Amato et al v. McGinty et al
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER adopting Report and Recommendations re 11 Report and Recommendations: The Court hereby ORDERS that Magistrate Judge Baxter's Order and Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 11) is ADOPTED consistent with this Memorandu m-Decision and Order; and the Court further ORDERS that Plaintiffs' complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED as against DefendantsMcGinty, Ingram, Gilday, Beesmer, and Augustine; and the Court furtherORDERS that Plaintiff Amato's complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED withoutprejudice with respect to any claim challenging the constitutionality of the New York Domestic Relations Law, and only against the proper defendant for such challenge, at the proper time for such challenge, and in the prop er forum, as discussed above; and the Court further ORDERS that the Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment in Defendants' favor and close this case; and the court further ORDERS that the Clerk of the Court shall serve a copy of this Order on Plaintiff in accordance with the Local Rules. Signed by U.S. District Judge Mae A. D'Agostino on 9/15/2017. (Copy served via regular and certified mail)(ban)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
FRANCES AMATO; JOHN DOE,
progeny minor child; ADRIENNE
AUCHMOODY; TONI JEAN KULPINSKI;
VLADIMIR KULPINSKI; MICHAELA
KULPINSKI; MICHELLE ARZOLA; JANE
DOE, minor child; and JOHN DOE, minor child of
JUDGE ANTHONY MCGINTY, individually
and as Ulster County Family Court Judge;
ATTORNEY ANDREW GILDAY, individually
and as a public defender of New York; AMY INGRAM,
state attorney for the child; PATRICK V. BEESMER,
individually; and PAMELA AUGUSTINE, individually,
P.O. Box 820
Marlboro, New York 12542
Plaintiff, pro se
Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge:
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
On May 26, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Frances Amato ("Plaintiff Amato") commenced this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). See Dkt. No. 1 at 1, 4. Plaintiff Amato is
joined in this action with her son ("Plaintiff CB"); her mother, Adrienne Auchmoody ("Plaintiff
Auchmoody"); Plaintiff CB's aunt, Toni Jean Kulpinski ("Plaintiff TK"); Plaintiff CB's uncle,
Vladimir Kulpinski ("Plaintiff VK"); Plaintiff CB's cousin, Michaela Kulpinski ("Plaintiff MK");
Plaintiff CB's sister, Michelle Arzola ("Plaintiff Arzola"); Plaintiff CB's niece ("Plaintiff Jane
Doe"); and Plaintiff CB's nephew ("Plaintiff John Doe"). See id. at 1-2. Plaintiffs have brought
this action against Ulster County Family Court Judge Anthony McGinty ("Defendant McGinty")
for his role in a decision dictating the custody of Plaintiff CB entered on October 24, 2016. See
Dkt. No. 17 at 67; Dkt. No. 1 at 3. Plaintiffs have also sued Plaintiff CB's father, Patrick Beesmer
("Defendant Beesmer"); Plaintiff CB's assigned counsel for the custody proceedings, Amy
Ingram, ("Defendant Ingram"); Defendant Beesmer's assigned counsel for the custody
proceedings, Attorney Andrew Gilday ("Defendant Gilday"); and Defendant Beesmer's
"paramour" as Plaintiffs refer to her, Pamela Augustine ("Defendant Augustine"), for their roles
in the custody proceeding. See Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4.
Plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on June 2, 2017, see Dkt. No. 8,
which the Court denied that day, see Dkt. No. 9. On June 6, 2017, Magistrate Judge Baxter
issued an Order and Report-Recommendation recommending that Plaintiffs' complaint be
dismissed in its entirety with prejudice as to all named Defendants in this action. See Dkt. No. 11
at 26. Plaintiffs submitted objections to Magistrate Judge Baxter's Order and ReportRecommendation on June 19, 2017. See Dkt. No. 17. Currently before the Court is Magistrate
Judge Baxter's Order and Report-Recommendation and Plaintiffs' objections thereto.
