McGuire v. Edwards et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER -....IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's "Objection to Defendant's Notice of Removal and Plaintiff Request Case be Remand [sic] Back to State Court," docketed as a Motion to Remand, is GRANTED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. [Doc. 5] An order of remand will accompany this Memorandum and Order.. Signed by District Judge Charles A. Shaw on 2/8/2018. (MRC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
DR. PATT MCGUIRE,
JERRY EDWARDS, et al.,
No. 4:18-CV-71 CAS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This removed case is before the Court on pro se plaintiff Dr. Patt McGuire, Ph.D.’s
(“plaintiff”) motion to remand.1 No response has been filed to the motion and the time for any
respond has passed. For the following reasons, the Court will remand this case to the Circuit Court
of St. Louis County, Missouri, from which it was removed, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
Plaintiff states that she is a deputy detention juvenile officer employed by St. Louis County,
Missouri. Plaintiff filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in state court in August 2017,
McGuire v. St. Louis County, Missouri, et al., Case No. 17SL-CC-3123 (21st Judicial Circuit, State
of Missouri) (the “Employment Discrimination case”).2 The instant case was filed in state court in
December 2017. Plaintiff sues two defendants, Jerry Edwards and St. Louis County, Missouri, and
alleges the following facts:
The motion is titled “Objection to Defendant’s Notice of Removal and Plaintiff Request
Case be Remand [sic] Back to State Court” (Doc. 5). It was properly docketed as a motion to
Plaintiff’s Employment Discrimination case was removed to this Court on December 5,
2017. See McGuire v. St. Louis County, Missouri, et al., No. 4:17-CV-2818 CDP (E.D. Mo.).
On November 21, 2017, plaintiff looked up her Employment Discrimination case on
Missouri Case.net to see its progress.3 (Petition ¶ 6.) Plaintiff saw that beneath the names of
defendants St. Louis County Missouri, and St. Louis County Missouri (Administrator Judge) on the
Case.net docket sheet were the words “Party End Date: 11/21/2017” and “Party End Reason: Party
Released/Ended.” (Id. ¶¶ 17-18; Ex. A.)
On November 27, 2017, plaintiff went to the St. Louis County Circuit Court to file several
documents in her Employment Discrimination case. (Id. ¶ 6.) After filing the documents, plaintiff
went to Judge Dean Paul Waldemer’s court and spoke to his clerk, Jackie Dougherty. (Id. ¶ 11.)
“Among the questions the Plaintiff asked Jackie Daugherty was if she could explain the updated
information in Missouri Case Net dated 11-21-2017. The Plaintiff specifically asked what does
‘Release/Ended’ mean. The Plaintiff asked if that meant that the Defendants were released from the
case and if that meant the case was over.” (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Daugherty conferred with the judge and returned to the courtroom
and told plaintiff “the judge said he did not do that.” (Id. ¶ 11.) Ms. Daugherty instructed plaintiff
to return to the Circuit Clerk’s Office and ask the manager how that information got into Case.net.
Plaintiff went to the Clerk’s Office to ask but the lead manager was not in that day. (Id.) Plaintiff
returned the next day, November 28, 2017, and spoke to defendant Edwards, lead manager/director
for the Circuit Clerk’s Office. (Id. ¶ 12). Plaintiff explained to Edwards her conversation of the
previous day with Jackie Daugherty in Judge Waldemer’s courtroom, concerning changes shown
The website of Missouri Case.net specifically cautions, “The information available on
Case.net is provided as a service and is not considered an official court record.” Missouri Case.net
General Help (emphasis added).
See Case.net General Help, Accessing Case.net,
898cd604d014d8625681d005927bb?OpenDocument (last accessed Feb. 8, 2018).
on the docket sheet on Case.net on November 21, 2017. Plaintiff showed Edwards screen shots of
two pages of the docket sheet from Case.net, which are attached to the Petition as Exhibits A and
B. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Edwards asked plaintiff if he could go check to see what she was talking about, and then
returned and told plaintiff he had corrected the problem and not to worry about it because it had been
corrected. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff asked how this happened and who did it, and asked for the name of
the person or persons who did it. (Id.) Edwards responded that he would have to check with the
legal department and plaintiff asked that Edwards get back to her on her request for this information.
