Henderson et al v. Texas Department of Child Protective Services et al
ORDER dismissing William Henderson's complaint without prejudice. Signed by Judge J. Leon Holmes on 2/19/2014. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WILLIAM HENDERSON, individually
and as next friend of John Doe, a minor, age two;
and John Doe, a minor, age ten months
NO. 4:13CV00695 JLH
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND
PROTECTIVE SERVICES, et al.
William Henderson brings this action against a large number of defendants alleging that he,
his daughter, and his daughter’s minor children were subjected to racial discrimination in connection
with action taken by various defendants relating to the children. His daughter, Breauna Henderson,
and the children reside in Texarkana, Texas, and an action is pending there relating to custody of the
children. William Henderson has also commenced an action in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County,
Arkansas, seeking temporary guardianship of the children. Breauna Henderson also has commenced
a separate action in this Court, Breauna Henderson v. Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Servs.,
et al., Case No. 4:13CV00717-BSM. The complaint in that action makes substantially the same
allegations as does the complaint in this action.
Several motions to dismiss have been filed. The threshold issue raised in the motions to
dismiss is whether William Henderson has standing to assert the claims asserted in his complaint.
Henderson alleges that the various defendants took adverse action regarding custody of the minor
children, but those claims properly belong to the children and to Breauna Henderson, who is the
mother and legal guardian of the children, not to William Henderson. William Henderson in effect
has conceded that he has no right to custody of the children inasmuch as he has commenced an action
seeking temporary guardianship over the children. William Henderson cannot assert Breauna
Henderson’s rights, nor can he assert the rights of the minor children inasmuch as he is not their legal
Henderson would have standing to pursue a claim that action was taken against him by the
defendants based on his race, but he has failed to allege such a claim as required by the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8(a)(2) does not require a
complaint to contain detailed factual allegations, it does require a plaintiff to state the grounds of his
entitlement to relief, which requires more than labels and conclusions. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-65, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007). In ruling on a motion to
dismiss, the Court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and review the
complaint to determine whether its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to relief. Schaaf v.
Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences from the
complaint must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Crumpley-Patterson v. Trinity Lutheran
Hosp., 388 F.3d 588, 590 (8th Cir. 2004). The Court need not, however, accept as true legal
conclusions, even those stated as though they are factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). A pro se complaint must be liberally
construed, however inartfully pleaded, and held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L. Ed. 2d 1081 (2007).
Here, liberally construing William Henderson’s complaint, he fails to allege grounds of his
entitlement to relief. He alleges no facts which, if proven, would tend to show that actions were
taken against him because of his race. Rather, his allegations of racial discrimination are purely
For these reasons, William Henderson’s complaint is dismissed without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 19th day of February, 2014.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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