United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
Linda Lan Chmura, appearing pro se, brings this
action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, the Racketeer
Influences and Corrupt Organizations Act
(“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1965(a), et
seq., and other statutory provisions. She seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as punitive
damages, in connection with a foreclosure action filed
against her in Sarasota County, Florida.
Chmura's complaint arises out of a foreclosure of a
property she owned in Sarasota County, Florida (“the
Property”). Ms. Chmura alleges that she retained a law
firm, Norton, Hammersley, Lopez & Skokos PA
(“Norton Hammersley”), to represent her in the
foreclosure action. Eventually, as a result of disagreements
between Ms. Chmura and her counsel, Norton Hammersley
terminated its representation. Ms. Chmura filed a legal
malpractice action against the firm in Florida state court
(Case No. 09 CC 001986 NC) and retained attorney Stephen
Kurvin to represent her. Norton Hammersley asserted
counterclaims, including that Ms. Chmura owed the firm unpaid
fees. Ms. Chmura fired Kurvin in May 2010 and ultimately lost
the suit against Norton Hammersley. On September 13, 2010,
Judge LoGalbo of the Florida Circuit Court for Sarasota
County entered final judgment against Ms. Chmura and in favor
of Norton Hammersley. (ECF No. 1-2 at 36-38.)
26, 2011, Sheriff Thomas Knight executed the judgment by
foreclosing upon and selling the Property to Acme Investment
Group, LLC (“Acme”). (ECF No. 1-2 at 50.) Ms.
Chmura then filed another lawsuit (Case No. 11 CA 004853 NC)
against Norton Hammersley and Acme, seeking a declaratory
judgment that the foreclosure sale was void. (ECF No. 1-2 at
91-94.) On October 28, 2011, Judge Roberts of the Florida
Circuit Court for Sarasota County entered final judgment
against Ms. Chmura and in favor of Norton Hammersley and
Acme, stating that Acme owned the Property. (ECF No. 1-2 at
Chmura brings this action against Norton Hammersley, Acme
Investment Group, her former attorney Stephen Kurvin, the
Florida state court judges who rendered rulings against her,
Clerk of Court Karen Rushing, Sheriff Thomas Knight, the
Florida Bar, and various other individuals and entities. She
seeks a declaration that the Sheriff's foreclosure sale
was void, an injunction granting her the right to repossess
the Florida property, and punitive damages.
Ms. Chmura seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, the
Court must evaluate her complaint and determine whether it
should advance. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (“[T]he
court shall dismiss [a] case at any time if the court
determines that [the action] is frivolous or malicious; fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.”) The Court must construe pro se
pleadings liberally, Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66,
72 (2d Cir. 2009), and interpret them to raise the
“strongest arguments that they suggest.”
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
472 (2d Cir. 2006). A pro se plaintiff, however,
still must meet the standard of facial plausibility. See
Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013)
(“[A] pro se complaint must state a plausible
claim for relief.”) (citing Harris v. Mills,
572 F.3d 66, 73 (2d Cir. 2009)). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Absolute Judicial Immunity
Chmura's claims against Florida state court judges fail
under the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity, which
renders judges immune from suit for damages for judicial
acts. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991).
“[A]cts arising out of, or related to, individual cases
before the judge are considered judicial in nature.”
Bliven v. Hunt, 579 F.3d 204, 210 (2d Cir. 2009).
Absolute judicial immunity protects judges from liability for
their judicial acts, even when the plaintiff alleges that the
judge acted “maliciously or corruptly.” Stump
v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978). Absolute immunity
shields judges from all civil suits for damages, including
suits under Section 1983, Section 1985, or civil RICO.
See, e.g., Peia v. U.S. Bankruptcy Court,
62 Fed.Appx. 394, 396 (2d Cir. 2003) (summary order affirming
dismissal of RICO claim as barred by judicial immunity);
Turner v. Boyle, 116 F.Supp.3d 58, 81-82 (D. Conn.
2015) (dismissing Section 1983 and 1985 claims as barred by
immunity also bars Ms. Chmura's Section 1983 claim for
injunctive relief. The 1996 amendments to Section 1983 make
injunctive relief unavailable for claims against judges for
actions taken in their judicial capacity “unless a
declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was
unavailable.” Montero v. Travis, 171 F.3d 757,
761 (2d Cir. 1999).
Chmura's claims against Defendants LoGalbo, Haworth,
Bennett, Dakin, and Roberts arise from acts the judges took
in their judicial capacities while presiding over Ms.
Chmura's Florida lawsuits. Ms. Chmura does not allege
that any of the actions violated a declaratory decree or that
declaratory relief was unavailable. Therefore, the claims
against Florida state court Judges LoGalbo, Haworth, Bennett,
Dakin, and Roberts are dismissed under the doctrine of
judicial immunity and because they are frivolous.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (iii);
Mills v. Fischer, 645 F.3d 176, 177 (2d Cir. 2011)
(“Any claim dismissed on the ground of absolute
judicial immunity is ‘frivolous' for purposes of
[the in forma pauperis] statute.”).