(Id. ¶ 14.) When plaintiff had not heard from Edwards two days later, she filed a subpoena “with
about 29 questions related to details on the tampered information in Case Net on the Plaintiff[’s]
mentioned case on November 30, 2017.” (Id. ¶ 15.)
A little over two weeks later, plaintiff filed this action in St. Louis County Circuit Court on
December 18, 2017, naming as defendants Jerry Edwards and St. Louis County, Missouri. The
petition is titled “Tampering Petition” and asserts that it is a “civil action authorized by 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1519 and 1520.” (Id. ¶ 1.) The petition also mentions 18 U.S.C. §§ 242, 1505, 1506, 1512, and
42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Section V of the petition, titled “Legal Claims,” plaintiff incorporates her
factual allegations and asserts: “The tampering violated Plaintiff’s (Dr. Patt McGuire) Constitutional
and legal rights.” (Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff further asserts that she “has no plain, adequate or complete
remedy at [sic] to redress the wrongs described herein. Plaintiff has been and will continue to be
irreparably injured by the conduct of the defendants unless this court grants the declaratory relief
which plaintiff seeks.” (Id. ¶ 23.)
Plaintiff’s prayer for relief seeks a declaration that “the acts and omissions described herein
violated Plaintiff’s rights under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff
also seeks compensatory damages in the amount of “thirty-five million (35 Millions) against each
defendant, jointly and severally,” (id. ¶ 25), and punitive damages in the amount of “$35 Million”
against each defendant. (Id. ¶ 26.)
Defendant Edwards removed the case to this Court on January 17, 2018, on the basis of
federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, stating, “Plaintiff alleges her lawsuit violations
[sic] 18 U.S.C. §§ 1519 and 1520, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional
rights.” (Notice of Removal at 1-2.) This Court issued orders directing Edwards to supplement his
Notice of Removal to provide the complete state court record (Docs. 13, 15), and Edwards has
complied. The Court now turns to plaintiff’s motion to remand.
II. Motion to Remand
Plaintiff moves to remand the case to state court, on the grounds that “trying the case in
federal court would waste the Courts [sic] time” and “because Plaintiff was correct in filing the case
in state court because the case fit all requirements for state court hearing the case.” Mot. to Remand
at 1. Plaintiff also asserts in support of remand to state court that (1) the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum of $75,000; (2) defendant Edwards resides or does business in the district; (3) the
Employment Discrimination case “which contains events leading up to the lawsuit is the overlapping
originating case”; (4) defendant was served with process “in the building of the state court”; (5) the
“state court is competent to hear and decide on the subject matter of tampering within the court’s
jurisdiction”; (6) personal jurisdiction exists “because the Defendant is present in Missouri and is
a legal resident of the state in which the lawsuit has been filed”; and (7) the case is between
individuals and “the Defendant’s employer – St. Louis County Missouri/St. Louis County Courts.”
(Id. ¶¶ 1-7.) As previously stated, neither defendant responded to the motion to remand.
III. Legal Standard
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The requirement that jurisdiction be
established as a threshold matter springs from the nature and limits of the judicial power of the
United States and is inflexible and without exception.” Kessler v. National Enters., Inc., 347 F.3d
1076, 1081 (8th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks and quoted case omitted). A federal court may not
proceed at all in a case unless it has jurisdiction. Crawford v. F. Hoffman-LaRoche Ltd., 267 F.3d
760, 764 (8th Cir. 2001).
“The burden of establishing that a cause of action lies within the limited jurisdiction of the
federal courts is on the party asserting jurisdiction[.]” Branson Label, Inc. v. City of Branson, Mo.,
793 F.3d 910, 917 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoted case omitted). Thus, in this case, removing defendant
Edwards bears that burden. Removal statutes are strictly construed, and any doubts about the
propriety of removal are resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction and remand. Central Iowa
Power Co-op. v. Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir.
2009). In determining whether a claim “arises under” federal law, courts must be “mindful that the
nature of federal removal jurisdiction—restricting as it does the power of the states to resolve
controversies in their own courts—requires strict construction of the legislation permitting removal.”
