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El Bey v. Bellis

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 17, 2019

FABIOLA IS RA EL BEY, Plaintiff,
v.
BARBARA BELLIS, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF NO. 21)

          KARI A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Preliminary Statement of the Case

         The Plaintiff, Fabiola Is Ra El Bey, proceeding pro se, brings this action against members of Connecticut's state judiciary, alleging civil rights violations stemming from state court proceedings presided over and adjudicated by the Defendants. (ECF No. 1.) The Defendants moved to dismiss on May 6, 2019, contending that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear or adjudicate the Plaintiffs claims. (ECF No. 21.) The Plaintiff objected to the motion on May 28, 2019. (ECF No. 23.) For the reasons discussed below, the Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

         Standard of Review

         Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction under Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. See, e.g., Chicot Cnty. Drainage Dist. v. Baxter State Bank, 308 U.S. 371, 376 (1940), reh'g denied, 309 U.S. 695 (1940). If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action must be dismissed. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."). The Court may dismiss an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) when the Court "lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.” Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000).

         The question of subject matter jurisdiction is so fundamental that the Court must raise the issue sua sponte, even when the issue is not identified or raised by the parties. See Mansfield, Coldwater & Lake Michigan Rwy. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884); Joseph v. Leavitt, 465 F.3d 87, 89 (2d Cir. 2006) (“Although neither party has suggested that we lack appellate jurisdiction, we have an independent obligation to consider the presence or absence of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte.”), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1282 (2007).

         Mindful of the Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court liberally construes the Complaint to raise the strongest arguments it may suggest. See Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007).

         Allegations

         The Plaintiff has been a foreclosure defendant in state court since August 2009. (ECF No. 5, ¶ 12.) A judgment of strict foreclosure entered against her on February 26, 2018. (Id.) The Plaintiff alleges that “[t]he prospective termination of stay, which was the method used in the subject foreclosure case, is not being interpreted by the Defendants as limited to the single judgment of strict foreclosure originally appealed from by the Plaintiff, but is being interpreted as applicable prospectively to terminate all possible future stays that could arise in the foreclosure action.” (Id. at ¶ 16.) As a result, the Plaintiff alleges she has been “deprived of the right to have a subsequent appellate stay in place[.]” (Id. at ¶ 17.) This “unjustified or erroneous deprivation” of her right to an appeal and a future appeal “means one of two things: either Practice Book 61-11(e) is unconstitutional and violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it grants authority to the state court to prospectively terminate all of Plaintiff's rights to a future appellate stay from a single judgment, without further notice, hearing or safeguards to any future appealable issue that may arise or; (2) the interpretation by the state court Defendants that the state court has authority to prospectively terminate all of Plaintiff's future appellate stay from the ruling on a single matter or judgment without any safeguards in place to a future appellate issue that may arise violates the Due Process Clause under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” (Id. at ¶ 18.)

         The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants deprived her “(1) of the right to a scheduled foreclosure trial, (2) the right to subpoena witnesses at the scheduled foreclosure which was arbitrarily taken away from Plaintiff by the presiding judge Defendant Barbara Bellis, (3) the right to have those witnesses subpoenaed at the rescheduled trial which was changed to a Short Calendar hearing and (4) the right to have notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard regarding outstanding motions that had a bearing on Plaintiffs ability to respond to judgment of strict foreclosure, motion to terminate appellate stay and motion for equitable relief.” (Id. at ¶ 19.) The Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Bellis, Jennings and Truglia “conspired” to “deprive Plaintiff of her constitutional rights …” (Id. at ¶ 20.) In particular, the Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bellis “had racial animus towards Plaintiff and wrongfully yelled at Plaintiff for ‘rolling her eyes' and even threatened to jail Plaintiff if Plaintiff filed motions she did not like in defense of the foreclosure action, conspired with or otherwise gave directive to her subordinate judges, Jennings and Truglia to rule against Plaintiff, manipulated the type of foreclosure procedure from a trial to a hearing and manipulated the timing of the rulings on outstanding motions where Defendant Jennings issue rulings on the outstanding motions on the eve of the a strict foreclosure hearing, to deprive Plaintiff of the right to sufficiently determine how the rulings affected Plaintiff's property interest and to deprive Plaintiff of the necessary steps Plaintiff needed to take to prevent the deprivation of Plaintiff's property interest.” (Id. at ¶ 22.) The Plaintiff alleges that “[t]hese actions by the Superior Court Defendants prejudiced Plaintiff's ability to defend against the rulings of Defendant Jennings and Truglia, and contribute to the ongoing deprivation of Plaintiff's rights to due process and equal protection under the law.” (Id.) The Plaintiff alleges a course of conduct by which, she argues, the Defendants “directly and intentionally manipulated the scheduling and timing” on her various motions. (Id. at ¶ 35.)

         The Plaintiff further alleges that the Defendants on the Appellate Court “participated in the violation of Plaintiff's right to due process and equal protection under the law because the appellate court failed to remedy the wrong of the termination of all of Plaintiff's future automatic stays …” (Id. at ¶ 36.) As a result, she alleges, “the termination of all of Plaintiff's future appellate stay dangerously opened the door where the trial court was free to arbitrarily make any ruling it so choose against Plaintiff in any manner of its own choosing erroneous or not because Plaintiff was no longer fully protected by the state appellate process and because there were no protections in place to prevent the law days from running and mooting the appeal.” (Id. at ¶ 38.) The Plaintiff alleges that “the entire Connecticut Supreme Court or an individual Jan or John Doe justice was/were also personally involved in the unconstitutional violation against Plaintiff[.]” (Id. at ¶ 40.) Finally, she alleges that “[a]ll of the Defendants herein are/were acting under the color of state law.” (Id. at ¶ 42.)

         The Plaintiff brings thirteen causes of action: violation of procedural due process and substantive due process claims against Defendants Truglia (Counts One and Two) and Defendant Jennings (Counts Three and Four); violation of equal protection and procedural and substantive due process claims against Defendant Bellis (Counts Five, Six, and Seven); a “Conspiracy To Interfere With Civil Rights Obstruction of Justice” claim against Defendants Bellis, Jennings, and Truglia (Count Eight); a violation of substantive and procedural due process claim against Defendants Alvord, Lavine, and Bright, Jr. (Count Nine); a violation of substantive and procedural due process claim against “the Supreme Court Justices as John and/or Jane Doe” (Count Ten); a violation of equal protection claim against Defendants Alvord, Lavine, Bright Jr., Truglia, and Jennings (Count Eleven); a “Neglect to Prevent” claim against Defendants Alvord, Lavine, Bright, Jr., and John and Jane Doe Defendants of the Connecticut Supreme Court (Count Twelve); and “Declaration That Practice Book 61-11e is unconstitutional” (Count Thirteen).

         The Plaintiff asks this Court to 1) enjoin the state courts from moving forward “or any judgment therefrom taking effect until after this case is decided”; 2) order the reinstatement of the Plaintiff's appellate stays; 3) order the reinstatement of the Plaintiff's oral argument on her motion to dismiss in state court; 4) order the state trial court to hold oral argument on a motion to substitute; 5) reverse the judgment of strict foreclosure and order the state court to hold a trial; 6) order the state courts to allow the Plaintiff to call witnesses during the reinstated trial; and 7) declare that Connecticut Practice Book Section 61-11e, which governs the termination of motions to stay, ...


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