Jenkins v. Byrn et al
Order of Dismissal for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Signed on 5/16/17 by Chief District Judge Greg Kays. (Strodtman, Tracy) Modified on 5/16/2017 - Mailed to Plaintiff. (Strodtman, Tracy)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
) Case No. 4:17-CV-00213-DGK
DAVID MICHAEL BYRN
and LAVERNE D. DAILEY,
ORDER OF DISMISSAL FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
This action involves Defendants’ roles in the placement of Plaintiff Preston Jenkins’s
(“Jenkins”) child into protective custody. Jenkins filed this action and a motion to proceed in
forma pauperis on March 23, 2017 (Doc. 1). Before the Court could rule on his motion, Jenkins
paid the $400 filing fee.
After a review of Jenkins’s complaint and its attachments, the Court finds the RookerFeldman doctrine deprives it of subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s purported federal
claim. Because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the purported federal claim, it
cannot exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Jenkins’s state law claim. Accordingly, this case
is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
This matter arises out of state family court proceedings in the Circuit Court of Jackson
County. The Court outlines only the facts relevant to the instant dispute, which it gleans from
Jenkins’s complaint (Doc. 1-1) and its attachments (Doc. 1-2).
The Court gleans these facts from Jenkins’s complaint (Doc. 1-1) and its attachments.
In September of 2016, Jenkins’s minor son was committed to his custody for a
probationary period during which Jenkins was subject to the supervision of the state family
court. Mot. for Expedited Case Rev. (Doc. 1-2 at 7). On January 23, 2017, Laverne D. Dailey
(“Dailey”), a deputy juvenile officer for the Circuit Court of Jackson County, filed a motion for
expedited case review regarding this placement. Id. In her motion, Dailey asserted that she had
“concerns [regarding] the juvenile’s home life and placement with his father.” Id. For example,
Jenkins had “displayed bizarre behaviors such as calling the Juvenile Probation Officer at 3a.m.,
[and] making threats to sue the Officer for harassment.” Id. She also noted that she had
concerns about “Jenkins’s mental health and obsession over past events.” Id. Dailey requested
expedited case review “to change placement of the child from his father to . . . the juvenile’s
adult sister” and to put additional services into place “in order to secure safety and eventually
reunify the child with his father.” Id.
On February 15, 2017, Judge David Michael Byrn (“Judge Byrn”) granted Dailey’s
motion and held a case review hearing. J. Upon Case Review Hearing (Doc. 1-2 at 4). After the
hearing, Judge Byrn entered an order finding it unnecessary “for the parents to have attorneys
appointed for them in order to proceed with a full and fair hearing,” and placing Jenkins’s son in
the probationary custody of Brittany Jones. J. Upon Case Rev. Hearing (Doc. 1-2 at 4). Judge
Byrn further ordered that Jenkins’s son undergo a psychiatric evaluation and be provided
individual therapy. Id.
Jenkins then filed the instant suit in federal court.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possess only the power authorized by
the Constitution and statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377
(1994). “[I]t is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction and the burden of
establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.” Id. (citations omitted).
“[W]here jurisdiction does not exist the court, whether trial or appellate, shall dismiss the action
sua sponte . . . .” Williams v. Rogers, 449 F.2d 513, 518 (8th Cir. 1971).
Plaintiff here attempts to invoke federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
But, even where § 1331 seems to create subject matter jurisdiction, the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine2 may preclude the exercise of federal jurisdiction. With the exception of habeas claims,
this doctrine “precludes lower federal courts from exercising judgment over actions seeking
review of, or relief from, state court judgments.” Hageman v. Barton, 817 F.3d 611, 614 (8th
Specifically, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies to cases: (1) brought by the party that
lost in state court; (2) complaining of injuries caused by state court judgments; (3) rendered
before the district court proceedings commenced; and (4) inviting district court review and
rejection of those judgments. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280,
Jenkins now challenges Judge Byrn’s custody decision, alleging: (1) a violation of his
constitutional rights by Judge Byrn; and (2) a state law libel claim against Dailey for the
statements made in her motion for expedited review. After review, the Court finds that all four
Rooker-Feldman requirements are met, and the Court lacks jurisdiction over Jenkins’s claim
against Judge Byrn. First, Jenkins’s son was placed into protective custody pursuant to Judge
Byrn’s February 15, 2017, order, and against Jenkins’s wishes. This means Jenkins “lost” at the
This doctrine borrows its name from two Supreme Court cases: District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462 (1983), and Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923).
state court level. Second, Jenkins is complaining of an injury—the removal of his son from his
custody—that stems directly from Judge Byrn’s custody order. Third, Judge Byrn’s order was
entered on February 15, 2017, more than a month before Jenkins filed this action. Finally, the
fourth element is satisfied because in order to prevail in his lawsuit, the Court must review and
reject the state court judgment.
Thus, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine divests the Court of
jurisdiction in this matter and Plaintiff’s claim against Judge Byrn is dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
Jenkins’s only remaining claim is a state law claim for libel. Because the Court does not
have original jurisdiction over any claim in this case, it cannot exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over Jenkins’s libel claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff’s claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: May 16, 2017
/s/ Greg Kays
GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?