United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
THOMAS K. BUSH, Plaintiff,
ROBERT W. GODWIN, et al., Defendants.
A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are numerous motions filed by various parties in
this civil action. All parties are proceeding pro
se, though three defendants-Robert Godwin, Scott Hurley,
and Rylan Shamblin-are licensed attorneys. These motions are:
(1) plaintiff's motion for relief from the Court's
past orders [Doc. 51]; (2) defendants Hurley and
Shamblin's motion to dismiss or for a more definite
statement [Doc. 61]; (3) plaintiff's motion to add
parties pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 [Doc.
66]; (4) plaintiff's motion to suspend the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure [Doc. 68]; (5) plaintiff's motion
concerning the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 18 U.S.C.
§ 4 [Doc. 74]; (6) plaintiff's first motion for
sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 [Doc. 77];
(7) plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint [Doc. 85];
(8) defendant Godwin's motion to dismiss [Doc. 91]; (9)
the motion of defendants John R. Bush, Nancy Bush, John J.
Bush, and Rebecca Bush (the “Bush defendants”) to
join Hurley and Shamblin's motion to dismiss [Doc. 92];
(10) plaintiff's second motion for sanctions under Rule
11 [Doc. 97]; and (11) plaintiff's motion for sanctions
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 [Doc. 100].
the responses to these motions were filed past the deadlines
set forth in Eastern District of Tennessee Local Rule 7.1(a).
Nevertheless, given the parties' pro se
statuses-as well as the many issues with proper service of
process and other pleadings that have arisen in this case-the
Court finds it appropriate to excuse the apparent tardiness
of these filings. Such an outcome is consistent with the
“overall policy in [the Sixth] Circuit of resolving
disputes on their merits, ” rather than on the minutia
of procedural rules. Vergis v. Grand Victoria Casino
& Resort, 199 F.R.D. 216, 218 (S.D. Ohio 2000). The
Court also finds that good cause supports the Bush
defendants' motion [Doc. 92] to join Hurley and
Shamblin's motion to dismiss [Doc. 61], and thus will
grant the former motion. Finally, for the reasons explained
throughout this opinion, the Court will grant defendants'
motions to dismiss and deny plaintiff's various pending
case arises out of a will contest in the Probate Division of
the Knox County Chancery Court (the “Probate
Court”) concerning the estate of plaintiff's
father, J.D. Bush (the “Estate”). Plaintiff alleges
that the named defendants-his former attorneys, Hurley and
Shamblin; the executor of the Estate, John R. Bush; the
executor's attorney, Godwin; and his relatives, the Bush
defendants-conspired to deprive plaintiff of his fair share
of the Estate [Doc. 37]. Plaintiff asserts that Godwin and
John R. Bush exerted an undue influence on the decedent to
produce a will that left plaintiff no share of the
decedent's bank accounts or of a trust he allegedly
created [Id. at 3]. Plaintiff alleges that the
decedent was particularly dependent on John R. Bush due to
illness and frailty, and that Godwin and John R. Bush
substituted a will of their own creation [Id. at 4].
Plaintiff also asserts that, on September 24, 2017, these
individuals submitted a memorial letter stating the decedent
was only a distant relative of the Bush brothers (of Bush
Brothers & Company (“Bush Brothers”)),
while he was in fact a close relative [Id. at 5].
next alleges that, since the decedent's death on February
5, 2008, Godwin, John R. Bush, and Nancy Bush have conspired
to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”)
and United States government [Id. at 5-6]. Plaintiff
also asserts these defendants have defrauded John J. Bush and
Rebecca Bush concerning the decedent's will and the
probate proceedings, possibly causing them to file false
income tax returns [Id. at 6-7]. Furthermore,
plaintiff alleges that Godwin and John R. Bush violated an
agreement regarding the appraisal of a house at 2104 Belcaro
Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37918, and later rented out this
house without paying any proceeds to plaintiff [Id.
