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Lim v. Tisack

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

August 23, 2016

CHANG LIM, Plaintiff,
v.
GAEL TISACK, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge

         In this action, Chang Lim, proceeding pro se, [1] brings multiple claims against multiple defendants. The defendants fall into two distinct groups. The first (the Terumo Heart defendants) is composed of persons and entities that have some alleged connection to Lim's former employment. And the second (the Goetz defendants) is composed of persons and entities that have some alleged connection to Lim's former residence. Since the claims against the first group have nothing to do with the claims against the second, the court will sua sponte dismiss the second group for misjoinder, pursuant to its authority under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Lim's Previous Litigation Against Terumo Heart

         In March 2010, Lim, who is from South Korea, started working as the regulatory affairs manager at Terumo Heart, Inc., a medical-device company in Michigan. Lim v. Terumo Corp., Nos. 14-1513/1573, at 1 (6th Cir. Apr. 2, 2015) (reproduced at Dkt. No. 3-1, at 43-47). A few months later, in July, he started to complain about his supervisor's performance and about quality control and regulatory compliance to the company's president. Id. at 2. The president referred Lim's complaints to the company's compliance officer, Gael Tisack. Id. She investigated the complaints and determined that they were unfounded. Id. She told Lim her findings and instructed him to “stop making false and inflammatory allegations.” Id.

         Two months later, in September, Lim was involved in another dust-up at Terumo Heart. Id. Against his supervisor's instructions, Lim told one of his subordinates not to participate in software testing because, according to Lim, it violated (among other things) regulations of the Food and Drug Administration. Id. The president stepped in and told the subordinate to participate in the software testing. Id.

         Later that month, Tisack met with Lim and gave him a report on her investigation, in which she concluded that his complaints against his supervisor were false and that his behavior was insubordinate. Id. On October 1, Lim sent Tisack an e-mail, accusing her of “failing to bring correction, corrective action, and/or preventive action.” Id. (brackets omitted). The company fired him later that day. Id.

         Lim then sued Terumo Heart and other related persons and entities in a Michigan federal court. Id. He alleged (among other things) that the defendants had retaliated against him and terminated his employment because of his race, color, and national origin, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). Id. In April 2014, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants and awarded them fees, costs, and sanctions. Id. at 2-4. A year later, the Sixth Circuit affirmed, id. at 10-11, though one of the judges on the panel thought that the district court should have ordered Lim to pay the defendants even more fees and costs for his failure to comply with a discovery order, id. at 12-13 (McKeague, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).

         Because Lim failed to post a supersedeas bond, Terumo Heart decided to attempt to collect on its judgment against him before the Sixth Circuit issued its ruling. Following his termination, Lim moved from Michigan to Virginia. So Terumo Heart hired a Virginia attorney, John Falcone of Petty, Livingston, Dawson & Richards, to start collection proceedings against Lim in Virginia. In October 2014, Falcone domesticated the judgment in the Lynchburg City Circuit Court and, a month later, conducted debtor interrogatories. (Notice of Filing of Foreign Judgment 1, Oct. 8, 2014, Dkt. No. 3-1, at 60; Order of Lynchburg City Circuit Court 1, May 21, 2015, Dkt. No. 3-1, at 66.) Lim's answers revealed that he owned a website. (Order of Lynchburg City Circuit Court 1.) In May 2015, the Lynchburg City Circuit Court ordered that the website be sold to satisfy the judgment. (Id.)

         B. Lim's Previous Litigation Against the Goetzes

         After he was fired by Terumo Heart and moved to Virginia, Lim leased his home in Michigan to Sandy and Brian Goetz. Lim v. Goetz, No. 7:15-cv-00551, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13960, at *2 (W.D. Va. Feb. 5, 2016). When the lease ended, Lim believed that the Goetzes returned the home in damaged condition, so he decided to keep their security deposit. Id. The Goetzes disagreed with that decision and thus, in January 2014, filed suit against Lim in a Michigan state court. Id. The court entered judgment in the Goetzes' favor. Id.

         To collect on their judgment, the Goetzes hired an attorney in Virginia to begin collection proceedings against Lim in Virginia. Id. at *3. In July 2015, the attorney domesticated the judgment in the Floyd County Circuit Court. Id. In an effort to stop the Goetzes from enforcing the judgment, Lim moved to set it aside. Id. The court denied the motion. Id. at *4.

         In October 2015, Lim brought suit in this court against the Goetzes, the lawyer and law firm that represented them in Michigan, and the judge of the Floyd County Circuit Court that presided over their case in Virginia. He alleged two federal-law claims against the judge and several state-law claims against the other defendants. Id. at *1, *5. Lim later amended his complaint to add Sandy Goetz's employer, the Charles Reinhart Company, and the attorney and law firm that helped the Goetzes domesticate their judgment against Lim in Virginia.

         All the defendants moved to dismiss. Id. at *11. In February 2016, the court granted the judge's motion, concluding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims against him under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Id. at *8-9. Because Lim's claims against the judge were the only federal claims, and because diversity jurisdiction was not alleged, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining ...


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