United States District Court, D. Nebraska
JOHN V. HALTOM, Plaintiff,
KAREN PARKS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. Gerrard United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on John Haltom's amended
complaint (filing 6). Haltom is suing the state of Nebraska,
private medical practitioners, private entities, and
non-profit organizations for various purported constitutional
violations. Several defendants move to dismiss these claims
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(4) and (b)(6) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m).
For the reasons stated below, the defendants' motions
will be granted in part and denied in part.
allegations are briefly summarized as follows. In 2009, the
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) began
investigating domestic disputes between Haltom and his former
wife. As part of its investigation, DHHS allegedly colluded
with private health practitioners and companies to violate
Haltom's constitutional rights, and ultimately, to take
away his children. These actions were purportedly motivated
by DHHS's "long standing resentment" of Haltom,
which stems from past litigation, his operation of an adult
entertainment business, and his "political ambitions
within the State of Nebraska and its state departments."
Filing 6 at 3; 8, 9. To accomplish its goals, at least
according to Haltom, DHHS and other named defendants-all
acting "under color of state law"-partook in
widespread misconduct ranging from the production of false
medical evaluations, to unwarranted "invasions"
into Haltom's home. Filing 6 at 5-6, 12. As a result of
these actions, Haltom says he has experienced "extreme
emotional and physical distress" and is "[unable]
to function in society." Filing 6 at 5.
survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the Court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. Id. While the Court must accept as true all
facts pleaded by the nonmoving party and grant all reasonable
inferences from the pleadings in favor of the nonmoving
party, Gallagher v. City of Clayton, 699 F.3d 1013,
1016 (8th Cir. 2012), a pleading that offers labels and
conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for
relief will require the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
preliminary matter, Haltom's multiple claim complaint
spans nearly 90 pages, and includes over 40 named defendants.
Twelve of these defendants-including individually named
medical practitioners, private companies, and one non-profit
organization-have moved to dismiss Haltom's complaint on
various grounds. For clarity, the Court will address each of
the individually-named defendants' motions
separately. The Court will then address pending
motions from three private companies: KVC Behavioral Health,
Alegent Creighton Health, and ORR Psychotherapy. Because
these entities raise largely the same legal issues, the Court
will consider their motions together. Finally, the Court will
address the motion filed on behalf of CASA for Lancaster
County, a non-profit organization, and a CASA volunteer, Dawn
turning to the merits of the defendants' motions,
however, the Court will address two separate, yet related
issues. First, in his 89-page complaint, Haltom refers to
individuals and entities by different names, making it
difficult for the parties (and the Court) to determine which
counts apply to which defendants. For example, Haltom
initially refers to Alegent Creighton Health and its
individually-named employees as the "Lakeside
Defendants." But in detailing his allegations, Haltom
goes on to reference "Lakeside Hospital Defendants,
" "Lakeshore Defendants, " and
"Lakeside." See filing 47 at 3. Such
inconsistencies, the defendants argue, make it
"impossible to ascertain" Haltom's various
claims for relief. Filing 47 at 5.
the Court shares in the defendants' frustration, it
cannot be said that the parties, on the whole, lack adequate
notice of the nature of the claims against them. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. However, for clarity, the Court will-where
appropriate-specify which claims apply to which parties. In
doing so, the Court considers both the substance of the
defendants' underlying motions (to which the plaintiff
has not responded), and the governing standards under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). This represents the Court's good-faith
effort to make sense of Haltom's unwieldy pleading. If
Haltom meant to plead a claim that the Court has failed to
identify below, he may ask for leave to include it in an
amended complaint that sufficiently identifies it.
several defendants argue that because Haltom has not alleged
facts pertaining to self-incrimination, he has failed to
state a claim under the Fifth Amendment. In this way, the
defendants suggest that the Fifth Amendment applies only to
criminal matters, and is therefore inapplicable to the
present dispute. See, filing 49 at 7, filing 44 at
7, filing 47 at 7. Although the defendants' argument
misapprehends the law, the Court nevertheless recognizes that
Haltom has failed to allege wrongdoing by any federal actors.