at 7]. Plaintiff asserts that, in 2009, defendants attempted
to coerce plaintiff into signing his share of this house over
to John R. Bush, Nancy Bush, and Home Federal Bank without a
written offer [Id. at 7-8]. Plaintiff alleges that,
at a July 2009 hearing before the Probate Court, the Special
Master scolded him for raising this attempted fraud, after
which Godwin stood up laughing and said, “I
wouldn't have signed that either” [Id. at
to plaintiff, nothing more occurred in the probate
proceedings until 2011, when Godwin submitted another
appraisal of the house, as well as of cemetery plots of which
plaintiff was unaware [Id. at 9]. Plaintiff asserts
that Godwin misled plaintiff about the subject of the 2011
hearing, which plaintiff had wanted to reschedule
[Id. at 9-10]. Plaintiff next alleges that, in April
2012, he received $80, 700 for the house and plots at
Landmark Title & Closing in Canton, Georgia, and shortly
thereafter received family photos and other belongings from
John R. Bush via U.S. mail [Id. at 10-11].
asserts that he heard nothing more about the case until an
August 2013 hearing before the Probate Court, which resulted
from plaintiff filing a petition for settlement of accounts
[Id. at 12]. Plaintiff avers that he then received
income tax forms from John R. Bush in October 2013 beyond the
time permitted by IRS regulations [Id. at 12-13].
Plaintiff also alleges that John R. Bush committed multiple
breaches of his fiduciary duties as executor, including (1)
failing to maintain a profitable estate, (2) acting in his
own self-interest, (3) misappropriating Estate assets, (4)
failing to respond to plaintiff's requests, (5) failing
to keep proper records, and (6) failing to comply with
unspecified Tennessee laws regarding estate administration
[Id. at 13-14].
next turns to Hurley and his law partner Shamblin, whom
plaintiff hired to represent him after the August 2013
hearing [Id. at 15]. Plaintiff alleges that Hurley
kept delaying taking John R. Bush's deposition, failed to
appear at an October 2013 hearing, and told plaintiff not to
worry about John R. Bush's IRS filings [Id. at
15-16]. Plaintiff asserts that he almost fired Hurley in
December 2013, but that Hurley finally took John R.
Bush's deposition in March 2014 [Id. at 16-17].
Plaintiff alleges that John R. Bush committed perjury at
multiple points during this deposition in regard to the
following matters: (1) the person who prepared the
Estate's federal tax returns (plaintiff believes that
Godwin and John R. Bush switched tax preparers to conceal
Estate assets from plaintiff); (2) John R. Bush's
knowledge of the decedent's past wills; (3) the
decedent's receipt of income from and involvement with
Bush Brothers; (4) whether the decedent signed the September
24, 2017, memorial letter; and (5) plaintiff's receipt of
a written confirmation of the money he would receive for the
house [Id. at 17-24]. Plaintiff also asserts that
Godwin and John R. Bush failed to respond adequately to
interrogatories concerning any financial relationships with
Bush Brothers [Id. at 24]. As a result of these
transgressions, plaintiff claims that John R. Bush and Godwin
violated various federal and state criminal laws, which the
Court discusses more fully in Section II.D below
[Id. at 25].
further alleges that John R. Bush and Godwin conspired with
Hurley and Shamblin to not submit plaintiff's deposition
to the Probate Court, though plaintiff notes he eventually
did so himself in late 2015 [Id. at 25-26].
Plaintiff asserts that he wanted Hurley to take the
deposition of many other parties-including the other Bush
defendants, Home Federal Bank manager Jennifer Collier, and
Bush Brothers-but that Hurley repeatedly delayed doing so
[Id. at 26-28]. Hurley allegedly blamed these delays
on personal issues affecting Godwin and promised that Godwin
would repay plaintiff's travel expenses, though he never
did [Id. at 28]. Plaintiff states that he fired
Hurley in late 2015, but the Probate Court still would not
let him file his own documents [Id. at 29]. Finally,
plaintiff avers that Hurley appeared at a December 2015
Probate Court hearing and offered to represent plaintiff
again, and that plaintiff agreed because he feared the case
would otherwise be dismissed [Id. at 30]. The
hearing was then canceled, and plaintiff asserts he had no
other contact with Hurley until a December 2016 hearing, when
the Probate Court dismissed Hurley and Shamblin as
plaintiff's attorneys [Id. at 30-31].
result of these allegations, plaintiff seeks millions of
dollars in compensatory and punitive damages from
defendants-as well as injunctive relief against various
parties and non-parties-for an assortment of federal and
state criminal and civil wrongs [Id. at 34-48].
Defendants have denied any wrongdoing and assert that
plaintiff's claims to relief are frivolous [See
Docs. 55, 61, 67, 71, 91].
procedural history of this case is complex, and the Court
will describe it here only to the extent necessary to provide
background. On November 24, 2015, plaintiff filed his initial
complaint against the Probate Court and the Estate [Doc. 1].
Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, Jr., later denied
plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [Doc. 6],
upon referral from this Court [Doc. 5]. Then, on May 2, 2016,
the Court ordered plaintiff to show cause why this action
should not be dismissed as a result of his failure to serve
process on the Probate Court [Doc. 11]. Plaintiff responded
[Docs. 12-13], and the Court ordered plaintiff to properly
serve the Probate Court within thirty days [Doc. 14].
Probate Court then moved for dismissal under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that it lacks legal
capacity to sue or be sued [Doc. 20]. At that same time,
plaintiff filed multiple motions to amend his complaint and
add new parties [Docs. 15-16, 30, 34], as well as a motion
for a contempt hearing as to various defendants [Doc. 24]. On
January 5, 2017, the Court entered an order granting
plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint, but
denying his motions to add new parties and for a contempt
hearing [Doc. 36]. The Court also denied the Probate
Court's motion to dismiss as moot with leave to refile,
given that plaintiff would be filing a new complaint
[Id.]. Plaintiff then filed his first amended
complaint [Doc. 37], which joined the parties who are
currently defendants to this action and seemed to consent to
dismissal of the Probate Court [id. at 42]. The
Probate Court accordingly renewed its motion to dismiss [Doc.
39], which the Court granted on April 6 in light of the
parties' apparent agreement [Doc. 47].
8, plaintiff filed a motion for relief [Doc. 51] from the
Court's January 5 and April 6 orders [Docs. 36, 47]. The
parties filed various responses and replies to this motion
[Docs. 56-59]. Then, on May 30, defendants Hurley and
Shamblin filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) or,
alternatively, for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e)
[Doc. 61], to which plaintiff responded [Docs. 63-65].
Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to add new parties
[Doc. 66] and two motions concerning the applicability of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and other matters [Docs. 68,
74]. Then, on August 17, the Court dismissed the Estate, Knox
County Probate No. P-08-67241, and “other unnamed
defendants” in light of plaintiff's failure to
serve those parties [Doc. 75].
next filed a motion for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 11 [Doc. 77] and a fourth motion to amend his
complaint [Doc. 85]. Defendant Godwin later responded in
opposition to plaintiff's motion to amend and moved for
dismissal [Doc. 91], having informed the Court that he had
not received service of plaintiff's motion despite
plaintiff's certificate of service [Doc. 85 pp. 6-7]. The
Bush defendants then filed a motion to join in Hurley and
Shamblin's motion to dismiss [Doc. 92], and Hurley and
Shamblin responded in opposition to plaintiff's motion to
amend [Doc. 93]. Finally, plaintiff filed a response to
Godwin and the Bush defendants' motions [Doc. 94], as
well as two additional motions for sanctions [Docs. 97, 100].
Hurley and Shamblin have responded to one of these motions
[Doc. 99], and plaintiff replied [Doc. 102].
Court will first consider plaintiff's motion for relief
from the Court's past orders [Doc. 51]. Next, the Court
will address plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint
[Doc. 85], followed by his motions concerning the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure [Docs. 68, 74]. After that, the
Court will consider defendants' motions to dismiss the
complaint for failure to state a claim [Docs. 61, 91-92].
Finally, the Court will address plaintiff's motions to
add new parties [Doc. 66] and for sanctions [Docs. 77, 97,
Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from the Court's Past
plaintiff seeks relief [Doc. 51] from the Court's January
5, 2017, and April 6, 2017, orders addressing a variety of
issues in this litigation [Docs. 36, 47]. Defendant Godwin
and former defendant the Probate Court filed responses in
opposition [Docs. 56- 57], to which plaintiff filed two reply
briefs [Docs. 58-59]. For the reasons explained below, the
Court will deny plaintiff's motion for relief.
motion specifies Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) as the
basis for the relief he seeks. But that rule authorizes the
Court to “relieve a party . . . from a final
judgment, order, or proceeding.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)
(emphasis added). Instead, the orders at issue are
interlocutory in character because they “adjudicate[d]
fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of
fewer than all the parties” in this action.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has
recognized that “[d]istrict courts have authority both
under [federal] common law and Rule 54(b) to reconsider
interlocutory orders and to reopen any part of a case before
entry of final judgment.” Rodriguez v. Tenn.
