United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Honorable Eli J. Richardson, District Judge
Order entered January 11, 2019 (Docket Entry No. 7), this
pro se case was referred to the Magistrate Judge for
pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1),
Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the
Local Rules of Court.
before the Court is the motion to dismiss (Docket Entry No.
17) filed by Defendants Charles Barry Tatum and John Gwin.
Plaintiff opposes the motion. See Docket Entry Nos.
52 and 93. For the reasons set out below, the undersigned
respectfully recommends that the motion be granted.
Annette (“Plaintiff') filed this lawsuit pro
se on August 29, 2018, in the United States District
Court for the District of Columbia and the case was
subsequently transferred to this Court.After the Court
denied Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma
pauperis, she paid the filing fee and summons were
issued for 25 defendants: former Tennessee Governor William
Edward Haslam; the State of Tennessee; the Tennessee
Department of Children's Services; Jane Bradley; Robbie
Beal; Heather Jeffries; Tonya Lyles Reed; Claudia Bonnyman;
Judy Robbins Scott; Brenda Pierce; Lester Wayne Pierce; Jason
Scott Robbins; Cheryl McAdams; Benton County, Tennessee; John
Whitworth; the City of Dickson; Scott Hull; the City of
Franklin; Becky Johnson; the City of Lebanon; Nathan Beatty;
Charles Barry Tatum; John Gwin; and two “John
Doe” defendants. See Docket Entry Nos. 8, 10,
states that she brings her lawsuit “for redress of
grievances for the theft and holding hostage, without
authority, of my sons and daughters and the ongoing and
continuous malicious prosecution against me.”
See Complaint at 4, ¶ 1. In a 68-page
complaint, Plaintiff recounts a litany of events that began
in September 2011when Jane Bradley (“Bradley”)
initiated an investigation on behalf of the Tennessee
Department of Children's Services (“DCS”).
Plaintiff alleges that during 2011 and 2012, she was the
victim of wrongful and illegal activities at the hands of DCS
employees Bradley, Heather Jeffries (“Jeffries'),
and Cheryl McAdams (“McAdams”), which led to the
temporary removal of her son and daughter from her custody in
December 2011, their placement with Judy Robbins Scott
(“Judy Scott”) and Jason Scott Robbins
(“Jason Robbins”),  and their permanent removal from
her custody. Id. at 10-25, ¶¶
27-146. Among other things, Plaintiff alleges that: (1) she
was denied proper judicial and administrative proceedings
before Charles Barry Tatum (“Tatum”) and John
Gwin (“Gwin”), both of whom she alleges acted
improperly; (2) false criminal charges were lodged against
her because of her attempts to regain custody of her
children; (3) she was subjected to illegal searches and
seizures of her person and property, false arrests, and
assaults by Franklin Police Department Detective Becky
Johnson (“Johnson”), Dickson Police Department
Officer Scott Hull (“Hull”), and Lebanon Police
Department Officer Nathan Beatty (“Beatty”); and,
(4) Robbie Beal (“Beal”) had her arrested and
involuntarily committed for a mental health examination.
next recounts a series of events occurring in 2014 that
culminated in the removal of another one of her children from
her custody. Id. at 25-29, ¶¶ 147-175 and
32-34, ¶¶ 208-219. Plaintiff alleges that: (1) she
was illegally seized on September 3, 2014, and was
interrogated and held in custody for 21 days by two unnamed
officers of the Benton County Sheriff's Office; (2) DCS
employee Tonya Lyles Reed (“Reed”)
“stole” her 18 month old son from a local
hospital on September 3, 2014, and thereafter filed a
petition for temporary custody of the child; (3) Reed, along
with foster parents Brenda Pierce and Lester Wayne Pierce,
wrongfully and illegally took custody of the child; and, (4)
John Whitworth (“Whitworth”) signed orders
enforcing the removal of her son from her custody and
directing that a “delayed birth certificate” be
issued for the child. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that Claudia Bonnyman
(“Bonnyman') failed to act as a judicial officer
with respect to several filings that Plaintiff made in 2016
and 2018, and acted improperly by: (1) denying Plaintiff
legal remedies; (2) attempting to collect fees and
information from Plaintiff; (3) failing to enforce the law;
and, (4) ignoring the criminal activity of state employees.
Id. at 31-32, ¶¶ 192-207.
asserts that she has exhausted all available state
administrative remedies and has no recourse in the state
courts. Id. at 25, ¶¶ 145-146. Alleging
violations of her federal constitutional rights and her
rights under the Tennessee constitution, Plaintiff seeks an
award of damages for the various wrongdoings that she alleges
she and her children have suffered at the hands of
Defendants. She also seeks punitive damages, declaratory
relief, and various forms of injunctive relief. For example,
she requests orders directing that her three children be
immediately returned to her custody and orders that
“the State of Tennessee, its agents, and
municipalities” cease and desist from taking certain
actions against her and against other “men, women, and
their offspring.” Id. at 60-67.
MOTION TO DISMISS
February 25, 2019, Defendants Tatum and Gwin (hereinafter
referred to collectively as “Defendants”)
responded to the complaint by filing the pending motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, asserting that Plaintiff fails to state viable
claims for relief against them. First, they contend that
Plaintiff has not shown that she served them with process.
Second, they argue that any claims against them are barred by
the applicable statute of limitations because the most recent
events alleged against them occurred in 2012. Finally, they
argue that the claims against them are barred by the doctrine
of judicial immunity because the alleged conduct at issue
occurred during judicial proceedings over which they presided
as a General Sessions Judge and a Juvenile Judge for Wilson
County, Tennessee. See Memorandum in Support (Docket
Entry No. 18).
responds in opposition, making several arguments against the
motion to dismiss and in support of her underlying claims
against Defendants. See Response (Docket Entry No.
52). Also before the Court are Defendants' reply,
see Docket Entry No. 56, and Plaintiff's
affidavit, which essentially buttresses the content of her
response. See Docket Entry No. 93.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss is reviewed under the standard that the
Court must accept all of the well pleaded allegations
contained in the complaint as true, resolve all doubts in
Plaintiff's favor, and construe the complaint liberally
in favor of the pro se Plaintiff. See Kottmyer
v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684 (6th Cir. 2006); Boswell v.
Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999); Morgan v.
Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 11-12 (6th Cir.
1987). However, Plaintiff must provide the grounds for her
entitlement to relief and this “requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (abrogating Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). See also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173
L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Plaintiff's factual allegations must
be enough to show a plausible right to relief.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-61. The well pleaded
factual allegations must "do more than create
speculation or suspicion of a legally cognizable cause of
action; they must show entitlement to relief."
League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen, 500
F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).