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Erickson v. Renfro

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

July 9, 2014

VIRGIL SHANNON RENFRO, et al., Defendants.


KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a variety of motions made by Plaintiff Heidi Erickson. She moves "to recuse Judge Karen K Caldwell" from this matter (DE 3), to proceed in forma pauperis (DE 6), to file electronically with the ECF system (DE 4), and for a temporary restraining order ("TRO"). (DE 7). For the reasons explained below, her motions will be denied.


Erickson is no stranger to the court system. She has filed several actions in this district, and has an extensive litigation history in the federal District Court in Massachusetts. The United States Supreme Court has indicated that Erickson "has repeatedly abused this Court's process, " and may not file there unless she pays the docketing fee. Erickson v. Lau, 559 U.S. 1104, 1104 (2010). Erickson is now an enjoined litigant in the federal District Court in Massachusetts and is unable to file lawsuits in that court without permission. Erickson v. Massachusetts, No. 10-10907-WGY, 2010 WL 2332153 at *1 (D. Mass. June 4, 2010).

Defendants removed this matter to this Court on July 3, 2014 from Madison, Kentucky Circuit Court. (DE 1). In her amended complaint Erickson alleges that on February 2, 2014, the Richmond Police Department and three unknown police officers ordered Renfro's Towing to impound her RV at the Richmond Mall in violation of various state laws, as well as her Due Process rights. Erickson now asks the undersigned to recuse herself from this matter, to allow Erickson to proceed in forma pauperis, to allow her to file electronically, and to grant her a TRO. The Court will address each of Erickson's motions in turn.


i. Motion for Recusal

Erickson moves for the undersigned judge to recuse from this matter. (DE 3). Erickson argues that the undersigned is biased against her based on the Court's decision in another case, Erickson v. University of Kentucky, et al., 05:13-CV-52-KKC. Erickson's arguments are without merit. The case Erickson refers to was originally assigned to Senior Judge Karl Forester. Judge Forester denied Erickson's motion for a TRO, granted Erickson leave to amend her complaint, and dismissed with prejudice various claims against the University of Kentucky and other defendants. Magistrate Judge Wier scheduled a telephonic conference to address a discovery dispute, and Erickson did not appear. (05:13-CV-52-KKC DE 21). Judge Wier then scheduled a show cause hearing to which Erickson again failed to appear. (05:13-CV-52-KKC DE 24). Accordingly, Judge Wier recommended dismissing the case for failure to prosecute. (05:13-CV-52-KKC DE 25). Erickson did not object to Judge Wier's report and recommendation, and therefore Judge Forester adopted it and dismissed the case. (05:13-CV-52-KKC DE 26). Sadly, Judge Forester passed away in March, 2014 and the case, though closed, was reassigned to the undersigned on April 8, 2014. (05:13-CV-52-KKC DE 29).

Thereafter, the undersigned only addressed Erickson's motion to vacate and motion for reconsideration. In those orders this Court's findings were based solely on Erickson's noncompliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court's orders, and the failure to prosecute her own case. (05:13-CV-52-KKC DE 30, DE 41). The Court was not biased, nor did it discriminate against Erickson for any reason. Such allegations are unsupported by the record. Accordingly, Erickson's motion for the undersigned to recuse (DE 3) is denied.

ii. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Erickson seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. However, this case was removed, and therefore, there is no filing fee. Accordingly, her motion to proceed in forma pauperis (DE 6) is denied as moot.

iii. Motion to File Electronically

Erickson moves for permission to use the ECF electronic filing system in this matter. (DE 4). The Amended Electronic Case Filing Administrative Policies and Procedures, adopted by the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky provides in ยง 2(c) that "[a] party proceeding pro se shall not file electronically, unless otherwise permitted by the court." Erickson indicates that she is disabled, and it is difficult for her to go to the post office. However, Erickson has successfully filed this and many other lawsuits without using the electronic system. From the allegations in her complaint, Erickson is apparently capable of driving her RV to the Richmond Mall and would have been capable of driving her RV to see her mother in Illinois. (DE 5). Thus, while she purports to have difficulties traveling due to her disabilities and the costs ...

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