United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
Joseph F. Tillery Plaintiff,
Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head, Land Rover North America, Nicholas R. Felix, Krista M. McGuire, Carmen T. Mullen and William C. Clark, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRISTOW MARCHANT, Magistrate Judge.
This action was originally filed in the Southern District of Georgia, and was subsequently transferred to this United States District Court by Order filed June 20, 2014. In a Report and Recommendation for partial summary dismissal filed January 27, 2015, the undersigned recommended dismissal of the Defendants Felix, McGuire, Mullen, and Clark, without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. The remaining Defendants are Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head and Land Rover North America.
The Defendant Land Rover North America filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12, Fed.R.Civ.P., on January 28, 2015. As the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, a Roseboro order was entered by the Court on January 29, 2015, advising Plaintiff of the importance of a dispositive motion and of the need for him to file an adequate response. The remaining Defendant Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head thereafter filed its own motion to dismiss on March 3, 2015,  following which a second Roseboro order was entered on March 4, 2015. Plaintiff filed memoranda in opposition to these two motions on March 3, 2015, and April 9, 2015, respectively. The Defendant Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head filed a reply memorandum on April 20, 2015. Plaintiff thereafter filed a supplemental reply on May 1, 2015.
These motions are now before the Court for disposition.
(Allegations of the Complaint)
Plaintiff alleges in his verified complaint that he purchased a used Range Rover Sport with 61, 000 miles on it. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant Land Rover North America had twenty thousand SUVs that were defective, but that the Defendant did not "put out [a] recall" until December 2008. Plaintiff alleges that his Range Rover had "failed 3 time prior to this". Plaintiff alleges that his "drive-train failure" (apparently failure number two) was repaired by the Defendant Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head, which discovered (apparently while undertaking the repairs) that Plaintiff's vehicle also needed a new engine. However, Plaintiff alleges that this Defendant "only tried to rebuild engine with all new parts", and that this engine "failed also".
Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head was told several times that he would be getting his vehicle repaired somewhere else, but that the dealership "switched engine" and "forge [his] signature to get payment from extended warranty co." Plaintiff alleges that "this engine failed also". Plaintiff alleges that he took his vehicle to Savannah, where a certified mechanic checked the engine and determined that it had been installed incorrectly. Plaintiff alleges that he reported this to the Defendant Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head as well as to the Defendant Land Rover North America, but "could get no help".
Plaintiff alleges that he then hired an attorney and commenced a legal action in state court in which he demanded sixty thousand dollars in damages. Plaintiff alleges that "Land Rover" agreed to settle his case during mediation, during which Plaintiff contends Land Rover produced a document bearing what appeared to be a "2nd forged signature". Plaintiff alleges that counsel for the Defendant assured him that his signature had been signed for services, although Plaintiff alleges that he had not signed a "loaner agreement" when he went to get his vehicle from the dealership. Plaintiff alleges that the "courts allowed Jaguar/Land Rover to commit a felony [at] legal proceedings", and that he asked the state court judge to set aside the agreement "after finding out that [his] signature had been forged again".
In this lawsuit, Plaintiff is asking the Court to bring criminal charges against the Defendants Land Rover North America and Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head, that his state court case be reopened at the federal level as well as to have the state court investigated, and that he be awarded monetary damages. See generally, Plaintiff's Verified Complaint.
When considering a Rule 12 motion to dismiss, the Court is required to accept the allegations in the pleading as true, and draw all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the Plaintiff. The motion can be granted only if Plaintiff has failed to set forth sufficient factual matters to state a plausible claim for relief "on its face". Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Additionally, the Federal Court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case; see Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); and as the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his pleadings are considered pursuant to this liberal standard. However, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a Federal claim, nor can the Court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. Weller v. Department of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). Such is the case here.
First, Plaintiff cannot obtain a criminal investigation or criminal charges against the Defendants through this lawsuit. See Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973) [A private citizen does not have a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or non-prosecution of another]; Collins v. Paczewski, 841 F.Supp. 333, 340 (D.Nev. 1993) ["Long ago the courts of these United States established that criminal statutes cannot be enforced by civil actions'"]. Since the Plaintiff does not have a judicially cognizable interest in the criminal prosecution of another, he lacks standing to even raise such a claim. Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. at 619.
This Court also does not have the jurisdiction or authority to "reopen" his state court lawsuit. A federal district court lacks the authority to review final determinations of state or local courts; rather, any such review can only be conducted by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1257. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). If Plaintiff wanted to contest the disposition of his state court lawsuit past the circuit court level, his remedy was to appeal any final order of the circuit court to the appropriate state appellate court. He cannot, however, seek any such review of the state circuit court's order through the filing of a lawsuit in federal court.
Finally, with respect to Plaintiff's damages claim against these two corporate defendants, both of these Defendants have presented exhibits to show that Plaintiff has already litigated this matter in state court in a lawsuit in which both of these corporate defendants were named defendants. See Defendant Land Rover North America Brief, attached Exhibit A; Defendant Jaguar/Land Rover Hilton Head Brief, attached Exhibit A. As such, both Defendants argue, inter alia, that they are ...