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Stevens v. Malloy

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 7, 2016

ERIC STEVENS Plaintiff,
v.
DANNEL MALLOY et al., Defendants.

          RULING RE: DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO DISMISS (DOC. NOS. 21, 22, 24 & 27)

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is an action filed by plaintiff Eric Stevens (“Mr. Stevens”) against Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (“Governor Malloy”), Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Chase T. Rogers (“Chief Justice Rogers”), Attorney Mary Bergamini (“Attorney Bergamini”), Tiffany Khalily[1] (“Tiffany”), [2] Edward Khalily (“Edward”), Shahram[3] Rabbani (“Shahram”), Diana Rabbani (“Diana”), and police officer Scott Segar (“Officer Segar”). Mr. Stevens’s Complaint alleges that various unconstitutional, illegal, and tortious acts by these defendants individually and in concert have resulted in the destruction of his relationship with his minor daughter, whom he has not seen in four years and has not spoken to in 18 months. See Compl. at 1 ¶ 1, 8 ¶ 30 (Doc. No. 1). Mr. Stevens seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages. See id. at 14.

         Seven of the defendants[4] have filed Motions to Dismiss that are now pending before the court. See Att’y Bergamini’s Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 21); State Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 22); Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 24); Defs.’ Sharam and Diana Rabbani’s Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 27). Mr. Stevens filed a single Opposition to all of the pending Motions. See Pl.’s Mem. in Opp. to the Defs.’ Various Mots. to Dismiss (“Pl.’s Opp.”) (Doc. No. 33). The defendants filed timely Replies. See Reply Mem. of Law in Supp. of the State Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 38); Att’y Bergamini’s Reply to Stevens’ Opp. to the Defs.’ Various Mots. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 39); Defs.’ Sharam and Diana Rabbani’s Reply to Eric Stevens’s Objection to Their Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 41); Defs.’ Reply to Pl.’s Opp. to the Defs.’ Various Mots. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 42).

         For the reasons that follow, the court concludes that Mr. Stevens lacks standing to pursue his claims against defendants Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers, and therefore GRANTS their Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 22). The court also concludes that Mr. Stevens’s claims against defendant Officer Segar should be dismissed without prejudice because Mr. Stevens failed to effect proper service on Officer Segar as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mr. Stevens’s claims against the remaining defendants are state claims and, in the absence of a remaining source of federal jurisdiction, the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over these claims. Therefore, the court directs that Mr. Stevens’s remaining claims be dismissed without prejudice and TERMINATES AS MOOT the pending Motions to Dismiss filed by these defendants.

         II. FACTS [5]

         Plaintiff Eric Stevens was formerly married to defendant Tiffany Khalily. The couple had one child together, a daughter. See Compl. at 4 ¶ 16 (Doc. No. 1). Mr. Stevens filed for divorce in 2009. See id. at 3 ¶ 13. In 2011, the couple’s divorce was finalized by agreement and after an uncontested hearing. See id. at 6 ¶ 20. As part of the divorce, Mr. Stevens and Tiffany agreed that Tiffany would have full custody of the couple’s daughter, with Mr. Stevens to receive visitation. See id. After the divorce was finalized, Mr. Stevens and Tiffany remained embroiled in post-judgment litigation. See id. at 6 ¶ 21, 7 ¶ 22.

         In 2012, nearly a year after their divorce was finalized, Tiffany allegedly offered an acquaintance $5, 000 to kill Mr. Stevens. See id. at 7 ¶ 23. Tiffany was arrested and charged with attempt to commit murder. See id. During the pendency of her criminal case, Tiffany maintained custody of the couple’s minor child. See id. at 7 ¶ 26. She was also able to relocate to New York State. See id. Mr. Stevens has not seen his daughter for nearly four years, and has not spoken to her in 18 months. See id. at 8 ¶ 30. During the period in which Mr. Stevens has been separated from his daughter, he has filed many motions in state court “seeking custody of his daughter, visitation with his daughter, findings of contempt against Tiffany Stevens and her counsel, and other relief.” Id. at 10 ¶ 37. The state court failed timely to adjudicate Motions filed by Mr. Stevens, who appeared pro se, but did consider and rule on Motions filed by Tiffany’s counsel. See id. at 11 ¶ 39.

