United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
August 1, 2019, Magistrate Judge Newbern issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 67),
recommending that the Court grant Defendants’ motions
to dismiss (Doc. Nos. 24, 58), deny as moot Jennings H.
Jones’ motions to dismiss (Doc. Nos. 18, 45) and
dismiss this action in full. (Doc. No. 67 at 4). Plaintiff
Cathrin Funk-Vaughn filed timely objections (Doc. No. 68,
“Objections”) to the R&R. For the following
reasons, Plaintiff’s objections will be overruled.
magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation regarding
a dispositive pretrial matter, the district court must review
de novo any portion of the report and recommendation
to which a proper objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1);
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); United States v.
Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001). Objections
must be specific; a general objection to the report and
recommendation is not sufficient and may result in waiver of
further review. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380
(6th Cir. 1995). In conducting its review of the objections,
the district court “may accept, reject, or modify the
recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return
the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The district court is not required to
review-under a de novo or any other standard- those
aspects of the report and recommendation to which no
objection is made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150
(1985). The district court should adopt the magistrate
judge’s findings and rulings to which no specific
objection is filed. Id. at 151.
Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiff’s claims are
barred by the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res
judicata (also known as issue preclusion and claim
preclusion, respectively). (Doc. No. 67 at 3-4). The
Magistrate Judge explained that Plaintiff’s Complaint
(Doc. No. 1) was virtually identical to the complaint that
she filed in a prior action (Funk-Vaughn v. Tenn.
Dep’t of Children’s Servs., No. 3:18-cv-1286
(M.D. Tenn. 2018); in fact, “[i]n this action,
[Plaintiff] has refiled verbatim her complaint from the
earlier action with one change-instead of the Tennessee
Department of Children’s Services, she now names
Rutherford County, Tennessee; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and
the Murfreesboro Police Department (the MPD) as
defendants.” (Doc. No. 67 at 1-2). Thus, Plaintiff
“had a full and fair opportunity to litigate any claims
or issues arising out of those facts” and “the
Court reached a final decision on the merits of that case
when it granted [the defendant’s] motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” (Doc.
No. 67 at 4). The Magistrate Judge relied on a prior Sixth
Circuit opinion which held that a district court may dismiss
a cause of action based on claim or issue preclusion even if
the complaint includes “a change in legal theory or the
‘cast of characters-defendants.’”
Ga.-Pac. Consumer Prods. LP v. Four-U-Packaging,
Inc., 701 F.3d 1093, 1098 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Randles v. Gregart, 965 F.2d 90, 93 (6th Cir.
asserts a myriad of objections to the R&R; however, very
few of those objections pertain to the substance of the
R&R. Most of Plaintiff’s objections discuss the
merits of her claims. (Doc. No. 68 at 1-4). Those objections
that do not relate to the conclusions made by the Magistrate
Judge will not be considered by the Court. See Soledad v.
Webb, No. 1:18-CV-00126, 2018 WL 6321240, at *2 (S.D.
Ohio Dec. 4, 2018) (refusing to address objections that did
not relate to the magistrate judge’s report and
three places in her Objections does Plaintiff address
anything related to the subject matter of the R&R.
Specifically, at the beginning of paragraphs 12-14 of her
Objections, respectively, Plaintiff states:
12) Honorably [sic] Judge Alistair E. Newbern also makes the
allegations that [Plaintiff] “had the opportunity to
assert such claims.[”] [Plaintiff] has made clams [sic]
in this matter and has the court paperwork in her position to
back it up from the other courts. . . .
13) Honorably [sic] Judge Alistair E. Newbern also makes the
allegations None of [Plaintiff’s] filings in this
action has explained her failure to name these defendants in
the previous action or argued that she lacked a full and fair
opportunity to litigate her claims against them in that case.
. . .
14) Honorably [sic] Judge Alistair E. Newbern also makes the
allegations of multiple lawsuits this is the
“only” lawsuit that has been filed against the
Defendants in this matter.
(Doc. No. 68 at 5). The statements from paragraphs 12 and 13
outlined above do not raise actual objections to the R&R
but instead merely paraphrase Plaintiff’s understanding
of something the Magistrate Judge stated in the R&R.
These “objections” are not “clear enough to
enable the district [judge] to discern those issues that are
dispositive and contentious.” Miller, 50 F.3d
at 380. Therefore, the Court will overrule them.
in paragraph 14 appears (assuming a period was intended after
“lawsuits”) to claim that this is the
only lawsuit she has filed against the specific
Defendants sued in this matter. (Doc. No. 68 at 5).
Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that claim and issue
preclusion can apply where the plaintiff sues based on the
same factual allegations upon which the plaintiff based a
prior lawsuit, even if the plaintiff’s suit is brought
against defendants different from the defendants in the prior
lawsuit. And, in part for this reason, upon de novo
review the Court agrees that both of these doctrines apply to
bar Plaintiff’s instant suit. “Under claim
preclusion, a final judgment on the merits bars any and all
claims by the parties or their privies based on the same
cause of action, as to every matter actually litigated and as
to every theory of recovery that could have been
presented.” Taylor v. U.S. Gov’t, 21
Fed.App’x 264, 265 (6th Cir. 2001) (holding that the
plaintiff’s claims were barred by claim preclusion
“even though he names slightly different
defendants”). All requirements of claim preclusion are
satisfied here, including the requirements that the current
defendants are “privies” of the defendant in
Plaintiff’s prior lawsuit and that the theories of recovery
Plaintiff asserts now could have been presented in her prior
lawsuit. (Doc. No. 67 at 2-3).
issue preclusion likewise applies here. As noted by the Sixth
Issue preclusion, often referred to as collateral estoppel,
“precludes relitigation of issues of fact or law
actually litigated and decided in a prior action between the
same parties and necessary to the judgment, even if decided
as part of a different claim or cause of action.”
Gargallo v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith,
Inc., 918 F.2d 658, 661 (6th Cir. 1990). Four
requirements must be met before issue preclusion applies: (1)
the precise issue must have been raised and actually
litigated in the prior proceedings; (2) the determination of
the issue must have been necessary to the outcome of the
prior proceedings; (3) the prior proceedings must have