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Roger L. Williams v. Kellie Williams

February 20, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court



Plaintiff Roger L. Williams, proceeding pro se, brings this personal property and civil rights action against various defendants, alleging violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff's claims arise out of his divorced wife's alleged retention of marital and personal property that was not credited to his child support payments, resulting in the issuance of a property execution and restraining notice on his bank account. Presently before this Court is Defendants Chautauqua County Family Court Judge Judith Claire, Support Magistrate Michael Bobseine, and former Support Magistrate Lawrence Zobel's (the "State Defendants") Motion to Dismiss, as well as Defendants Chautauqua County Department of Social Services*fn1 and Jerry D. Hyde's (the "Chautauqua Defendants") Motion to Dismiss.*fn2 For the following reasons, Defendants' motions are granted. Further, this Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law property claim against Defendant Kellie Williams.


A. Facts

Plaintiff and Defendant, Kellie S. Williams, were divorced sometime prior to October 1, 2002. (Comp., p. 4, Docket No. 1.)*fn3 Ms. Williams allegedly convinced Plaintiff that she was entitled to sole legal possession over their marital property and evicted him under threats of arrest. (Id.) In addition to losing what Plaintiff considers his fair share of the marital assets, Plaintiff was also unable to recover the rest of his personal property from their formerly shared residence. (Id.) Plaintiff then sought to have the Chautauqua County Department of Social Services ("Social Services") credit the value of his personal belongings, left behind in Ms. Williams' possession, in satisfaction of his child support payments in arrears. (Id.) Social Services failed to act on his petitions, and on March 22, 2005 a property execution and restraining notice was sent to Plaintiff's bank. (Comp., p.7; Steger Aff. ¶ 15.) This notice was enforced against Plaintiff's Jamestown Metal Products Federal Credit Union account and resulted in two checks for the amount of $385.04 and $65 being forwarded by the bank to Social Services. (Steger Aff. ¶ 15.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action on March 21, 2011 by filing a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. (Docket No. 1.) The Chautauqua Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on April 25, 2011 (Docket No. 4), and the State Defendants followed suit with their own Motion to Dismiss on April 26, 2011 (Docket No. 6). This Court issued a scheduling notice and Plaintiff filed a timely response on May 5, 2011. (Docket No. 8.) State Defendants and the Chautauqua Defendants each filed a reply on May 11, 2011. (Docket Nos. 9, 10.) The parties' briefs were deemed submitted as of May 23, 2011. Nevertheless, Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendants' reply memoranda on May 25, 2011 (Docket No. 12) and sought leave to amend his Complaint (Docket No. 11). Because Plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements of Local Rule 15(a), Plaintiff's Motion to Amend was denied without prejudice.


A. Standards of Review

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed primarily for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and/or for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn4

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. Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the existence of federal jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 119 L. Ed. 2d 351 (1992).

Where, as here, the jurisdictional challenges are raised at the pleading stage, the court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Sharkey v. Quarantillo, 541 F.3d 75, 83 (2d Cir. (2008). It is "presume[d] that general [fact] allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim." Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 889, 110 S. Ct. 3177, 111 L. Ed. 2d 695 (1990) (alterations added). The court also may consider affidavits and other evidence outside the pleadings to resolve the jurisdictional issue, but it may not rely on conclusory or hearsay statements contained in affidavits. J.S. v. Attica Cent. Schs., 386 F.3d 107, 110 (2d Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 544 U.S. 968, 125 S. Ct. 1727, 161 L. Ed. 2d 616 (2005). Indeed, courts "must" consult factual submissions "if resolution of a proffered factual issue may result in the dismissal of the complaint for want of jurisdiction." Robinson v. Gov't of Malaysia, 269 F.3d 133, 140 n. 6 (2d Cir. 2001).

2. Rule 12(b)(6)

Rule 12 (b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6). Federal pleading standards are generally not stringent: Rule 8 requires only a short and plain statement of a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). But the plain statement must "possess enough heft to show that the pleader is entitled to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1966, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007).

When determining whether a complaint states a claim, the court must construe it liberally, accept all factual allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007).

Legal conclusions, however, are not afforded the same presumption of truthfulness. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) ("The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations ...

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