United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge
Lee Gamble, Jr., now a resident of Texas City, Texas, has
filed a pro se complaint alleging that in 2002 the
Kentucky Department of Corrections violated the Fourteenth
Amendment and 18 U.S.C. § 242 by falsely imprisoning
him, wrongfully convicting him, and committing libel and
slander. He seeks $10 million in damages for resulting
emotional harm. [R. 1] He has also filed a motion to proceed
in forma pauperis [R. 2] on the wrong form.
Nonetheless, the Court will grant his fee motion for the
limited purpose of conducting the initial screening required
by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Court has noted before,
Gamble has a well-established history as a repetitive and
abusive filer before this Court, and each of the defendants
he has named in his “criminal complaints” was a
named defendant in one or more of several prior civil rights
actions filed by Gamble in an effort to overturn his Kentucky
state convictions. Each case was dismissed by this Court upon
initial screening. Gamble v. Corrections Corp. of
America, No. 7: 12-CV-79-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2012); Gamble
v. Corrections Corp. of America, No. 7: 13-CV-63-ART
(E.D. Ky. 2013); Gamble v. Corrections Corp. of
America, No. 7: 13-CV-82-ART (E.D. Ky. 2013); Gamble
v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, No. 5: 13-CV-308-DCR (E.D.
Ky. 2013); Gamble v. Ky. Dept. of Corr., No. 5:
13-CV-317-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2013); Gamble v. Bottom, No.
5: 13-CV-326-JMH (E.D. Ky. 2013); Gamble v. Conway,
No. 5: 13-CV-327-JMH (E.D. Ky. 2013); Gamble v.
Peckler, No. 5: 13-CV-328-KSF (E.D. Ky. 2013).
Gamble v. Thapar, No. 7: 14-41-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2014).
Since 2010, Gamble has filed nearly fifty habeas corpus
petitions and civil rights actions, nearly all of which have
been promptly and summarily dismissed.
present complaint fares no better. The entirety of his
allegations are that the Kentucky Department of Corrections
libeled and slandered him, wrongfully convicted him, falsely
imprisoned him, and violated the Fourteenth Amendment and 18
U.S.C. § 242. [R. 1 at 3] Gamble provides no factual
basis whatsoever for these claims, and a complaint which
consists entirely of conclusory statements and fails to state
a viable claim for relief. A complaint must do more: it must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009); Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470 (6th Cir.
2010). The Supreme Court has explained that:
While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the
“grounds” of his “entitle[ment] to
relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements
will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption
that all of the complaint's allegations are true.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Simply labeling the defendants' actions -
whatever they might have been - as “wrongful” or
a violation of unidentified civil rights deprives the
defendants of notice of the conduct complained of, a notice
to which they are entitled. Because the complaint does not
provide any factual basis for the claims set forth in the
complaint, it must be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 577 (6th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc.,
859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir.1988) (“More than bare
assertions of legal conclusions is ordinarily required to
satisfy federal notice pleading requirements.”)
as with many of Gamble's previously-dismissed cases, his
assertion that he was wrongfully convicted and falsely
imprisoned is plainly barred by Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994). See Gamble v. Corrections Corp. of
America, No. 7: 12-CV-79-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2012). In
addition, the Kentucky Department of Corrections is a state
agency, and hence the Eleventh Amendment bars this Court from
exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any claim for
damages against it, Cady v. Arenac Co., 574 F.3d
334, 342 (6th Cir. 2009), and cannot be sued under §
1983 because it is not a “person” within the
meaning of the statute, Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d
1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). Finally, to the extent his claims
are not barred by issue preclusion and/or claim preclusion in
light of the repeated dismissal of his prior complaints, a
claim that his Due Process rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment were violated in 2002 would be plainly time-barred
by Kentucky's one-year statute of limitations, Ky. Rev.
Stat. § 413.140(1)(a). Mitchell v. Chapman, 343
F.3d 811, 825 (6th Cir. 2003). For these reasons,
Gamble's complaint will be dismissed with prejudice.
final matter, the Court concludes that Gamble's extensive
history of repetitive and abusive litigation in this Court
warrants the imposition of pre-filing restrictions,
narrowly-tailored to prevent the filing of further motions
and lawsuits arising out of the same conduct and claims that
have repeatedly been rejected by this Court.
Supreme Court long ago established that “Courts of
justice are universally acknowledged to be vested, by their
very creation, with power to impose silence, respect, and
decorum, in their presence, and submission to their lawful
mandates.” Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheat. 204,
227, 5 L.Ed. 242 (1821). Accordingly, a district court has
inherent authority to sanction parties whose actions are
vexatious, frivolous, or undertaken in bad faith.
Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991).
This authority is “governed not by rule or statute but
by the control necessarily vested in courts to manage their
own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious
disposition of cases.” Link v. Wabash R. Co.,
370 U.S. 626, 630-31 (1962).
Court takes seriously its obligation to afford additional
latitude to parties who are not educated in the
eccentricities of the law or its practice, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 596 (1972), as their misguided
actions may be the consequence of inexperience or lack of
specialized knowledge rather than borne of a desire to harass
or delay. But that forgiving approach has never “[been]
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
without counsel, ” McNeil v. United States,
508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993), and the courts must not allow
“the right of self-representation [to be used as] a
license to abuse the dignity of the courtroom.”
Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 835 n.46
(1975). Even a court's “special solicitude”
towards pro se litigants “does not extend to
the willful, obstinate refusal to play by the basic rules of
the system upon whose very power the plaintiff is calling to
vindicate his rights.” Pandozy v. Segan, 518
F.Supp.2d 550, 558 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (imposing pre-filing
restrictions against a litigant “unwilling to accept
unfavorable rulings on her claims. Each time her claims are
dismissed, she repackages them with new labels, against new
defendants, and in new courts, as part of an
‘ever-broadening conspiracy theory.'”).
person proceeding pro se who repeatedly files
meritless or frivolous lawsuits abuses the right to represent
himself without counsel and the privilege of proceeding
without payment of the filing fee, and imposes a heavy burden
upon the resources of the court at the expense of other
litigants with potentially meritorious claims. The court may
therefore impose sanctions necessary and appropriate to deter
such conduct. Chambers, 501 U.S. at 45-46. The court
may deny the plaintiff pauper status, Reneer v.
Sewell, 975 F.2d 258, 260-61 (6th Cir. 1992), or for
more quarrelsome conduct, may require him to pay another
party's attorneys fees, First Bank of
Marietta v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 307 F.3d
501, 511-12 (6th Cir. 2002). For the most obstinate offender,
the court may require the vexatious litigant to request and
receive permission before filing any new lawsuit. Filipas
v. Lemons, 835 F.2d 1145, 1146 (6th Cir. 1987);
Maxberry v. S.E.C., 879 F.3d 222, 224 (6th Cir.
1989); Marbly v. Wheatley, 87 F. App'x 535, 536
(6th Cir. 2004), Such orders should be narrowly tailored to
prevent the abuses evidenced by the litigant's prior
conduct. Andrews v. Heaton, 483 F.3d 1070, 1077-78
(10th Cir. 2007).
has already filed several dozen lawsuits arising out of his
Kentucky criminal convictions, and no useful purpose would be
served by permitting him to file additional lawsuits which
arise out of the same events. The Court will therefore
prohibit Gamble from filing new motions in any of the cases
he previously filed that are closed, and require him to
request and obtain the Court's approval before he will be
permitted to file any new civil action or habeas corpus
petition. The Court will only grant such a request if the
basis for the claims asserted is wholly unrelated to that