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Inkel v. State

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 15, 2019

PHILIP INKEL ET AL, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT ET AL, Defendants.

          RULING

          MICHAEL P. SHEA U.S.D.J

         Philip Inkel and George Corey (jointly, “the Plaintiffs”) filed the operative complaint on September 26, 2018, alleging a series of claims against a long list of defendants.[1] ECF No. 24. The State of Connecticut and all Connecticut defendants (collectively, “State Defendants”) filed a motion to dismiss on November 5, 2018. ECF No. 28. The United States and President Donald Trump (together, “Federal Defendants”) filed a motion to dismiss on November 6, 2018. ECF No. 30. For the reasons set forth below, the motions to dismiss, ECF Nos. 28 & 30, are GRANTED. In addition, for the reasons set forth below, all claims against the private defendants and any other defendants who have not appeared or moved to dismiss are also dismissed. Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 364 (2d Cir. 2000) (“[W]e hold that district courts may dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte even when the plaintiff has paid the required filing fee.”).

         On January 4, 2019, Mr. Inkel filed a second amended complaint, a “supplement to complaint, ” and a “supplement to amended complaint.” ECF Nos. 40, 43 & 44. The State Defendants filed a motion to strike the amended complaint, ECF No. 46, and a motion to strike the supplements, ECF No. 45. For the reasons set forth below, the motions to strike, ECF Nos. 45 & 46, are GRANTED.

         The Plaintiffs also filed an omnibus motion regarding a host of issues, ECF No. 20, a motion for a hearing and preliminary restraining order, ECF No. 26, a motion for a hearing regarding change of venue, ECF No. 39, a motion for clarification regarding the order transferring the case, ECF No. 42, and a motion to appoint counsel, ECF No. 49. For the reasons set forth below, these motions, ECF Nos. 20, 26, 39, 42 & 49, are DENIED.

         I. Facts

         The initial complaint was filed on August 17, 2017 and alleges that the Plaintiffs were denied equal protection of the laws, access to courts, and the ability to “live free and raise a family.” ECF No. 1 at 2. It contains no specific factual allegations but includes a request to enjoin Dannel Malloy and Donald Trump from taking various actions. ECF No. 1. It states that “this complaint is not complete and will be continued.” Id. at 4. Mr. Inkel and Mr. Corey then filed an amended complaint on September 26, 2018. ECF No. 24. The amended complaint alleges the following facts:

         In May 1993, Mr. Inkel witnessed two Colchester Police Officers punch and choke a teenager in a McDonalds. ECF No. 24 at ¶ C. He reported this incident in June 1993. Id. at ¶ D. In retaliation, police officers forcibly entered his home on July 3, 1993, and threatened his family. Id. at ¶¶ E-H. Law enforcement filed false reports to cover up their illegal conduct and continued to harass, threaten, and arrest Mr. Inkel. Id. at ¶¶ I, P. In August 1993, Melody Wolf conspired with law enforcement to punish Mr. Inkel and was rewarded with custody of their children. Id. at ¶¶ M-O. Based on advice from Attorney Richard Gifford, Mr. Inkel began investigating police violence and fraud. Id. at ¶ K. In April 1994, he provided evidence of police misconduct to various authorities and subsequently faced more retaliation. Id. at ¶¶ Q, R. Also in April 1994, he provided information about police brutality and dishonesty to Assistant United States Attorney John Durham, who advised him to continue collecting evidence, but alerted law enforcement officers about Mr. Inkel's investigation. Id. at ¶¶ S-X. A No. of Colchester officers assaulted, falsely arrested, and imprisoned Mr. Inkel in March 1994. Id. at ¶ Z. They stole and destroyed his evidence documenting their misconduct. Id. at ¶¶ AA, CC, GG. While incarcerated in May 1994, Mr. Inkel was denied medical care, denied bail, and threatened with violence. Id. at ¶¶ DD-FF. Witnesses to police violence against Mr. Inkel were beaten, threatened, and falsely arrested in an effort to cover up crimes against Mr. Inkel. Id. at ¶¶ HH, JJ. In subsequent months, various authorities sanctioned Mr. Inkel's murder. Id. at ¶¶ II, KK-MM. In September 1994, Mr. Inkel traveled to Alaska for his safety. Id. at ¶ RR. In Alaska, he learned information related to a rape and murder, and shared that information with law enforcement. Id. at ¶ SS. Connecticut officials gave false information about him to Alaska officials. Id. In 1996, Attorney John Schoenhorn represented Mr. Inkel in a civil rights lawsuit. Id. at ¶¶ TT-UU. Mr. Inkel then learned that Attorney Schoenhorn was corrupt and destroyed evidence. Id. at ¶ VV.

