ROLOFF v. CHRISTIE
MEMORANDUM OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Michael A. Shipp on 1/13/2016. (eaj)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
DEBORA L. ROLOFF, and all others
Civil Action No. 15-1432 (MAS) (TJB)
GOVERNOR CHRISTOPHER CHRISTIE,
SHIPP, District Judge
This putative class action arises from an ongoing State court divorce and spousal/child
support action between pro se Plaintiff Debora L. Roloff ("Plaintiff') and her former spouse
Defendant Brian S. Roloff, which was filed in the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior
Court. (Compl. 4-5, ECF No. 1.) Based on the divorce action and related proceedings, Plaintiff
filed a twelve-count Complaint against her ex-husband, her ex-husband's prior attorneys, her prior
attorneys, state court judges, a probation officer, a newspaper company, as well as, several state
and federal officials, including Governor Christopher Christie, State Senate President Stephen
Sweeney, and United States Attorney Paul Fishman, for conspiring to deprive her of various
federal and state rights and for violating various federal and state statutes, including the civil
Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1962, and the New
Jersey Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1. (See generally Compl.)
This matter comes before the Court on the motions to dismiss of Defendants John A. Patti,
Esq., Laura D'Orsi, Esq. (ECF No. 11), Paula A. Menar, Esq. (ECF No. 12), Brian S. Roloff, Katy
E. Ronney (ECF No. 14), Stan Wischnowski, The Philadelphia Inquirer (ECF No. 25), Governor
Christopher Christie, Honorable Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D., State of New Jersey, Superior Court of
New Jersey, Honorable John A. Jorgensen, II, J.S.C., Middlesex Vicinage Probation Division,
New Jersey Family Support Payment Center, and Michael Mignin (ECF No. 28) (collectively,
"Moving Defendants"). The Court has carefully considered the parties' submissions and decides
the matter without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 78.1. For the reasons stated below,
the motions to dismiss are granted. 1
Plaintiff alleges that her former husband, Defendant Brian S. Roloff, filed a divorce action
in September 2007 and "gave false testimony that the Plaintiff was abusive and unable to parent."
(Compl. 7.) Plaintiff alleges that, "without having full knowledge that if the defendant's claim
was supportive," Judge Jorgensen ordered full custody of Plaintiffs two children to her exhusband. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that she had proof that her ex-husband committed perjury, but
Judge Jorgensen instead relied on false and fabricated statements. (Id. at 8-9.) Plaintiff alleges
that on March 30, 2009, she and her ex-husband divorced. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff further alleges that
since September 2007, despite numerous motions to the New Jersey Superior Court, her exhusband has not allowed her to see her children. (Id. at 7-8.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that
when she tried to contact Judge Jorgensen, his staff would avoid her calls and not appropriately
communicate with her. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff further alleges that her ex-husband moved her children,
without her consent, to South Carolina and her ex-husband has violated "every order on the divorce
Even though all Defendants did not join in the motions to dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint, because
the Court's reasoning applies broadly to all Defendants, the motions to dismiss are granted as to
all Defendants. See Bonny v. Soc y ofLloyd's, 3 F .3d 156, 162 (7th Cir. 1993) ("Court may grant
motion to dismiss even as to nonmoving defendants where nonmoving defendants are in position
similar to that of moving defendants or where claims against all defendants are integrally related.").
decree as well as the June 2012 and November 2012 orders." (Id.) Plaintiff asserts she filed a
motion in the Superior Court of New Jersey in July 2014, however, "nothing was done." (Id.)
Based on these allegations, Plaintiff asserts that her due process and equal protection rights were
Plaintiff also alleges that United States Attorney Paul Fishman has ignored Plaintiff's
request to gather a grand jury and Defendants Stan Wischnowski and The Philadelphia Inquirer
knew of the violations of her federal rights but practiced "yellow journalism" and refused to expose
them. (Id. at 11.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants have a financial interest in
the outcome of her child support case, and that "he was unlawfully and fraudulently coerced into
paying to the FSPC." (Id. at 9.) Based on these allegations, Plaintiff brings the following claims:
Violations of the federal RICO statute (Counts One, Two, Four, and Five);
Malicious Abuse/Misuse/Use of Process (Count Three);
Malicious Prosecution (Count Six);
Fraud (Count Seven);
Violations of the False Claims Act (Count Eight);
Violations of the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (Count Nine);
Violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 (Count Ten);
Intentional and/or Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count Eleven);
Conspiracy (Count Twelve).
