United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE
lawsuit is a portion of a larger case removed from the
circuit court for Dane County, Wisconsin and severed by
District Judge William M. Conley before he recused himself.
The original complaint was filed by plaintiff Wendy Alison
Nora in state court, and she followed with an amended
complaint adding two plaintiffs: Roger Peter Rinaldi (the
plaintiff proceeding under this case number) and Christopher
King. The amended complaint is roughly 50 pages long, but in
a nutshell, plaintiffs allege the following: lawyers admitted
to the Wisconsin bar are involved in a conspiracy to allow
mortgage lenders or servicers to use fabricated documents to
foreclose upon homeowners. Nora represented Rinaldi and his
wife in at least one such case. When homeowners complain to
the state's Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), staff
chooses not to investigate those claims. Plaintiffs believe
that the OLR staff are part of a conspiracy to conceal
rampant fabrication of documents in foreclosure proceedings.
Rather than investigate the lawyers who participate in this
conspiracy, OLR has chosen to investigate Nora, resulting in
her suspension from the Wisconsin bar. See Disciplinary
Proceedings Against Nora, 2018 WI 23, 380 Wis.2d 311,
909 N.W.2d 155. Plaintiff King, a journalist and
videographer, attended one of Nora's disciplinary
hearings and was physically assaulted by a mortgage
brought claims under the United States and Wisconsin
constitutions and Wisconsin laws regarding disclosure of
Nora's medical records. Plaintiffs also stated their
intention to further amend the complaint to add claims under
the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
and its Wisconsin analogue, the Wisconsin Organized Crime
Control Act (WOCCA). See Dkt. 2-2 (plaintiffs'
first amended complaint). They filed a motion for leave to
amend the complaint along with a proposed second amended
complaint containing RICO and WOCCA claims, see Dkt.
38-6, but that motion was not decided before the case was
removed to this court.
the first amended complaint is the operative pleading. The
defendants are as follows, broken up into the following
• The state of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court,
and Chief Justice Patience D. Roggensack.
• OLR, Keith Sellen, Travis J. Stieren, Robert J.
Kasieta, Theron Edward Parsons, IV, Edward A. Hannan and
James J. Winiarski (whom the court has already dubbed
collectively as the “OLR defendants”).
• Litchfield Cavo, LLP, Mark W. Rattan, and Stephanie L.
Dykeman (collectively, the “Litchfield Cavo
• Wells Fargo Bank.
issues before me now are whether the case was properly
removed, whether any of Judge Conley's pre-recusal
rulings should be reconsidered, and whether Rinaldi's
portion of the complaint states any plausible claims for
relief. I conclude that the case was properly removed, that
none of Judge Conley's rulings need to be changed, and
that Rinaldi does not bring any plausible claims for relief.
So I will dismiss the case.
case was removed to this court by defendants Rattan, Dykeman,
and Litchfield Cavo within 30 days of receiving
plaintiffs' first amended complaint. They contend that
they were not properly served. All defendants joined in the
case was initially assigned to Judge Conley, who on January
18, 2019, held a telephonic hearing on the parties'
various motions. Judge Conley severed each of the three
plaintiffs' claims into separate cases because
“there appear[ed] to be no meaningful factual or legal
overlap.” Dkt. 18, at 4. He recused himself from
Nora's case (19-cv-62) and later recused himself from
Rinaldi's case as well. Both cases have been reassigned
the issues addressed at the January 18 hearing was whether
the case was properly removed. Judge Conley noted that under
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(B), a defendant has 30 days from
receipt or service of an “initial pleading or
summons” to file a notice of removal. The Litchfield
Cavo defendants filed their notice of removal within 30 days
of receiving the first amended complaint, well after
service of the original complaint upon the defendants named
in that pleading, although the Litchfield Cavo defendants
were not named in the original complaint. Judge Conley gave
these defendants a chance to brief whether removal was
authorities defendants cite in their responses show that
removal is proper: newly added defendants are entitled to
seek removal of a case running from the first version of the
complaint they are served with. See Knudsen v. Liberty
Mut. Ins. Co., 411 F.3d 805, 807 (7th Cir. 2005)
(“an amendment to the pleadings that . . . adds a new
defendant, opens a new window of removal”); Braud
v. Transp. Serv. Co. of Ill., 445 F.3d 801, 805 (5th
Cir. 2006) (“Therefore, as to the new defendant,
removability is determined as of the date of receipt of
service of the amended complaint, not as of the date on which
the original suit was filed in state court.”); see
also Act II Jewelry, LLC v. Wooten, No. 15 C 6950, 2015