United States District Court, D. Nebraska
DR. VALERIE T. AKEYO, Plaintiff,
MR. RODNEY REHM, REHM, BENNETT, MOORE, REHM & OCKANDES, PC, LLO, DR. SCOTT S. JOHNSON, DR. ADRIAN M. DREESSEN, DR. KIMBERLY APKER, DR. GARY S. LERNER, DR. JOEL ARMITAGE, MAKOVICKA, and DR. AMY BROWN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.
Dr. Valerie T. Akeyo filed her Complaint on February 14,
2019. (Filing No. 1.) She 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. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
brings this civil action against the following defendants:
Attorney Rodney Rehm (“Rehm”); the law firm of
Rehm, Bennett, Moore, Rehm & Ockander, PC, LLO; Dr. Scott
S. Johnson; Dr. Adrian M. Dreessen; Dr. Kimberly Apker; Dr.
Gary S. Lerner; Dr. Joel Armitage; Makovicka Physical
Therapy; and Dr. Amy Brown (collectively
“Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges claims of legal
malpractice, negligence, professional misconduct, breach of
contract, and defamation against Defendants. (Filing No.
1 at CM/ECF p. 5.)
to Plaintiff's “Statement of Claim” and
supplement, Plaintiff retained Rehm to represent her in
connection with a worker's compensation claim related to
injuries sustained by Plaintiff on March 13, 2014. (See
Id. at CM/ECF pp. 7-10; Filing No. 6.)
Plaintiff generally complains that Rehm's representation
was deficient in that he only met with Plaintiff three times
over the course of two years, failed to prepare her for court
appearances, and failed to adequately investigate her claim.
In particular, Plaintiff asserts that Rehm “was
colluding with the defense attorney to defeat ‘his'
case” and sabotage her claims. (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF p. 8.)
alleges that the last time she met with Rehm, he handed her a
copy of a 71-page document entitled “Valerie Akeyo,
CHRON Med Summary, March 20, 2017” (hereinafter
“Med. Summary”) and “said it was for
‘him' to use in court during the upcoming hearing
due in 5 days.” (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 8-9
(emphasis removed).) When Plaintiff asked who the doctors
listed in the document were, Rehm responded “they are
the doctors who treated you!” (Id. at CM/ECF p.
8 (punctuation corrected).) Plaintiff took the document
home and, upon closer review, found that she did not know or
was never treated by over two-thirds of the doctors listed in
the document. Rehm had never asked Plaintiff “to verify
or confirm if the doctors ever provided any treatment . . .
to [her] injuries of March 13, 2014.” (Id.)
Plaintiff contacted Rehm via telephone to relay this
information, and he “mumbled words saying, ‘you
are wasting your time,' then [hung] up the
telephone.” (Id. at CM/ECF p. 9 (punctuation
corrected).) Plaintiff subsequently terminated Rehm's
representation and alleges that Rehm's mistreatment of
her was due to “[h]is assessments of the plaintiff . .
. into four categories: color, accent, gender and age”
as Plaintiff is “a black woman, [who] spoke with an
accent, and [was] over 60 years old.” (Id. at
CM/ECF pp. 8-9.)
medical doctors and providers listed as co-defendants in this
action are the doctors listed in the 71-page Med. Summary
that Plaintiff claims never treated her injuries.
(See Id. at CM/ECF p. 10.) Plaintiff
alleges that “[i]f the doctors were . . . complicit
with [Rehm], then they are answerable to the court;” if
Rehm “anonymously used [their] names, they (the
doctors) should defend themselves in court.”
relief, Plaintiff seeks $1, 800, 000.00 in damages for
“pain and continued suffering, ” financial
losses, emotional distress, and mental anguish. (Id.
at CM/ECF p. 5.)
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL 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).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
evaluating Plaintiff's claims, the court must determine
whether subject-matter jurisdiction is proper.
SeeFed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).
Furthermore, a plaintiff must sufficiently state a claim for
relief that contains, “a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the
court has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new
jurisdictional support.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). Here,
Plaintiff alleges that the basis for the court's
jurisdiction is diversity of citizenship. (SeeFiling ...