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GAMBRELL v. HESS

February 14, 1991

DORIS MCKINNEY GAMBRELL
v.
LEON HESS, ARTHUR N. MARTIN, JR., AND HAROLD ACKERMAN.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vanartsdalen, Senior District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Leon Hess (Hess) and Harold Ackerman (Ackerman) have filed motions for summary judgment. They also request that sanctions be imposed upon plaintiff, Doris McKinney Gambrell (Gambrell), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and that she be enjoined from filing further actions against them pertaining to her termination of employment from the Amerada Hess Corporation without first seeking leave of court. For the reasons stated herein, I will grant the motions.

I. Facts and Procedural History

Disposition of the outstanding motions in this case requires a recital of the lengthy history of litigation relating to the termination of plaintiff's employment from the Amerada Hess Corporation (the Corporation). Gambrell was employed as a steno-typist by the Corporation. On March 17, 1980, she filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging racial discrimination in the Corporation's termination of her employment in 1977 in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Gambrell v. Amerada Hess Corporation, Civil Action No. 80-762 (the Title VII action). She also raised claims under the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. On May 20, 1981, the complaint was dismissed with prejudice by the Honorable Harold A. Ackerman, United States District Judge, for Gambrell's repeated failure to comply with a discovery order. Gambrell v. Amerada Hess Corporation, Order of May 20, 1981.

The case was originally assigned to the Honorable Clarkson S. Fisher of the District of New Jersey. However, because judicial officers of the District of New Jersey were named as defendants, the case was transferred to the Honorable Murray M. Schwartz of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Judge Schwartz granted summary judgment in favor of Judge Ackerman and Magistrate John W. Devine, another defendant, on the grounds of judicial immunity. Gambrell I, Memorandum Opinion and Order of August 11, 1983. Upon transfer back to the District of New Jersey, the Honorable Vincent Biunno granted summary judgment as to defendant Martin, finding that there had been no allegations in the complaint "and nothing set out by way of fact [that] remotely asserts, or implies any, racial or other invidious class based conduct on the part of Martin, either alone or in concert with another" and that there was therefore no conspiracy involving Martin under 42 U.S.C. § 1985. See Gambrell I, Opinion and Order of August 20, 1984 at 4. The case was then assigned to the Honorable Dickinson R. Debevoise who granted summary judgment as to the remaining defendants. Id. Gambrell's subsequent appeals of the District Court judgments were unsuccessful. See Gambrell v. Arthur N. Martin, Jr., 760 F.2d 257 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1138, 105 S.Ct. 2682, 86 L.Ed.2d 700 (1985).

In 1984, Gambrell filed a second lawsuit against Judge Ackerman and Magistrate Devine. Gambrell v. Judge Harold A. Ackerman, et al., Civil Action No. 84-2897 (Gambrell II). The complaint in that action alleged that Judge Ackerman had a "dearly and closely related association and affiliation to the defendants Amerada Hess Corporation" and that his actions in Gambrell's Title VII action were in some way improper. Gambrell II, Complaint at 1-2. Judge Debevoise dismissed the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (d) as frivolous and malicious, noting that it "obviously" concerned "the same conduct about which she complained in her 1982 action." Gambrell II, Opinion and Order of July 19, 1984 at 2.

Plaintiff then sued Judge Debevoise for his handling of Gambrell I and Gambrell II, alleging "unethical judicial misconduct, trial conduct, incompetence and negligence." Gambrell v. Judge Dickinson Debevoise, Civil Action No. 84-3606, Complaint at ¶ 3. The complaint was dismissed as Judge Debevoise was entitled to absolute judicial immunity for his actions in Gambrell I and Gambrell II. Gambrell v. Judge Dickinson Debevoise, Memorandum Opinion and Order of March 8, 1985 at 8.

In 1985, Gambrell sued Judge Ackerman for the third time in relation to the dismissal of her Title VII action. Gambrell v. Harold A. Ackerman, Civil Action No. 85-1541 (Gambrell III). She again alleged that Judge Ackerman's dismissal of her Title VII action was improper and fraudulent due to his alleged relationship with the Amerada Hess Corporation. By way of relief, she sought reinstatement of her Title VII action. The complaint was dismissed with prejudice on December 20, 1985 for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and failure to join Amerada Hess, an indispensable party. Gambrell III, Opinion and Order of December 20, 1985 at 2-3.

On June 12, 1985, Gambrell filed a motion in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking "reinstatement" of her Title VII action. The Honorable H. Lee Sarokin treated her motion as one made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) and denied it as untimely and without merit. Gambrell v. Amerada Hess Corporation, Letter Opinion and Order of May 7, 1986. Plaintiff's subsequent appeals to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court were unsuccessful. See Gambrell v. Amerada Hess Corporation, 813 F.2d 397 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1055, 107 S.Ct. 2195, 95 L.Ed.2d 850 (1987). On June 9, 1987, Judge Sarokin entered an order awarding Amerada Hess costs of appeal against Gambrell in the amount of $91.00. Id., Order of June 9, 1987.

In May of 1990, Gambrell filed a second motion for "reinstatement" of her Title VII action, based on the "mishandling" of the action by her former attorney and the disciplinary action taken against Martin by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The motion was denied by Judge Sarokin on July 20, 1990. Gambrell v. Amerada Hess Corporation, Opinion and Order of July 20, 1990. Gambrell's appeal from that order is currently pending before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

  On October 9, 1990 Gambrell filed the instant case, her fourth
pro se action against Judge Ackerman. She has also named Leon
Hess, the alleged owner of the Amerada Hess Corporation, and
Arthur N. Martin, Jr., her former attorney, as defendants.
Although this case was originally assigned to the Honorable
Alfred M. Wolin of the District of New Jersey, because a judicial
official officer of the District of New Jersey has been named as
a defendant it was reassigned to me pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 292
 (b). Defendants Hess and Ackerman have both moved for summary
judgment.

On January 16, 1991, Gambrell filed a pleading styled "Application for an Order for Extension of Time to Answer Summary Judgment for Defendant Leon Hess and for an Order to compel defendant Leon Hess to Answer Interrogatories," along with a second document styled "Application for an Order to compel defendant Harold Ackerman to answer Interrogatories." I treated her first motion as one seeking to compel discovery and as a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) requesting continuance of the summary judgment motion to allow additional discovery to be taken. I denied her motion to compel as to defendant Hess on the grounds that the interrogatories to which she sought answers were unrelated to the legal doctrines of res judicata, collateral estoppel and the application of the statute of limitations, upon which Hess relied in his motion for summary judgment.*fn1 I also provided her with an additional twelve days to either answer the summary judgment motion or to request additional discovery and file affidavits in accordance with Rule 56(f) specifying what additional discovery was requested, what facts it would reveal and how they would preclude summary judgment. Memorandum and Order of January 23, 1991.

On January 29, 1991, Gambrell filed a document entitled "Affidavit of Doris McKinney Gambrell, plaintiff to Serve for Summary Judgment and why defendants should answer interrogatories." In the attached cover letter, she refers to her filing as an "Affidavit of Doris McKinney Gambrell in regard to: (a) My Motion to compel defendant Leon Hess to answer interrogatories (b) Summary Judgment response." On February 4, 1991, plaintiff filed a document entitled "Affidavit of Doris McKinney Gambrell regarding defendants Hess, Ackerman & Martin." In the cover letter attached to this latest filing, Gambrell states that it "is to serve as for any Motions pending." It thus appears that plaintiff intends these filings to be both affidavits in response to my order of January 23, 1991 and answers to the motions of defendants Hess and Ackerman for summary judgment, and I will treat them as such.


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