Ali v. Loyola Community Law Center et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis 2 is DENIED and Ms. Ali's complaint 1 is DISMISSED. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 2/17/2021. (Copy mailed to pro se party by certified mail 7001 1140 0003 1354 3180)(bas) Modified on 2/18/2021 to add cert routing (lhc).
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
LOYOLA COMMUNITY LAW
CENTER and THERESA CEKO,
Cause No. 3:21-CV-107 RLM-MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
Aqueelah Ali filed a complaint against Loyola Community Law Center and
Theresa Ceko and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Ms. Ali qualifies for a
filing fee waiver, but her complaint doesn’t state a claim upon which relief can
be granted, so the court denies her motion to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismisses the complaint.
A complaint that fails to state a claim for relief that is “plausible on its face
must be dismissed. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The same standard applies to both
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (pro se complaints) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Luevano
v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). The court must
accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in Ms. Ali’s favor. See Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d
575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009).
“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
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for the misconduct alleged.” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728
(7th Cir. 2014). The court interprets Ms. Ali’s complaint liberally because she’s
proceeding without the benefit of counsel, see Ray v. Clements, 700 F.3d 993,
1002 (7th Cir. 2012), but can’t identify any plausible claim for relief that would
lie within this court’s jurisdiction.
It’s unclear from Ms. Ali’s what relief she’s seeking from Loyola Community
Law Center and Ms. Ceko. The documents attached to her complaint suggest
that her claim arises out of a guardianship dispute that a state court in Illinois
decided, which and resulted in the appointment of a successor guardian for Ms.
Ali’s nephew, and the contents of a report and recommendation that was filed in
that case by the guardian ad litem, Ryan Scandaglia, a “law school graduate”,
and was co-signed by his supervising attorney at the Loyola Community Law
Center, Theresa Ceko. Ms. Ali alleges that she is her nephew’s “only guardian”;
that there was “never…any kind of abuse”; that Ms. Ceko “never talked to her”;
and that Ms. Ceko’s report and recommendation to the Cook County probate
court contained “false statements”. But those allegations are inconsistent with
the exhibits attached to Ms. Ali’s complaint and don’t establish a plausible claim
for relief against the guardian ad litem, Ms. Ceko, or the Loyola Community Law
Center. Even if they did, the court lacks jurisdiction over such matters.
Ms. Ali’s complaint is effectively a domestic-relations lawsuit, and federal
courts are discouraged from hearing cases – including both diversity and federalquestion lawsuits – that would traditionally fall within the ambit of domesticrelations or family courts. Jones v. Brennan, 465 F.3d 304, 306 (7th Cir. 2006);
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Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S. 293, 305-306 (2006); Ankenbrandt v. Richards,
504 U.S. 689, 703 (1992); Dawaji v. Askar, 618 Fed. Appx. 858, 860 (7th Cir.
2015) (no jurisdiction over child custody dispute); Friedlander v. Friedlander,
149 F.3d 739, 740 (7th Cir. 1998) (same). Without a plausible claim for relief and
a viable basis for federal jurisdiction, Ms. Ali’s complaint must be dismissed.
Accordingly, the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. No.
2] is DENIED and Ms. Ali’s complaint [Doc. No. 1] is DISMISSED.
February 17, 2021
/s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Judge, United States District Court
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