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In re Pruitt Johnson

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

July 23, 2019

JUDGE STEVE KING, ET AL., Respondents.



         Came on for consideration the motion of defendants Judge Steve King, Heather Beyer, Mark Sullivan, and Jennifer Ramos (collectively "movants"} to dismiss. Plaintiff, Vicki Lee Pruitt Johnson, has failed to respond to the motion, which is ripe for ruling.[1] The court, having considered the motion, the record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted. The court further finds that all of plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. Plaintiff's Claims

         On June 6, 2019, plaintiff, calling herself "relator," filed a motion for extension of time to file writ of mandamus and memorandum in support. Doc.[2] 1. On June 11, 2019, she submitted documents captioned for filing in the Supreme Court of Texas titled "Petition for Review," Doc. 6, and "Motion for Rehearing and En Banc Reconsideration from the Denial of the Petition for Review." Doc. 7. And, on June 17, 2019, plaintiff filed a document titled "Affidavit 28 U.S.C. § 1746," Doc. 8, stating that she had served the foregoing items, along with a copy of the court's standing order and a request for waiver of summons, upon respondents, reflected in the caption to be "Judge Steve King, Heather Beyer, Mark Sullivan, Judge R.H. Wallace, Jr., Jennifer Ramos, John Johnson, Atty/Arb., Joel Johnson, Judy Fowler Atty's of Record: Ross Griffith-Guardian Ad Litem, Cary Schroeder-Guardian/Administrator, James Holliday-Atty. Ad Litem, Dyann McCully-Atty/Arb., John Dowdy-Atty. John Johnson, William Ridgway-Atty for Joel Johnson." [These persons are hereinafter referred to as "defendants."]

         From all appearances, the documents filed by plaintiff ask the court to order the Supreme Court of Texas to reinstate and reconsider a petition for review she filed that had been dismissed or to reconsider all of the underlying state court proceedings and grant judgment in plaintiff's favor. The matter concerns probate proceedings initiated in the Probate Court No. 1 of Tarrant County, Texas, wherein three of the movants were the presiding judge, the court coordinator, the court administrator, respectively, and another action regarding property of the probate estate filed in the 96th Judicial District Court of Tarrant County, where the fourth movant is the court coordinator. The remaining defendants are the presiding judge of the 96th Judicial District Court, three beneficiaries of the probate estate, and various attorneys involved in the proceedings in the probate and district courts.


         Grounds of the Motion

         Movants urge twelve grounds in support of their motion to dismiss. The court need not consider all of them as it is plain that the court lacks jurisdiction over this action. In addition, plaintiff has failed to state any plausible claim against any defendant for which this court can grant relief.


         Applicable Legal Principles

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Dismissal of a case is proper under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when the court 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). When considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court construes the allegations of the complaint favorably to the pleader. Spector v. L Q Motor Inns, Inc., 517 F.2d 278, 281 (5th Cir. 1975). However, the court is not limited to a consideration of the allegations of the complaint in deciding whether subject matter jurisdiction exists. Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981). The court may consider conflicting evidence and decide for itself the factual issues that determine jurisdiction. Id. Because of the limited nature of federal court jurisdiction, there is a presumption against its existence. See Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978); McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. of Ind., Inc., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936). A party who seeks to invoke federal court jurisdiction has the burden to demonstrate that subject matter jurisdiction exists. McNutt, 298 U.S. at 189; Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001).

         B. Pleading Standards

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in a general way, the applicable standard of pleading. It requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), "in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks and ellipsis omitted). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, the "showing" contemplated by Rule 8 requires the plaintiff to do more than simply allege legal conclusions or recite the elements of a cause of action. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3. Thus, while a court must accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, it need not credit bare legal conclusions that are unsupported by any ...

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