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Vardin v. Magellan

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 18, 2015



HELEN G. BERRIGAN, District Judge.

Before the Court are Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and/or 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by defendants Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government (incorrectly referred to as "Terrebonne Parish" and "City of Houma"), Michel Claudet, in his official capacity (incorrectly referred to as "Terrebonne Parish President Michelle Claudia"), Houma Police Department, Chief of Police Todd Duplantis, Officer Kyle Faulk, Officer Milton Wolf, Officer Richard Hunter, Officer Jeffrey Jackson, Officer Christina Payne, Officer George Jones, Officer Kurt Wolfertz, Officer Jerome Deville, Officer Dawn Celestine, Detective Dana Coleman, Internal Affairs Officer Terry Buquet (incorrectly referred to as "Internal Affair Buquet"), Jim Shaheen, Compass Behavior Center, Mark Cullen, Ashley Champagne (incorrectly referred to as "Ashlee Champange"), Brenda Johnson, Tyrone & Lucille Tillman (incorrectly referred to as "Tyron & Lucille Tillman"), Dr. Richard Dalton, Dr. Craig Coenson, Magellan Healthcare (incorrectly referred to as "Magellan Behavior"), and Pamela Dupont, N.P. d/b/a/Pamela Dupont Psychiatric Services, L.L.C. (incorrectly referred to as "Pamela Dupont, N/P"). Rec. Docs. 38, 43, 56, 58, 66, 79, 91, 104. The motions are before the Court on the briefs without oral argument. Considering the record, the law, and the submissions of the parties, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the defendants' motions are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


While the Court has struggled to form a coherent narrative from the factual allegations contained in plaintiff's complaint, this case appears to have arisen from a neighborly dispute between plaintiff and defendants Tyrone and Lucille Tillman. Rec. Doc. 6. Plaintiff, Betty J. Vardin, who brings this action pro se, alleges that the Tillmans have engaged in an array of offenses against her and her family including stealing, tapping' her home phone, and burning lead-based paint near her home. Rec. Doc. 6 at 2. Further, it is plaintiff's contention that the Tillmans are part of a broader conspiracy involving nearly each of the named defendants to harass her and her family and to label her mentally ill. Rec. Doc. 6.

Plaintiff alleges a great variety of events that have been perpetrated against her as part of this conspiracy, mostly arising from her interactions with members of the Houma Police Department and Compass Behavior Center. Rec. Doc. 6. She details multiple instances of being taken into custody by police officers on the basis of her mental illness and, on one occasion, being taken to Compass Behavior Center for treatment. Rec. Doc. 6 at 4, 5, 6, 7. The nexus between the events alleged and many of the named defendants is tenuous and at times contradictory. In fact, plaintiff admits in subsequent pleadings that she has never met, interacted with, or used the services of multiple defendants. Rec. Docs. 54, 77, 81, 83, 87, 97.

The Court has further struggled to identify the relief that plaintiff seeks based on her pleadings. In her original complaint, plaintiff requests a number of remedies including clearing her name of association with mental illness, a demand that all parties involved be arrested for attempted murder, mental anguish and stalking, and monetary and punitive damages for her and her family. Rec. Doc. 6-1 at 11. Plaintiff has subsequently made a demand for $4, 000, 000 in a Motion for Default Judgment against defendant Pamela Dupont, N.P. Rec. Docs. 102, 109. Although she states that she belongs to a Native American tribe, plaintiff does not allege that she has suffered any injury as a result of discrimination for being Native American and makes no demand for relief to that end. Rec. Doc. 6 at 8.

Defendants have filed multiple Motions for a More Definite Statement, which the Court has noticed for submission/hearing. Rec. Docs. 57, 65, 94, 114, 128. Unfortunately, plaintiff's various attempts to restate her claim have not clarified her original complaint. Additionally, plaintiff has filed multiple Motions for Default Judgment, which the Clerk of Court has deemed as deficient. Rec. Docs. 50, 88, 89, 113. The Clerk of Court has granted one Motion for Entry of Default as to defendant Pamela Dupont, N.P. Rec. Doc. 89. However, a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment and to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim by Ms. Dupont is currently pending before the Court. Rec. Doc. 104.


A Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) may be granted "only if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, Miss., 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). Dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because of the inadequacy of the federal claim is proper when the claim is so insubstantial, implausible or completely devoid of merit as not to involve a federal controversy. ACS Recovery Services, Inc. v. Griffin, 723 F.3d 518 (5th Cir. 2013). The burden lies with the party invoking jurisdiction of the court. Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 446 (1942).

A Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) may be granted where a complaint fails to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows that court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint, taken as true, must raise the plaintiff's right to recover above the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56. Facts from which the court could infer the mere possibility of liability will not suffice. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). On a Motion to Dismiss, the court must take all well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d. 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). Nevertheless, "conclusory allegations and unwarranted deductions of fact are not admitted as true, especially when such conclusions are contradicted by facts disclosed by document appended to complaint." Associated Builders v. Ala. Power Co., 505 F.2d. 97, 100 (5th Cir. 1974).


As a threshold matter, the court interprets pleadings and briefs of pro se litigants liberally "to afford all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from them." In re Tex. Pig Stands, Inc., 610 F.3d. 937, 941 n.4 (5th Cir. 2010).

Plaintiff has filed this action under the jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง1983, which provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to ...

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