United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division.
Donna ADAMS-HEDRICK, BY Robert HEDRICK, as next friend, Plaintiffs,
239TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF BRAZORIA COUNTY, and The Honorable Patrick Sebesta, Defendants.
Civil Action No. H-05-2100
Attorneys & Firms
Donna Adams-Hedrick, Friendswood, TX, pro se.
Robert Hedrick, Friendswood, TX, pro se.
Robert E. Henneke, Cain & Skarnulis PLLC, Austin, TX, for Defendants.
Nancy K. Johnson, United States Magistrate Judge
*1 Pending before the court1 is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, Docket Entry No. 7, and the response filed thereto. As discussed below, this action is DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
I. Case Background
Plaintiff Donna Adams-Hedrick was sued by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“Liberty Mutual”) in the 239th Judicial District Court in Brazoria County, Texas (“239th District Court”) to set aside the final decision and award of the Texas Workers Compensation Commission. Plaintiff Robert Hedrick seeks to represent his wife as her next friend in the state court action as well as in this court.
Plaintiffs removed the state court action no less than three times to this court, each time alleging that the case became removable after Liberty Mutual violated Plaintiffs’ civil rights.2 Each time, the case was remanded after the district court found that the case was improperly removed. On July 25, 2005, this court issued an order sanctioning Plaintiffs for the third improper removal in the amount of $10,750 and enjoining them from any further suits or removals of any case having its genesis in the March 29, 2000, on-the-job-injury worker’s compensation claim, in this court or any state court of the State of Texas.3
However, five weeks earlier, on June 16, 2005, Plaintiff filed the present action against the 239th District Court and Judge Patrick Sebesta. In the present suit, Plaintiffs allege that the state court violated Donna Adams-Hedrick’s Fourteenth Amendment rights by issuing certain orders, refusing to appoint a guardian ad litem for her, and refusing to enter a default judgment in her favor. Robert Hedrick claims that Texas law prohibiting him from representing his wife is unconstitutional, and that Judge Sebesta should allow him to represent her in that action.
II. Dismissal Standard
A court may properly dismiss an action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) when a plaintiff has failed to establish subject matter jurisdiction. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be found on the basis of the complaint alone. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). Here, Plaintiffs have the burden of proof to properly allege a set of facts which invokes the court’s jurisdiction. McNutt v. Gen. Motors Accept. Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 182 (1936).
In the present action, Plaintiffs claim jurisdiction based on alleged constitutional violations committed during the course of a state court lawsuit. It is well-settled that federal courts lack jurisdiction to review and, thus, correct, state court decisions rendered in judicial proceedings. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 1317 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 41344 S.Ct. 149 (1923); Liedtke v. State Bar of Texas, 18 F.3d 315, 317 (5th Cir.) cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 271 (1994).
*2 This doctrine, known as the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, requires that all constitutional and statutory issues arising in state court proceedings be resolved by the state courts. Liedtke, 18 F.3d at 317. “If a state trial court errs the judgment is not void, it is to be reviewed and corrected by the appropriate state appellate court.” Id. Appeal to the federal courts is limited to an application for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a); Rooker, 263 U.S. at 416.
Here, Plaintiffs’ claimed constitutional violations are the decisions of the state court judge. Plaintiffs erroneously believe that this court has jurisdiction over the state court to “retroactively” enforce all laws of the United States and to exercise jurisdiction over state courts and state court judges when those judges make decisions which violate federal law. This belief is completely meritless and without any legal support. As discussed above, this court lacks jurisdiction to review any decision by the state court, whether interlocutory or final.
This ruling also encompasses Plaintiffs’ claims against Judge Sebesta. Because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it need not discuss Judge Sebesta’s absolute judicial immunity from suit or address any other pending motions.4
Plaintiffs’ claims must be DISMISSED because the court lacks jurisdiction to review any judicial decision made during the course of a state judicial proceeding.
Plaintiffs are further cautioned that any further attempt to litigate any portion of Plaintiff Donna Adams-Hedrick’s worker’s compensation appeal in this court will be subject to significant financial sanctions.
The parties consented to proceed before the undersigned magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). See Docket Entry No. 14.
See Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Donna Adams, (H-04-954, S.D. Tex.), Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Donna Adams, (H-04-987, S.D. Tex.), and Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Donna Adams, (H-05-1974, S.D. Tex.).
See Order Granting Plaintiff Liberty Mutual Insurance Company’s Motion for Sanctions and Motion for Statutory Attorney’s Fees, Docket Entry No. 31. See also Misc. H-05-304, Docket Entry No. 1.
In Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978), the Court found that a judge is entitled to absolute judicial immunity for all judicial acts performed unless an act is performed in the clear absence of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court identified two factors relevant to determining whether an act is judicial in nature. First, the act must be one normally performed by a judge. Second, the parties must have been dealing with the judge in his judicial capacity. Stump, 435 U.S. at 362. It is undisputed that Judge Sebesta was acting in his judicial capacity when he committed the complained-of acts.