United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
JOHN M. LEATO; and LAURINA T. LEATO PLAINTIFF
HORIZON BANK and HORIZON BANCORP, INC. DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
HOLMES, III U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
and Laurina Leato have filed this lawsuit under the diversity
of citizenship statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. They proceed
pro se and have sought leave to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”). The Plaintiffs have named
as Defendants Horizon Bank and Horizon Bankcorp, Inc. Both
entities were formed under the law of the State of Indiana.
The case is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
to the allegations of the Complaint and attachments thereto,
the dispute between Plaintiffs and Horizon Bank arose out of
a closed-end note, disclosure, loan and security agreement
the Plaintiff signed on December 6, 2013. Plaintiffs assert
that Horizon Bank and its collection attorney broke
“every consumer law on the books from robo-calling
consumers, to illegally conducting [a]
deposition.” According to Plaintiffs, on June
25, 2015, “Transunionand collection attorneys started a
conflict with transunion and since then has banished o[u]r
credit report.” Plaintiffs further allege Horizon Bank
and TransUnion have repeatedly violated the Dodd-Frank Wall
Street and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-302, 124
Stat. 1376 (codified in various sections of Titles 7, 12, and
October 17, 2017,  Plaintiffs indicate they won a verdict of
$100, 000 against Defendants in Allen County,
Indiana. Plaintiffs maintain that if Horizon Bank
had paid the $100, 000 on October 17, 2017, they may not have
had to file bankruptcy on October 31, 2017. Plaintiffs filed
bankruptcy in Indiana and indicate they listed the judgment
against Horizon Bank as a potential claim against a third
10, 2018, Plaintiffs retained a class action law firm to
pursue a “robo calling” lawsuit against the
Defendants. Plaintiffs also agreed to act as class
January 5, 2019, class action counsel wrote to Horizon Bank
in care of its attorney. The letter sought: (1) payment of
the $100, 000 judgment; (2) the removal of the Plaintiffs as
“debtors” in a bankruptcy “involving”
Horizon Bank; (3) and a settlement in the amount of $6
million for the proposed class action lawsuit the Plaintiffs
were considering filing against Horizon Bank. Presumably,
Horizon Bank did not respond favorably to the letter since
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on February 8, 2019.
case, Plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief from the Court
to order Horizon Bank to pay the $100, 000 judgment and to
pay them $6 million to drop the class action lawsuit.
Furthermore, they ask that Horizon Bank convince Transunion
to “unsuppress” their credit profiles or pay an
additional $10 million in damages.
Court is obligated to screen an IFP case prior to service of
process being issued. A claim is frivolous when it
"lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A
claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Court
bears in mind, however, that when "evaluating whether a
pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to
state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint,
however inartfully pleaded, . . . to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'"
Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
initially seek to have this Court enforce the judgment
entered in Allen County, Indiana, against Horizon
Bank. To enforce a judgment in a different
district, Plaintiff must register the judgment in the
district in which they seek enforcement. For certain federal
judgments, this is done by utilizing 28 U.S.C. § 1963.
This statute allows a litigant who has obtained a valid
judgment, who wants to recover money or property in another
district, to register the judgment by filing a certified copy
of the judgment in the district where the money or property
is. Once registered in this district, the judgment has the
same effect as if the judgment were entered in this district.
See e.g., Home Port Rentals, Inc. v. Int'l Yachting
Group, Inc., 252 F.3d 399, 404 (5th Cir. 2001);
Stanford v. Utley, 341 F.2d 265, 270 (8th Cir.
1965). However, the judgment Plaintiff seeks to enforce was
entered in state court. The “registration
procedures” set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1963
“prohibit a federal district court from registering and
subsequently enforcing a state court judgment.”
Euro-American Coal Trading, Inc. v. James Taylor Mining,
Inc., 431 F.Supp.2d 705, 707 (E.D. Ken. 2006).
Plaintiff must register the judgment under the laws of the
state in which they seek enforcement. Arkansas has adopted
the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act codified at
Ark. Code Ann. §§ 16-66-601 et seq. This
provides a procedural method of registration and does not
create a separate cause of action. See e.g., May v.
May, 944 S.W.2d 550, 551 ...