Laborers Health & Welfare Fund, 89 F. App'x 949,
959 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Mallory v. Eyrich, 922
F.2d 1273, 1282 (6th Cir. 1991)). Reconsideration of an
interlocutory order is proper when the movant shows either:
“(1) an intervening change of controlling law; (2) new
evidence available; or (3) a need to correct a clear error or
prevent manifest injustice.” Louisville/Jefferson
Cty. Metro Gov't v. Hotels.com, L.P., 590 F.3d 381,
389 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Rodriguez, 89 F.
App'x at 959). However, a motion for reconsideration is
not a means by which “to re-litigate issues previously
considered by the Court or to present evidence that could
have been raised earlier.” Ne. Ohio Coal. for the
Homeless v. Brunner, 652 F.Supp.2d 871, 877 (S.D. Ohio
plaintiff seeks relief from the Court's April 6 order
dismissing the Probate Court from this action [Doc. 47].
Plaintiff argues that he did not understand the meaning of
the phrase sui juris as used in the Probate
Court's briefs [Docs. 20, 39], though he now cites to the
Black's Law Dictionary definition of this phrase
as “indicat[ing] legal competence, the capacity to
manage one's affairs” [Doc. 51 p. 2]. Plaintiff
next states that, at a July 2009 hearing before the Probate
Court, defendant Godwin laughed and said, “I
wouldn't have signed that document either, ” which
plaintiff found highly disrespectful and possibly indicative
of a “health issue” [Id. at 3-5].
Plaintiff also alleges that he was prevented from filing
papers with the Probate Court and that the December 14, 2016,
Special Master's report was partially fraudulent.
Plaintiff explains that he withdrew his claims against the
Probate Court because he did not know how to raise the issue
that “one of the probate parties may be suffering from
a deteriorative health condition, dementia, [or]
Alzheimer's, ” and because he feared his complaint
would be dismissed in its entirety if he did not
[Id. at 6-7]. Plaintiff further alleges that the
Probate Court committed a variety of discovery
violations-specifically, of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
26, 36, and 37- by failing to provide detailed responses to
next turns to the Court's January 5 order [Doc. 36]
granting in part and denying in part leave for plaintiff to
amend his complaint, denying his motion for a contempt
citation and hearing, and denying his motions to reopen
proceedings in Bush v. United States District Court,
472 F. App'x 889 (11th Cir. 2012), an action previously
before the Northern District of Georgia and the Eleventh
Circuit Court of Appeals. First, the Court denied plaintiff leave
to amend to join new parties and assert various violations of
federal criminal law against them, finding that these
statutes did not confer any private right of action on
plaintiff. Plaintiff now claims that he should have cited to
the Special Master's report as a fraud on this Court, the
Tennessee Court of Appeals, and other courts, and should have
argued that “the[se] defendants were being contemptuous
to a pending action in a high court” [Doc. 51 p. 11].
Plaintiff further argues that he was not asserting a private
right of action, but was rather seeking to vindicate the
public's interest in an injunction. Next, plaintiff
argues that the Tennessee and Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure violate the separation of powers by failing to
specify that the Probate Court and this Court are distinct
branches of government from the federal and Tennessee
executive branches, and that it was unconstitutional for the
Knox County Law Director's office to represent the
Probate Court. Plaintiff asks that this Court reopen
proceedings against the Probate Court but have “the
Chancellor” represent that party instead [Id.
also asks the Court to issue a temporary restraining order or
preliminary injunction to prevent the Probate Court from
entering any final order regarding the Estate. Plaintiff
states that such an order would cause him immediate and
asserts he is alieni juris, i.e., under this
Court's control or direction, and thus requires the
Court's help in seeking injunctive relief under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 65. Furthermore, plaintiff asks for
this Court's assistance in petitioning the Eleventh
Circuit to reopen proceedings in Bush v. United States
District Court, though plaintiff now recognizes the
Court lacks jurisdiction to order such relief directly.
