Fleming v. Department of Health & Human Services, et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - This matter is dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Judgment shall be entered by separate document. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (KLF)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
RICHARD MAX FLEMING, M.D.,
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH &
HUMAN SERVICES, and DIANE
Plaintiff Richard Max Fleming, a non-prisoner, filed this case on May 11, 2016,
in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which then transferred
the case to this court based on improper venue. (Filing No. 1, Complaint; Filing No.
4, Transfer Order.) Fleming has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
(Filing No. 8.) The court now conducts an initial review of Fleming’s Complaint
(Filing No. 1) to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C.
I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Although Fleming’s Complaint names the Nebraska Department of Health and
Human Services (NDHHS) and his former wife, Diane M. Haag, as defendants, his
claims are limited to alleged errors committed by the Sarpy County District Court, the
Nebraska Court of Appeals, and the Nebraska Supreme Court in handling a
modification of child and spousal support agreement between Fleming and his exwife. (Filing No. 1, Complaint at CM/ECF pp. 5-7 (issues presented all relate to errors
committed by state trial and appellate courts); Filing No. 1, Complaint at CM/ECF p.
38 (requesting that federal district court grant motions filed in Sarpy County District
Court, enforce modification agreement filed in state court, correct errors in public
records, return Fleming’s passport, order an investigation into the state courts’
handling of Fleming’s complaints that the NDHHS did not properly perform its duties,
and impose appropriate discipline for such errors).)
With the exception of habeas corpus petitions, federal district courts lack
subject-matter jurisdiction to hear actions that seek to reverse a state court’s judgment
under what is known as the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co.,
263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460
U.S. 462, 482 (1983). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies where, as here, a case is
brought by a loser in a state court action, complaining of injuries caused by the state
court’s judgment rendered before the federal district court proceedings commenced
and inviting the district court to review and reject that judgment. See Exxon Mobile
Corp. v. Saudia Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005); Janson v. Katharyn B.
Davis, LLC, 806 F.3d 435, 437 (8th Cir. 2015).
To the extent Fleming is also attempting to raise federal due process claims, the
result is the same because such claims are “inextricably intertwined” with matters
already adjudicated in state court.
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine forecloses not only straightforward
appeals but also more indirect attempts by federal plaintiffs to undermine
state court decisions. Thus, a corollary to the basic rule against reviewing
judgments prohibits federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction
over general constitutional claims that are ‘inextricably intertwined’ with
specific claims already adjudicated in state court.
Lemonds v. St. Louis County, 222 F.3d 488, 492-93 (8th Cir. 2000).
Accordingly, this matter shall be dismissed for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (if federal court determines at any time that
it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, court must dismiss the action).
IT IS ORDERED:
This matter is dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction; and
Judgment shall be entered by separate document.
DATED this 13th day of October, 2016.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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