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Sanders v. City of Pembroke

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

July 15, 2019

LEONIA N. SANDERS, et al., PLAINTIFFS
v.
CITY OF PEMBROKE, et al., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on several motions. First, Plaintiff Leonia Sanders, individually and as the guardian of Ronald Sanders, filed three motions for entry of default: one against Heather Holland, [R. 12], another against Lindee Monroe, [R. 13], and a third against Rebecca Perry, [R. 14]. In response, Holland, Monroe, and Perry, (“Defendants”), filed a Joint Motion to Quash Defective Service of Process, or in the alternative, Joint Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Request for Entries of Default Judgment. [R. 18; 19.] Sanders replied. [R. 27.] Second, Sanders filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. [R. 17.] Defendants responded, [R. 29], and Sanders replied, [R. 36]. Third, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, [R. 28]. Fourth, Defendants filed a Motion to Strike Amended Complaint. [R. 43.] On the same day, Sanders filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint or, in the Alternative, Motion for Leave for Additional Time to Respond to the Motion to Dismiss. [R. 44.] Defendants responded, [R. 47], and Sanders replied, [R. 48]. In addition to the motions above, Sanders filed a Motion to Strike Impertinent Material Stated in Entry of Appearance, [R. 15], and a Motion to Strike Scandalous Material Stated in the Response, [R. 30]. This matter is ripe for adjudication.

         For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Joint Motion to Quash, [R. 18], and Renewed Joint Motion to Quash, [R. 23], are GRANTED and Sanders's three motions for entry of default, [R. 12, 13, 14], are all DENIED; Sanders's Motion for Summary Judgment, [R. 17], is DENIED; Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [R. 28], is DENIED; Sanders's Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint, [R. 44], is GRANTED; Defendants' Motion to Strike Amended Complaint, [R. 43], is DENIED; Sanders's Motion to Strike Impertinent Material, [R. 15], is GRANTED; and Sanders's Motion to Strike Scandalous Material is DENIED, [R. 30].

         BACKGROUND

         On February 13, 2019, Sanders filed a Complaint against several defendants, [R. 1], and on March 20, 2019, Sanders filed motions for Entry of Default against three specific defendants listed in the original Complaint: Heather Holland, [R. 12], Lindee Monroe, [R. 13], and Rebecca Perry, [R. 14]. The next day, counsel for Holland, Monroe, and Perry (“Defendants”), filed an Entry of Appearance, “[w]ithout waiving sufficiency of service of process on their clients . . . .” [R. 11.] On March 22, 2019, Defendants filed a Joint Motion to Quash Defective Service of Process, or in the alternative, Joint Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Request for Entries of Default Judgment. [R. 18; 19.] That same day, Sanders filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. [R. 17.]

         On March 25, 2019, Sanders filed three separate U.S. Postal Service certified mail receipts: one for Heather Holland, [R. 20, ] another for Lindee Monroe, [R. 21], and a third for Rebecca Perry, [R. 22]. Each receipt was dated as being delivered on February 21, 2019. However, the unknown person that received each piece of mail signed upon delivery in an illegible manner. Both parties appear to agree that neither Holland, Monroe, nor Perry signed the receipts. [R. 26 at 5; R. 29 at 2.] However, disagreement remains over whether the person that signed these receipts was acting as an agent on behalf of Defendants. In short, the main issue threaded through all of these motions is the question of whether Defendants were served properly.

         Beyond the motions mentioned above, Defendants also asserted in a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim that defendants Lincoln Foster and Maureen Leamy are entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity as Assistant County Attorneys in Christian County, Kentucky. [R. 28 at 2.] About a month after that, Defendants filed a Motion to Strike the Amended Complaint, [R. 43]. In what appears to be a response to both of these motions, Sanders filed a motion entitled “Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint as to Defendants, Frye, Burgess, Foster, Leamy, Holland, Monroe, and Perry, Or, in the Alternative, Motion for Leave for Additional Time to Respond to the Motion to Dismiss by Foster and Leamy.” [R. 44.]

         DISCUSSION

         As service of process is a threshold issue, the Court will first address Defendants' Motion to Quash Service of Process, followed by Sanders's Motion for Summary Judgment and other additional motions.

         A. Defendants' Motion to Quash Service of Process or Dismiss for Failure to Serve

         “Before a federal court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the procedural requirement of service of summons must be satisfied.” Omni Capital Intern., Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., Ltd., 484 U.S. 97, 104 (1987). The plaintiff bears the burden of perfecting service of process and showing that proper service was made. Fed. R. Civ Pro. 4(c)(1); Byrd v. Stone, 94 F.3d 217, 219 (6th Cir.1996). “[A]ctual knowledge and lack of prejudice cannot take the place of legally sufficient service.” LSJ Inv. Co., Inc. v. O.L.D., Inc., 167 F.3d 320, 324 (6th Cir. 1999); see also Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Rhyme Syndicate Music, 376 F.3d 615, 623 (6th Cir. 2004).

         Service of process is governed by Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 4(e) provides the methods by which an individual may be properly served:

Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual-other than a minor, incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed-may be served in a judicial district of the United States by:
(1) following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located or where service is made; or
(2) doing any of the following:
(A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally;
(B) leaving a copy of each at the individual's dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or
(C) delivering a copy of each to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.

Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 4(e).

         Pursuant to Rule 4(e)(1), both parties acknowledge that service was attempted according to Kentucky state law. [R. 18 at 5; R. 26 at 3.] The methods of proving service in Kentucky are explained in Kentucky Civil ...


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