tendered lawsuit is not frivolous or
vexatious before permitting it to be filed.”); Feathers v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 141 F.3d
264, 269 (6th Cir. 1998) (“There is nothing unusual about imposing prefiling restrictions
in matters with a history of repetitive or vexatious litigation.”).
Before entering such an order, the Court will afford Zelesnik the opportunity to
explain why that sanction should not be imposed. Cf. Metz v. Unizan Bank, 655 F.3d
485, 490 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[P]arties should be given notice of the possibility of inherent
power sanctions so that they ‘can present to the district court those rules or statutes that
may be more appropriate.’”). Her response may be in the form of an explanation for her
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past conduct in mitigation or to interpose factual or legal objections to the proposed
restriction. Therefore, within twenty-one (21) days, Zelesnik must file a written response
in this case to show cause as to why the Court should not enter an Order requiring her to
obtain prior permission from the Chief Judge of this Court before she may file any new
civil cases in this Court. The Court will impose the sanction described above if she fails
to file a timely response or files a response that does not identify factually and legally
sufficient grounds as to why the restriction should not be imposed. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED as follows:
Paula Zelesnik’s Complaint (Doc # 2) is DISMISSED;
The Court will enter an appropriate judgment; and
Within twenty-one (21) days, Zelesnik shall SHOW CAUSE why the Court
should not impose the filing restrictions described above.
This 16th day of November, 2020.
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