Dababnah v. West Virginia Bd. of Medicine

Decision Date11 May 1999
Docket NumberNo. Civ.A. 5:98-0639.,Civ.A. 5:98-0639.
Citation47 F.Supp.2d 734
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of West Virginia
PartiesMousa I. DABABNAH, M.D., Plaintiff, v. WEST VIRGINIA BOARD OF MEDICINE, et al., Defendants.

Mouse I. Dababnah, Beaver, WV, John C. Yoder, Harpers Ferry, WV, for Mousa I. Dababnah, M.D., for plaintiff.

Eric A. Collins, Pullin, Knopf, Fowler & Flanagan, Beckley, WV, David F. Nelson, Schumacher, Francis, Stennett & Nelson, Charleston, WV, R. Ford Francis, Ford Francis R., Schumacher, Francis, Stennett & Nelson, Charleston, WV, Geoffry A. Haddad, Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff & Love, Charleston, WV, Gerard R. Stowers, Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff & Love, Charleston, WV, Geoffry A. Haddad, Gerard R. Stowers, Ancil G. Ramey, Steptoe & Johnson, Charleston, WV, John M. Hedges, Byrne & Hedges, Morgantown, WV, for defendant.

Geoffry A. Haddad, Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff & Love, Charleston, WV, Gerard R. Stowers, Gunnoe, Gunnoe,Mousa I. Dababnah, Beaver, WV, counter-defendant.


FABER, District Judge.

Before this court is the extraordinary case of Dr. Mousa I. Dababnah.1 The genesis of this case is the acrimonious divorce and child support proceedings that began in the Circuit Court of Raleigh County, West Virginia ("circuit court"), on December 22, 1993. See Dababnah v. Dababnah, Civ. No. 93-D-1224-B, Cir.Ct. Raleigh Co., W.Va. That action remains pending and there is now this and one other related lawsuit ongoing in federal court. See Dababnah v. Keller-Burnside, Civ. No. 5:97-1144. In addition, one earlier related lawsuit in this court was dismissed. See Dababnah v. Byron, Civ. No. 5:97-0624 (S.D.W.Va.1997). The instant case involves twenty-four (24) defendants, fifteen (15) counts, and raises a number of serious constitutional questions, including the important and difficult question of the balance between the powers of Congress and rights of the States.

One defendant, the Honorable Robert A. Burnside is the judge presiding over the domestic relations case in state circuit court. The plaintiff claims that Judge Burnside conspired to prevent plaintiff from participating as a party in a federal lawsuit and otherwise violated his constitutional rights, and he seeks a declaratory judgment. Now before this court is Judge Burnside's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, that the court should abstain from hearing the claim under the Younger abstention doctrine, that plaintiff fails to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2), and that this court should exercise its discretion under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and decline to hear plaintiff's case.

For the reasons stated below, the court DENIES Judge Burnside's motions to dismiss without prejudice to renew the motions or to move for summary judgment upon fuller development of the factual record.

A. Background

The factual background of this case is voluminous. Therefore, the court recites a condensed version of Dr. Dababnah's factual allegations as they relate to the claims against Judge Burnside.

Dr. Dababnah was licensed to practice medicine in the State of West Virginia on January 13, 1976. He has practiced medicine since that time without any ethical complaints. His practice was interrupted for the first time on July 1, 1998, when the West Virginia Board of Medicine ("Board") refused to renew his medical license. The reasons given by the Board for not renewing Dr. Dababnah's license were that Dr. Dababnah failed to fully answer the questions on the renewal application and that he was in arrears in child support by an amount equivalent to or greater than six months of payments.2 Dr. Dababnah filed this case following the Board's non-renewal of his license. The events leading up to the Board's refusal to renew Dr. Dababnah's license are remarkable and, if Dr. Dababnah is to be believed, represent a conspiracy by some of the defendants to deprive Dr. Dababnah of his livelihood and constitutional rights.

While Dr. Dababnah's divorce case was ongoing in Judge Burnside's court, an incident allegedly took place wherein Dr. Dababnah intentionally damaged or destroyed a vehicle being used by his wife, Sharan B. Dababnah. Dr. Dababnah was convicted in the magistrate court of Raleigh County and sentenced to a five-day term of imprisonment. He appealed this conviction but did not appear at the trial de novo in circuit court. Dababnah claims neither he nor his attorney were notified of the December 1, 1995 trial date.

During November and December of 1995, Dr. Dababnah was not in West Virginia. Rather, he was in the Commonwealth of Virginia communicating with public officials in West Virginia regarding alleged corrupt activities in Raleigh County Circuit Court. Dr. Dababnah claims that once his trial date of which he was unaware passed, the chief assistant prosecuting attorney for Raleigh County, Kristen Keller-Burnside, who is married to Judge Burnside, sought his arrest and extradition from Virginia on the misdemeanor in an attempt to silence his complaints about corruption in the court system. Dr. Dababnah was arrested by the Virginia State Police on December 5, 1995. Subsequently, property of Dr. Dababnah was seized by West Virginia state troopers from his Virginia hotel room without a warrant.

