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Neuman v. United States

August 7, 2008

JAMES NEUMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. Introduction and Background

On March 14, 2007, Neuman filed suit in Illinois state court against a large number of defendants, including Karen McNaught, Judge Brian Nemenoff, the State of Illinois, and the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Illinois (Doc. 2). The case was removed to federal court in the Central District of Illinois on May 1, 2007. Because each of the federal defendants is employed in the Central District of Illinois, all judges in that district recused themselves, and the case was transferred to the Southern District of Illinois on May 17, 2007. The undersigned Judge was then randomly assigned to the case.

On June 8, 2007, Karen McNaught filed a motion to dismiss all claims against her under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6) (Doc. 28). On September 14, 2007, Judge Nemenoff moved to dismiss Neuman's claims against him (Doc. 70). Finding that the complaint failed to set forth any fact that would permit this Court to infer that Neuman stated a plausible claim for relief against either, the Court dismissed McNaught and Judge Nemenoff without prejudice (Docs. 148 &151).

Having received permission from the Court, Neuman filed an amended complaint in the above-captioned action on March 2, 2008 (Doc. 214). Therein, Neuman raises forty claims against approximately thirty defendants, including McNaught, Judge Nemenoff, the State of Illinois, and the Office of the Attorney General.

These defendants now move this Court to dismiss Neuman's claims against them under FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (Doc. 232). For the reasons stated below, the Court hereby GRANTS defendants' motion to dismiss.

B. Analysis

1. Neuman's Claims Against McNaught and Judge Nemenoff

Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) if the complaint fails to set forth "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, -- U.S. --, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007); EEOC v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). In making this assessment, the District Court accepts as true all well-pled factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor.St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007).

Rule 8 requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." This pleading standard requires that plaintiffs provide defendants with fair notice of their claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). In Bell Atlantic, the Supreme Court explained: a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, [but] a plaintiff's obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitle[ment] to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do . . . .

Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964--65 (internal citations omitted). With respect to the plaintiff's allegation of conspiracy, the Court explained that Rule 8 requires a complaint to include "enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal agreement," and that failure to do so may result in dismissal. Id. at 1965. Ultimately, the Court upheld dismissal of the complaint because a showing of parallel conduct among telecommunications providers, without any other facts suggesting the existence of an illegal agreement, did not fulfill the requirements of Rule 8. Id. at 1974 ("Because the plaintiffs here have not nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, their complaint must be dismissed.").

With respect to Neuman's first complaint, the Court previously dismissed both McNaught and Judge Nemenoff because Neuman failed to set forth any fact that would permit the Court to infer that there is a plausible claim for relief against either. The same is true of Neuman's amended complaint, as it relates essentially the same broad allegations without any factual support that could reveal evidence of a conspiracy involving either defendant.

Neuman's complaint alleges that he was denied entrance into the Peoria County Courthouse. Neuman alleges that he approached the courthouse to conduct work on a pending lawsuit (Doc. 214, p. 14). As he entered, Officer Terry Short asked, "Where do you think you are going?" (Doc. 214, p. 14). Officer Short then accessed his radio and stated, "The guy that we have pictures of is attempting to enter the building." (Doc. 214, p. 15). At that point, Neuman alleges that he "knew immediately that they intended to deny [him] access to the courthouse" (Doc. 214, p. 17). Neuman then voluntarily left the building. He alleges that he did so because Officer Short's words and actions made him fear that he would be retaliated against, assaulted, and possibly killed (Doc. 214, p. 17). Neuman alleges that these facts indicate that security officers and others working in the courthouse, including McNaught and Judge Nemenoff, had entered into a conspiracy against him.

How Neuman makes this jump is not clear, as the complaint fails to allege any facts specific to McNaught or Judge Nemenoff. As far as the Court can tell, Judge Nemenoff's only relation to Neuman is that he was a defendant in one of the cases Neuman had filed, and McNaught's only relation to him is that she was defense counsel in one of Neuman's cases (See Docs. 233 & 252). There is absolutely nothing, however, to even remotely connect either to the alleged conspiracy to prevent Neuman from accessing the courthouse. Neither McNaught nor Judge Nemenoff were involved in the underlying facts-Officer Short is the only individual who had any actual contact with Neumann. The mere fact that ...


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