         In March 2013, a group of private citizens and police officers in the Town of East Haddam conspired to violate Mr. Corey's rights. Id. at ¶ XX. On March 9, 2013, they kidnapped, restrained, and unlawfully charged him with criminal activity. Id. at ¶ YY. These events arose out of a dispute regarding Mr. Corey's shared driveway with neighbors and his subsequent arrest. See Corey v. Hawes, 2015 WL 5472507 (D. Conn. Sept. 17, 2015). In 2014, Mr. Corey filed suit in the District of Connecticut against his neighbors, various individuals associated with the East Haddam Police Department, and the Town of East Haddam based on this dispute. Id.; ECF No. 24 at ¶ AAA. In the course of that litigation, Mr. Corey filed an application for prejudgment remedies against his neighbors. Corey, 2015 WL 5472507 at *1. In 2015, Judge Meyer referred this motion to Magistrate Judge Margolis, who held a three-day hearing and then denied the motion. Id. In 2016, Judge Meyer granted the defendants' summary judgment motions and closed the case. Civil Action No. 3:14cv1266(JAM), Dkt No. 168. Mr. Corey filed an appeal that was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Id. at Dkt No. 195. Some of the Plaintiffs' allegations in this case arise from their dissatisfaction with the decisions by Judge Meyer and Judge Margolis. They allege that the Defendants “filed false pleadings before this court, suborned perjuries, destroyed official documents and engaged in numerous misprisons of felonies to conceal numerous unlawful governmental and organizational acts.” ECF No. 24 at ¶ BBB. They further allege that there was a “counterfeit or void judgment, ” that they “were denied their rights to present their claims in this Court to be heard and honestly adjudicated, ” and that there was a “miscarriage of justice” in the earlier action brought by Mr. Corey. ECF No. 24 at ¶ CCC.

         II. Legal Claims

         The plaintiffs assert the following legal claims: (1) claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 for violation of plaintiffs' First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights, ECF No. 24 at 1-2, ECF No. 1 at 4; (2) claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1964, ECF No. 24 at 5; and (3) claims of common-law fraud, ECF No. 24 at ¶¶ BBB-CCC.

         III. Motions to Dismiss

         The State and Federal Defendants filed motions to dismiss this action pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), (b)(5), and (b)(6). ECF Nos. 28 & 30.[2]

         A. Legal Standards

         1. Rule 12(b)(1)

         A “case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.” Nike, Inc. v. Already, LLC, 663 F.3d 89, 94 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). The party “asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists.” Luckett v. Bure, 290 F.3d 493, 497 (2d Cir. 2002). “In resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court . . . may refer to evidence outside the pleadings.” Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The court construes the complaint liberally and accepts all factual allegations as true. See Ford v. D.C. 37 Union Local 1549, 579 F.3d 187, 188 (2d Cir. 2009).

         2. Rule 12(b)(5)

         Under Rule 12(b)(5), a party may move for dismissal of a complaint based on inadequate service of process. When proof of service is challenged, “the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that service was sufficient.” Khan v. Khan, 360 Fed.Appx. 202, 203 (2d Cir. 2010). In deciding the issue, “a Court must look to Rule 4, which governs the content, issuance, and service of a summons.” DeLuca v. AccessIT Group, Inc., 695 F.Supp.2d 54, 64 (S.D.N.Y. 2010). “Technical errors in a summons generally do not render service invalid, ” but “where the error actually results in prejudice to the defendant or demonstrates a flagrant disregard of Rule 4, service will be considered invalid and amendment need not be allowed.” Id. at 65.

