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Schipke v. State

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 7, 2019

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, et al., Defendants.


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Mary Elizabeth Schipke filed a pro se complaint against sixteen defendants, including the State of Connecticut; the City of Meriden, Connecticut; the Meriden Police Department; Meriden Police Officers Fonda, Busa, Pellegrini, and Zurstadt; Meriden Police Chief Jeffry Cossette; attorney Tom Luby; Suzanne Daigle, a Meriden Probate Court-appointed conservator over Mary Schipke's Aunt Rose; Connie Schipke, Mary Schipke's cousin; Meriden Probate Court Judge Brian Mahon; David Vega, who occupies the house that is the subject of this lawsuit; York Correctional Institution; the United States; and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Meriden.

         On September 26, 2018, I granted the Church's motion to dismiss. See Doc. #92. I now turn to the remaining defendants' motions to do the same under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). While Schipke has alleged facts that, if true, speak to a number of tragedies surrounding her life and her family, none give rise to a plausible claim for relief at this time, and I will accordingly grant the remaining motions to dismiss.


         Schipke has filed a discursive complaint that highlights a great deal of personal misfortune. As best I can tell, she has alleged a series of wrongs principally connected to what Schipke claims to be her “Ancestral Family Property” on Goodwill Avenue in Meriden, Connecticut (“the Goodwill Avenue home”). See, e.g., Doc. #1 at 2. I take the following allegations of fact as true for purposes of this ruling.

         In 1905, Schipke's great-grandmother, Rosalie Schilke, purchased a home at 129 Goodwill Avenue in Meriden. Doc. #1 at 8; Doc. #1-1 at 1. In 1921, she deeded the property to Schipke's grandmother, Martha Schipke, and her heirs. Doc. #1 at 9; Doc. #1-1 at 2. Schipke's Aunt Rose lived at the property with her Uncle Andrew Schipke, Doc. #1 at 3, 9, from roughly 1923 to Andrew's death in 2014, and Rose's death in 2016, id. at 23 n.29. Schipke's mother, Marguerite, spent some of this time serving in the United States Navy. See Id. at 11; Doc. #1-1 at 4. In 1945, Marguerite took part in naval chemical warfare training in Virginia, where she was exposed to multiple toxic substances. Doc. #1 at 11. She developed several medical symptoms from the exposure, and died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1968. Ibid. Following her death, Marguerite's name was misspelled as “Marquerite” on the Meriden Veterans Memorial Boulevard Wall of Honor. Id. at 28.

         Schipke's life has come with difficulties of its own. For instance, the effects of chemical warfare training on her mother have been passed on to her in the form of numerous disabilities, id. at 12, her family disowned her after Marguerite's death, id. at 31-32, she suffered from cancer from a botched medical procedure at age 15, id. at 26, and she now experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, id. at 28. Schipke learned about her Uncle Andrew's death in 2014, id. at 19, and traveled to Meriden from Arizona to claim the Goodwill Avenue home and care for her Aunt Rose, id. at 2, 19-20. Schipke arrived in Meriden on Thanksgiving of that year. Id. at 19. Rose left Schipke waiting at the door to the house, and when Schipke called the Meriden police and medics, they told Schipke to leave the property. Id. at 20. Schipke alleges that since that time, the Meriden police have harassed her. Ibid.

         Although Schipke does not detail what took place between November 2014 and November 2016, she does allege that on November 23, 2016, she was forcefully evicted from the Goodwill Avenue home. Doc. #1 at 16. Meriden police entered the property and “brutalized” her on the same day, id. at 21, 33, presumably in connection with the eviction. Id. at 32-33. Because the police failed to listen to her request to accommodate her disabilities, Schipke suffered a broken back, fractured sternum, and other injuries. Ibid. She does not, however, name any particular officers in connection with the arrest.

         Schipke remained in custody from November 23 to December 19, 2016. Id. at 24. During that time, York Correctional Institution (“York”) also refused to accommodate her disabilities, id. at 32, and she suffered pain, sleep deprivation, hunger, and lack of medical care. Id. at 24-25. As a result of her time in custody, she now suffers from several back injuries and emotional distress. Id. at 25. After her release, the Meriden Police Department ignored the civilian complaint she filed later that month, id. at 21, and the FBI similarly failed to act on her complaints about the Meriden police, id. at 4, 21.

         Schipke appears to claim that there are ongoing state court proceedings against her with a trial date set for 2020. Id. at 24. Apparently in connection with those proceedings, she alleges that Judge Moore, who she does not name as a defendant, created numerous difficulties for her in posting bond. Id. at 35. After her friend Kevin Long finally did so, York intimidated Long into revoking it. Ibid. Schipke also alleges that even since her release the State of Connecticut has further immiserated her, principally through allocating insufficient food stamp benefits under the law. Id. at 12.

         Schipke further alleges that several defendants have engaged in ongoing malfeasance surrounding both Aunt Rose and the Goodwill Avenue home. Schipke claims that Meriden Probate Court Judge Brian Mahon and Suzanne Daigle, Rose's court-appointed conservator, took part in a long-running embezzlement scheme against Rose, Uncle Andrew, and Schipke's grandmother Martha. Id. at 9-10. Schipke also alleges that attorney Tom Luby exercised undue influence against Rose as part of an “Inheritance Hijacking Fraud Scheme” in concert with her cousin Connie Schipke, and that Luby sold the Goodwill Avenue home to David Vega, who now lives there. Id. at 14-16.

         Schipke finally appears to assert a claim for a violation of the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at 10. Schipke does not, however, name any particular defendant in connection with her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment takings claims aside from generic allegations about “the government” and defendants “acting under color of state law.” Ibid.


         For purposes of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless the facts it recites are enough to state plausible grounds for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014). This “plausibility” requirement is “not akin to a probability requirement, ” but it “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Because the focus must be on what facts a complaint alleges, a court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation” or “to accept as true allegations that are wholly conclusory.” Krys v. Pigott, 749 F.3d 117, 128 (2d Cir. 2014). Similarly, because federal courts have limited jurisdiction, a complaint in federal court must also allege facts that give rise to plausible grounds for a court to conclude that it has federal jurisdiction. See Lapaglia v. Transamerica Cas. Ins. Co., 155 F.Supp.3d 153, 155 (D. Conn. 2016). The Court liberally construes the pleadings of a pro se party in a non-technical manner to raise the strongest ...

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