         After Tiffany allegedly tried to have Mr. Stevens killed, a state court ordered her not to have any contact with Mr. Stevens. See id. at 7 ¶ 24. Notwithstanding that order of no contact, Tiffany continued to contact Mr. Stevens by telephone and text message to threaten and terrorize him. See id. Mr. Stevens reported Tiffany’s efforts to communicate with him to defendant Officer Segar, a police officer employed by the Town of Simsbury. See id. at 3 ¶ 12, 13 ¶ 54. Officer Segar did not arrest Tiffany, despite having probable cause to believe Tiffany was violating the state court order of no contact. See id.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         “In resolving a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court must take all uncontroverted facts in the complaint . . . as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party asserting jurisdiction.” Tandon v. Captain’s Cove Marina of Bridgeport, Inc., 752 F.3d 239, 243 (2d Cir. 2014). Where jurisdictional facts are in dispute, the court has the power to decide issues of fact by reference to evidence outside the pleadings, such as affidavits. See id. The burden is on the plaintiff to establish jurisdiction. Renne v. Geary, 501 U.S. 312, 316 (1991); see also Tandon, 752 F.3d at 243 (noting that “the party asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists” (internal quotations and citation omitted)).

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) is “the proper procedural route” to bring a challenge to a plaintiff’s Article III standing to adjudicate a claim. Alliance for Environmental Renewal, Inc. v. Pyramid Crossgates Co., 436 F.3d 82, 88 n.6 (2d Cir. 2006).

         B. Rule 4

         Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, an individual may properly be served either by “following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located or where service is made, ” or by doing any of the following: “(A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally; (B) leaving a copy of each at the individual’s dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or (C) delivering a copy of each to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e).

         Connecticut law provides that “process in any civil action shall be served by leaving a true and attested copy of it, including the declaration or complaint, with the defendant, or at his usual place of abode, in this state.” C.G.S.A. § 52-57(a).

         When a plaintiff fails to effect proper service upon a defendant and the defendant does not waive service of process pursuant to Rule 4(d), the plaintiff’s lawsuit may be subject to dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5). “On a Rule 12(b)(5) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that service was sufficient.” Khan v. Khan, 360 F. App’x 202, 203 (2d Cir. 2010). Even if a defendant does not move for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5), the court may sua sponte dismiss claims against a defendant “after notice to the plaintiff” if it appears that the defendant was not timely and properly served. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Mr. Stevens brings claims against defendants Governor Malloy, Chief Justice Rogers, and Officer Segar under section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code for violations of his rights under the United States Constitution. See Compl. at 1 ¶ 2, 2 ¶ 3 (Doc. No. 1). Mr. Stevens also brings supplemental state law claims against the other defendants, who are all non-state actors. See id. at 1 ¶ 2; see also Pl.’s Opp. at 2 (Doc. No. 33) (characterizing Mr. Stevens’s claims against Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers as the only federal claims in this action and stating that if the claims against these defendants were dismissed, “state law claims only” would remain). In the following Discussion, the court concludes that (1) Mr. Stevens lacks standing to pursue his claims against Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers, and (2) Mr. Stevens’s claims against Officer Segar should be dismissed for failure to effect proper service under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Therefore, the court dismisses the claims against these three defendants pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 4(m) of the Federal Rules.

         The dismissal of Mr. Stevens’s claims against these three defendants means that “state law claims only [remain] in this action.” Pl.’s Opp. at 2 (Doc. No. 33). The court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over these claims, see 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), and therefore orders that Mr. Stevens’s remaining claims be dismissed without prejudice to refile in state court.

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers move to dismiss all of the claims against them on the ground that Mr. Stevens lacks standing to pursue this action. See Mem. of Law in Supp. of State Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss at 7 (“Malloy & Rogers MTD Mem.”) (Doc. No. 22-1). Mr. Stevens responds that “[n]othing could be further from the truth, ” because he “suffers immanent [sic] future injury daily, as his relationship with his minor daughter withers and dies.” Pl.’s Opp. at 15, 17 (Doc. No. 33). For the reasons that follow, the court agrees with the defendants that Mr. Stevens lacks standing to pursue his claims against Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers. As a result, the claims against Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).

         Article III of the United States Constitution provides that the jurisdiction of federal courts is limited to certain “cases” and “controversies.” U.S. Const. art. III § 2. “One element of the case-or-controversy requirement is that plaintiffs must establish that they have standing to sue.” Clapper v. Amnesty Intern. USA, 133 S.Ct. 1138, 1146 (2013) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff must show (1) an ‘injury in fact, ’ (2) a sufficient ‘causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, ’ and (3) a ‘likel[ihood]’ that the injury will be ‘redressed by a favorable decision.’” Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 2334, 2341 (2014) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)). The ultimate purpose of the standing requirement is to mandate that plaintiffs “demonstrate a personal stake ...


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