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Vigil v. Tauriello

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 12, 2016

PAUL R. VIGIL, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL TAURIELLO, Director of the Colorado Division of Worker’s Compensation, LAWRENCE BARTON GOLDMAN, M.D. Rehabilitation Associated of Colorado, P.C., and in His Individual Capacity, BILL DUNN, Sr. JE Dunn Construction Company and in His Individual Capacity, PHIL KALIN, as President and CEO of Pinnacol Insurance, and in His Individual Capacity, ALEXANDRA E. COLEMAN, Esq. of Ruegsegger Simmons Smith & Stern, LLC, and in Her Individual Capacity, Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL

LEWIS T. BABCOCK, SENIOR JUDGE

Plaintiff, Paul R. Vigil, resides in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Vigil initiated this action by filing, pro se, a Complaint (ECF No. 1). He filed an Amended Complaint upon his own initiative on November 9, 2015 (ECF No. 10).

On November 27, 2015, Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher reviewed the Amended Complaint and determined that it was deficient because Plaintiff’s claims challenging the decision in his state worker’s compensation proceeding are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; Plaintiff failed to state arguable claims for relief under Title I of the ADA and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for malicious prosecution; and, the Amended Complaint failed to comply with the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. (ECF No. 15). Consequently, Magistrate Judge Gallagher directed Mr. Vigil to file a Second Amended Complaint, within 30 days of the November 27 Order. (Id.).

Mr. Vigil filed a Second Amended Complaint on December 21, 2015. (ECF No. 18).

Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Subsection (e)(2)(B) of § 1915 requires a court to dismiss sua sponte an action at any time if the action is frivolous, malicious, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. A legally frivolous claim is one in which the plaintiff asserts the violation of a legal interest that clearly does not exist or asserts facts that do not support an arguable claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).

The Court construes the Second Amended Complaint liberally because Mr. Vigil is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be the pro se litigant's advocate. Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons discussed below, this action will be dismissed.

I. The Second Amended Complaint

The Second Amended Complaint does nothing to clarify the factual allegations of the Amended Complaint and again relies largely on exhibits attached to the pleading. The Court discerns the following facts from Mr. Vigil’s pleadings. Plaintiff was injured at his job on October 11, 2008 while performing work-related duties and was hospitalized for several weeks. He filed a claim for worker’s compensation benefits. A worker’s compensation hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on September 25, 2013. (ECF No. 18 at 8). Plaintiff asserts that the Defendants conspired to violate his due process rights by submitting fraudulent documents in his worker’s compensation hearing, including the worker injury report written by Defendant Lawrence Barton Goldman, M.D., as well written statements made by Defendant Alexandra Coleman, and representatives of Pinnacol Assurance and J.D. Dunn Construction Company. In a February 11, 2014 decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff “failed to overcome the Division IME’s opinion.” (ECF No. 10 at 38). The Industrial Claim Appeals Office upheld the ALJ’s order on May 28, 2014, as did the Colorado Court of Appeals on March 16, 2015. (Id.). Plaintiff thereafter filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Colorado Supreme Court, which was denied in October 2015. (Id. at 38-39; see also Id. at 43).

Mr. Vigil contends in the Second Amended Complaint that the decision in the state worker’s compensation decision proceeding to deny benefits violated his due process rights (ECF No. 18 at 5). He also makes a conclusory assertion that the Defendants violated his rights under Titles I and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. '§ §§ 12101-12213, 12132. (Id. at 8-9). Finally, Mr. Vigil complains that during the course of his worker’s compensation proceeding, a state criminal prosecution was initiated against him for fraud and was ultimately dismissed with prejudice. (Id. at 10). Plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

II. Analysis

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

The issue of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised sua sponte by the court at any time during the course of the proceedings. See McAlester v. United Air Lines, Inc., 851 F.2d 1249, 1252 (10th Cir. 1988). “The party seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court must demonstrate that the case is within the court’s jurisdiction.” United States v. Bustillos, 31 F.3d 931, 933 (10th Cir. 1994).

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides that federal courts, other than the United States Supreme Court, lack jurisdiction to adjudicate claims seeking review of state court judgments. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes “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); see also Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994) (stating that the losing party in a state court proceeding is generally “barred from seeking what in substance would be appellate review of the state court judgment in a United States district court, based on the losing party’s claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser’s federal rights”). Review of the state court judgment must proceed to the state’s highest court and then to the United States Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1257. See Facio v. Jones, 929 F.2d 541, 543 (10th Cir. 1991).

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars not only cases seeking direct review of state court judgments; it also bars cases that are “inextricably intertwined” with a prior state court judgment. See Feldman, 460 U.S. at 482 n.16. “To determine whether a federal plaintiff’s claim is inextricably intertwined with a state court judgment, [the Court] must pay close attention to the relief the plaintiff seeks.” Crutchfield v. Countrywide Home Loans, 389 F.3d 1144, 1147-48 (10th Cir. 2004), overruled in part on other grounds by Exxon Mobil Corp., 544 U.S. 280. “Where a plaintiff seeks a remedy that would disrupt or undo a state court judgment, the federal claim is inextricably intertwined with the state court judgment.” Crutchfield, 389 F.3d at 1148. Furthermore, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine “precludes not only review of adjudications of the state’s highest court, but also the decisions of its lower courts.” See Jordahl v. Democratic Party of Va., 122 F.3d 192, 199 (4th Cir. 1997). In addition, the Rooker-Feldman doct ...


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