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Dudla v. Jordan

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 29, 2015

SHAWN P. DUDLA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN E. JORDAN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 18, 2014, pro se Plaintiff Shawn P. Dudla ("Plaintiff") filed the present action against Defendants Judge John E. Jordan ("Judge Jordan"); Judge Scott D. Polodna ("Judge Polodna"); Cathy Stephens ("Stephens"); Osceola County ("Osceola County"); the State of Florida; John W. Campbell ("Campbell"); and Constangy Brooks & Smith, LLP ("CBS") (collectively, "Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint"). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights of Due Process and Equal Protection under the 14th Amendment during the course of a lawsuit in Osceola County, Florida in which Plaintiff was a defendant. Id . ¶ 17.

Presently before the Court are: Osceola County's Motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), and 12(b)(6), Dkt. No. 10 ("County Motion"); Defendants Judge Jordan, Judge Polodna, Stephens, and the State of Florida's Motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6), Dkt. No. 18 ("State Motion"); and Defendants Campbell and CBS's Motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), and 12(b)(6), Dkt. No. 32 ("Campbell Motion").

For the following reasons, the Court grants each of Defendants' Motions.

II. BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff's claims arise from a lawsuit filed in the 9th Judicial Circuit, Osceola County, Florida, on December 26, 2012, by "Von Curtis, Inc. d/b/a Paul Mitchell The School Orlando" ("Von Curtis, Inc.") against Plaintiff. Dkt. No. 1-1 ("Exhibit 1"). Plaintiff had contracted to perform consultant work for the design and installation of a "Low Voltage System" in a school located in Oveido, Florida. Compl. ¶ 23. The lawsuit concerned alleged breaches of that contract by Plaintiff and telephone conversations that Plaintiff allegedly recorded in violation of Florida law. Ex.1. Throughout the lawsuit, Plaintiff filed numerous motions objecting to the Florida court's subject matter and personal jurisdiction. Compl. ¶ 34. These motions were uniformly denied by the court. Id . ¶¶ 26, 41. On April 8, 2014, the Florida court entered a default against Plaintiff for ignoring discovery requests. Exhibit 42, Dkt. No. 1-5.

In the present lawsuit, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff alleges that the Florida court's lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction deprived him of his rights to Due Process and Equal Protection under the 14th Amendment. See generally Compl. Plaintiff names as defendants the individuals allegedly responsible for continuing the Florida proceedings in the absence of jurisdiction, which includes: the judges in the matter, Judge Polodna[2] and Judge Jordan; Stephens, a judicial assistant to Judge Jordan; Osceola County and the State of Florida, as the employers of Judge Polodna, Judge Jordan, and Stephens; and the attorneys for Von Curtis, Inc., Campbell, and CBS. Id . ¶¶ 2-8. All Defendants are residents of Florida. Id.

Plaintiff is a domiciliary of New York. Id . ¶ 70. Throughout the Florida lawsuit, Plaintiff did not attend the hearings in Florida in person, but participated telephonically from New York. Id . ¶ 122.

Plaintiff seeks as relief damages of $100, 000 from each Defendant, punitive damages, an injunction against further action in the Florida court, and attorneys' fees. Id . ¶¶ 341-47.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

When a defendant "moves for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1), as well as on other grounds, the court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1) challenge first since if it must dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the accompanying defenses and objections become moot and do not need to be determined." United States ex rel. Kreindler & Kreindler v. United Tech. Corp., 985 F.2d 1148, 1155-56 (2d Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "To survive a defendant's Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of standing, plaintiffs must allege facts that affirmatively and plausibly suggest that [they have] standing to sue." Kiryas Joel Alliance v. Village of Kiryas Joel, 495 F.Appx. 183, 188 (2d Cir. 2012) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). In considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), a court must accept as true all material factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Buday v. N.Y. Yankees P'Ship, 486 F.Appx. 894, 896 (2d Cir. 2012). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that a court has subject matter jurisdiction. See Garanti Finansal Kiralama A.S. v. Aqua Marine & Trading, Inc., 697 F.3d 59, 65 (2d Cir. 2012).

B. Personal Jurisdiction

Where a party moves to dismiss an action for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant. Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 1996). Where a court relies only upon the pleadings and supporting affidavits, a plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Cutco Indus., Inc. v. Naughton, 806 F.2d 361, 364 (2d Cir. 1986); Grand River Enters. Six Nations, Ltd. v. Pryor, 425 F.3d 158, 165 (2d Cir. 2005).

"A prima facie showing of jurisdiction does not mean that plaintiff must show only some evidence that defendant is subject to jurisdiction; it means that plaintiff must plead facts which, if true, are sufficient in themselves to establish jurisdiction.'" Tamam v. Fransabank Sal, 677 F.Supp.2d 720, 725 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (citation omitted). While a court should assume the truth of all well-pleaded factual allegations that support a finding of personal jurisdiction, Ball v. Metallurgie Hoboken-Overpelt, S.A., 902 F.2d 194, 197 (2d Cir. 1990), it should "not draw argumentative inferences' in the plaintiff's favor, " Robinson v. Overseas Military Sales Corp., 21 F.3d 502, 507 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Atl. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Balfour Maclaine Int'l Ltd., 968 F.2d 196, 198 (2d Cir. 1992)).

C. Venue

The same standard of review that applies to a 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction also applies to a 12(b)(3) motion seeking dismissal for improper venue. Gulf Ins. Co. v. Glasbrenner, 417 F.3d 353, 355 (2d Cir. 2005). Thus, a plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the action has been brought in an appropriate venue. CutCo, 806 F.2d at 364. Where a court relies only upon the pleadings and ...


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