United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
PHILLIP M. SEYMORE, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE CSE, Title IV-D Agency, DOES, ARIKA R. RICHARD, and HOLY CROSS HOSPITAL, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. STEELE SR. JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Holy Cross
Hospital's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #19) and Defendant
Florida Department of Revenue's Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
#21). Plaintiff pro se Phillip M. Seymore filed
Responses in Opposition (Doc. ##23, 24). For the reasons set
forth below, the Motions are granted to the extent that the
claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are dismissed with
prejudice and the Court declines to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.
case plaintiff pro se Phillip M. Seymore asks this
Court to review the judicial proceedings and set aside a
paternity finding and child support orders that defendant
Arika R. Richard obtained in Florida state court in 2010.
Plaintiff alleges that he is not the father of the children
and that the child support orders were obtained without due
process and through fraud. Plaintiff purports to assert civil
rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law
claims. The allegations against Holy Cross Hospital relate to
a birth certificate allegedly issued at Holy Cross Hospital
in 2006. The Florida Department of Revenue CSE, Title IV-D
Agency (“Department of Revenue”) is sued for
violations of due process of law, procedural due process,
extrinsic fraud, and identity theft for enforcing the orders
and collecting child support.
initially filed an application to proceed in forma
pauperis and filed both a Complaint and an Amended
Complaint during that process. (Docs. ##1, 3, 5.) The
Magistrate Judge reviewed the file under 28 U.S.C. §
1915 and found that plaintiff had failed to show how his
claims amount to cognizable claims in federal court, in part
because the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred his
claims against the Department of Revenue. (Doc. #10.)
Plaintiff was granted leave to file a Second Amended
Complaint, which he filed on July 30, 2019 (Doc. #11).
Thereafter, plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint (Doc.
#12) on November 6, 2019, which is the operative complaint.
Plaintiff then withdrew his request to proceed in forma
pauperis and paid the filing fee. (Doc. #14.) Defendants
were served, and the Department of Revenue and Holy Cross
Hospital move to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a Complaint must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This obligation “requires more
than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(citation omitted). To survive dismissal, the factual
allegations must be “plausible” and “must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. at 555. See also Edwards v.
Prime Inc., 602 F.3d 1276, 1291 (11th Cir. 2010). This
requires “more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must
accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and
take them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), but
“[l]egal conclusions without adequate factual support
are entitled to no assumption of truth.” Mamani v.
Berzain, 654 F.3d 1148, 1153 (11th Cir. 2011) (citations
omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“Factual allegations that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability fall short of being facially
plausible.” Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693
F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal citations
omitted). Thus, the Court engages in a two-step approach:
“When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a
court should assume their veracity and then determine whether
they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
pleading drafted by a party proceeding unrepresented (pro
se) is held to a less stringent standard than one
drafted by an attorney, and the Court will construe the
documents filed as a complaint and amended complaint
liberally. Jones v. Fla. Parole Comm'n, 787 F.3d
1105, 1107 (11th Cir. 2015). Nevertheless, “a pro
se pleading must suggest (even if inartfully) that there
is at least some factual support for a claim; it is not
enough just to invoke a legal theory devoid of any factual
The Due Process Claims Against the Department of
Rooker-Feldman doctrine “places limits on the
subject matter jurisdiction of federal district courts and
courts of appeal over certain matters related to previous
state court litigation.” Goodman v. Sipos, 259
F.3d 1327, 1332 (11th Cir. 2001). Under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, “federal district
courts cannot review state court final judgments because that
task is reserved for state appellate courts or, as a last
resort, the United States Supreme Court.” Casale v.
Tillman, 558 F.3d 1258, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009).
Accordingly, a federal district court lacks jurisdiction over
“cases brought by state-court losers complaining of
injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the
district court proceedings commenced and inviting district
court review and rejection of those judgments.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544
U.S. 280, 284 (2005). The Supreme Court has found
Rooker-Feldmen to apply in only two occasions - once
in Rooker, and again in Feldman. The
Supreme Court has repeatedly cautioned that the doctrine is
limited to cases brought by state court losers which invite
federal district courts to review and reject state court
final judgments. Exxon Mobil Corp., 544 U.S. at 284;
Skinner v. Switzer, 582 U.S. 521, 531 (2011);
Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 463 (2006).
found by the Magistrate Judge, despite plaintiff's
disclaimer and legal argument concerning the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine in his complaints, the
Eleventh Circuit has held in an analogous case that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred a father's
constitutional claims relating to orders to garnish his tax
return and suspend his driver's license pursuant to a
child support order because those claims were
“inextricably intertwined with the state court
judgment” concerning enforcement of child support
obligations. See Brown v. Coffin, 766 Fed.Appx. 929,
932 (11th Cir. 2019). Here, it is apparent that
plaintiff's constitutional claims against the Department
of Revenue are inextricably intertwined with a state court
judgment. Although plaintiff attempts to couch his claims as
challenging the underlying birth certificate, the Court finds
that this issue is inextricably intertwined with the state
court judgment for child support that resulted in the
challenged garnishment because what plaintiff seeks is relief
from the child support order and the Department of
Revenue's actions to enforce the child support order.
these reasons, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars this
Court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over
plaintiff's Section 1983 due process claims against the