The case caption promises a mix of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: The plaintiff styles himself “The Excellent Raj K. Patel, the Excellent from All Capacities” and the defendants are Patel and Kumar. But Wednesday’s opinion in Patel v. Patel by Judge Laura Taylor Swain (S.D.N.Y.) reads like life in a household with two boys, with 15 extra years of age but not of development (to be fair, all we know about the defendant brother’s actions are what the plaintiff brother alleges):
Plaintiff … filed this complaint against his brother … and his brother’s wife, … and sets forth the following factual allegations.
Since watching Gangubai Kathiawadi, a 2022 Bollywood movie, Neal [defendant] has called Raj [plaintiff] “gangu” and “ganglia” a name of a child prostitute who become the madame of the facility, starting from existing the movie theater.
Raj left Neal at the restaurant they were eating at after the movie because Neal could not stop calling him the name. Raj and Neal’s parents picked Neal up.
On May 17, Neal called me that, and I told him not to call me that again in writing.
On Thursday, June 8th when Neal arrived from New York to Indianapolis, as soon as he entered into my motel room he said “sup, gangu” or “sup, ganglia.”
Patel has been suffering from stress, markedly since December 2017.
I demanded an apology from Neal which he has failed to give….
I had initially sent Neal a demand with a draft complaint to stop calling me this on June 12.
Neal visited Indianapolis after June 12th …, and he walked into my room earnestly and said, “what’s up, ganga.”
According to Plaintiff: (1) he and Neal “are in a brotherly contract not to commit these acts. Neal is mad [that] Raj is not going to Neal and Sanjana’s marriage ceremony in the UAE in January 2023”; (2) Plaintiff “made porn in middle school and high school and was recently forced to leave law school from the University of Notre Dame and has constantly expressed sensitivity towards Neal’s recent sexually charged name calling”; and (3) he and his brother are Hindu, and their “religion … demands that [Neal] stay loyal and submissive to [Plaintiff], but Neal did not when he called [Plaintiff] an offensive, harmful, and disparaging name.” …
Plaintiff asserts claims of defamation, “verbal battery,” trespass, harassment, “trespass of scope,” invasion of privacy, “negligent breach of specific (social) duty,” “breach of contract-in-law-duty,” honest services fraud, fraud, “disbarment,” and he also cites to 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-3(a). Plaintiff seeks more than $500 million in damages for damage to his reputation and “mental pain and suffering.” …
Even if the Court assumes that the parties are diverse, however, Plaintiff has not alleged facts suggesting that, to a reasonable probability, his claims meet the $75,000.00 statutory jurisdictional amount for diversity jurisdiction…. Plaintiff requests many hundreds of millions of dollars for alleged damage to his reputation and for pain and suffering; however, he has not alleged any facts showing damages to his reputation or any manifestations of damage to his reputation or his mental health. Thus, even accepting all facts alleged as true, Plaintiff’s damages are speculative and fail to meet the amount in controversy for diversity jurisdiction….
Even assuming Plaintiff could invoke the court’s diversity jurisdiction, there are no facts in the complaint suggesting that Plaintiff can assert any viable state-law claims against his brother and sister-in-law. Plaintiff invokes a number of causes of action that appear wholly fabricated, including “verbal battery”; “trespass of scope,” “negligent breach of specific (social) duty,” “breach of contract-in-law-duty”; and “disbarment.” These are not claims that arise under state law. Plaintiff’s reference to “disbarment” may indicate Plaintiff’s wish to see his brother disbarred from the practice of law, which is not a claim that Plaintiff can bring or a remedy that this Court can provide.
To the extent Plaintiff invokes actual state law causes of action, there are no facts alleged in the complaint giving rise to an inference that Plaintiff can state a claim of trespass, harassment, invasion of privacy, or fraud against his brother and sister-in-law. The only cause of action arguably implicated by the facts alleged is defamation, but there are insufficient facts to state such a claim….
Plaintiff alleges that his brother engaged in “sexually charged name calling,” twice verbally, in a restaurant and a hotel room, and once via text. Because Plaintiff does not allege that his brother’s text was seen by anyone other than Plaintiff, or that his comments were heard by anyone else, Plaintiff does not satisfy the publication element.
Moreover, even if the comments were seen or overheard by a third party, they are not actionable. “[O]nly a provable statement of fact is actionable as defamation.” For this reason, “rhetorical hyperbole, vulgar name-calling, and generalized insults are not, without more, actionable under the defamation laws.” Here, the references to Plaintiff as a “gangu” or “ganglia,” which Plaintiff himself characterizes as “sexually charged name calling,” are not provable statements of fact, and thus plainly not actionable as a matter of law.
Finally, Plaintiff makes no specific allegations against his sister-in-law….
Plaintiff, a frequent litigator who apparently also has some legal training, is not entitled to the solicitude generally afforded to pro se litigants. Because of his history of pursuing frivolous litigation, he has been warned by multiple courts that he could face a filing injunction, and at least one court has already imposed that sanction…. Plaintiff previously filed one action in this court, and was warned that he could face a filing injunction if he persisted in filing lawsuits in this district that were deemed frivolous or vexatious…. Accordingly, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why he should not be barred from filing any further actions in this court IFP without first obtaining permission from this Court to file his complaint….