Boylam v. NE Labor Department
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - This case is dismissed without prejudice. Judgment will be entered by separate order. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(GJG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
KATHLEEN K. BOYLAM,
NE LABOR DEPARTMENT,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the court on initial review of Plaintiff’s Complaint. (Filing
No. 1.) For the reasons that follow, the court finds that this action should be
I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Plaintiff’s Complaint is brought against the Nebraska Department of Labor,
purportedly under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiff alleges that she has been
unlawfully denied unemployment compensation. As relief, Plaintiff seeks an award
of unemployment benefits.
II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must
dismiss a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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 for the misconduct alleged”).
“The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds
for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.’” Topchian v.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins v.
Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must
be liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than
other parties.” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks and citations
Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
The Eleventh Amendment bars claims for damages by private parties against a state,
state instrumentalities, and an employee of a state sued in the employee’s official
capacity. See, e.g., Egerdahl v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll., 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995);
Dover Elevator Co. v. Arkansas State Univ., 64 F.3d 442, 446-47 (8th Cir. 1995).
Any award of retroactive monetary relief payable by the state, including for back pay
or damages, is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment absent a waiver of immunity
by the state or an override of immunity by Congress. See, e.g., id.; Nevels v. Hanlon,
656 F.2d 372, 377-78 (8th Cir. 1981). Here, Plaintiff seemingly seeks monetary
damages against the Nebraska Department of Labor. There has been no showing that
Nebraska has waived Eleventh Amendment immunity for suits to recover
unemployment benefits in federal court. Therefore, Plaintiff’s claims are barred by
the Eleventh Amendment. See Getachew v. Nebraska Department of Labor, No.
4:13CV3182, 2014 WL 1465893 (D. Neb. April 14, 2014).
Moreover, Plaintiff’s Complaint suggests that Plaintiff wants this court to
review the merits of a state court decision denying her claim for unemployment
benefits. To the extent Plaintiff seeks such relief, her action is barred by the RookerFeldman doctrine. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides that, with the exception
of habeas corpus petitions, lower federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over
challenges to state court judgments and state proceedings. Mosby v. Ligon, 418 F.3d
927, 931 (8th Cir. 2005). See also Mitchell v. North Carolina Division of Employment
Section, 76 F. Supp.3d 620, 625 (E.D. N.C. 2014) (“To the extent that [the plaintiff]
asks this court to review the merits of the decision denying his request for
unemployment benefits compensation and to award him unemployment benefits, the
court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over such a request”). Accordingly, this action
will be dismissed.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this case is dismissed without prejudice.
Judgment will be entered by separate order.
DATED this 29th day of November, 2016.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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