Plaintiff's primary contention seems to be that the
Tennessee executive branch defrauded this Court by
representing the Probate Court before it and by failing to
respond properly to discovery requests. Plaintiff asserts
that this Court should “retrieve the judicial power it
has been defrauded out of” by petitioning the Eleventh
Circuit [Id. at 24]. Finally, unrelated to these
other arguments-or the purpose of his motion-plaintiff seeks
leave to amend his complaint to join The Hurley Law Firm,
P.C., in which Hurley and Shamblin are partners. Plaintiff
does not specify the claims he would assert against this
Godwin's response argues that this Court lacks
jurisdiction over this dispute, denies any wrongdoing as
attorney for the Estate's executor, and requests that
plaintiff's motion be denied and his complaint dismissed
[Doc. 57]. The Probate Court's response also asserts a
lack of jurisdiction and notes that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrineprecludes this
Court from reviewing any decision of the Probate Court [Doc.
56]. The Probate Court also argues that plaintiff's claim
he did not understand the term sui juris is
unavailing because, in its original motion to dismiss, it
explained that “a court is not a legal entity which may
sue and be sued, but is an organ of the government authorized
to administer justice” [Doc. 20 p. 3 (quoting Wood
v. Circuit Court of Warren Cty., 331 F.Supp. 1245, 1245
(E.D. Tenn. 1971))]. The Probate Court also argues that
plaintiff's claim he only voluntarily dismissed the
Probate Court because he feared the dismissal of his entire
case is disingenuous and disrespectful, as this Court always
affords pro se litigants great latitude in bringing
suit. Finally, the Probate Court argues that relief from the
Court's orders on the basis of fraud is not appropriate
because (1) any claim that the Special Master's report is
fraudulent is a matter for the Probate Court and Tennessee
appellate courts to address, and (2) failure to respond to a
discovery request is not fraud.
collective thirty-page reply [Docs. 58-59] largely raises the
same points as in his numerous prior briefs. Plaintiff
explains he feared his case would be dismissed if he did not
dismiss the Probate Court because of a sentence in the
Court's January 5 order, which plaintiff interpreted to
mean the Probate Court could file a motion to dismiss his
complaint. Plaintiff also asserts that the issue of fraud in
the Special Master's report is properly before this Court
because the United States is a potential victim of such
fraud. Plaintiff further provides a lengthy diatribe
regarding alleged violations of legal ethics and fiduciary
duty by Godwin, Hurley, and Shamblin in proceedings before
the Probate Court, though the Court is uncertain how this
narrative is relevant to the instant motion. Plaintiff also
attempts to distinguish Wood v. Circuit Court on the
ground that he is not attempting to sue any court for money
damages, but rather to solicit the courts' help in
preventing constitutional violations by the executive and
reviewed the parties' submissions, the Court finds no
basis on which to reconsider either of its past orders [Docs.
36, 47]. Plaintiff has suggested no “intervening change
of controlling law” or “new evidence
available.” Rodriguez, 89 F. App'x at 959.
Moreover, plaintiff has not clearly argued that the Court
committed a “clear error” of law or fact in its
January 5 or April 6 orders. Id. Nevertheless, given
plaintiff's pro se status, the Court construes
his arguments as claims of clear error.
plaintiff's briefs address a wide range of topics, the
main relief he seeks is the reinstatement of proceedings
against the Probate Court. Notwithstanding the litany of
criminal, civil, and ethical wrongs plaintiff alleges to have
occurred before that court, this Court finds no clear error
in its dismissal of the Probate Court because plaintiff does
not dispute that he consented to such dismissal [Doc. 37 p.
42 (“The plaintiff has removed defendant Knox County
Probate Court from the list of defendants, and
requests/motions to dismiss [it] at this time.”)].
While plaintiff now claims he erred in making that request, a
party's inadvertence or mistake is not a proper basis for
Rule 54 relief. Regardless, the Court would have granted the
Probate Court's original motion to dismiss [Doc. 20] in
any event because that court is not a proper party. Whether
an entity is sui juris, i.e., has “[c]apacity
to sue or be sued, ” is determined “by the law of
the state where the court is located.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
17(b)(3). This Court has previously interpreted Tennessee law
to hold that its state courts lack legal capacity to sue or
be sued. Wood, 331 F.Supp. at 1245. Plaintiff has
offered no persuasive reason to reconsider that finding.
