United States District Court, D. Connecticut
F. PARKER HEINEMANN and SUSAN VOIGT, Plaintiffs,
ROSEANNE PATCHEY, Defendant.
RULING ON PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
case arises out of a dispute over the management of the
affairs of Plaintiff F. Parker Heinemann, a man in his
eighties in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. On April 13, 2016, at
the request of his wife and children, a court in Florida
declared Mr. Heinemann to be incompetent and appointed an
emergency temporary guardian for him, defendant Roseanne
Patchey. (ECF Nos. 10-2 at 2, 17-1 at 1, 17-2 at 5-6.) One
day later, on April 14, 2016, a court in Connecticut declared
Mr. Heinemann to be competent, and appointed his
companion, Plaintiff Susan Voigt, to be voluntary conservator
of his person and estate. (ECF No. 10-2 at 5-6.) On May 19,
2016, Mr. Heinemann and Ms. Voigt initiated this federal
action, bringing Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims
against Ms. Patchey under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“Section 1983”). (ECF No. 1.)
seek a preliminary injunction to prevent Ms. Patchey from
bringing Mr. Heinemann to Florida and interfering with his
financial accounts. (ECF No. 10.) As set forth below, the
preliminary injunction is DENIED, because it appears that Ms.
Patchey was not acting under color of state law as required
to sustain a Section 1983 claim. Plaintiffs have therefore
not shown a likelihood of success on the merits or
sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of the
Initial State Court Proceedings
February 10, 2016, Mr. Heinemann's son filed an
application for involuntary guardianship in the Circuit Court
of Florida. In Re: Frank Parker Heinemann, Nos.
16-GA-41 and 16-GA-42 (Fla. Cir. Ct.); see also ECF
Nos. 10-2 at 2, 17-1 at 1. The court held at least one
hearing on the application, at which Mr. Heinemann's wife
and children were present or represented. Id.
March 2016, aware of the pending Florida action, Mr.
Heinemann's attorney, Howard Gould, filed a voluntary
application in Connecticut Probate Court to have Ms. Voigt
appointed as Mr. Heinemann's conservator of person and
estate. (ECF No. 10-2 at 1-2.) On March 23, 2016, the Probate
Court held a hearing on the application, which was opposed by
Mr. Heinemann's wife and children. (Id. at 5.)
April 13, 2016, the Florida Circuit Court determined that Mr.
Heinemann was incompetent and appointed Ms. Patchey to be his
emergency temporary guardian under Fla. Stat. §
744.3031. (ECF No. 17-2 at 5-6.) The letter of emergency
temporary guardianship stated that Ms. Patchey had power
“to contract; to sue or defend lawsuits; to control and
manage property and income from any source; to apply for
government benefits; to determine residence; to consent to
medical and mental health treatment….”
(Id. at 5.) The letter added that “[t]he
emergency temporary guardian is further authorized and
directed to travel to Connecticut to assist FRANK PARKER
HEINEMANN in his return to Florida. Pursuant to Fla. Stat.
§ 731.3031(5), all interested persons are restrained
from interfering with the emergency temporary guardian in her
efforts to return FRANK PARKER HEINEMANN to Florida.”
(Id.) The authority of the emergency temporary
guardian appointment was set to expire in ninety days.
(Id. at 6.)
April 14, 2016, the Connecticut Probate Court appointed Ms.
Voigt the conservator of the person and the estate of Mr.
Heinemann under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-646, with certain
special conditions. (ECF No. 10-2 at 5-6.) The court noted
that the “case has a unique twist in that there is a
pending Petition for Guardianship concerning Mr. Heinemann in
the State of Florida, ” but found that it did have
jurisdiction. (Id. at 5.) The court also found that
Mr. Heinemann had “the requisite understanding
necessary to request a Conservator on a voluntary basis,
” and that “the possibility of undue influence is
muted” by the fact of Mr. Heinemann's and Ms.
Voigt's “unique relationship, in that Mr. Heinemann
remains married, but has been with Ms. Voigt in some
capacity, (friend, caretaker, companion) for approximately
thirty years.” (Id. at 6.)
4, 2016, Mr. Heinemann filed an initial appeal of the Florida
Circuit Court's appointment of Ms. Patchey as temporary
emergency guardian. The state court docket reflects a
“NOTICE OF APPEAL TO 2ND DCA ON NON-FINAL ORDER
RENDERED 4/13/2016.” In Re: Frank Parker
Heinemann, Nos. 16-GA-41 and 16-GA-42 (Fla. Cir. Ct.).
11, 2016, Mr. Heinemann's wife filed an appeal of the
Connecticut Probate Court's appointment of Ms. Voigt as
conservator. Denise Heinemann v. F. Parker
Heinemann, No. MMX-CV-16-6015584-S (Conn. Super. Ct.);
see also ECF No. 28-1 at 4-8.
This Federal Action
19, 2016, Mr. Heinemann and Ms. Voigt filed this lawsuit,
bringing Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims under Section
1983 against Ms. Patchey. (ECF No. 1.) In the complaint, the
plaintiffs alleged that Ms. Patchey, “acting under
color of law, has contacted local law enforcement officials
and requested assistance in forcibly abducting and
transporting the plaintiff, Heinemann, to Florida against his
will and contrary to the decree of the Connecticut Probate
Court.” (Id. ¶ 7.) They also alleged that
Ms. Patchey had directed third party financial institutions
to freeze Mr. Heinemann's accounts. (Id.
August 24, 2016, plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary
injunction, asking me to enjoin Ms. Patchey from moving Mr.
Heinemann to Florida, order her to return any seized funds,
and order her to rescind any directives to third party
financial institutions regarding such funds. (ECF No. ...