Nichols v. Harbor Venture, Inc., 284 F.3d 857, 861 (8th Cir. 2002) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas
Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941)). If “at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction,” the case must be remanded to the state court from
which it was removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
The propriety of removal to federal court depends on whether the claim comes within the
scope of the federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). “A defendant may
remove a state court claim to federal court only if the claim originally could have been filed in
federal court, and the well-pleaded complaint rule provides that a federal question must be presented
on the face of the properly pleaded complaint to invoke federal court jurisdiction.” Gore v. Trans
World Airlines, 210 F.3d 944, 948 (8th Cir. 2000) (citing Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386,
As stated above, defendant Edwards removed this case based on federal question jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Congress has given federal courts subject matter jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1331 to hear “only those cases in which a well-pleaded complaint rule establishes either
that federal law creates the cause of action or . . . that the plaintiff’s right to relief necessarily
depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law.” Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal.
v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust for Southern Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983)). A complaint
presents a question of federal law when the right to recovery under it “will be supported if the
Constitution or laws of the United States are given one construction or effect, and defeated if they
receive another.” Gulley v. First Nat’l Bank, 299 U.S. 109, 112 (1936).
Here, plaintiff’s petition expressly cites a number of federal statutes. There is, however, an
exception to the rule that pleading a federal statutory violation establishes subject matter
jurisdiction. “A claim invoking federal-question jurisdiction . . . may be dismissed for want of
subject-matter jurisdiction if it is not colorable, i.e., if it is ‘immaterial and made solely for the
purpose of obtaining jurisdiction’ or is ‘wholly insubstantial and frivolous.’” Arbaugh v. Y & H
Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 513 n.10 (2006) (quoting Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682-83 (1946)); see also
Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 89 (1998) (“Dismissal for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction because of the inadequacy of the federal claim is proper only when the
claim is ‘so insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by prior decisions of this Court, or otherwise
completely devoid of merit as not to involve a federal controversy.’”) (quoting Oneida Indian Nation
v. County of Oneida, 414 U.S. 661, 666 (1974)). “‘Constitutional insubstantiality for this purpose
has been equated with such concepts as ‘essentially fictitious,’ ‘wholly insubstantial,’ ‘obviously
frivolous,’ and ‘obviously without merit.’” Shapiro v. McManus, 136 S. Ct. 450, 456 (2015)
This exception applies to the present case. Although plaintiff’s petition cites a number of
federal statutes, her claim is wholly insubstantial and legally frivolous, and obviously without merit
under those statutes. The federal statutes on which plaintiff’s claims are based, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1519
and 1520, are criminal statutes that prohibit the destruction, alternation of falsification of records
in federal investigations or bankruptcies, and the destruction of corporate audit records, respectively.
These federal criminal statutes by their terms do not apply to actions such as those plaintiff alleges
occurred in a state court such as the St. Louis County Circuit Court and, moreover, do not provide
a private cause of action to plaintiff or any other individual. The other federal statutes plaintiff cites
in her petition, with the exception of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are also criminal statutes that do not apply
to actions occurring in state courts, and do not provide a private cause of action.
As to plaintiff’s mention of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, it is fundamental that Section 1983 is a
remedial statute, which “is not itself a source of substantive rights, but [rather] a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(quoted case omitted). See also Wilson v. Spain, 209 F.3d 713, 715 (8th Cir. 2000) (“Section 1983
does not confer substantive rights but merely provides a means to vindicate rights conferred by the
Constitution or laws of the United States.”). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff
must establish two essential elements: (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws
of the United States, and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color
of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Plaintiff’s petition does not allege the violation of a right secured by the United States
Constitution or federal law such that she could assert a claim under Section 1983. Plaintiff alleges
only facts to show that an error was made on the unofficial docket sheet of her Employment
Discrimination case while it was pending in the St. Louis County Circuit Court, that was quickly
corrected when she pointed it out. Plaintiff does not identify which of her constitutional rights were
violated by these actions, and the Court finds that any claim of a constitutional violation based on
the facts alleged is wholly insubstantial and obviously frivolous, and so completely devoid of merit
as not to involve a federal controversy.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
this action because plaintiff’s claims are so completely devoid of merit as to not involve a federal
controversy. Consequently, removing defendant Edwards has not met his burden to establish the
existence of federal question jurisdiction. As a result, this case must be remanded to the state court
from which it was removed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Plaintiff’s motion to remand will therefore
be granted. All other pending motions will remain for disposition by the state court following
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s “Objection to Defendant’s Notice of Removal
and Plaintiff Request Case be Remand [sic] Back to State Court,” docketed as a Motion to Remand,
is GRANTED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. [Doc. 5]
An order of remand will accompany this Memorandum and Order.
CHARLES A. SHAW
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 8th day of February, 2018.
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