United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MICHAEL J. FRENCH, Plaintiff,
NEW HAMPSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., Defendants.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
HARRIS TOLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
to District Judge Jane Boyle's Standing Order of
Reference, Doc. 7, and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b),
Defendants' motions to dismiss, Doc. 24 & Doc. 27,
are before the undersigned United States magistrate judge for
findings of fact and recommended dispositions. For the
reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss, Doc. 24, should be GRANTED.
Further, because the Court's resolution of
Defendants' joint motion to dismiss, Doc. 24, resolves
this case, American Airlines' separate motion to dismiss,
Doc. 27, should be DENIED AS MOOT.
brings this action against his former employer, American
Airlines Inc., and its Texas workers' compensation
insurance carrier, New Hampshire Insurance Company
(“NHIC”), stemming from an on-the-job injury he
allegedly sustained in 2004. While Plaintiff's Complaint
is sparse on underlying facts, he references an unspecified
“accident” that occurred in 2004 while he was
working in Utah as a baggage handler for American Airlines.
Doc. 3 at 5-6. Defendants attach to their motion a plethora
of documents from prior administrative and judicial
proceedings that relate to the 2004 accident and the
resulting Utah and Texas workers' compensation claims
that form the basis of this action. The Court takes judicial
notice of these prior judicial and extrajudicial proceedings,
which, for context, it recounts herein. See
Reneker v. Offill, No. 3:08- CV-1394-D, 2010 WL
1541350, at *5 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 19, 2010) (Fitzwater, C.J.)
(“Courts may take notice of the judicial record in
prior related proceedings.”) (collecting cases).
2005, Plaintiff filed an Application for Hearing with the
Utah Labor Commission's Adjudication Division, alleging
that he was entitled to workers' compensation benefits
from American Airlines stemming from cervical and lumbar back
injuries he sustained in the 2004 accident. Doc. 24-1 at 8.
After the hearing, the ALJ awarded Plaintiff benefits for his
lumbar injury, but denied benefits for his cervical problems.
Doc. 24-1 at 9. In May 2008, the Appeals Board affirmed the
ALJ's decision. Doc. 24-1 at 11. Plaintiff then appealed
to the Utah Court of Appeals, which affirmed the
administrative body's decision in July 2008. Doc. 24-1 at
13-14. Between August 2008 and June 2010, Plaintiff filed
three complaints against American Airlines in the United
States District Court for the District of Utah alleging,
inter alia, improper handling of his workers'
compensation claim; each was dismissed. French v.
American Airlines, Inc., No. 2:10-CV-00527 DB, 2010 WL
4869088, at *1 (D. Utah Nov. 2, 2010), adopted
by2010 WL 4860374 (D. Utah Nov. 23, 2010),
aff'd427 Fed.Appx. 666 (10th Cir. 2011).
Furthermore, given Plaintiff's repetitive filing of
settled claims, the Court enjoined Plaintiff from proceeding
pro se in the United States District Court for the
District of Utah and asserting claims against American
Airlines arising from the 2004 accident. Id. at *3.
then turned to Texas, where in 2015, he filed a workers'
compensation claim against NHIC under the Texas Workers'
Compensation Act, arising from the same injuries he allegedly
sustained in the 2004 accident. Doc. 24-1 at 18-19. In May
2015, a hearing officer determined that NHIC was not liable
for benefits. Doc. 24-1 at 22. The Appeals Panel subsequently
affirmed the decision. Doc. 24-1 at 23. Plaintiff then filed
suit seeking judicial review in the 166th Judicial District
Court of Bexar County, Texas. In January 2016, that court
entered summary judgment in favor of NHIC. Doc. 24-1 at 25.
Plaintiff's appeal to the 4th Court of Appeals was
dismissed for want of prosecution in April 2016. See
French v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., No.
04-16-00033-CV, 2016 WL 1588155 (Tex. App.--San Antonio Apr.
20, 2016) (per curiam). In May 2016, Plaintiff's motion
for rehearing and motion for en banc reconsideration
were also denied. Doc. 24-1 at 27-28. In August and September
2016, the Texas Supreme Court denied Plaintiff's petition
for review and motion for rehearing, respectively. Doc. 24-1
at 29. In 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States denied
Plaintiff's petition for writ of certiorari and petition
for rehearing. French v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., 137
S.Ct. 1088 (Feb. 21, 2017) (No.16-769); French v. New
Hampshire Ins. Co., 137 S.Ct. 1616 (Apr. 17, 2017) (No.
16-769). Later that year, Plaintiff's request for
arbitration was denied by the American Arbitration
Association. Doc. 24-1 at 31.
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
September 2017, Plaintiff initiated the instant action by
filing a pleading titled “Motion to remand Case No:
016-0769 U.S. Supreme Court, back through Binding Arbitration
as dictated by the National Railway Labor Act of 1926 and
then amended in 1936” (hereinafter
“Complaint”). Doc. 3 at 1. Though difficult to
follow and replete with vague allegations, Plaintiff's
Complaint nonetheless makes plain his disagreement with the
decisions of the state courts and the Supreme Court of the
United States regarding his Texas workers' compensation
claim, and implores this Court to “facilitate a
complete course correction, ” “see the error that
has taken place, ” and “remand” his Supreme
Court case. Doc. 3 at 2. In November 2017, Defendants moved
to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint arguing that, inter
alia, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to
hear his claims under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine. Doc. 24 at 3-7. Plaintiff's response
did not address, much less acknowledge, Defendants'
jurisdictional challenge. SeeDoc. 31. However, upon
review, the Court finds that Defendants' argument has
must dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
if it lacks the statutory or constitutional power to
adjudicate the case. Home Builders Ass'n of Miss.,
Inc. v. City of Madison, Miss., 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th
Cir. 1998). As the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has
The Supreme Court has definitively established, in what has
become known as the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, that “federal district courts, as courts of
original jurisdiction, lack appellate jurisdiction to review,
modify, or nullify final orders of state courts.”
“If a state trial court errs the judgment is not void,
it is to be reviewed and corrected by the appropriate state
appellate court. Thereafter, recourse at the federal level is
limited solely to an application for a writ of certiorari to
the United States Supreme Court.”
Weekly v. Morrow, 204 F.3d 613, 615 (5th Cir. 2000)
(quoting Liedtke v. State Bar of Tex., 18 F.3d 315,
317 (5th Cir. 1994)).
meandering, Plaintiff's Complaint makes clear what he
seeks: a review of his Texas workers' compensation claim.
Plaintiff's intent is evidenced by his requests that this
Court “facilitate a complete course correction, ”
“see the error that has taken place, ” and
“remand” his United States Supreme Court case.
Doc. 3 at 2. Indeed, even the title of Plaintiff's
Complaint - “Motion to remand Case No: 016-0769 U.S.
Supreme Court, back through Binding Arbitration as dictated
by the National Railway Labor Act of 1926 and then amended ...