Baribeau v. City of Minneapolis, 596 F.3d 465, 484
(8th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, the Court will dismiss
Haltom's Fifth Amendment claims as to each of the
defendants discussed in this Memorandum and Order.
noted above, Haltom alleges various constitutional violations
and conspiracy-related charges against several
individually-named health care practitioners. These
allegations broadly relate to the alleged conspiracy between
DHHS and other named defendants to "injure" Haltom,
and to "eliminate [Haltom's] rights to parent his
children." Filing 6 at 3-4. Generally speaking, Haltom
alleges that the individually-named defendants sought to
"conceal their conflicts of interest that, under their
professional rules of conduct, [they] were obligated to
reveal and to resolve before engaging in consultation with
[Haltom.]" Filing 6 at 4. Several of these defendants-
including Barbara Onnen (filing 27); David Kucera (filing
30); James C. Carmer (filing 41); Ryan Hurd (filing 48);
Melissa Schmid (filing 51); Lisa Blankenau (filing 57); and
Robert Troyer (filing 56)-move to dismiss. Those motions are
addressed in varying order below.
Troyer seeks dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(4). Filing 56. In support of his motion,
Troyer points to a series of orders by the Magistrate Judge
pertaining to service of process. See filings 3-6.
Specifically, Troyer notes a May 3, 2016 order in which the
Magistrate Judge granted Haltom's motion to continue,
instructing him to serve his amended complaint on defendants
"[o]n or before June 17, 2016." Filing 4; filing 5.
Haltom filed-but did not serve-the amended complaint on June
17, and then, on June 24, requested that the Court issue
summons. See, filing 7; filing 9. Thus, Troyer
argues, because Haltom "did not comply with the
Court's Order" regarding service of process, the
claims against him must be dismissed. Filing 55 at 2.
objection under Rule 12(b)(4) concerns the form of the
process rather than the manner or method of its service.
Technically, then, "a Rule 12(b)(4) motion is proper
only to challenge noncompliance with the provisions of Rule
4[a] or any applicable provision incorporated by Rule 4[a]
that deals specifically with the content of the
summons." 5B Wright & Miller Federal Practice and
Procedure Civil 3d § 1353. But Rule 12(b)(4) motions
will be granted only when the defect is prejudicial to the
defendant. Id. And here, there is no indication that
Troyer was prejudiced by the delayed service of process.
Indeed, while Haltom did not strictly comply with the
Magistrate Judge's order, Troyer received sufficient
notice of Haltom's complaint. Accordingly, Troyer's
motion to dismiss (filing 56) will be denied.
in his 89-page complaint, refers to Kucera only one time.
See filing 6 at 14. In this reference, Haltom
suggests that Kucera is or was an employee of KVC Behavioral
Healthcare Nebraska, another named defendant in this dispute.
But Kucera contends that he "has never worked,
associated with, or been employed by KVC . . . or any
similar-type organization[.]" Filing 31 at 1. Nor has he
worked for DHHS or any of the other defendants in this
matter. To this end, Kucera believes that he was erroneously
served with Haltom's complaint, and that the intended
recipient may have been a different "David Kucera"
living in or around Lancaster County, Nebraska. Filing 31 at
1. Because Haltom has not responded to the defendants'
motions to dismiss, the Court takes Kucera's factual
statements as true. See Neb. Civ. R. 7.0.1(b)(1)(C).
Accordingly, Kucera's motion to dismiss is granted.
James Carmer / Mental Health Associates, LLC
moves to dismiss Haltom's claims against both himself and
"Mental Health Associates, LLC." With respect to
the latter entity, Carmer notes that the business was
improperly named in the summons as "Mental Health
Associates, LLC, " as opposed to "Mental Health
Associates." Filing 42 at 3-4. Thus, because the summons
is "facially invalid, " and because "Mental
Health Associates, LLC" is not a legal entity subject to
suit, it argues that the summons should be quashed and that
"all purported claims against 'Mental Health
Associates, LLC' should be dismissed[.]" Filing 42
at 3. But as stated above, dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(4) is warranted only upon a showing of prejudice. And
while the defendant may have been improperly named, that does
not-on these facts-warrant dismissal. Accordingly, Mental
Health Associates' motion to dismiss is denied.
the Court will grant Carmer's motion to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Indeed, other than the case caption,
Carmer is mentioned nowhere in Haltom's amended
complaint. Thus, even assuming the truth of the matters
asserted, the amended complaint contains no factual
allegations that support any inference that Carmer is liable
for the misconduct alleged. Accordingly, Carmer's motion
to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is granted.
the defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted in part
and denied in part. Specifically, Mental Health
Associates' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(4) is
denied, and ...