Plaintiff Amato and Defendant Beesmer are the parents of Plaintiff CB and were involved
in custody proceedings over Plaintiff CB. See Dkt. No. 1 at 5. According to the complaint,
Defendant McGinty presided over the custody proceedings after the originally assigned judge
recused herself. See id. In an order dated October 24, 2016, Defendant McGinty granted
Defendant Beesmer primary custody of Plaintiff CB. See Dkt. No. 17 at 64-65, 67.
Upset with the outcome of the custody proceedings, Plaintiff Amato commenced the
instant action against Defendants for their roles in the proceedings.1 See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff
Amato claims that during the custody proceedings, Defendant McGinty was "[h]ighly abusive" to
"all" plaintiffs; violated Plaintiffs' "constitutional" and "ADA rights;" induced "[e]xtreme pain
and suffering and trauma to all plaintiffs;" "endanger[ed] the welfare of a child;" and "[i]llegally
extended fictious authority in CLEAR ABSENCE of subject matter jurisdiction." Id. at 6-7.
Plaintiff Amato claims that Defendant McGinty denied her access to "his court," denied her
"rights to proper serving process," and denied the admission of "any evidence into the court for
purpose of record." Id. at 7.
Plaintiff Amato claims that Defendant McGinty "co-conspired" with other Defendants in a
"mock trial" to punish Plaintiff Amato for her role as an "outspoken community advocate" for
human rights and family court reform. See id. at 7, 9, 15. Plaintiff Amato alleges that Plaintiff
CB's custody proceedings were "plagued by retributions" for Plaintiff Amato's public criticism of
Defendant McGinty prior to the custody proceedings. Id. at 7.
Plaintiff Amato alleges that Defendant McGinty, with cooperation from Defendants
Ingram and Gilday, committed a number of violations resulting in the "kidnaping and
endangerment of a minor." Id. at 8. Plaintiff Amato claims that Defendants McGinty, Ingram
and Gilday committed "Malicious Trespass," "Abuse of Process," "Retaliation," "False [and]
unlawful arrest," and "Child Endangerment." See id. at 8-9. Plaintiff Amato alleges that
Defendant McGinty "[p]re decided [a] trial with no evidence allowed." Id. at 8.
While all Plaintiffs have submitted claims against Defendants, the narrative in the
complaint and objections is written in a singular voice referring to Plaintiff Amato as "I," "me,"
and "myself." See generally Dkt. Nos. 1, 17.
Plaintiffs allege "Causes of Action" for "First Amendment," "Parental Impairment," and
"Due Process." Id. at 14-26. Plaintiffs also allege additional state law claims for "intentional and
negligent emotional distress." Id. at 24. Plaintiffs request the "immediate return of the child,"
compensatory damages of $10,000,000 on each cause of action, punitive damages, costs and
attorneys' fees, and a "[j]udgment declaring the orders, edicts and processes in th[e] [c]omplaint
unconstitutional[,] together with an order permanently enjoining the enforcement of [the family
court] orders." Id. at 26.
Standard of Review
"[I]n a pro se case, the court must view the submissions by a more lenient standard than
that accorded to 'formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Govan v. Campbell, 289 F. Supp. 2d 289,
295 (N.D.N.Y. 2003) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)) (other citations
omitted). The Second Circuit has opined that the court is obligated to "make reasonable
allowances to protect pro se litigants" from inadvertently forfeiting legal rights merely because
they lack a legal education. Id. (quoting Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983)).
However, "[t]he right of self-representation does not exempt a party from compliance with the
relevant rules of procedural and substantive law." Massie v. Ikon Office Solutions, Inc., 381 F.
Supp. 2d 91, 94 (N.D.N.Y. 2005) (quoting Clarke v. Bank of New York, 687 F. Supp. 863, 871
In reviewing a report and recommendation, a district court "may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C). When a party makes specific objections to a magistrate judge's report, the district
court engages in de novo review of the issues raised in the objections. See id.; Farid v. Bouey,
554 F. Supp. 2d 301, 307 (N.D.N.Y. 2008). When a party fails to make specific objections, the
court reviews the magistrate judge's report for clear error. See Farid, 554 F. Supp. 2d at 307; see
also Gamble v. Barnhart, No. 02-CV-1126, 2004 WL 2725126, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2004).
