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Brady v. Family Dollar, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

June 19, 2019

Darren Brady
v.
Family Dollar, Inc., Janine MacMahan, and Howard Levine

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Darren Brady's complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights and his rights under state law. (Doc. No. 1). The complaint is before this magistrate judge for preliminary review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and LR 4.3(d)(1).

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Janine MacMahan, identified as a Family Dollar, Inc. store manager, called the police on December 27, 2017, while Plaintiff was trying to pay for a cookie. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1), at 2. Plaintiff alleges further that MacMahan screamed and yelled racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic slurs at him in front of other customers. See id.

         Plaintiff asserts that the police came to the store with sirens on and lights flashing and that the incident prejudiced him in front of store customers, his family, his friends, and the entire community. See id. at 4. He also asserts that he lost his job because “[p]eople don't [sic] want to trust other people being qustioned [sic] by the police.” Id. According to Plaintiff, the responding officer looked at the store video tape and told MacMahan that Plaintiff had done nothing wrong. See id.

         Plaintiff also alleges Defendant Howard Levine, identified as the owner of the Family Dollar, Inc. store, refuses to discipline workers or rectify employees' racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic name-calling. See id. at 3. Plaintiff seeks $150, 000 in damages and the court filing fee. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1), at 6.

         The attachments to the complaint indicate Plaintiff filed a defamation claim arising from the same incident against the same defendants in state court. The Superior Court dismissed the action. See Brady v. Family Dollar, Inc., No. 18-cv-015 (N.H. Super. Ct., Coos Cnty. June 29, 2018) (Doc. No. 1-2), at 56-57. The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's order dismissing the complaint, before Plaintiff filed this action. See Brady v. Family Dollar, Inc., No. 2018-0443 (N.H. Mar. 29, 2019) (Doc. No. 1-2), at 58.

         Preliminary Review Standard

         The court reviews complaints filed by pro se plaintiffs to determine, among other things, whether the plaintiff has asserted any claim upon which relief might be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), LR 4.3(d)(1). In determining whether a pro se pleading states a claim, the court construes the pleading liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted). Disregarding any legal conclusions, the court considers whether the factual content in the pleading and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, taken as true, state a claim to relief. Hernandez-Cuevas v. Taylor, 723 F.3d 91, 102-03 (1st Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). The court may dismiss an action on preliminary review based on an affirmative defense, if the facts alleged in the complaint, or matters susceptible of judicial notice, conclusively establish the elements of the affirmative defense. See Gray v. Evercore Restructuring LLC, 544 F.3d 320, 324 (1st Cir. 2008).

         Discussion

          I. Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

         The Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that, as a rule, federal district courts should not sit in direct review of state court decisions. See D.C. Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). The doctrine divests this court of jurisdiction over “‘cases brought by state-court losers'” complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and “‘inviting district court review and rejection of [the state court's] judgments.'” Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 531, 532 (2011) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). The Federal District Courts lack subject-matter jurisdiction over such cases, as “28 U.S.C. § 1257 ‘vests authority to review a state court's judgment solely in th[e] (Supreme] Court.'” Skinner, 562 U.S. at 531-532 (quoting Exxon, 544 U.S. at 292).

         Plaintiff's state lawsuit against these defendants was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be had. See Brady, No. 18-cv-015, aff'd Brady, No. 2018-0443 (Doc. No. 1-2), at 57, 58. That dismissal constitutes a final judgment. See, e.g., Griffin v. Town of Whitefield, No. CIV. 07-CV-243-JL, 2008 WL 3166473, at *3 (D.N.H. Aug. 5, 2008), aff'd sub nom. Griffin v. Whitefield, 341 Fed.Appx. 655 (1st Cir. 2009) (“It is well settled that . . . dismissals for failure to state a claim, . . . constitute final judgments on the merits.” (citing AVX Corp. v. Cabot Corp., 424 F.3d 28, 30 (1st Cir. 2005))). To the ...


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