On information received from West Virginia, Virginia authorities incorrectly informed Dr. Dababnah that he had been arrested for a felony charge. Dr. Dababnah thereafter waived extradition and appeared before Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick, III, in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Prior to the hearing, Keller-Burnside allegedly incorrectly informed Dr. Dababnah that his attorney, Rebecca Bell, had withdrawn from representing him. In light of this, Dr. Dababnah waived his right to counsel. At the hearing, Judge Kirkpatrick credited Dr. Dababnah with the time spent in jail in Virginia and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence. At the hearing before Judge Kirkpatrick, prosecutor Keller-Burnside requested and received an order authorizing the Virginia or West Virginia State Police to enter the hotel room and seize Dr. Dababnah's property. Whether or not Judge Kirkpatrick knew it, and the transcript suggests that he did not, Keller-Burnside was asking for an order authorizing what had already occurred. Judge Kirkpatrick also ordered Dr. Dababnah held so that he could appear before Judge Burnside pursuant to a contempt order in the divorce action. It appears, but is non clear from the record, that Dr. Dababnah then spent either seventy-three (73) or 112 days in jail for contempt for failing to abide by Judge Burnside's child support payment and arrearage order.

From April 18, 1994, to the present, the husband of Keller-Burnside, Judge Robert A. Burnside, has presided over Dr. Dababnah's divorce, marital property settlement and child support actions. During the Fall of 1995, the same period in which the events described above took place, plaintiff claims that his attorney, Rebecca Bell, overheard a conversation in which she learned than Judge Burnside and Sharan Dababnah's divorce attorney at the time, C. Elton Byron, Esq.,3 were planning a vacation together. She reportedly passed this information on to Dr. Dababnah, who then began his campaign of faxing complaints to various officials in the State of West Virginia about corruption in the circuit court of Raleigh County. Plaintiff alleges that his extradition from Virginia was a scheme designed by Keller-Burnside and Byron to get the plaintiff back into West Virginia to face the contempt charge before Judge Burnside and, thus, silence him from complaining to state authorities about the alleged corruption.

Once back in West Virginia, Dr. Dababnah was imprisoned, and, on January 5, 1996, Rebecca Bell withdrew as his attorney for reasons that are not clear from the record, but potentially because of threats from persons in the circuit court. It is also alleged that Judge Burnside imposed Rule 11 sanctions on attorney Bell for her representation of Dr. Dababnah. Then, on February 6, 1996, prosecutor Keller-Burnside moved for appointment of a guardian ad litem for Dr. Dababnah before Judge Kirkpatrick. Dr. Dababnah had served his time for the misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property, for which he was extradited, and was at this time in prison for civil contempt imposed by Judge Burnside for failure to pay child support. Keller-Burnside's interest in having a guardian appointed for plaintiff while he was in jail for civil contempt before her husband is unknown. Kyle Lusk was appointed as guardian and met with Dr. Dababnah. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Lusk relayed to him that if he would "cooperate" he would be released from jail. Cooperation allegedly meant to cease contacting state officials and criticizing Judge Burnside and others involved with the justice system in Raleigh County for corruption. In addition, if Dababnah failed to cooperate, Lusk allegedly implied that Judge Burnside and prosecutor Keller-Burnside would seek to have Dababnah's medical license revoked. Dr. Dababnah refused to "cooperate" and remained in jail for what may have been 112 days before being released.

After being released from jail in May of 1997, Dr. Dababnah filed his first lawsuit in federal court on June 12, 1997. See Byron, Civ. No. 5:97-0624. In this pro se lawsuit, Dababnah named Judge Burnside, prosecutor Keller-Burnside, attorneys for Sharan Dababnah, Byron and Richard M. Gunnoe, Esq., and others as defendants. Dr. Dababnah alleged that the defendants were interfering with his right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Dr. Dababnah asked for dismissal of his case, which was granted by Order of this court on July 24, 1997, because he felt he could not adequately prosecute the case without counsel.

Subsequently, Dr. Dababnah was able to retain counsel in the person of Mr. Donald L. Pitts,...

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1 cases
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • July 12, 2000
    ...Dababnah's non-payment of ordered child support,1 resulted in substantial child support arrearages. Dababnah v. West Virginia Board of Medicine, 47 F.Supp.2d 734, 736 (S.D.W.Va. 1999). In an attempt to comply with the biennial medical license renewal mandated by law, Dr. Dababnah submitted ......

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