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Callan v. Fischer

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

September 26, 2017

BRENNAN JAMES CALLAN PLAINTIFF
v.
MAYOR GREG FISCHER, et. al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on several pending motions. First, pro se Plaintiff Brennan James Callan has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and a motion to amend his complaint. [DN 2; DN 20.] Second, the many Defendants in the case have filed multiple motions to dismiss, both under Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6). [DN 13; DN 17; DN 21; DN 24; DN 28; DN 34.] For the reasons that follow, Callan's motions, [DN 2; DN 20], are DENIED and Defendants' motions, [DN 13; DN 17; DN 21; DN 24; DN 28; DN 34], are GRANTED. The Court will enter a separate Order and Judgment consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         The subject of Plaintiff's lawsuit is the removal of the Confederate monument (the “Monument”) which was formerly located on South Third Street in Louisville, Kentucky. The Monument was removed on November 19, 2016. Plaintiff initially filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt the removal of the monument, which this Court denied on November 19, 2016. [DN 4 (Memorandum Opinion and Order).] Therein, however, Callan also requested a preliminary injunction, which remains pending. [DN 2.]

         Callan sued several individuals and entities in this suit. These are Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the Louisville Metro government, Jefferson County Judge Executive Queenie Averette, the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell, the law firm of Stites & Harbison, the University of Louisville Foundation, Former Uof L President James Ramsey, Interim Uof L President Dr. Neville G. Pinto, the Kentucky Department of Highways, the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administration, Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator Tony Lindauer, Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman, and the Louisville Public Arts Commission. [See DN 1 (Complaint).]

In his complaint, Callan alleges that he
is distantly (genealogically) related to CSA President Jefferson Davis, Major General William President (CSA General, U.S. Ambassador to Spain, U.S. Congressman, and native Louisvillian), CSA General Albert Sydney Johnston (five star general), Aid de Camp William Preston Johnson, General Breckinridge, and numerous other Confederate States of America political and military leaders. Furthermore, Callan is a distant cousin of U.S. President Abe Lincoln, U.S. Vice President John C. Breckinridge, and numerous Union Generals and soldiers.

[DN 1 at 4.] He further states that he “freely admit[s] that THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR WAS MY FAMILY'S FAULT as we led both side[s] of the war.” [Id. (capitalization in original).] Callan also alleges that he is “a distant cousin of the original President of the Woman's Confederate Monument Association (Susan Marshall Preston Hepburn) that was formed in the 1890s under Kentucky law.” [Id. at 3.] In sum, Callan contends that the Monument at issue in this case “is essential to comprehending the lives and deaths of my family and the countless other Union and Confederate soldiers and our nation.” [Id. at 4-5.]

         Callan mentions numerous federal and state statutes in his complaint, which the Court will address in detail below. In their many motions to dismiss, Defendants contend that Callan lacks standing to maintain this suit, that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, and that Callan has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because the Court agrees with Defendants that Callan's claims are insufficient, Defendants' motions will be granted, Callan's motions will be denied, and Callan's claims will be dismissed.

         STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a party may assert by motion the defense of “lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can either attack the claim of jurisdiction on its face, in which case all allegations of the plaintiff must be considered as true, or it can attack the factual basis for jurisdiction, in which case the trial court must weigh the evidence and the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists.” DLX, Inc. v. Kentucky, 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir. 2004). Because the parties here do not request that the Court make any factual determinations in ruling on the motion to dismiss, but rather dispute only the sufficiency of Boggs' complaint, the Court “will treat this as a ‘facial' 12(b)(1) motion.” Id. “A facial attack on the subject-matter jurisdiction alleged in the complaint questions merely the sufficiency of the pleading.” Gentek Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Steel Peel Litig., 491 F.3d 320, 330 (6th Cir. 2007). “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); see also Bauer v. RBX Indus. Inc., 368 F.3d 569 (6th Cir. 2004).

         A defendant may also move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To that end, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a party must “plead enough ‘factual matter' to raise a ‘plausible' inference of wrongdoing.” 16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must presume all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Great Lakes Steel v. Deggendorf, 716 F.2d 1101, 1105 (6th Cir. 1983)). “The court need not, however, accept unwarranted factual inferences.” Id. (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987)). Should the well-pleaded facts support no “more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then dismissal is warranted. Iqbal, 556 U.S at 679. The Court may grant a motion to dismiss “only if, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint in favor of the plaintiff, the complaint still fails to allege a plausible theory of relief.” Garceau v. City of Flint, 572 F. App'x. 369, 371 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-79).

         DISCUSSION

         Because the Court can conceive of multiple reasons why Callan's claims cannot survive in this Court, his suit will be dismissed.

         I. Standing

         In their motion to dismiss, Dr. James Ramsey and Dr. Neville Pinto allege that Callan lacks standing to bring any of his “purported claims.” [DN 34-1 at 2.] For the reasons that follow, the Court agrees.

         “Standing is ‘the threshold question in every federal case.'” Coyne v. Am. Tobacco Co., 183 F.3d 488, 494 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975)). The purpose of Article III's standing requirement that federal courts may only adjudicate actual cases and controversies is “so that the judicial process is not transformed into “ ‘a vehicle for the vindication of the value interests of concerned bystanders.' ” Id. (quoting Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Americans United for Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 473 (1982) (“Were the federal courts merely publicly funded forums for the ventilation of public grievances or the refinement of jurisprudential understanding, the concept of ‘standing' would be quite unnecessary.”)); U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. Accordingly, standing “is a jurisdictional requirement.” Coal Operators & Assocs., Inc. v. Babbitt, 291 F.3d 912, 915 (6th Cir. 2002).

         “Where, as here, a case is at the pleading stage, the plaintiff must ‘clearly ... allege facts demonstrating' each element. Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016), as revised (May 24, 2016) (quoting Warth, 422 U.S. at 518). The standing requirement includes both constitutional requirements and prudential restrictions. From a constitutional standpoint, “a plaintiff must have suffered some actual or threatened injury due to the alleged illegal conduct of the defendant; the injury must be ‘fairly traceable' to the challenged action; and there must be a substantial likelihood that the relief requested will redress or prevent the plaintiff's injury.” Coyne, 183 F.3d at 494 (citing Val ...


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