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Starkey v. Minor Miracle Prods., LLC

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

May 22, 2014

RANDY STARKEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MINOR MIRACLE PRODUCTIONS, LLC and DAVID E. RICHARDS, Defendants

Page 23

Randy Starkey, an individual, and Tennessee resident, Plaintiff, Pro se, Kingston Springs, TN.

For Minor Miracle Productions, LLC, an Idaho Limited Liability company, David L. Richards, an Idaho resident, Defendants: William Herbert Bode, LEAD ATTORNEY, BODE & GRENIER, LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 24

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Randy Starkey, proceeding pro se, brings this action against Minor Miracle Productions, LLC (" MMP" ), and David L. Richards under the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1] Compl. 1 [Dkt. #1]. Defendants MMP and Richards move to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Rooker-Feldmen doctrine (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)), lack of personal jurisdiction (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)), forum non conveniens (Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3)), and failure to state a claim (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).[2] Defs. Mot. to Dismiss Compl. [Dkt. # 4]. Upon consideration of the pleadings, relevant law, and the entire record therein, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED for lack of jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Starkey, a resident of Tennessee, wrote a screenplay entitled " The Hayfield." Compl. 3, 9. In 2006, Starkey and Richards, a resident of Idaho, formed Minor Miracle Productions LLC, a limited liability company incorporated in and doing business in Idaho, to produce a motion picture based off the screenplay. Id. at 3. Starkey alleges that he cast actors, scouted locations, directed, and supervised production of the film. Id. at 9. He also alleges that he has not received any compensation for his work on " The Hayfield." Id. at 11.

At some point--precisely when or why is unclear from the complaint, and irrelevant to the disposition of this case--the business arrangement between Starkey and Richards went sour. MMP, through its managing member, Richards, sued Starkey in the District Court for the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, alleging business-related claims such as breach of contract and misappropriation of funds. Verified Compl. and Demand for Jury Trial, Minor Miracle Prods., LLC. v. Starkey, No. CV-2008-3920-OC (Idaho Dist. Ct. Sept. 25, 2008) [Dkt. #4-3, Exh. B]. That court entered a Judgment on the Pleadings against Starkey, holding, among other things, that MMP is the sole and exclusive owner of the film " The Hayfield" and that Starkey breached his fiduciary duty and owed Richards in excess of one million dollars. Judgment on the Pleadings, Minor Miracle Prods., LLC v. Starkey, No. CV-2008-3920-OC (Idaho Dist. Ct. Aug. 12, 2010) [Dkt. #4-3, Exh. D].

Following the Idaho district court's judgment, MMP, through Richards, registered MMP's copyright of " The Hayfield" motion picture at the U.S. Copyright Office in the District of Columbia on September 17, 2012, indicating that it was created as a work for hire. Compl. 2, 7. Richards and MMP filed the Idaho judgment for domestication in the Tennessee state courts, which domesticated the judgment

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over Starkey's objections and appeals. See Minor Miracle Prods., LLC v. Starkey, No. M2011-00072-COA-R3-CV, (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 12, 2012) [Dkt. # 4-3, Exh. F].

Starkey timely appealed the Idaho judgment through the Idaho state court system. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. Minor Miracle Prods., LLC v. Starkey, 152 Idaho 333, 271 P.3d 1189 (2012). Starkey then unsuccessfully sought certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Starkey v. Minor Miracle Prods., LLC, 132 S.Ct. 2399, 182 L.Ed.2d 1022 (2012).

Prior to the final resolution of the state matter, Starkey sued Richards, MMP, an Idaho state court judge, and various attorneys for copyright infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. See Report and Recommendation, Starkey v. Richards, 3:10-cv-00921, (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 4, 2011). The district court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss, concluding that Starkey's claims were barred by the Rooker-Feldmen doctrine, which precludes the lower federal courts from hearing cases arising out of injuries caused by state court decisions. The court also held that it did not have personal jurisdiction over the defendants.[3] Order, Starkey v. Richards, ...


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