United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS (DOC.
NOS. 63, 65, 67 & 68)
C. Hall United States District Judge
action was first filed in June 2015 by plaintiff Eric Stevens
(“Mr. Stevens”) against the following defendants
(collectively, “the defendants”): Connecticut
Governor Dannel P. Malloy (“Governor Malloy”),
Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court Chase T.
Rogers (“Chief Justice Rogers”), Attorney Mary
Bergamini (“Attorney Bergamini”), Tiffany
Khalily (“Tiffany”),  Edward Khalily
(“Edward”), Shahram Rabbani (“Shahram”),
Diana Rabbani (“Diana”), and police officer Scott
Segar (“Officer Segar”). See Compl.
(“Original Complaint”) (Doc. No. 1) ¶¶
4-12. The Original Complaint alleged that the defendants
committed various unconstitutional, illegal, and tortious
acts, both individually and collectively, that destroyed Mr.
Stevens's relationship with his minor daughter. See
id. ¶ 1. Mr. Stevens demanded declaratory and
injunctive relief, as well as money damages. See id.
at 14. Seven of the defendants moved to dismiss Mr.
Stevens's Original Complaint, and the court granted
Governor Malloy's and Chief Justice Rogers's Motion
to Dismiss, while also dismissing Mr. Stevens's claims
against Officer Segar because he was not properly served.
See Ruling (June 7, 2016) (“First
Ruling”) (Doc. No. 52) at 2. The court declined to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining, state
law claims and terminated the remaining motions as moot.
See id. at 2-3.
that it was conceivable that Mr. Stevens could remedy the
defects in his Original Complaint, the court granted him
leave to file an Amended Complaint. Id. at 28. Mr.
Stevens subsequently filed an Amended Complaint with very
minor modifications. See generally Am. Compl. (Doc.
No. 55). All the allegations against Attorney Bergamini,
Tiffany, Edward, Shahram, Diana, and Officer Segar are
identical; with respect to his allegations against Governor
Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers (the “State
Defendants”), Mr. Stevens removed his demand for
injunctive relief and made a handful of additions,
see Mem. of Law in Opp'n to the Mots. to Dismiss
of Defs. Malloy, Rogers, Bergamini, and the Rabbanis
(“Opposition”) (Doc. No. 75) at 3 (noting the
“modest amendments to [the] complaint . . . in
paragraphs 36, 37, 40, 42 and 45”).
seven defendants who filed Motions to Dismiss the Original
Complaint have now filed Motions to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint. See generally Attorney Bergamini's
Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 63); Defs. Sharam and Diana
Rabbani's, Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. (Doc. No.
65); State Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Am. Compl. (Doc. No.
67); Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 68) (asking court
to dismiss claims against Tiffany and Edward). Those motions
are now pending before the court. Mr. Stevens filed a
Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Motions, see
generally Opposition, and the State Defendants timely
replied, see Reply Mem. of Law in Supp. of the State
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Am. Compl. (“Reply”)
(Doc. No. 76).
reasons set forth below, the court again concludes that Mr.
Stevens lacks standing to pursue declaratory relief or
damages from the State Defendants. The State Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 67) is therefore GRANTED.
Furthermore, Mr. Stevens has made clear he does not consider
Officer Segar to be part of the case, notwithstanding his
inclusion in the Amended Complaint. See Oral Arg.,
Oct. 14, 2016, Tr. at 28. The court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims, all of
which are state law claims. It TERMINATES AS MOOT the
remaining Motions to Dismiss.
Stevens and Tiffany were formerly married; they had a
daughter together in 2005. See Am. Compl. ¶ 7.
In May 2009, Mr. Stevens filed for divorce in Connecticut.
Id. ¶ 13. More than two years later, the
divorce proceedings ended, resolved by agreement after an
uncontested hearing; the agreement gave Tiffany sole custody
of the couple's daughter and afforded Mr. Stevens
visitation rights. See id. ¶ 20. The couple
remained in extensive post-judgment litigation, even after
the marriage was dissolved. Id. ¶ 21.
April 2012, Tiffany offered a handyman $5, 000 to kill Mr.
Stevens. Id. ¶ 23. The handyman told Mr.
Stevens of the offer, Mr. Stevens notified the police, and
Tiffany was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Id. Notwithstanding the pendency of criminal
charges, Tiffany retained custody of the couple's
daughter and moved to New York State. Id. ¶ 26.
Mr. Stevens has not seen his daughter in approximately four
years and has not spoken with her in the last eighteen
months. Id. ¶ 30.
he learned of Tiffany's efforts to have him killed, Mr.
Stevens filed many motions in Connecticut's family
courts. See id. ¶ 37. He filed these motions
pro se because he had already exhausted his
financial resources in the course of the previous litigation
with Tiffany, id. ¶ 36, and because the State
of Connecticut does not appoint counsel for indigent parties
in family law proceedings, see id. ¶ 35. Though
he requested that counsel be appointed for him, the Superior
Court denied Mr. Stevens's entreaties. Id.
¶ 40. Tiffany, on the other hand, retained experienced
counsel and made her own motions. Id. ¶ 38.
