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Pilot v. Goldsmith

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 27, 2017

Michael Charles Pilot, Plaintiff,
v.
Mark A. Goldsmith, Donald J. Trump, Jefferson B. Sessions, Channing D. Phillips, and Jeffrey B. Wall, Defendants.

          Anthony P. Patti Mag. Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER CONSTRUING THE PLEADING AS A BIVENS ACTION AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT

          JUDITH E. LEVY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         On May 17, 2017, Michael Charles Pilot (“Pilot”), a private citizen from Warren, Michigan, filed a pro se pleading in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He labeled his pleading an application for the writ of habeas corpus, but he also requested declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. And even though the filing fee for a habeas petition is $5.00, Pilot paid the $400.00 filing fee for a civil complaint. Pilot named the following parties as defendants or respondents: United States District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith; the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; Donald J. Trump; United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions; United States Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia; and United States Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall.

         On May 23, 2017, United States District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District of Columbia denied the habeas petition because Pilot had not satisfied the custody requirement for obtaining habeas relief. Judge Kollar-Kotelly then transferred the remainder of the case to this District. On June 12, 2017, the case was received in this Court and treated by the Clerk's Office as a habeas petition.

         II. Legal Framework

         As noted in the previous paragraph, Judge Kollar-Kotelly dismissed the habeas portion of Pilot's pleading, and because all the individuals being sued here are federal officials, the Court construes Pilot's pleading as a civil rights complaint under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Bivens “is the ‘federal analog to suits brought against state officials under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675-76 (2009) (quoting Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250, 254 n.2 (2006)). The same legal principles apply to cases brought under Bivens and under § 1983,

except for the requirement of federal action under Bivens and state action under § 1983. A plaintiff must prove two elements to prevail on either type of claim: (1) that he or she was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of law. Bivens, 403 U.S. at 392, 91 S.Ct. 1999; Marcilis v. Twp. of Redford, 693 F.3d 589, 595 (6th Cir. 2012); Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530, 532 (6th Cir. 2001).

Robertson v. Lucas, 753 F.3d 606, 614 (6th Cir. 2014).

         While a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal and end citations and footnote omitted). In other words, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         III. Analysis

         A. Judge Goldsmith's Rulings

         The basis for Pilot's complaint is Judge Goldsmith's rulings in two prior cases that Pilot filed. See Compl., Exs. A-H. In the first case, Pilot attempted to remove a case from state court to federal court. The state court case was an action brought by the City of Hazel Park, Michigan against Pilot for an alleged violation of a municipal ordinance. Judge Goldsmith remanded the case to the state court because Pilot had failed to establish that the federal district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the matter. See 43rd Judicial District Court, et al. v. Michael C. Pilot, No. 16-cv-13682 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 12, 2017). Pilot appealed Judge Goldsmith's ruling, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed the appeal because a remand order based on lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is immune from review. See 43rd District Court for the State of Michigan, et al. v. Pilot, No. 17-1164 (6th Cir. Mar. 21, 2017).

         In a second case, Pilot filed what appeared to be a civil complaint as a habeas corpus petition. Judge Goldsmith initially directed the Clerk's Office to change the nature of the suit to a civil rights action and to change the parties' designations because Pilot was not in custody. See Pilot v. 43rd Judicial District Court, et al., No. 16-cv-14382 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 13, 2017). Judge Goldsmith subsequently ordered Pilot to pay the filing fee for his complaint or to submit an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Pilot then paid the ...


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