Beverly v. Beverly et al
Memorandum Opinion and Order: The defendants' various motions to dismiss (Doc. Nos. 16 , 18 , and 19 ) are granted. Further, the Court sua sponte dismisses this action against the remaining defendants because their answers raised meritorious affirmative defenses relating to jurisdiction and requested judgment on the complaint. This case is dismissed. Judge Sara Lioi on 8/22/2017. (P,J)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
WILLIAM C. BEVERLY, III,
DEDRIA BEVERLY, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:16-cv-2978
JUDGE SARA LIOI
The above-captioned case was filed on December 13, 2016 by pro se plaintiff, William C.
Beverly, III (“plaintiff”) against several defendants, including his former spouse (Dedria Beverly)
and her former attorney (Ellen S. Mandell), plaintiff’s own former attorneys (A. Clifford Thornton,
Jr. and Mary E. Papcke) and three judicial officers (Judge Ann Celebreeze; Magistrate Cathleen J.
Chaney; Judge Rosemary Grdina (Gold) [“the judicial officer defendants”]) – all associated,
directly or indirectly, with plaintiff’s divorce proceedings in the Cuyahoga County Court of
Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division. (Dedria Beverly v. William C. Beverly, Case No.
Defendants Ellen S. Mandell and Dedria Beverly filed their respective answers, raising
affirmative defenses and requesting dismissal of the complaint. (Doc. Nos. 4 and 17.) The
remaining defendants filed motions to dismiss. (Doc. No 16 [Mary E. Papcke]; Doc. No. 18 [the
judicial officer defendants]; Doc. No. 19 [A. Clifford Thornton, Jr.].) Plaintiff filed briefs in
opposition to each motion to dismiss. (Doc. Nos. 23, 24 and 22, respectively.) Defendant Papcke
and defendant Thornton filed replies. (Doc. Nos. 25 and 26, respectively.)1
Plaintiff has also filed numerous other documents out of rule (see Doc. Nos. 20, 21, 27, 28, 31, 34, and 37), which
ultimately prompted the Court to order all proceedings stayed until the motions to dismiss were resolved, and further
Plaintiff’s complaint, which does not comply with the pleading requirements of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure,2 is practically incomprehensible. But what can be gleaned from a close
reading is that plaintiff is attempting to challenge the outcome of his divorce proceedings, and the
orders issued therein, although generally framing the actions of the various defendants in
constitutional terms – sprinkling into the complaint constitutional phrases such as “due process”
and “equal protection” – or with reference to federal statutes, in an attempt to create federal
question jurisdiction. The gravamen of each of his eight counts can be summarized by the
following excerpts from the complaint:
Count 1 (42 U.S.C. §1983) - “Acting under the color of law, Defendants conspired
to deny Petitioner rights[,] privileges, and immunities secured by the United States
Constitution and Federal Law.” (Compl. p. 6.) “Defendants conspired for the
purpose of impeding and hindering the due course of justice, with the intent to deny
Petitioner [sic] equal protection of laws.” (p. 6, citation omitted.)
Count 2 (42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(2), (3)) - “Defendants have constantly
obstructed justice according to law.” (p. 6.) “Misleading the Petitioner [sic] into a
void judgment for a fraudulent divorce.” (p. 6.) “Two or more persons did conspire
to go in disguise to hold a fraudulent divorce depriving, [sic] then Defendant of
equal protection of the law.” (p. 6.)
Count 3 (42 U.S.C. § 1983) - “[N]ot having sufficient evidence to proceed with a
garnishment and divorce.” (p. 8.)
Count 4 (Malicious Abuse of Process) - “Defendants knew that they did void the
proper procedures for divorce.” (p. 9.)
Count 5 (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242 Conspiracy) - “All defendants acted in concert to
deny Petitioner [sic] his rights and ignored clearly established laws.”
directing that, during the stay, no filings would be allowed without prior leave of Court. (See Order, Doc. No. 39.) In
direct disregard of this Order, plaintiff filed a Rule 60 motion. (Doc. No. 40.) This motion is stricken from the record.
In his prayer for damages, plaintiff correctly points out that pleadings in pro se cases are not held to the same
standards as those filed by attorneys. That said, as previously noted by an Order of this Court, plaintiff’s pro se status
does not completely excuse him from compliance with applicable court rules, both federal and local, nor entitle him
to special treatment. (See Order, Doc. No. 39 at 255-56 [all page number references herein are to the CMECF page
Count 6 (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress) - “To garnish wages of
Petitioner [sic] was and is unlawful according to the fraudulent procedure.” (p. 10.)
Count 7 (Mail Fraud) - “Defendants all intentionally sent correspondence via U.S.
Mail to Petitioner [sic], when they fraudulently sent mail pertaining to a null and
void divorce.” (p. 11.)
Count 8 (Fraud) - “Upon an astute observation of the procedure to be married
there was fraud in the factum. . . . Petitioner [sic] was not aware of being induced
into signing a fraudulently [sic] contract for a marriage license. . . . Providing
evidence the divorce is fraudulent conversion of the marriage. . . .” (pp. 11-12.)
(Doc. No. 1.) Count 8 appears to also challenge not only the divorce, but also the original marriage.
Federal courts have no jurisdiction to resolve or overturn domestic-relations matters.
Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 703, 112 S. Ct. 2206, 119 L. Ed. 2d 468 (1992); Firestone
v. Cleveland Trust Co., 654 F.2d 1212, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981) (“Even when brought under the guise
of a federal question action, a suit whose substance is domestic relations generally will not be
entertained in a federal court.”) (citation omitted).
Moreover, even if this case did not fall within the “narrow range” of cases to which the
domestic relations exception applies, see Alexander v. Rosen, 804 F.3d 1203 (6th Cir. 2015);
Chevalier v. Estate of Barnhart, 803 F.3d 789 (6th Cir. 2015), construing the complaint as liberally
as possible, given plaintiff’s pro se status, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365, 102 S. Ct. 700,
70 L. Ed. 2d 551 (1982) (pro se pleadings are to be liberally construed), it fails to state a claim
against any of the defendants, some of whom are not state actors (plaintiff’s former spouse and the
attorneys), and others of whom enjoy absolute immunity from suits for damages (the judicial
officer defendants). See Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50, 119 S. Ct. 977, 143
L. Ed. 2d 130 (1999) (there is no cause of action against a private party, “no matter how
discriminatory or wrongful” the party’s actions); Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54, 87 S. Ct.
1213, 18 L. Ed. 2d 288 (1967) (judges and other court officials are absolutely immune from suits
on claims arising out of their performance of judicial or quasi-judicial functions, even if accused
of acting maliciously or corruptly).
For the reasons set forth herein, the defendants’ various motions to dismiss (Doc. Nos. 16,
18, and 19) are granted. Further, the Court sua sponte dismisses this action against the remaining
defendants because their answers raised meritorious affirmative defenses relating to jurisdiction
and requested judgment on the complaint. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 141, 132 S. Ct.
641, 181 L. Ed. 2d 619 (2012) (“[w]hen a requirement goes to subject-matter jurisdiction, courts
are obligated to consider [it] sua sponte”); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).
This case is dismissed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: August 22, 2017
HONORABLE SARA LIOI
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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