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Lotton v. Southeast Indiana Government

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

February 2, 2015

STEVEN LEE LOTTON, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHEAST INDIANA GOVERNMENT, PEOPLE, ET AL., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, District Judge.

Steven Lee Lotton is an individual who identifies his mailing address as 1350 South Main Street, London, Kentucky. Proceeding pro se, Lotton has filed a complaint against various county governments in the states of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, claiming that these governmental entities "broke state law" in that they failed to protect him from abuse and neglect when he was a child.[1] [R. 1, Page ID# 2] Lotton claims that the events giving rise to his claims occurred in Aurora, Indiana, and Rising Sun, Indiana, from 1967 to 1979. [R. 1, Page ID# 3] Lotton seeks the following relief:

Immunity, amnesty and card and checkbook with unlimited amount of money for rest of life and death penalty for people involved. Need an answer on the immunity and amnesty has [sic] soon as possible. I want the law to do its job. Let the punishment fit the severity of the crimes.

[R. 1, Page ID# 8].

Because Lotton is proceeding in forma pauperis and is asserting claims against governmental entities and/or government officials, the Court must conduct a preliminary review of his complaint. 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 1915(e)(2), 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court evaluates Lotton's complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, and his legal claims are liberally construed in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). The Court has given his complaint a liberal, and hence broad, construction, and will evaluate any cause of action which can reasonably be inferred from the allegations made. Having reviewed Lotton's complaint, for a host of the reasons stated below, Lotton's complaint will be dismissed.

I

A

1

In regards to the named defendants outside of the state of Kentucky, Lotton has named Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, and Ripley county governments in Indiana, and Hamilton County government in Ohio.

Lotton fails to provide any information providing a possible basis as to how a federal court sitting in the Eastern District of Kentucky would have any jurisdiction over county governments located in Indiana and Ohio. The state and federal courts sitting in these respective states would have jurisdiction over these county defendants, but not a state or federal court sitting in Kentucky. See International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316-19 (1945); Southern Machine Co. v. Mohasco Indus., 401 F.2d 374, 380 (6th Cir. 1968). See also Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewski, 471 U.S. 462, 475-78 (1985). For these reasons, Lotton claims against the non-Kentucky defendants fail to state a claim for which relief can be granted, and these defendants will be dismissed for lack of in personam jurisdiction over them. Regardless of any merit Lotton's claims against these defendants might have, this court has no personal jurisdiction over these non-Kentucky defendants.

2

As to the named defendants within the state of Kentucky, Lotton has named Boone, Kenton, Gallatin, and Hardin county governments. Lotton claims that the defendants violated state law, which the Court construes as a state law negligence claim, resulting in his alleged injuries when he was a child. However, the Complaint contains no detailed information identifying any individual or individuals who committed the alleged violation, and the Complaint contains no specifics as to the when, what, where or how such conduct occurred. In short, the Complaint does not plead sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a negligence claim against the Kentucky defendants that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Thus, dismissal is proper for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

However, even if the Court assumes that Lotton has sufficiently plead a state law negligence claim against the Kentucky defendants, this claim is barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. All county governmental entities in Kentucky, including Boone, Kenton, Gallatin, and Hardin counties, have sovereign immunity on all state law damage claims against them. Sovereign immunity is an inherent attribute of the state that precludes maintaining any suit against the state unless the state has waived its immunity. Yanero v. Davis, 65 S.W.3d 510, 517 (Ky. 2001). A county shares the immunity of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Franklin County, Kentucky v. Malone, 957 S.W.2d 195, 202-203 (Ky. 1997), overruled on other grounds, Commonwealth v. Harris, 59 S.W.3d 896 (Ky. 2001). The named county defendants share the immunity of the state. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government v. Smolcic, 142 S.W.3d 128, 131-32 (Ky. 2004); Fields v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, 91 S.W.3d 110, 111 (Ky. App. ...


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