Daphne Rodenbaugh v. Gulf Insurance ( 2011 )

  • HLD-009 (October 29, 2010)                              NOT PRECEDENTIAL
                                          No. 10-2948
                              DAPHNE MARIE RODENBAUGH,
                                   GULF INSURANCE
                         On Appeal from the United States District Court
                             for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
                                  (D.C. Civil No. 10-CV-00688)
                          District Judge: Honorable William J. Nealon
                              Magistrate Judge: Martin C. Carlson
                           Submitted for Possible Summary Action
                      Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 27.4 and I.O.P. 10.6
                                       October 29, 2010
             Before: MCKEE, Chief Judge, ALDISERT and WEIS, Circuit Judges
                                (Opinion filed: February 17, 2011)
                  Daphne Rodenbaugh, proceeding pro se, appeals from an order of the
    United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which dismissed her
    complaint. For the reasons that follow, we will affirm the District Court’s order.
                  In March 2010, Rodenbaugh filed a complaint, naming Gulf Insurance as
    the defendant, and also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (“ifp”). The
    complaint sought to have the District Court reverse certain state court orders in her
    workers’ compensation matter and remand to the state court, or reverse the orders,
    apparently so the insurance company would continue to pay her claims.
                  The Magistrate Judge assigned to the case granted Rodenbaugh’s motion to
    proceed ifp, but informed her that her complaint was subject to dismissal for failure to
    state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Magistrate Judge informed
    Rodenbaugh of federal pleading requirements, as clarified in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly,
    550 U.S. 544
     (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 
    129 S. Ct. 1937
     (2009). The Magistrate
    Judge also noted that her complaint, as filed, was subject to dismissal pursuant to the
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine.1 Rodenbaugh was given an opportunity to file an amended
    complaint, which was to: (1) be complete in all respects; (2) address the issues raised by
    the Magistrate Judge’s order; and (3) be a new pleading which stood by itself as an
    adequate complaint without reference to the complaint already filed.
                  Rodenbaugh filed an amended complaint within the time allowed. The
    amended complaint consisted of one page, with three numbered paragraphs. Paragraph
    one stated that she “was denied her civil rights to have here medical to be paid in the
    amount of aprox $2,000.00 as they were paying for years then stoped.” The second
    paragraph stated, “Daphne Plaintiff amends this and cannot get relief in state court
    defendant is in another state.” The third paragraph sought money damages.
            The Supreme Court laid out the principles of the doctrine in Rooker v. Fidelity
           Trust Co., 
    263 U.S. 413
     (1923), and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
    460 U.S. 462
                  Our review of the order dismissing the complaint is plenary. Taliaferro v.
    Darby Twp. Zoning Bd., 
    458 F.3d 181
    , 188 (3d Cir. 2006). The District Court properly
    determined that it lacked jurisdiction over Rodenbaugh’s complaint, pursuant to the
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine, to the extent she sought outright reversal of state court
    decisions. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 
    544 U.S. 280
    , 284 (2005)
    (Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives district courts 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 those judgments”).
                  To the extent Rodenbaugh sought other relief, the District Court properly
    dismissed her complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
    Rodenbaugh’s amended complaint is bereft of any “factual matter, accepted as true,” that
    would be sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 129 S.
    Ct. at 1949 (internal quotation and citation omitted). The amended complaint says that
    her civil rights were violated, but it does not, for example, set forth any facts that would
    indicate that the defendant is a state actor, as would be required to pursue a federal civil
    rights claim. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Revell v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
    598 F.3d 128
    , 134 (3d Cir. 2010). A free-standing legal conclusion that one’s civil rights
    have been violated does not meet federal pleading standards. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 149-50.
                  For the foregoing reasons, we will affirm the District Court’s order.