Hale v. Child Protective Services et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The complaint (DE 1 ) is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), and the petition for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (DE 2 ) is DENIED. Signed by Judge Philip P Simon on 5/23/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(lhc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
MELODY JACKSON’ HALE,
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES, et al.,
Cause No. 3:17-cv-322
OPINION AND ORDER
Melody Jackson Hale has filed a pro se complaint related to the termination of her
parental rights by the State of Indiana, along with a petition for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. (DE 1; DE 2.) The complaint describes a series of events that occurred
nearly two decades ago, when Hale lost custody of her two young sons. (DE 1 at 2.) It’s
not crystal clear, but it appears that the Department of Child Services took custody of
Hale’s older child after he became “sick,” was airlifted from the local hospital to a
children’s hospital, and was diagnosed with failure to thrive and “a very small touch of
shaken baby syndrome.” (Id.) Hale later relinquished custody of her younger child—she
says because of constant threats and harassment by DCS. (DE 1-1 at 2.) Appended to
Hale’s complaint are a hodgepodge of incomplete documents related to DCS’s
investigation and the state court case, with annotations by Hale in places where she
thinks the information provided is inaccurate. (See, e.g., 1-1 at 14.) Those documents
include a Petition to Terminate Parent-Child Relationship against Hale and Kenneth
Stanton, filed by the Kosciusko County Office of Family & Children in November 1997
and apparently ultimately granted. (DE 1-1 at 10-11; DE 1 at 3.) Giving the complaint
the liberal reading I am required to give all pro se complaints, it attempts to allege
discrimination by DCS against Hale due “to her childhood” and seeks damages for her
pain and suffering and release of her children’s adoption records. (DE 1 at 3.)
Because Hale has moved to proceed without paying the filing fees, I must
analyze her claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and dismiss the action if it is frivolous or
malicious or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted—which is the case.
Hale vaguely refers to the violation of her civil rights and says she was discriminated
against due to her upbringing, but she hasn’t set out a cognizable claim of any sort
under federal law—and I don’t think she could. She might try to plead an equal
protection or due process claim against the DCS, but those would be untimely, since the
conduct she complains of took place almost two decades ago. See Serino v. Hensley, 735
F.3d 588, 590 (7th Cir. 2013) (stating that section 1983 constitutional claims have a twoyear limitations statute deriving from Indiana’s personal injury statute of limitations).
For these reasons, her case must be dismissed. It is usually necessary to allow a
plaintiff to file an amended complaint when a case is dismissed sua sponte, but that is
not required where any amendment would be futile. See Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588
F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009). That’s the case here, and so Hale will not be permitted to
amend her complaint.
Accordingly, the complaint (DE 1) is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2), and the petition for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (DE 2) is DENIED.
Entered: May 23, 2017.
s/ Philip P. Simon
JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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