(Compl. 12-24.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, interest, cost of suit,
and any other relief the court may deem just and proper. (See generally Compl.) Additionally,
Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief "to halt any other harassment by use of the County Sheriff's
Department, New Jersey State Police, and Municipal Police Department." (Id.)
The crux of Plaintiff's Complaint is that the state court erred in granting her ex-husband
sole custody of her two children. This Court lacks jurisdiction to decide that issue.
"The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents the lower federal courts from exercising
jurisdiction over cases brought by 'state-court losers' challenging the 'state-court judgments
rendered before the district court proceedings commenced."' Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 460
(2006) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine constitutes a bar to suits brought by the losing party in state court that
"seek what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States
district court, based on the losing party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser's
federal rights." Johnson v. DeGrandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994). Rather, review of a decision
by a state court can only be had in the state's appellate courts or in the United States Supreme
Court. See D.C. Ct. ofAppeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1257.
"The [Rooker-Feldman] doctrine is jurisdictional in nature, precluding further federal review."
Turetsky v. Turetsky, 402 F. App'x 671, 673 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Great W. Mining & Mineral
Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 163 (3d Cir. 2010)). The Third Circuit has shed light
on the requirements necessary for the "doctrine to apply: (1) the federal plaintiff lost in state court;
(2) the plaintiff 'complain[s] of injuries caused by [the] state-court judgments'; (3) those
judgments were rendered before the federal suit was filed; and (4) the plaintiff is inviting the
district court to review and reject the state judgments." Great W. Mining & Mineral Co., 615 F.3d
at 166 (quoting Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 284).
Here, Rooker-Feldman is applicable. The first and third requirements, set forth in Great
Western, are easily satisfied: Plaintiff failed in her attempts to dissuade Judge Jorgensen from
awarding her ex-husband full custody and allowing him to move her two children to South
Carolina, and thereafter to obtain visitation rights from the New Jersey Superior Court. All of the
allegations regarding the custody decision and permission to move the children out of state were
rendered prior to the institution of this action. Thus, Plaintiff lost in state court and the judgment
in state court was rendered before the federal suit was filed.
In addition, the second requirement set forth in Great Western is present. In determining
whether the second requirement is met, "[t]he critical task is ... to identify those federal suits that
profess to complain of injury by a third party, but actually complain of injury produced by a statecourtjudgment and not simply ratified, acquiesced in, orleft unpunished byit." Id. at 167 (internal
citation omitted). Here, the essential injury complained of is the award of full custody of her two
children to her ex-husband and permission to move them out of state, and thereafter the failure to
obtain visitation rights. This is exactly the sort of injury identified in Great Western: Plaintiff's
professed injury is the state court's decision.
Finally, the fourth requirement set forth in Great Western is present.
requirement targets is whether the plaintiff's claims will require appellate review of state-court
decisions by the district court." Id. at 169. Indeed, here, Plaintiff invites such a review. Plaintiff's
Complaint complains of procedural irregularities and deprivations and contends that the state court
came to the wrong conclusion. (See Compl. 9 (Judge "Jorgnsen dismissed it even though the
Plaintiff showed him written letters of the Defendant Brian S. Roloff slandering the Plaintiff.
Instead the court relied on false and fabricated statements."); see also id. at 8 ("Whenever the
Plaintiff tried contacting the court one of the court clerks ... never would pick up the phone for
the Plaintiff .... Obviously the Plaintiff was being ignored and the court clerk wasn't trained
properly which slowed down and caused more of a severed relationship between the Plaintiff and
her children.").) Plaintiff plainly invites the Court to conduct a review of the state-court decision
below. Cf Ede/glass v. New Jersey, No. 14-760, 2015 WL 225810, at *8 (D.N.J. Jan. 16, 2015)
(noting that while Rooker-Feldman abstention is applicable to a review of a state court decision, it
is not applicable to a challenge to a state statute or rule underlying that decision).
Based on the above, all four prongs of Rooker-Feldman are satisfied. Accordingly, the
Court lacks jurisdiction to decide Plaintiffs challenge to the award of sole custody to her exhusband and the denial of visitation rights to her.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)
In addition to allegations regarding the state court's award of sole custody to her exhusband and denial of visitation rights to her, Plaintiff makes some vague allegations regarding
fraud and due process claims related to child support, alimony payments, and the Social Security
Act. (Compl. at 6.) Additionally, on numerous occasions in her Complaint, Plaintiff refers to
"kids for cash" to support many of her different theories for relief. (See generally Compl.)
