Matthews v. Tobin

Filing 3

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) pltf's federal claims asserted are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; (2) pltf's claims arising under Kentucky law are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; (3) Court will enter appropriate judgment; (4) this matter is STRICKEN from the active docket. Signed by Judge Joseph M. Hood on 01/24/2012.(RJD)cc: COR,PRO SE PLTF(via US Mail)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY CENTRAL DIVISION AT LEXINGTON ELAINE MATTHEWS, ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Plaintiff, v. MARY ANN TOBIN, Defendant. **** Plaintiff Kentucky. Elaine **** Civil Action No. 12-12-JMH MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER **** is Matthews **** resident a of Bardstown, Matthews, proceeding without an attorney, has filed a civil action against defendant Mary Ann Tobin, asserting claims under the federal constitution and under Kentucky law. [R. 1] Matthews has paid the filing fee. Matthews veterinarian alleges Michael that on O’Brien February transferred 18, 2011, Briana, a Tobin and whitetail doe, from the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest located in Clermont, Kentucky, to the Broadbent Wildlife Sanctuary located outside Irvington, manner. Tobin, a Kentucky, former in a state sanctuary at Broadbent in 2002. fraudulent and representative, dishonest founded the Matthews indicates that she had become “very bonded” to the doe and visited it frequently at Bernheim, and was distraught when it Broadbent where she could no longer do so. was transferred to While Tobin has now allowed Matthews to visit the doe, Matthews complains that the doe’s living conditions are unacceptable and it is not being properly cared for. [R. 1 at 3-6] Matthews indicates that some or all of these issues regarding care of the doe have previously been litigated in the Bullitt County Circuit Court. 7] [R. 1 at 4, Matthews contends that Tobin’s actions constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment tortious interference with contract under Kentucky law. at 1-3] and [R. 1 Matthews seeks an order permitting her to visit the doe twice a week and to compel that it be cared for, fed, and watered in the manner compensatory damages. described in the complaint, and for [R. 1 at 18-20] As a preliminary matter, the plaintiff has filed this suit in the wrong court. Matthews’s complaint appears to allege that Tobin federal violated her civil rights, conduct actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and that she tortiously interfered with a contract between herself and Bernheim Foundation. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) requires such a complaint to be filed in a judicial district where (1) at least one defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same state; (2) a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred; or (3) defendant resides, if no other district provides venue. actions forming the basis for the complaint occurred any The at Broadbent’s facility in Irvington, Kentucky, which is also the city where Tobin resides. Irvington is located in Breckenridge County, and hence falls within the Western District of Kentucky. 28 U.S.C. § 97(b). Section 1391(b) therefore requires that this action should have been filed in that court. When a case is filed in the wrong district, the Court has discretion to either dismiss the case or transfer it to the proper district. 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). In the present case, the Court has reviewed the complaint1 and will dismiss the action because Matthew’s federal civil rights claim fails as a matter of law and because neither this Court nor the Western District would possess subject matter jurisdiction over her tortious interference claim. Matthews alleges that Tobin has subjected her to cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Eighth Amendment’s proscription of “Cruel and Unusual Punishments” applies only to actions taken individuals. the by the government, not to those private The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that Constitution does not reach “merely matter how discriminatory or wrongful.” private conduct, no American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50 (1999). 1 of Because Tobin, A federal court may screen a fee-paid complaint filed by a non-prisoner plaintiff and dismiss it where its allegations are insubstantial or its claims are devoid of legal merit or are not open to reasonable discussion. Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999). “the party charged with the deprivation,” is not “a person who may fairly be said to be a state actor,” Matthews cannot show a violation of the Eighth Amendment, and her civil rights claim fails as a matter of law. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). Matthews also alleges that Tobin tortiously interfered with a contract between herself and Bernheim, a claim arising under Kentucky law. However, having determined that her sole federal claim must be dismissed, Tobin’s pendent state law claim should also be dismissed without prejudice. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966). also cannot exercise independent subject matter The Court jurisdiction over the claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, as the plaintiff and defendant are diversity of residents of citizenship. the same state, The Court will and hence therefore lack dismiss Matthews’s state law claim, without prejudice to her right to assert it in the proper forum. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that: 1. Plaintiff’s federal claims asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. 2. Plaintiff’s claims arising under Kentucky DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. 3. The Court will enter an appropriate judgment. law are 4. This matter is STRICKEN from the active docket. This the 24th day of January, 2012.

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