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Bergeron v. Town of Seabrook

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

December 3, 2018

Michael Joseph Bergeron, Jr.
v.
Town of Seabrook, New Hampshire

          MICHAEL JOSEPH BERGERON, JR., PRO SE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Michael Joseph Bergeron, Jr., proceeding in forma pauperis, has filed a Complaint, doc. No. 1, that is before this court for preliminary review, pursuant to LR 4.3(d) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         I. Preliminary Review Standard

         The magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of pleadings filed in forma pauperis. See LR 4.3(d). The magistrate judge may recommend to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if, among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d). In conducting its preliminary review, the court construes pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief. Hernandez-Cuevas v. Taylor, 723 F.3d 91, 102 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

         II. Background

         Bergeron states that in November 2009, members of the Seabrook, New Hampshire police department "breached [their] duty" and left him disabled. Bergeron seeks damages from the Town of Seabrook.

         III. Discussion

         The court construes Bergeron's claim for damages as intending to be asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which authorizes claims for relief filed by plaintiffs alleging that a defendant acting under color of state law violated their federal rights. As explained below, several reasons support dismissal of this complaint.

         A. Rooker-Feldman doctrine

         It appears from Bergeron's complaint that a state court lawsuit stemming from the breach alleged here was dismissed based on the statute of limitations. To the extent that Bergeron is asking this court to overturn the state court's decision, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes the court from doing so.

         The Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that, as a general rule subject to exceptions not relevant here, lower federal courts cannot review and reverse prior state court judgments. See D.C. Ct. App. V. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); Klimowicz v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., No. 17-1916, 2018 WL 5094793, at *2 (1st Cir. Oct. 19, 2018). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine divests this court of jurisdiction over cases brought by parties that lost in state court, complaining of injuries caused by state court judgments rendered before the federal court proceedings commenced, and “inviting district court review and rejection of [the state court's] judgments.” Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 532 (2011) (quoting Exxon v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). The doctrine is applicable here. Therefore, to the extent Bergeron seeks reversal of a state court decision, his claim should be dismissed.

         B. Statute of limitations

         Relatedly, even if the issue had not been already decided, it is apparent from his complaint that his claim is barred by ...


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