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Cartner v. Davis

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 5, 2013

ALEXANDER CARTNER, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD O. DAVIS, President, Sibley Hospital, Defendant

ALEXANDER CARTNER, Petitioner, Pro se, Washington, DC.

For SIBLEY HOSPITAL, Defendant: Michael E. von Diezelski, LEAD ATTORNEY, ADELMAN, SHEFF & SMITH, Annapolis, MD.

For RICHARD O. DAVIS, President, Sibley Hospital, Respondent: Michael E. von Diezelski, LEAD ATTORNEY, ADELMAN, SHEFF & SMITH, Annapolis, MD.

OPINION

Page 34

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Alexander Cartner brings this suit requesting a writ of habeas corpus against Defendant Richard O. Davis, president of Sibley Hospital. Cartner is an 81-year-old man who has been married for 48 years to Elza Cartner, an 86-year-old woman who is blind and has non-reversible dementia. On December 28, 2011, the Cartners were removed from their home in an intervention proceeding brought by the District of Columbia, and Mrs. Cartner was placed at Sibley, despite Mr. Cartner's protestations. The Superior Court for the District of Columbia subsequently appointed attorney Nathan Neal as Mrs. Cartner's guardian, having found that Mr. Cartner was incapable of acting in that capacity. Neal has directed that Mrs. Cartner remain at Sibley for care and treatment. Alleging that his wife has been unjustly " incarcerated" at Sibley, Plaintiff has filed this action requesting her release, presumably into his care. Defendant has now moved to dismiss.

Cartner cannot succeed on his claim for a number of reasons. First, a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only lies where someone is in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court, which is not the case here. In addition, such a petition may only be brought before this Court upon exhaustion of all state legal remedies, which Plaintiff has yet to essay. In any event, as a guardian has already been appointed by the Superior Court, Cartner cannot sue in the role of his wife's " next friend." Finally, Cartner is not a lawyer, thus precluding him from bringing this case on behalf of his wife even were he her " next friend." The Court, consequently, shall grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

I. Background

On December 28, 2011, at the behest of the District of Columbia, law-enforcement officials entered the Cartners' apartment, removing both Mr. and Mrs. Cartner via ambulance. See Cartner v. Frazier (Cartner I), No. 13-1016, 2013 WL 4560640, at *1 (D.D.C. Aug. 28, 2013); Petition at 1. Officials brought Mrs. Cartner to Sibley Hospital, where she has been receiving care since that date. See Petition at 1. Neal was subsequently appointed by Superior Court Judge John Campbell of the Probate Division as Mrs. Cartner's " guardian and conservator." Reply in No. 13-1016, Exh. 1 (June 26, 2013, Order in No. 2011-INT-313) at 2-3.

Page 35

The action was then transferred to Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher in 2013. In a June 26, 2013, Order, Judge Fisher found that Mrs. Cartner was an 86-year-old woman suffering from " non-reversible dementia and depression" and blindness, who was living with Mr. Cartner " in deplorable and unsafe conditions" in the apartment they shared, and that Mr. Cartner " was not capable" of caring for his wife. See id. He held that it was in Mrs. Cartner's best interests that Neal remain as guardian. See id. at 4. Plaintiff subsequently filed an action in federal court against Judge Fisher, complaining, among other things, that Neal had committed perjury in the Superior Court proceedings. See Cartner I, [WL] at *1. This Court dismissed the case on the ground of judicial immunity. See id. Cartner now requests habeas corpus relief on behalf of his wife, alleging that she is " incarcerated" at Sibley Hospital/Grand Oaks Assisted Living, where Mr. Cartner allegedly cannot visit or contact her. See Petition at 3.

II. Legal Standard

It is common practice to respond to a habeas petition with a motion to dismiss. See, e.g., Hamidullah v. Obama,899 F.Supp.2d 3, 6 (D.D.C. 2012) (citation omitted). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of an action where a complaint fails to " state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When the sufficiency of a complaint is challenged under Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations presented in it must be presumed true and should be liberally construed in plaintiff's favor. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164, 113 S.Ct. 1160, 122 L.Ed.2d 517 (1993). Although the notice-pleading rules are " not meant to impose a great burden on a plaintiff," Dura Pharms., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347, 125 S.Ct. 1627, 161 L.Ed.2d 577 (2005), and " detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), " a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff must put forth " factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Although a plaintiff may survive ...


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