Rule 8(a)(2) "requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and
the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell At!. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In determining the sufficiency of a prose complaint,
the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). Moreover, "a prose complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Id. at 94 (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, even a prose pleading is required to "set
forth sufficient information to outline the elements of [a] claim or to permit inferences to be drawn
that these elements exist." Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (internal citation
omitted). In addition, the Court need not credit a pro se plaintiffs "bald assertions" or "legal
conclusions." Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). "Thus, a pro
se complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if the allegations set forth by
plaintiff cannot be construed as supplying facts in support of a claim, which would entitle the
plaintiff to relief." Rhett v. N.J. State Super. Ct., No. 07-2303, 2007 WL 1791264, at *2 (D.N.J.
June 19, 2007), ajf'd, 260 F. App'x 513 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371,
373 (3d Cir. 1981)).
Here, the Court is unable to discern sufficient facts in Plaintiffs Complaint to support
Plaintiffs claims relating to her "kids for cash" theory. Specifically, Plaintiff has not alleged facts
to support that she was ever even ordered to pay child support or alimony or any of the facts
surrounding any such order. In her Complaint, Plaintiff states only that "he2 was unlawfully and
fraudulently coerced into paying to the FSPC, which is part of the State body-incorporated
machinery to obtain Federal funding for child support enforcement." (Compl. 9.) In addition,
Plaintiffs Request for Judicial Notice in Opposition to All Named Defendants' Motion to Dismiss,
states that she "had an order to receive alimony monthly." (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. 5, ECF No. 17.) Thus,
the facts as pleaded do not give Defendants fair notice of the basis for these claims, and
accordingly, should be dismissed pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
When a complaint is subject to a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, however, amendment should be
permitted unless it is prejudicial or futile. Phillips v. Cnty. ofAllegheny, 515 F .3d 224, 245 (3d
Cir. 2008). '"Futility' means that the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon
which relief could be granted." Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000). The futility
Because in the past few years a number of complaints similar to Plaintiffs have been filed in this
District by pro se litigants, the Court is unsure based on this one phrase whether Plaintiff is
asserting that she was ordered to pay child support and just had a typo of "he" or this phrase was
copied from a different litigant's pleading. See, e.g., Wolf v. Escala, No. 14-5985 (D.N.J. Sept.
24, 2014); Alintoff v. Escandon, No. 15-1072 (D.N.J. Jan. 26, 2015); DiPetro v. Christie, No. 151441 (D.N.J. Fed. 25, 2015); Kolakowski v. Christie, No. 15-1583 (D.N.J. Mar. 2, 2015).
of an amendment is assessed under the same standard as Rule 12(b)(6); therefore, a plaintiff must
be allowed to amend a complaint subject to such a dismissal ''unless the amendment would not
cure the deficiency." Id.
Here, Plaintiffs rambling pleadings contain mostly unintelligible allegations against
multiple defendants. Plaintiff offers broad labels and conclusions and does not provide sufficient
facts to support her claims. For example, Plaintiff repeatedly refers to "Defendants" without
specifying which particular defendant participated in the complained of activity or what role each
defendant allegedly played. See Bullock v. Ancora Psychiatric Hosp., No. 10-1412, 2011 WL
3651352, at *9 (D.N.J. Aug. 18, 2011) ("IfRule S's pleading requirement has any substance, it requires
a Plaintiff to specifically identify the defendants against whom a claim is asserted"). Accordingly,
Plaintiffs Complaint does not provide Defendants with fair notice of the factual grounds for
Plaintiffs claims. Because Plaintiffs Complaint does not comply with Rule 8(a)'s requirements,
Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed. The Complaint, however, will be dismissed without prejudice
to the filing of an amended complaint adhering to Rule 8(a)'s pleading requirements. Should
Plaintiff subsequently fail to adhere to Rule 8(a)'s pleading requirements, her amended complaint
will be dismissed with prejudice.
For the reasons set forth above, Moving Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 11,
12, 14, 25, 28) are granted and Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed without prejudice. 3 An order
consistent with this Memorandum Opinion will be entered.
s/ Michael A. Shipp
MICHAEL A. SHIPP
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: January Jl, 2016
Given that Plaintiffs Complaint does not clearly identify the factual grounds for each claim, the
Court is unable to discern which claims are based entirely on the state court's decision in Plaintiffs
divorce action. To the extent that Plaintiffs claims are based on the state court's decision, those
claims are dismissed with prejudice pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?