         The plaintiff can avoid dismissal if he can demonstrate good cause for his failure to effect proper service. Lab Crafters, Inc. v. Flow Safe, Inc., 233 F.R.D. 282, 284 (E.D.N.Y. 2005). “Two factors are considered to determine whether good cause exists: (1) the reasonableness and diligence of Plaintiff's efforts to serve, and (2) the prejudice to the Moving Defendants from the delay.” Id. “Good cause is generally found only in exceptional circumstances where the plaintiff's failure to make timely service was the result of circumstances beyond his control.” Myers v. Sec. of the Dept. of the Treas., 173 F.R.D. 44, 46 (E.D.N.Y. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         3. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a party to move for dismissal based on “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted). “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.” Id. A court need not accept legal conclusions as true and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.

         In reviewing a 12(b)(6) motion, a court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff[s], accepting the complaint's allegations as true.” York v. Assn. of B. of City of New York, 286 F.3d 122, 125 (2d Cir. 2002). And when a plaintiff is pro se, the court “must liberally construe his pleadings, and must interpret his complaint to raise the strongest arguments it suggests.” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). In addition to the complaint, the court may consider “any written instrument attached to the complaint as an exhibit, any statements or documents incorporated in it by reference, and any document upon which the complaint heavily relies.” In re Thelen LLP, 736 F.3d 213, 219 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). In addition, “[m]atters judicially noticed by the District Court are not considered matters outside the pleadings.” Id. (citation omitted). “A court may take judicial notice of a document filed in another court not for the truth of the matters asserted in the other litigation but rather to establish the fact of such litigation and related filings.” Glob. Network Commc'ns, Inc., 458 F.3d at 157 (citation omitted).

         Although statutes of limitations and the doctrine of res judicata are affirmative defenses, and therefore not typically considered in a motion to dismiss, they “may be raised by a pre-answer motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . if the defense[s] appear[] on the face of the complaint.” Pani v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, 152 F.3d 67, 74 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Day v. Moscow, 955 F.2d 807, 811 (2d Cir. 1992) (“[W]hen all relevant facts are shown by the court's own records, of which the court takes notice, the [res judicata] defense may be upheld on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion without requiring an answer.”); Ghartey v. St. John's Queens Hosp., 869 F.2d 160, 162 (2d Cir. 1989) (“Where the dates in a complaint show that an action is barred by a statute of limitations, a defendant may raise the affirmative defense in a pre-answer motion to dismiss.”).

         B. Rule 12(b)(1): Eleventh Amendment and Sovereign Immunity

         1. State of Connecticut and Connecticut Officials

         The Eleventh Amendment provides states and state agencies immunity from suit for monetary damages. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 99 (1984). “Eleventh Amendment immunity, however, is not absolute.” Close v. State of N.Y., 125 F.3d 31, 36 (2d Cir. 1997). There are two ways a state may be subject to suit: “(1) Congress may abrogate a state's sovereign immunity through a statutory enactment, and (2) a state may waive its immunity and agree to be sued in federal court.” Id. (internal citations omitted).

         “Congress, in passing § 1983, had no intention to disturb the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity.” Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police,491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). And Connecticut has not waived its sovereign immunity under Section 1983. Wagner v. Connecticut Dept. of Correction,599 F.Supp.2d 229, 238 (D. Conn. 2009). Although there is limited case law regarding immunity to RICO claims, the RICO statute contains no express abrogation of Eleventh Amendment immunity, 18 U.S.C. § 1964, and courts in this circuit have held that the immunity applies to such claims. See, e.g., Jones v. King, 10 CIV. 0897 PKC, 2011 WL 4484360, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2011); Molina v. State of N.Y.,956 F.Supp. 257, 260 (E.D.N.Y. 1995). As such, the Eleventh Amendment protects both the State of Connecticut and Connecticut officials, acting in their official capacity, from claims for money damages brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and RICO. All such ...


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