Robbins v. Tiffany et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: Because complete diversity of the parties does not exist, the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED without prejudice. A separate Order of Dismissal will be entered herewith. Signed by District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr on 6/29/17. (CSG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
TANYA RENEE ROBBINS, et al.,
JOE TIFFANY, et al. ,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Tanya Renee Robbins brings this state law negligence action on behalf of
two of her minor children. This matter is before the Court upon the Motions to Dismiss of
Defendants Ginger Joyner and Kevin Kinnard. (Docs. 10, 13.)
Robbins filed her pro se Complaint on April 10, 2017, in which she alleges that
various individuals failed to protect her children while they were in foster care. (Doc. 1.)
She has also named Edward Gassell and Joseph Robbins as Plaintiffs. 1 Robbins alleges
diversity of citizenship as a basis of jurisdiction.
In an Order dated April 17, 2017 (Doc. 3), the Court advised Robbins that she may
not represent her children in federal court.
See Osei-Afriyie by Osei-Afriyie v. Medical
The Court erroneously assumed from Robbins' allegations that all four individuals named
as Plaintiffs were Robbins' minor children. Defendant Kinnard states in his Motion to
Dismiss that Edward Gassell is the father of the children who are the subject of the state
adjudication and Joseph Robbins is Tanya Robbins' ex-husband. (Doc. 13.) This error has
no effect on the resolution of the instant motions.
College of Pennsylvania, 937 F.2d 876, 882-83 (3d Cir. 1991) ("[A] non-attorney parent
must be represented by counsel in bringing an action on behalf of his or her child"). The
Court gave Robbins thirty days, until May 12, 2017, to obtain representation in this matter.
To date, no attorney has entered his or her appearance on behalf of the minor children.
On May 23, 2017, Defendant Ginger K. Joyner filed a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(l) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 10.) Joyner is an attorney who was appointed guardian ad
litem in the state court proceedings to remove Robbins ' minor children and place them in
protective custody. She argues that Robbins' claims should be dismissed because this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction in that Plaintiff and Defendant Joyner are both citizens of the
State of Missouri; the Complaint fails to state a claim against Joyner; Robbins purports to
bring claims on behalf of her minor children but has failed to comply with this Court' s order
to obtain an attorney; and this action is duplicative of another pending action involving the
same parties, Case No. 1: 17CV54-ACL.
Defendant Jerome K. Kinnard filed a Motion to Dismiss on May 25 , 2017, in which
he argues that Robbins ' claims should be dismissed for the following reasons: this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction; Robbins has failed to state a claim against Defendant
Kinnard; Robbins has not complied with this Court' s previous order to obtain counsel to
represent the minor children; and Defendant Kinnard is entitled to official immunity. (Doc.
Robbins has not responded to Defendants' Motions.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; they possess only that power
authorized by Constitution and statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. ofAmerica, 511
U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The court is obligated to dismiss any action over which it does not
have subject matter jurisdiction. "In order to properly dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)( 1), the complaint must be successfully challenged on its face or
on the factual truthfulness of its averments." Titus v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 590, 593 (8th Cir.
1993) (citing Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 n. 6 (8th Cir. 1990)). In a facial
challenge to jurisdiction, all of the factual allegations concerning jurisdiction are presumed to
be true and the motion is successful if the plaintiff fails to allege an element necessary for
subject matter jurisdiction. Id.
Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires an amount in controversy
greater than $75 ,000 and complete diversity of citizenship among the litigants. 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). "Complete diversity of citizenship exists where no defendant holds citizenship in
the same state where any plaintiff holds citizenship." OnePoint Solutions, LLC v. Borchert,
486 F.3d 342, 346 (8th Cir. 2007).
In this case, Robbins alleges that she and all the other Plaintiffs whom she seeks to
represent are citizens of Missouri. (Doc. 1 at p. 2, 6.) Robbins does not allege that any of
the named Defendants are residents of a different state.
Rather, she lists the Missouri
Division of Family Services as a corporate defendant, and provides Missouri addresses for all
the other named Defendants with known addresses. Id. at 3-6. In addition, Defendant Joyner
has provided an Affidavit in which she states that she is a citizen of the State of Missouri.
(Doc. 11-1.) Because complete diversity of the parties does not exist, the Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED without prejudice.
A separate Order of Dismissal will be entered herewith.
Dated this ;J.,tf-/t.day of June, 2017.
STEPHEN NTIMBAGH, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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