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Kufner v. Suttell

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 30, 2016

PAUL SUTTELL, et al., Defendants.


          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge

         For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is subject to dismissal. If plaintiffs Tina Kufner and/or Kathy Lee Scholpp wish to proceed with this action, they must, within 35 days of the date of this Memorandum and Order, show cause why the complaint should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


         Pro se plaintiffs Tina Kufner and Kathy Lee Scholpp, self-described mothers who, along with their children, were parties to probate and family court proceedings in Rhode Island and/or Massachusetts, were granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in the instant action. D. 24. Because Kufner and Scholpp are proceeding in forma pauperis, their eighty-one page complaint, D. 2, is subject to preliminary screening.[1]

         The complaint seeks monetary damages and consists primarily of a recounting of events surrounding divorce and child custody proceedings in Massachusetts involving Scholpp and her son; as well as child custody proceedings involving Kufner and her two sons, including a petition filed in the Rhode Island federal court by Dominik Kufner pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction alleging that the sons were wrongfully removed from Germany by Kufner. See Kufner v. Kufner, 480 F.Supp.2d 491 (D.R.I. 2007).

         The plaintiffs allege a far-reaching conspiracy involving the children’s fathers and their legal representatives along with the state court judges and court-appointed guardians, special assistants, social workers and psychologists. As best can be gleaned from the complaint, the result of the conspiracy is to extort money from plaintiffs and deprive them of their constitutional rights. See Complaint, D. 2, at ¶ 2. The complaint alleges that the defendants were involved in “a scheme to maintain certain extortionate under-color-of-state-law state programs or facades without bona-fide chartered programs, through fraud, in a scheme and for the purposes of illegally procuring federal funding and defrauding the United States, in a scheme and for the purpose of maintaining insider state patronage network and organizations that is customary in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including lobbyist firms and participating firms, the pre-agreed RICO syndicate judicial status quo . . .” Id. Plaintiffs allege that the “time frame of the RICO enterprise activity, honest services fraud and fraud scheme starts at the very earliest in 1985 and spans to the present and is on-going.” Id. at ¶ 93.

         The factual allegations are presented in fifteen sections that are entitled (1) “bribery and kickbacks”, id. at ¶ 94; (2) “federal funds thus defrauded, ” id. at ¶ 95; (3) “ex-parte termination of fundamental constitutional rights, ” id. at ¶ 96; (4) “law firms and lobbyist firms, ” id. at ¶ 97; (5) the “Cranston cabal, ” id. at ¶ 98; (6) “Rhode Island’s unconstitutional Pettinatto factors enables Quack Psych cabal, ” id. at ¶ 99; (6) the “cabal’s quack psychologists, Lubiner, Kosseff, Parsons and GAL Raffanelli, ” id. at ¶ 100; (7) the “court mediators-supervised visitation double-dip cabal, ” id. at ¶¶ 101 - 105; (8) “court con coercing paying GAL patronage appointees who bring their families to invade the home, search and seize under false pretenses, for routine fabrication of inadmissible evidence and the routine destruction of evidence, ” id. at ¶¶ 106 - 108; (9) the “fundamental court con enterprise model, ” id. at ¶ 109 - 116; (10) private actors in “the court con, ” id. at ¶ 117-121; (11) plaintiffs report crimes to law enforcement, ” id. at ¶¶ 122(1) - 122(37); (12) “retaliation through bad-faith harassment proceedings in family court [Mary Seguin], ” id. at ¶¶ 123 - 135; (13) “retaliation against United States veteran for reporting criminal charges of child rape, pedophilia, assault and battery, ” id. at ¶¶ 136 - 159; (14) “retaliation through bad-faith harassment proceeding in Superior Court including subverting claims [Gloria Johnson, Tina Kufner, Mary Seguin], ” id. at ¶ 160 - 224; and (15) “Rhode Island is ranked the most corrupt state in the country, ” id. at ¶¶ 225 - 229. The complaint contains twenty-two counts under federal and state law. Id. at ¶¶ 229 - 277. Claims for the violation of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are alleged in Counts I-IV, XI, XIII-XIV, XVI-XVIII. Plaintiff assert a fraud claim in Count V. Plaintiffs seek attorneys’ fees and costs in Count VIII. In Count VI, plaintiffs allege violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 18 U.S.C. § 1346. Plaintiffs allege a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in Count VII. Count IX alleges conspiracy to interfere with civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2), (3). Plaintiffs allege violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1986 in Count X. Count XII alleges violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1964, 1962(c), (d), 1513(e), (f). Plaintiffs allege a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, in Count XV. Counts XIX - XXII are state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and false imprisonment. The complaint invokes “federal diversity jurisdiction.” See id. ¶ 2.

         The complaint names ninety-two (92) defendants, including judges, mediators, guardians ad litem, social workers and attorneys, including some employed by the state. Id. at ¶¶ 31-90.


         When plaintiffs seek to file a complaint without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses do not issue so that the Court may conduct a preliminary review of the complaint and determine if it satisfies the substantive requirements of Section 1915. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This statute authorizes federal courts to dismiss a complaint if the claims therein are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A district court may dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis "at any time" if the court determines that the action lacks an arguable basis in law or fact, seeks relief against a defendant who is immune from liability, or fails to state a claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (interpreting the former § 1915(d)); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b).

         Rule 8(a) governs the substance of a complaint and requires a plaintiff to include in the complaint, among other things, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). At a minimum, it must afford the defendant(s) a "[‘]meaningful opportunity to mount a defense, '" Díaz-Rivera v. Rivera-Rodríguez, 377 F.3d 119, 123 (1st Cir. 2004) (quoting Rodríguez v. Doral Mortgage Corp., 57 F.3d 1168, 1172 (1st Cir. 1995)).

         When examining the sufficiency of the pleadings, the court considers whether the plaintiff has pled "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). “Plausible, of course, means something more than merely possible, and gauging a pleaded situation's plausibility is a context-specific job that compels [the Court] to draw on [its] judicial experience and common sense." Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Although a complaint need not provide an exhaustive factual account, the allegations must be sufficient to identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to harm and the harm alleged must be one for which the law affords a remedy. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Legal conclusions couched as facts and "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action" will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).

         In screening plaintiffs’ complaint, the Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are construed generously. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Rodi v. New Eng. Sch. of Law, 389 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir. 2004). Even with a liberal ...

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