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Dorman v. Caffey

October 17, 2008

CHRISTIE DORMAN AND JASON DORMAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RONALD CAFFEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court are four separate Motions to Dismiss. The first is filed by defendant Ronald Caffey (Doc. 15), the second by defendant Carl Stark (Doc. 18) and the third and fourth by defendant Calvin Fuller and the Madison County State's Attorney's Office (Docs. 22 & 32).*fn1 Plaintiffs have filed a "Plaintiffs' More Precise Pleading & Statement of Claims" (Doc. 24), which could perhaps be construed as a Response to all of these Motions. Yet, upon its initial review, the Court is not satisfied that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Accordingly, it must sua sponte dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint without prejudice, allowing Plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint in attempt to correct the noted jurisdictional deficiencies.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Jason and Christie Dorman have brought suit against defendants Ronald Caffey, Carl Stark, David Ferguson, Calvin Fuller, Carl Stark Tree Cutting & Company, the Madison County State's Attorney's Office, as well as other Unknown Defendants (Doc. 2). Plaintiffs originally filed this matter with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, but finding venue to be improper, the Eastern District ordered that the case be transferred here (Doc. 27).*fn2 Plaintiffs allege they are residents of the State of Missouri and that Defendants reside in both the States of Illinois and Missouri. Plaintiffs also appear to allege Defendants have violated their constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with "many other provisions of the United States Code under color of law."

What Plaintiffs describe to be the central crux of their injury stems from a tree that was cut down from their Alton, Illinois residence without their permission. It appears from the allegations and the attached exhibits that Plaintiffs had previously resided in Alton, Illinois, but had since moved to Missouri. Their empty residence in Alton was up for sale. Plaintiffs claim that their neighbor, Ronald Caffey, paid Carl Stark to cut down a birch tree located on Plaintiff's Alton residence. This was allegedly performed unbeknownst to Plaintiffs. Moreover, Plaintiffs claim they previously told Caffey that they did not want the tree removed, even though Caffey complained it was a nuisance. The exhibits attached to Plaintiffs' Complaint, many of which appear to be police reports, show that local police were involved, but ultimately State's Attorney Calvin Fuller determined it was a civil, not criminal matter.

In addition to these factual allegations concerning the tree, Plaintiffs make other vague and conclusory allegations in their Complaint. For example:

Defendants have violated the rights of Plaintiffs both in the States of Missouri and Illinois in knowing breach of 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and many other provisions of the United States Code under color of law (Doc. 2 ¶ 4).

Defendants have promised and provided Defendants unlawful protection of being prosecuted for felony crimes perpetrated in their contract for felony crime agreement created with Defendant law enforcement and court officer Ronald Caffey (Id. at ¶ 6).

Defendants are engaged in a practice of labor, property and judicial racketeering in violation of the Federal "Racketeering, Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act," and other law violations (Id. at ¶ 11). Plaintiffs and others have continuously and respectfully requested that Defendants not administer these criminal matters and transfer them for processing by a Special Prosecutor, independent special investigators and to allow them to appear before a grand jury and be heard, because the bias and animosity Defendants have for many years harbored against Plaintiffs (Id. at ¶ 26).

Plaintiffs adamantly state and assert that we can prove the acts by Defendants against us to be felony crimes in a court administered by an impartial judge and jury of our peers, but that the criminal practice of law (barratry) is an embarrassment and source of economic decline in our community (Id. at ¶ 32).

III. JURISDICTION

In this Order, the Court raises sua sponte the issue of whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over this case. See Wisconsin Knife Works v. National Metal Crafters, 781 F.2d 1280, 1282 (7th Cir. 1986) ("The first thing a federal judge should do when a complaint is filed is check to see that federal jurisdiction is properly alleged."); McCready v. White, 417 F.3d 700, 702 (7th Cir. 2005) ("Ensuring the existence of subject matter jurisdiction is the court's first duty in every lawsuit.")."Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause." Ex parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 506, 514 19 L.Ed. 264 (1868); Steel Co. v. Citizens for Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998). Federal courts are "obliged to police the constitutional and statutory limitations on their jurisdiction" and should raise and consider jurisdictional issues. See Kreuger v. Cartwright, 996 F.2d 928, 930-31 (7th Cir. 1993); Kanzelberger v. Kanzelberger, 782 F.2d 774, 777 (7th Cir. 1986). Therefore, this Court has an independent obligation to assure itself of jurisdiction over the parties' controversy, bearing in mind that the party invoking federal jurisdiction ...


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