Stevens moved the court for custody of and visitation with
his daughter, as well as for contempt orders against Tiffany
and her attorney. Id. ¶ 37. However, the
Superior Court judge “failed, refused and
neglected” to hold hearings and rule on his motions,
though it responded to those filed by Tiffany. Id.
Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers
Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers are aware of the
consequential role in family law proceedings played by
disparities between the parties' financial resources.
Id. ¶¶ 42, 45. Chief Justice Rogers
acquired this knowledge “as a result of broad public
criticism by aggrieved litigants in the form of letters to
court officers, testimony at legislative hearings, litigation
in other cases, and commentary in local media.”
Id. ¶ 42. When she became Chief Justice, Chief
Justice Rogers “made a priority of improving public
confidence in the courts”; through those efforts, she
became aware that pro se litigants frequently
complained that they were denied an opportunity to be heard.
Id. Chief Justice Rogers also is responsible for
ensuring state court judges are appropriately trained.
Id. ¶ 50. She is aware that trial court judges
often “refuse[ ] to calendar for adjudication or
otherwise ignore[ ]” motions filed by pro se
litigants in family court. Id. ¶ 49.
Governor Malloy knows “of the controversial role of
finances in family law cases as a result of the testimony at
legislative hearings, commentary in local media, and
reporting to him by senior staff who monitored [Chief Justice
Rogers's] efforts to improve public confidence in the
courts.” Id. ¶ 45.
their knowledge of these problems, neither Governor Malloy
nor Chief Justice Rogers made money from Executive Branch and
Judicial Branch discretionary funds available to provide
pro se litigants representation in family court
proceedings. See id. ¶¶ 44, 47-48.
are properly dismissed “under [Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure] 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
if the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to
adjudicate it, such as when . . . the plaintiff lacks
constitutional standing to bring the action.”
Cortland St. Recovery Corp. v. Hellas Telecomms.,
S.À.R.L., 790 F.3d 411, 416-17 (2d Cir. 2015)
(quotation marks and citations omitted).
Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenging subject matter jurisdiction
may be either facial or fact-based.” Carter v.
Healthport Techs., LLC, 822 F.3d 47, 56 (2d Cir. 2016).
When ruling on a facial Rule 12(b)(1) motion-one that relies
on the facts alleged in the Complaint-the court accepts as
true the allegations in the Complaint and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Id.
at 56-57. Nevertheless, the burden is on the plaintiff to
“plausibly allege” facts that establish federal
subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at 56 (citing
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
(1992)). In other words, “[t]he task of the district
court is to determine whether the [Complaint] allege[s] facts
that affirmatively and plausibly suggest that [the plaintiff]
has standing to sue.” Id. (quotation marks
omitted) (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561).
Stevens grounds his damages claims against Governor Malloy,
Chief Justice Rogers, and Officer Segar in section 1983 of
title 42 of the United States Code. See Am. Compl.
¶¶ 2-3. He also asks for a declaratory judgment
that various aspects of Connecticut's family court
procedures violate his constitutional rights. Apart from
these claims, Mr. Stevens brings state law claims against the
other defendants, none of whom are state actors. See
id. ¶ 2; Opposition at 2 (relying on Docket Number
33, “prior memorandum in opposition to” non-state
defendants' Motions to Dismiss); Nunc Pro Tunc
Mem. in Opp'n to the Rabbani Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss
(Doc. No. 66) at 2 (same); Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n to the
Defs.' Various Mots. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 33) at 2
(conceding that if court dismisses claims against State
Defendants, “state law claims only” would
reasons set forth below, the court holds that Mr. Stevens
lacks standing to pursue either damages or declaratory relief
from Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers. Mr. Stevens
made clear during Oral Argument held on October 14, 2016
that, notwithstanding Officer Segar's inclusion in the
Amended Complaint, he does not consider Officer Segar to be a
party in this case. See Oral Arg., Oct. 14, 2016,
Tr. at 28.
dismissing Mr. Stevens's claims against the State
Defendants, only state law claims remain. See
Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n to the Defs.' Various Mots.
to Dismiss (Doc. No. 33) at 2. The court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over these claims, see 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), and therefore dismisses the Amended
Complaint in its entirety.
Rule 12(b)(1): Standing
Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers offer several grounds for
dismissal of the claims against them: lack of standing, 11th
Amendment immunity, lack of the state defendants'
personal involvement in the alleged constitutional
violations, qualified immunity, and failure to state a claim.
See Mem. of Law in Supp. of State Defs.' Mot. to
Dismiss Am. Compl. (“State Defendants'
Memorandum” or “State Defs.' Mem.”)
(Doc. No. 67-1) at 1-2. Mr. Stevens objects to the State
Defendants' arguments. Most importantly for the purposes
of this Ruling, he asserts that his “[c]laim [f]or
[e]quitable [r]elief [i]s [n]ot [s]peculative” and that
he has sufficiently alleged the direct involvement of
Governor Malloy and Chief Justice Rogers so as to proceed to
discovery. Opposition at 3, 5. As set forth below, the court
again concludes that Mr. Stevens lacks standing to pursue his
claims against Governor ...