See Cooper v. Rapp, 702 F. App'x 328, 334 (6th
Cir. 2017) (noting that Ohio state courts are not sui
juris). Moreover, even assuming the Probate Court did
violate various discovery rules, its dismissal would still be
proper because it is not capable of being sued.
while seeming to recognize that this Court lacks jurisdiction
to reopen proceedings before the Northern District of Georgia
and the Eleventh Circuit, plaintiff nonetheless asks this
Court to petition the Eleventh Circuit to represent plaintiff
in this action and to reinstate Bush v. United States
District Court. This Court lacks any authority to assist
plaintiff in such a manner. As an Article III court, this
Court holds constitutional authority only to adjudicate cases
and controversies that are properly before it pursuant to a
federal statute. DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547
U.S. 332, 341-42 (2006). Federal courts do not, and cannot,
serve as advocates for particular litigants.
the Court will deny plaintiff's motions for a preliminary
injunction or temporary restraining order, to the extent such
requests are proper at all in a motion for reconsideration of
unrelated orders. Such temporary injunctions “are
extraordinary and drastic remedies never awarded as of right.
And that is why the plaintiff bears the burden to justify
relief.” O'Toole v. O'Connor, 802 F.3d
783, 788 (6th Cir. 2015). The burden for both forms of relief
requires the plaintiff to prove an entitlement to equitable
intervention via consideration of a number of factors.
See Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 24
(2008); Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 88 n.59
(1974). Here, plaintiff irreparable injury absent injunctive
relief. This is insufficient.
Court also finds no error in its decision to deny plaintiff
leave to amend his complaint to join new parties for the
purpose of asserting violations of federal criminal law
against them. As explained further below, see infra
Sections II.B, II.D, one private citizen lacks a legally
protectable interest in the prosecution of another, and
federal criminal statutes generally do not give rise to
implied rights of action. See Town of Castle Rock v.
Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748, 767 (2005). Thus, adding parties
against whom plaintiff would merely be attempting to assert
criminal offenses would be a futile amendment, as the Court
explained in its January 5 order [Doc. 36]. Plaintiff also
cites no authority-and the Court is unaware of any-for the
proposition that he has standing to prosecute claims of fraud
on this or other courts, whether as civil or criminal wrongs.
As a private litigant, plaintiff is only empowered to sue in
his own right, absent special circumstances not present here.
See Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125, 129 (2004)
(noting that “a party ‘generally must assert his
own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to
relief on the legal rights or interests of third
parties'” (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422
U.S. 490, 499 (1975))). Moreover, as the Court has repeatedly
explained to plaintiff, it has no authority to hold a party
in contempt for conduct that occurs before a different court,
and the Court is unaware of any contemptuous activity by
defendants in proceedings before this Court.
as for plaintiff's theory that the Federal and Tennessee
Rules of Civil Procedure violate the separation of powers by
failing to make clear that the Probate Court and this Court
are not part of the executive branch, the Court finds this
theory nonsensical, unsupported by citation to any authority,
and in any event irrelevant to the relief plaintiff seeks in
his motion. Thus, the Court will not consider it further. The
Court will, however, explain below why it lacks authority to
suspend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See
infra Section II.C. Accordingly, for all of these
reasons, the Court will deny plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration [Doc. 51] of its past orders [Docs. 36,
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend his Complaint
plaintiff has moved for leave to amend his complaint [Doc.
85], to which defendants Godwin, Hurley, and Shamblin have
responded in opposition [Docs. 91, 93]. For the reasons
explained below, the Court will deny plaintiff's motion.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a party may amend its
pleading once as of right within twenty-one days of serving
it, or within twenty-one days of service of a response if a
response is required. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). But after that
time expires, “a party may amend its pleading only with
the opposing party's written consent or the court's
leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The court should
freely give leave when justice so requires.”
Id. This decision rests within the district
court's sound discretion. Zenith Radio Corp. v.
Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971).
Leave is generally appropriate “[i]n the absence of . .
. undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of
the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the
opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or]
futility of the amendment.” Leary v.
Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 905 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962));
accord Crawford v. Roane, 53 F.3d 750, 753 (6th Cir.
1995). “Amendment of a complaint is futile when the
proposed amendment would not permit the complaint to survive
a motion to dismiss” under Rule 12(b)(6). Miller v.
Calhoun Cty., 408 F.3d 803, 807 (6th Cir. 2005).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) sets forth a liberal pleading
standard, Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566, 576
n.1 (6th Cir. 2004), requiring only “‘a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests, '” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Furthermore, in
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
accept all factual allegations as true, draw all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and determine
whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570; accord Directv, Inc. v. Treesh,
487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Detailed factual allegations are not required, but a
party's “obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of [its] ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and ...