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Antoine v. Verin

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

December 19, 2017

EUGENE RAYMOND VERIN, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 14). For the reasons explained below, the Motion (Docs. # 14) is due to be granted.

          I. Background[1]

         On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff Lisa Hope Antoine (“Plaintiff”) filed this Complaint against the Honorable Eugene Raymond Verin (“Judge Verin”), the Honorable Terri Willingham Thomas (“Judge Thomas”), the Honorable William Cooper Thompson (“Judge Thompson”), the Honorable Craig Sorrell Pittman (“Judge Pittman”), the Honorable Terry Allen Moore (“Judge Moore”), the Honorable William Scott Donaldson (“Judge Donaldson”), the Honorable James Allen Main (“Judge Main”), the Honorable Michael Franklin Bolin (“Judge Bolin”), the Honorable Billy Glenn Murdock (“Judge Murdock”), the Honorable Alisa Kelli Wise (“Judge Wise”), and the Honorable Tommy Elias Bryan (“Judge Bryan, ” and collectively “Defendants”). (Doc. # 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she filed a complaint for trespass, injury to real property, and nuisance in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County on December 11, 2009. (Id. at p. 5). On March 15, 2011, Plaintiff alleges that Judge Verin denied Plaintiff's claims for relief, ordered her to pay the adjoining property owner compensatory damages of $35, 000, enjoined Plaintiff from obstructing the flow of water draining from adjoining properties, and ordered Plaintiff to construct and maintain a drain. (Id. at p. 5-6).

         On November 12, 2015, Judge Verin denied Plaintiff's motion to set aside judgment. (Id. at p. 6). Plaintiff alleges that she appealed and, on July 15, 2016, Judge Thomas, Judge Thompson, Judge Pittman, Judge Moore, and Judge Donaldson affirmed Judge Verin's ruling. (Id.). Plaintiff further alleges that, on October 14, 2016, Judge Main, Judge Bolin, Judge Murdock, Judge Wise, and Judge Bryan denied her petition for writ of certiorari. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated her surface water rights and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id. at p. 4-6).

         Plaintiff “asks the court to order [Judge] Verin to set aside his judgment of March 15, 2011” and “to order [Judge] Verin to order the current adjoining property owner to pay Plaintiff $178, 900 in actual damages for property value depreciation resulting from the flooding of her property and punitive damages of $357, 800 for intentionally violating her surface water rights on her property.” (Id. at p. 5-6). Plaintiff also asks the court (1) to order “attorney Oscar William Adams III to return $16, 736 in attorney's fees and costs to Plaintiff;” (2) to order “Oxmoor Preservation/One, LLC to return $90, 926.88 in compensatory damages, attorney's fees, interest and costs to Plaintiff; and (3) for reimbursement of all litigation costs. (Id.). Attorney Oscar William Adams III and Oxmoor Preservation/One, LLC are not parties to this case.

         On November 29, 2017, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 14). Plaintiff filed her Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on December 11, 2017. (Doc. # 17).

         II. Standards of Review

          Because Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 14) is based on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), the court outlines the standards of review for both Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) motions.

         A. Rule 12(b)(1) Motions

         Challenges to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) can exist in two different forms: facial attacks and factual attacks. Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009). When presented with a facial attack on a plaintiff's complaint, a court determines whether the complaint has sufficiently alleged subject-matter jurisdiction. Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d at 1260. The court proceeds as if it were evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accepts any well-pled facts alleged in the complaint as true. Id.

         Factual attacks, on the other hand, question “the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside the pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits, are considered.” Id. (citing Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)). When a court is confronted with a factual attack, the standard of review diverges.

[T]he trial court may proceed as it never could under 12(b)(6) or Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Because at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction - its very power to hear the case - there is substantial authority that the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In short, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to [P]laintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.

Lawrence, 919 F.2d at 1529 (citing Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 897 (1981)). “When a district court has pending before it both a 12(b)(1) motion and a 12(b)(6) motion, the generally preferable approach, if the 12(b)(1) motion essentially challenges the existence of a federal cause of action, is for the court to find jurisdiction and then decide ...

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