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Springer v. Hunt

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 2, 2019



          J. Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge


         Before the court is Defendant Lori Henbest's Motion to Dismiss pro se Plaintiff Ruth-Ann Springer's (“Plaintiff”) Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 147. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.


         A. Procedural Background

         On June 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed a “Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights” (“Complaint”) against Hawaii County Police (“HCP”) Officer Brian Hunt (“Hunt”), HCP Sergeant Wakita, HCP Sergeant Tingle, HCP Officer Shaine Tavares, HCP Officer Kenneth Ishii (collectively, the “HCP Defendants”), realtor Lori Henbest (“Henbest”), and State of Hawaii Judge Harry P. Freitas (“Judge Freitas”), ECF No. 1, and an Application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Application”), ECF No. 4. On July 11, 2017, this court granted the IFP Application and dismissed the Complaint in part for failure to state a claim (the “July 11 Order”). ECF No. 11. The July 11 Order dismissed claims against Judge Freitas without leave to amend, dismissed Plaintiff's conspiracy claim with leave to amend, and determined that the remaining federal and state-law claims against the HPD Defendants and Henbest could proceed. Id. at 15-16.

         On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a document titled “Complaint: Writ of Error is of the District of the Hawaiʽi Federal: Title: 42, ” which the court construed as a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). ECF No. 14. On August 4, 2017, the court dismissed the FAC without leave to amend for failure to state a claim and directed service of the original Complaint against Henbest and the HPD Defendants. ECF No. 16. On November 8, 2017, the HCP Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 37, which was denied on February 13, 2018 (the “February 13 Order”), ECF No. 66; Springer v. Hunt, 2018 WL 846909 (D. Haw. Feb. 13, 2018).

         On September 20, 2018, Henbest filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 147. The court stayed all proceedings in this case from October 11, 2018 through February 28, 2019. ECF Nos. 157, 166. On March 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, and on March 15, 2019, Henbest filed a Reply. ECF Nos. 176, 180. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), the court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing.

         B. Factual Background

         The February 13 Order set forth a detailed factual background to this action. See Springer, 2018 WL 846909, at *2-4. The court assumes a familiarity with that order and therefore, sets forth only those facts necessary to address the instant motion.

         This action arises from a State of Hawaii foreclosure and eviction, and subsequent criminal proceedings. As alleged in the Complaint, on January 15, 2016, Henbest and the HPD Defendants removed Plaintiff from her home (the “subject property”) on the Big Island of Hawaii pursuant to an expired writ of possession. Compl. at 6 (“3 Officers, 2 Sargent's [sic], and a Real-estate agent, using an old writ of possession that the statute of limitation had run out . . . took possession of my property . . . .”). In the course of the eviction, Henbest allegedly “assaulted [Plaintiff] by shoving [her] into the hall wall hard enough to knock the wind from [her].” Id. at 10. The Complaint alleges that Henbest had the locks replaced on the home and removed Plaintiff's possessions. Id. The banks and Henbest allegedly sold Plaintiff's home. Id. at 9. Subsequently, “people were moved into [Plaintiff's] home and after the case was dismissed, [her] property was never returned . . . .” Id. at 11. As a result of the foregoing, Plaintiff allegedly suffered severe mental anguish and depression, physical injuries, had a nervous breakdown, lost everything, and became homeless. Id. at 11, 12.

         The Complaint alleges 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Henbest and the HPD Defendants in their individual capacities only, for violation of Plaintiff's statutory and/or constitutional rights, particularly those protected by the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 4-7, 11. The Complaint further alleges state-law claims against Henbest and the HPD Defendants for assault and battery, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Id. at 8-12. The Complaint seeks (1) compensatory damages; (2) $25, 000, 000.00 per violation (12 violations) of Plaintiff's rights protected by the United States and Hawaii constitutions;[1] and (3) the incarceration of all Defendants for five years, and forfeiture of all they own. Id. at 12.

         While addressing the HPD Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, this court took judicial notice of the docket and documents publicly filed with the State of Hawaii District Court of the Third Circuit, Puna Division.[2] Springer v. Hunt, 2018 WL 846909, at *3. Those materials show that a non-judicial foreclosure was conducted against the subject property, resulting in (1) a February 28, 2012 Judgment for Possession in favor of the Federal National Mortgage Association and against Plaintiff (and two others), and (2) a February 28, 2012 Writ of Possession, effective February 27, 2012. See Springer, 2018 WL 846909, at *3 & n.9-10.

         But the state-court docket also shows that by Order of July 13, 2012, a February 28, 2012 “Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Writ of Possession” (the “February 28, 2012 Order”) was stricken from the record. See Id. at *4 (citing Hawaii State Judiciary's Public Access to Court Information (“Hoʽohiki”), And it further shows that on December 19, 2012, a “Satisfaction of Judgment for Possession Filed February 28, ...

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