United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
case arises from an acrimonious divorce proceeding between
Plaintiff Jeffrey La Bri and his ex-wife, Angela Strunsee
(“Strunsee”). On January 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed
an amended complaint alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. §
1983, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, and Wisconsin medical
malpractice and child abuse statutes, all of which were
purportedly committed by various actors involved in his
divorce. (Docket #2). Defendants consist of Jennifer Van Kirk
(“Van Kirk”) and Mark Sanders
(“Sanders”), Plaintiff's former attorneys in
the divorce proceedings; Ephraim Frankel
(“Frankel”), Alan Jaffe (“Jaffe”),
and Sheryl Dolezal (“Dolezal”), mental health
professionals that were involved in the divorce proceedings;
and Michael Finn (“Finn”), the court-appointed
guardian ad litem (“GAL”) to
Plaintiff's son, Christian. Defendants filed various
motions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, immunity, and failure to
state a claim. (Docket #8, #15, #19, #37, and #50). Finn also
filed a motion to stay discovery pending the resolution of
the motions to dismiss. (Docket #21). On March 15, 2019,
Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to supplement pleadings
and to add a new defendant, (Docket #55), which Defendants
opposed on futility grounds, (Docket #59). The motions to
dismiss are now fully briefed, and for the reasons explained
below, will be granted. For similar reasons, Plaintiff's
motion for leave to supplement the pleadings and to add a new
defendant will be denied.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) provides for dismissal of
complaints which, among other things, fail to state a viable
claim for relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To state a claim, a
complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In other words, the
complaint must give “fair notice of what the. . .claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The
allegations must “plausibly suggest that the plaintiff
has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a
speculative level[.]” Kubiak v. City of
Chicago, 810 F.3d 476, 480 (7th Cir. 2016) (citation
omitted). In reviewing the complaint, the Court is required
to “accept as true all of the well-pleaded facts in the
complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Id. at 480-81. The Court is
obliged to give a pro se plaintiff's
allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a
liberal construction. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007).
following facts are gleaned from the amended complaint.
Plaintiff and his ex-wife, Strunsee, live next door to each
other and share custody over their teenage son, Christian.
The custody arrangement was without incident until around
2015, when Christian and his mother began to fight. One
night, in November 2015, Christian presented himself to
Plaintiff's house with a scratch on his arm, and claimed
that Strunsee had attempted to remove him from her vehicle
and leave him by the side of the road. Plaintiff took a
photograph of the scratch and called his attorney. His call
resulted in a court hearing before Judge Michael Bohren, in
Waukesha County Circuit Court, who appointed a GAL, Finn, and
temporarily ordered full custody to Plaintiff. Judge Bohren
left the decision for future custodial placement to Finn.
Throughout these initial proceedings, Christian stayed with
Plaintiff. Plaintiff was committed to reuniting his son with
Strunsee and helping them move past the conflict.
met with Plaintiff, Strunsee, and Christian in late 2015 in
order to evaluate the situation. After interviewing the
parties and reading a letter that Plaintiff helped Christian
write, Finn determined that Christian should see a therapist,
Frankel, and that his mother should drive him to therapy.
Finn suspected that Plaintiff had coached Christian to say
negative things about Strunsee, and put little stock in
Christian's fears of driving with her.
did not find this result satisfactory, and reached out to
Strunsee, Finn, and Frankel in an attempt to change
Finn's decision about who should drive Christian to
therapy. However, Strunsee, Finn, and Frankel did not respond
to him. He determined that their decision to ignore him was
part of a larger conspiracy directed at harming him. (Docket
#2 at 6). Plaintiff continued to offer to drive Christian to
therapy in lieu of his mother, but his offers were not taken.
2016, Finn asked psychologist Dolezal to conduct psychiatric
testing on Plaintiff, Strunsee, and Christian. Plaintiff
reluctantly complied with the request. However, when he
attended his session with Dolezal, he felt that she was
hostile and biased against him. He was offended by the
suggestion that he struggled with substance abuse, anger, and
narcissistic tendencies. Dolezal wanted to discuss
Plaintiff's domestic violence conviction, which Plaintiff
thought was unnecessary. He maintains that the allegations
giving rise to the conviction were merely a
“pre-divorce strategy” used by Strunsee to
“gain control and gain custody” of Christian.