Although a pro se litigant's objections should be accorded leniency, "even a pro se party's
objections to a Report and Recommendation must be specific and clearly aimed at particular
findings in the magistrate's proposal, such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple by
simply relitigating a prior argument." DiPilato v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 662 F. Supp. 2d 333, 340
(S.D.N.Y. 2009) (quotation omitted); see also IndyMac Bank, F.S.B. v. Nat'l Settlement Agency,
Inc., No. 07 Civ. 6865, 2008 WL 4810043, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 3, 2008) ("To the extent . . . that
the party makes only conclusory or general arguments, or simply reiterates the original
arguments, the Court will review the Report strictly for clear error.").
As mentioned, Plaintiffs have submitted objections to the Order and ReportRecommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Baxter. See Dkt. No. 17. The objections submitted
by Plaintiffs are 117 pages long. See id. Despite the correct caption at the top of the document,
the first 25 pages of the document appear to be an appellate brief to the State of New York
Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department.2 See id. at 1-25. The remaining 92 pages
include a brief analysis of custody factors, Defendant McGinty's custody decision, court
transcripts, testimonial statements, and documents outlining the history of the custody
proceedings. See id. at 25-117. There is no mention of Magistrate Judge Baxter or the Order and
Report-Recommendation in any of these documents. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have failed to file
The objections make several comments claiming that "this court" "held" or "ruled" and
cited case law from the Third Department. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 17 at 23.
specific objections. However, regardless of whether the Court reviews the Order and ReportRecommendation de novo or for clear error, Plaintiffs' complaint is still subject to dismissal.
Judges are afforded absolute immunity from suit for actions related to the exercise of their
judicial functions. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967). Judges maintain judicial
immunity "even when [the] judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly." Id. at 554.
Judicial immunity is only defeated by "nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the judge's
judicial capacity;" or "actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction." Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991) (citations omitted). A judicial action is "a
function normally performed by a judge, and to the expectations of the parties." Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 362 (1978). A judge's actions are in "absence of all jurisdiction" when
the court has no "statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case." Gross v. Rell, 585 F.3d
72, 84 (2d Cir. 2009) (citing United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002)). Judicial actions
made in error or "in excess of his authority" do not defeat judicial immunity. Mireles, 502 U.S. at
12-13 (quoting Stump, 435 U.S. at 356). Furthermore, a district court cannot grant injunctive
relief "against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity . . .
unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable." Montero v.
Travis, 171 F.3d 757, 761 (2d Cir. 1999) (quotation omitted).
Plaintiffs have brought a number of allegations against Defendant McGinty, including that
he violated their constitutional rights, co-conspired with the remaining Defendants, endangered
the welfare of Plaintiff CB, and retaliated against Plaintiff Amato for being outspoken about
Defendant McGinty's purported "abuses and discrimination against mothers and children." Dkt.
No. 1 at 5-9. Accepting Plaintiff's claims as true, all claims occurred while Defendant McGinty
was working within his judicial capacity to determine the proper custody for Plaintiff CB.
Accordingly, Defendant McGinty is entitled to judicial immunity. See Mireles, 502 U.S. at 1213. Magistrate Judge Baxter correctly reasoned that any action Defendant McGinty committed
with malice or in retaliation of Plaintiff Amato's criticisms was still performed within the judicial
functions of a family court judge presiding over a custody dispute. Magistrate Judge Baxter also
correctly concluded that Plaintiff's arguments with respect to N.Y. Jud. Law § 21 are unavailing,
as Defendant McGinty did not violate that provsion, and, even if he did, he would still be entitled
to judicial immunity. See generally Gross, 585 F.3d at 84.
Furthermore, law guardians are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity for actions pertaining
to their representation of a child in family court. See Yapi v. Kondratyeva, 340 Fed. Appx. 683,
685 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); Lewittes v. Lobis, No. 04 Civ. 0155, 2004 WL 1854082,
*11 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 19, 2004). Therefore, Magistrate Judge Baxter correctly concluded that
Defendant Ingram is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity by virtue of her appointment as Plaintiff
CB's law guardian. See Dkt. No. 11 at 12-13.
