United States District Court, D. Nebraska
PAUL A. ROSBERG, Plaintiff,
STATE OF NEBRASKA, and PAUL J. VAUGHAN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge
filed his Complaint on March 14, 2017. (Filing No.
1.) He has been given leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Filing No. 5.) The court now conducts an
initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
sues the State of Nebraska and Paul Vaughn, a district court
judge in Knox County, Nebraska, in his official and
individual capacities. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p.
2.) Plaintiff believes that Vaughn “is unlawfully
ruling” without subject matter jurisdiction.
(Id.) Vaughn currently presides over Plaintiff's
divorce case. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 3.) Plaintiff
alleges that he transferred his divorce case to the
“common law jurisdictional side, ” so that he is
entitled to a trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that
Vaughn, a chancery judge, prevented him from exercising his
right to a jury trial under the common law. (Id. at
CM/ECF pp. 3-4.) Plaintiff seeks an order that compels
Defendants to allow him to exercise his right to a jury trial
“in each and every case that he has filed” and in
his current divorce case. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 5.)
also requests an order that compels Vaughn to recuse himself
from Plaintiff's cases. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 8.) He
claims that he filed three motions in state district court
for Vaughn to recuse himself from his cases and four
different lawsuits against Vaughn that are still being
litigated. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 5-6.) Plaintiff
believes that Vaughn has consistently shown bias and
impartiality against him by dismissing his civil cases,
sentencing him to jail without a trial in his divorce case,
ruling against most of his motions in his divorce case, and
because Plaintiff filed a “Lis Pendens” on
Vaughan's real estate. (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 5-6.)
addition to the orders to compel, Plaintiff seeks punitive
damages and costs and fees. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 9.)
APPLICABLE STANDARDS OF REVIEW
court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also 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.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
extent Plaintiffs Complaint can be construed to challenge
judgments of the state district court, this court lacks
jurisdiction. Only the Supreme Court has the authority to
entertain a proceeding to reverse or modify a state court
judgment. Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S.
413, 416 (1923); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a)
(granting the United States Supreme Court the power to review
final judgments rendered by high courts of a state). In
addition, federal courts do not have jurisdiction to review
final state court judgments in judicial proceedings.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 482-86 (1983). Together, these two principles
have merged to become the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
It appears to the court that Plaintiff litigated his
complaints against Vaughn in the state district court, before
a different presiding judge, and failed. Under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the court has no
jurisdiction to reverse or modify those state court