Carranza v. Department of Child Services
OPINION AND ORDER: DENYING 1 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis by Plaintiff Silvia Regina Carranza and DISMISSING her case. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 6/12/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(lhc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
SILVIA REGINA CARRANZA, et al.,
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES)
OF ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, et al.,
Cause No. 3:17-cv-215 RLM-MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
Silvia Regina Carranza moved to proceed in forma pauperis in litigation
against the Department of Child Services of St. Joseph County and of Kosciusko
County, and the State of Indiana. Chief Judge Theresa Springmann recognized
that Ms. Carranza is unable to prepay the filing fee, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), but
required her to file a complaint by April 28, 2017 so the court could determine if
Ms. Carranza adequately states a claim, § 1915(e)(2)(B); Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d
778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999) (“The district court may screen the complaint prior to
service on the defendants, and must dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a
claim.”). Ms. Carranza mailed her complaint to the court in time to meet Judge
Springmann’s deadline. The case was then transferred to the undersigned judge.
The same standard applies under § 1915(e)(2)(B) as in a motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). To state a claim, a complaint need only
contain a short and plain statement showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.
See EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007).
The court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the
complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of Ms. Carranza. See
Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009). A complaint must
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Adams v. City of
Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014). “Specific facts are not necessary;
the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what . . . the claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007). The court will interpret Ms. Carranza’s complaint liberally because she’s
litigating without counsel. See Ray v. Clements, 700 F.3d 993, 1002 (7th Cir.
Ms. Carranza claims that the Department of Child Services didn’t follow
its own procedures and brought an unsubstantiated neglect case against her,
defaming and humiliating her. According to Ms. Carranza, the department seems
to have based its case on how she provided medical care to her child, who had a
medical condition requiring continued care. She says she provided medical
evidence to the department, but the department didn’t follow appropriate
administrative review procedures. She says it didn’t visit Ms. Carranza’s home
for an evaluation, it based a report on incorrect information collected while the
children were staying at their grandmother’s house, and it never visited the
grandmother’s house. She claims that because the department didn’t follow its
own procedures, it endangered her children. She also says the department
altered over three hundred records.
Ms. Carranza says her children were denied their right to medical care,
and that the department violated their rights, particularly the Equal Protection
and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132; and section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). She asks for $42 million in damages, injunctive relief,
For the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act claims, Ms.
Carranza doesn’t explain whether she has a disability. If she has a disability, she
doesn’t explain whether the department denied her benefits as a result of that
disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12132; 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). She also doesn’t allege facts
indicating that the department failed to reasonably accommodate a disability.
Oconomowoc Residential Programs v. City of Milwaukee, 300 F.3d 775, 783 (7th
Cir. 2002). She doesn’t allege facts indicating that the department intentionally
discriminated against her on the basis of a disability. See Swanson v. Citibank,
N.A., 614 F.3d 400 (7th Cir. 2010); Gile v. United Airlines, Inc., 95 F.3d 492 (7th
Cir. 1996). She also doesn’t show that the department’s policies disparately
impacted individuals with disabilities. See Bennett v. Roberts, 295 F.3d 687, 698
(7th Cir. 2002). For her Title VII claims, Ms. Carranza doesn’t argue that she’s
subject to any sort of employment discrimination. For her Equal Protection
Clause claim, Ms. Carranza doesn’t argue facts showing that the department
intentionally discriminated against her based on a protected status. See Vill. of
Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977).
Last, the Eleventh Amendment bars both the Equal Protection and Due
Process claims. The Eleventh Amendment provides that “an unconsenting State
is immune from suits brought in federal courts by her own citizens as well as by
citizens of another state. . . . This jurisdictional bar applies regardless of the
nature of the relief sought.” Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465
U.S. 89, 100 (1984) (internal quotation and citations omitted). Suits against state
agencies, like the Department of Child Services, are also barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. Ind. Prot. & Advocacy Servs. v. Ind. Family & Social Servs. Admin.,
603 F.3d 365, 370 (7th Cir. 2010).
Section 1983 doesn’t help Ms. Carranza get around this problem. It
provides that “[e]very person who, under color of . . . [law] subjects, or causes to
be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the
jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an
action at law.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because Congress didn’t intend for Section
1983 to disturb states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity, states are not “persons”
liable for money damages under Section 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police,
491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989). This principle extends to governmental entities and
agencies, like the Department of Child Services, that are considered to be “arms
of the state.” Id. at 70; Ind. Prot. & Advocacy Servs. v. Ind. Family & Social Servs.
Admin., 603 F.3d at 370 (“If properly raised, the [Eleventh A]mendment bars
actions in federal court against a state, state agencies, or state officials acting in
their official capacities.”). A district court can dismiss a case based on Eleventh
Amendment immunity even if the defendants haven’t argued it. Ind. Prot. &
Advocacy Servs. v. Ind. Family & Social Servs. Admin., 603 F.3d at 370. As a
result, Ms. Carranza can’t sue the Department of Child Services or the State of
Indiana for the alleged constitutional violations.
For these reasons, Ms. Carranza’s motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. No. 1] is DENIED and her case is DISMISSED. The Clerk is
directed to enter judgment accordingly.
ENTERED: June 12, 2017
/s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
United States District Court
cc: Silvia Regina Carranza
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