To state a claim under Section 1983, "a plaintiff must allege (1) 'that some person has
deprived him of a federal right,' and (2) 'that the person who has deprived him of that right acted
under color of state . . . law.'" Velez v. Levy, 401 F.3d 75, 84 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)). Moreover, "[b]ecause the United States Constitution
regulates only the Government, not private parties, a litigant claiming that his constitutional rights
have been violated must first establish that the challenged conduct constitutes 'state action.'"
Flagg v. Yonkers Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 396 F.3d 178, 187 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting United States v.
Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 941 F.2d 1292, 1295 (2d Cir. 1991)).
The conduct of a private actor may be considered state action when the private actor "is a
willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents." Ciambriello v. Cty. of Nassau,
292 F.3d 307, 324 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 152
(1970)). However, "private attorneys—even if the attorney was court appointed—are not state
actors for the purposes of § 1983 claims." Licari v. Voog, 374 Fed. Appx. 230, 231 (2d Cir. 2010)
(citing Rodriguez v. Weprin, 116 F.3d 62, 65-66 (2d Cir. 1997)). The mere conduct of a private
party is excluded from the reach of Section 1983 "no matter how discriminatory or wrongful" that
conduct may be. American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999) (citation
Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant Gilday for his role as Defendant Beesmer's assigned
counsel and against Defendant Ingram for her role as Plaintiff CB's assigned attorney.
Defendants Gilday and Ingram, even if they were court appointed, cannot be considered state
actors. See Licari, 374 Fed. Appx. at 231. Furthermore, Defendants Beesmer and Augustine are
obvious private parties who are not state actors under Section 1983. Defendants Beesmer and
Augustine had no connection to the state beyond their participation in the custody proceedings.
While Plaintiffs have claimed that Defendants Beesmer and Augustine "conspired" with
the other Defendants to achieve the custody outcome, as Magistrate Judge Baxter found, there
have been no facts to support these conclusory statements.3 Conspiracy allegations that are
wholly conclusory are insufficient to state a claim under Section 1983. See Tapp v. Champagne,
164 Fed. Appx. 106, 108 (2d Cir. 2006) (citing Ciambriello, 292 F.3d at 325); see also Brito v.
Arthur, 403 Fed. Appx. 620, 621 (2d Cir. 2010) ("Complaints containing only 'conclusory, vague,
Similarly, Plaintiffs' purported state law claims are entirely conclusory and do not come
close to alleging facts to support a valid cause of action. See Dkt. No. 1 at 24-26.
or general allegations of a conspiracy to deprive a person of constitutional rights' will be
dismissed.") (citing Ostrer v. Aronwald, 567 F.2d 551, 553 (2d Cir. 1977)). Accordingly, this
Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Baxter that Defendants Gilday, Ingram, Beesmer, and
Augustine were not state actors, and the complaint is dismissed as to each of these Defendants.
Minor Child Plaintiffs
An individual "who has not been admitted to the practice of law may not represent
anybody other than himself." Guest v. Hansen, 603 F.3d 15, 20 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Lattanzio v.
COMTA, 481 F.3d 137, 139 (2d Cir. 2007)). Similarly, "a non-attorney parent must be
represented by counsel in bringing an action on behalf of his or her child." Cheung v. Youth
Orchestra Found. of Buffalo, Inc., 906 F.2d 59, 61 (2d Cir. 1990). Three minor plaintiffs,
Plaintiff CB, Plaintiff John Doe, and Plaintiff Jane Doe, have been listed as pro se litigants in this
action. See Dkt. No. 1 at 1-2; Dkt. No. 11 at 16. While the adult Plaintiffs may bring this lawsuit
pro se, they may not act as counsel for the minor children without being a licensed attorney. See
Cheung, 906 F.2d at 61. Therefore, this Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Baxter's
determination that the adult Plaintiffs in this matter may not bring suit on behalf of the minor
A plaintiff who wishes to invoke federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that
he or she has adequate standing to bring the action. Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
(1992) (citing FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990)) (other citation omitted).
