Patterson v. Kaiser et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. # 2 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue up on the complaint, because this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of some of plaintiff's claims, and the remainder of her claims are legally frivolous and fail to state a claim or cause of action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B ). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motions for "an advance court hearing" [Docs. # 4 and # 7 ] are DENIED as moot. A separate Order of Dismissal will be filed with this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 09/22/2014. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LA TONYA PATTERSON,
UNKNOWN KAISER, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of La Tonya Patterson for leave
to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee [Doc. #2].
Upon consideration of the financial information provided with the motion [Doc. #6],
the Court finds that plaintiff is financially unable to pay the filing fee, and therefore,
the motion will be granted. Moreover, for the reasons set forth below, the Court
will dismiss this action, without prejudice.
28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may dismiss a complaint
filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if Ait lacks an arguable basis in
either law or in fact.@ Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead Aenough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
In reviewing a pro se complaint under ' 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must give
the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
The Court must also weigh all factual allegations in favor of the
plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504
U.S. 25, 32 (1992).
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983, seeking ten million
dollars in monetary damages, as well as the "removal of [her] children from St.
Charles Children's Division back into [her] full custody." In addition, plaintiff
summarily asserts pendent state-law claims for "fraud and false fraud and false
statements," and she asks this Court to "reverse the error and decision of the St.
Charles Juvenile Court further allowing [her] full contact with [her] children." The
named defendants are St. Charles Sheriff's Department employees Unknown Kaiser,
A. Tiefenbrunn, Joseph Fry, and Unknown Hudson; "St. Charles Children's Division
(Jane/John Doe)"; St. Charles Children's Division employees Daniele Corley, Deitra
Logsdon, Kim Selby, Kelly Buehrer, Jennifer Fahs, Laura Case, and Lori/Lauren
Harris; the Missouri Department of Social Services and its employee, Shawn
Holliman; the Center Pointe Hospital and its employees, Charity Ghitalla, Adam
Hilligardt, Christopher Reynolds, and Elizabeth Anne Wells; and the "St. Charles
DCYFS, CDP, DSS."
Plaintiff alleges that on February 18, 2014, her "children IMMP and VCMP
were taken into custody by a St. Charles Deputy without following procedures."
Plaintiff further alleges that Center Pointe Hospital "committ[ed] [her] and [her] son
IMMP w/o medical reason" and that she was restrained and injected "with two
tranquilizer[s]." Plaintiff states that she was discharged "on or about the 21st of
February 2013," 1 and her children "were placed wrongly into DCYFS custody
based on perjured and moot statements." In addition, plaintiff states that when she
attempted to file a complaint with the St. Charles Sheriff's Department, she was
"antagonize[d] and threaten[ed]" with incarceration by defendant Tiefenbrunn.
Plaintiff summarily claims that on July 11, 2014, and "in retaliation," defendant
Tiefenbrunn "harshly state[d] that [she] wanted [her] son taken into custody."
Federal district courts are courts of original jurisdiction; they lack subject
matter jurisdiction to engage in appellate review of state court decisions. Postma v.
It is unclear to the Court if the alleged events occurred in 2014 or 2013, because
plaintiff's allegations confusingly reference both years.
First Fed. Sav. & Loan, 74 F.3d 160, 162 (8th Cir. 1996). AReview of state court
decisions may be had only in the Supreme Court.@ Id. Thus, to the extent that
plaintiff is seeking review and dismissal of the earlier St. Charles Juvenile Court
decision, this Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain plaintiff=s claims.
To the extent that plaintiff is attempting to assert § 1983 claims against the
employees of the St. Charles Sheriff's Department, and any of the other named
state-actor defendants, the claims will be dismissed. Plaintiff is suing defendants in
their official capacities. See Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community College, 72 F.3d 615,
619 (8th Cir. 1995) (where a complaint is silent about defendant=s capacity, Court
must interpret the complaint as including only official-capacity claims); Nix v.
Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir. 1989). Naming a government official in his or
her official capacity is the equivalent of naming the government entity that employs
the official. Will v. Michigan Dep=t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). To
state a claim against a municipality or a government official in his or her official
capacity, a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the government entity is
responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep=t of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant complaint does not contain any
allegations that a policy or custom of a government entity was responsible for the
alleged violations of plaintiff=s constitutional rights. As a result, the complaint is
legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to the
named state-actor defendants.
As additional grounds for dismissing this action, the Court finds that the
"domestic relations exception" precludes the exercise of federal jurisdiction. Cf.
Kahn v. Kahn, 21 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 1994). Pursuant to this exception, federal
courts are divested of jurisdiction over any action in which the subject is divorce, the
allowance of alimony, or child custody. See id. at 861. In addition, when a cause
of action closely relates to, but does not precisely fit into the contours of an action
for divorce, alimony, or child custody, federal courts generally will abstain from
exercising jurisdiction. Id. Although plaintiff's child custody claims are drafted to
sound in § 1983, they are either directly related to or are so interwoven with the state
child custody proceedings that subject matter jurisdiction does not lie with this
Court. Plaintiff has given no indication that her claims cannot receive a full and fair
determination in state court, and it would appear that the state courts, where the
custody proceedings allegedly were held, would be better equipped to handle the
issues that have arisen relative to plaintiff's custody of her two minor children.
Because plaintiff's federal claims will be dismissed, all remaining pendent
state claims will be dismissed, as well. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1367(c)(3); United Mine
Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (if federal claims are dismissed before
trial, remaining state claims should also be dismissed); Hassett v. Lemay Bank &
Trust Co.,851 F.2d 1127, 1130 (8th Cir. 1988) (where federal claims have been
dismissed, district courts may decline jurisdiction over pendent state claims as a
"matter of discretion").
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff=s motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause
process to issue upon the complaint, because this Court lacks jurisdiction over the
subject matter of some of plaintiff's claims, and the remainder of her claims are
legally frivolous and fail to state a claim or cause of action. See 28 U.S.C. §
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motions for "an advance court
hearing" [Docs. #4 and #7] are DENIED as moot.
A separate Order of Dismissal will be filed with this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 22nd day of September, 2014.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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