Id. at 7. He provided Dolezal with names of people
who would vouch for his character. He claims that she never
followed up with the names that he gave her, and her
“actions to make sure certain contradictory evidence
was never included in her report were direct conspiracy
actions and RICO Enterprise” [sic]. Id.
or June of 2016, Strunsee filed a motion to re-open the
custody placement proceedings. The next day, Dolezal's
report came out, which recommended 100% custody with
Strunsee. In light of this timing, Plaintiff believes that
Dolezal improperly shared her findings with Strunsee before
reporting them to the court, which was a “specific
planned out implemented and deliberate conspiracy to create a
way through the legal system to have [Plaintiff's] child
removed from his custody and his home.” Id.
Nevertheless, it appears that Christian continued to stay
October 2016, at Plaintiff's encouragement, Christian
agreed to return to his mother's custody under the
original shared custody schedule. Plaintiff wrote two lengthy
emails to Finn, Strunsee, and Frankel apprising them of his
productive talk with Christian, but did not hear back from
any party. Plaintiff felt that he was helping Christian
reunite with his mother, and was baffled at the lack of
response. Around this time, Finn ordered a split custody
arrangement that was similar to the prior arrangement.
However, the first weekend that Christian was supposed to
spend with Strunsee, they had an argument and Christian
returned to his father's house. To Plaintiff's
dismay, this fortified Finn's suspicion that Plaintiff
was manipulating Christian. Finn ordered full custody to
Strunsee. Plaintiff requested an emergency custody hearing.
November 2016, Judge Bohren reinstated shared custody. In
December 2016, however, Judge Bohren made a final award of
full legal and physical custody to Strunsee based on
Dolezal's report and a letter that Frankel had written.
Plaintiff believes that this placement was predicated on the
“buzz-word” concept of “parental
alienation, ” (i.e., when one parent tries to alienate
a child from the other parent), and is therefore invalid.
Plaintiff was ordered to complete a seven-step therapy
program designed by Dolezal, which Plaintiff believed was
was an issue regarding which therapist Plaintiff would see to
complete the seven-step program, which further antagonized
Plaintiff. The Court recommended Chuck Adams
(“Adams”), with whom Plaintiff was already
acquainted. Finn suspected that Adams would not be impartial
to Plaintiff, and requested that Judge Bohren use another
therapist, Casey Holtz (“Holtz”). Plaintiff was
very annoyed at this, and agreed to only see Holtz three
times. The three sessions went well, however, and Plaintiff
was left with the impression that shared custody would
resume. Unfortunately, Finn determined that Plaintiff had not
adequately completed the first step of Dolezal's plan,
and would need to see a new therapist. Plaintiff interpreted
this as another mechanism in the RICO Enterprise to delay
progress, and became very upset. Id. at 11.
2017, Plaintiff received an additional custody hearing, in
which he subpoenaed his son to tell Judge Bohren that he
wanted 50/50 custody. However, there were issues with
service, and Christian never testified-nor was he even
brought to court. Additionally, Holtz did not testify. Finn
later told Judge Bohren that Holtz had requested to withdraw
from the case because Plaintiff had threatened him. Plaintiff
hotly disputes that this occurred, and believes that
Christian would corroborate his claim that the sessions with
Holtz went well.
Bohren chastised Plaintiff for his defiance and his refusal
to follow Dolezal's seven-step plan, as well as for his
actions towards Holtz. Judge Bohren did not credit anything
that Plaintiff said in his defense. Instead, he suspended
review of the case for an entire year, effectively issuing
full custody to Strunsee.
was “very angry” and “very upset, ”
and drafted an email to Finn and the other parties stating
that he would not back down, and would come “after
every one of them.” Id. at 12. Then he
“passed out from exhaustion and stress, ” only to
awaken at two in the morning to an argumentative response
from Finn. Id. Plaintiff fired off another missive
in his defense, believing that Finn would “try to twist
his comments around into something else in order to get him
in trouble.” Id. The next day, the Hartland
Police Department called to interview Plaintiff about the
emails. Plaintiff assuaged their concern that there was a
threat of physical violence. Several hours later, three
Waukesha sheriff deputies came to his house without a warrant
and told him that he was in trouble for threatening a judge.
Plaintiff asked them to leave. Three days later, an arrest
warrant issued, and Plaintiff voluntarily turned himself in.
He believed that there would be no consequences because he
knew the relevant penal statute “like the back of his
hand” and had not ...