To establish standing, "a plaintiff is constitutionally required to have suffered (1) a concrete,
particularized, and actual or imminent injury-in-fact (2) that is traceable to defendant's conduct
and (3) likely to be redressed by a favorable decision." Woods v. Empire Health Choice, Inc., 574
F.3d 92, 96 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). Moreover, there is a "prudential standing rule"
which generally bars litigants "from asserting the rights or legal interests of others in order to
obtain relief from injury to themselves." Rajamin v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co., 757 F.3d 79,
86 (2d Cir. 2014) (quotation omitted).
Here, despite multiple adult Plaintiffs filing suit against Defendants, Plaintiff Amato is the
only Plaintiff that was a party to the custody proceedings regarding Plaintiff CB. Plaintiffs
Auchmoody, TK, VK, MK, and Arzola only appear to be connected to the custody proceedings
by their relationship with Plaintiffs Amato and CB. See generally Dkt. No. 1. Pursuant to the
prudential standing rule, Plaintiffs Auchmoody, TK, VK, MK, and Arzola cannot assert the rights
of Plaintiff Amato or Plaintiff CB. See Rajamin, 757 F.3d at 86. Therefore, all Plaintiffs other
than Plaintiffs Amato and CB lack standing, and the complaint with respect to these Plaintiffs is
Domestic Relations Exception
Magistrate Judge Baxter also noted that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
several of Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to various legal doctrines. Due to the nature of Plaintiffs'
complaint, it is difficult to precisely determine exactly which doctrines apply, but the Court will
discuss several doctrines which preclude the Court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction
over several of Plaintiffs' claims.
The domestic relations exception to federal jurisdiction divests federal courts of
jurisdiction in matters involving divorce, alimony, and child custody. Marshall v. Marshall, 547
U.S. 293, 307-08 (2006) (citing Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 703-04 (1992)); see also
Hernstadt v. Hernstadt, 373 F.2d 316, 317 (2d Cir. 1967) ("[I]t has been uniformly held that
federal courts do not adjudicate cases involving the custody of minors"). In Bukowski v. Spinner,
No. 17-CV-0845, 2017 WL 1592578, *1 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 28, 2017), the Eastern District of New
York dismissed a case with similar allegations as those brought in this case.4
Plaintiffs allege that the "orders and processes" of the family court are unconstitutional;
however, the crux of their argument arises out of the alleged improper custody determination by
Defendant McGinty. See Dkt. No. 1 at 14-15, 21, 24, 26. Plaintiffs' alleged injuries stem directly
from the disputed family court custody decision. See id. at 5-9, 14-16, 21, 24. Additionally,
Plaintiffs request that this Court overturn the custody decision and permanently enjoin the
enforcement of family court decisions. See id. at 26. Accordingly, to the extent that Plaintiffs
request that this Court overturn the custody determination, this Court lacks jurisdiction to
adjudicate such a case.
"The Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides that the lower federal courts lack subject matter
jurisdiction over a case if the exercise of jurisdiction over that case would result in the reversal or
modification of a state court judgment." Hachamovitch v. DeBuono, 159 F.3d 687, 693 (2d Cir.
1998) (citation omitted). "Such jurisdiction is lacking because within the federal system, only the
Supreme Court may review a state court judgment." Id.
In Exxon Mobile Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., 544 U.S. 280 (2005), the
Supreme Court held that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine "is confined to cases of the kind from
which the doctrine acquired its name: cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries
caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceeding commenced and
inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments." Exxon Mobile, 544 U.S. at 284.
The court determined that despite the plaintiff "raising constitutional issues, the
allegations stem from a state domestic relations matter and are thus outside this Court's
jurisdiction." Bukowski, 2017 WL 1592578, at *3.
In light of Exxon Mobile, the Second Circuit has held that "there are four 'requirements' that must
be met before the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies." Green v. Mattingly, 585 F.3d 97, 101 (2d
Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). The requirements are as follows:
First, the federal-court plaintiff must have lost in state court.
Second, the plaintiff must "complain[ ] of injuries caused by [a]
state-court judgment[.]" Third, the plaintiff must "invite district
court review and rejection of [that] judgment[ ]." Fourth, the statecourt judgment must have been "rendered before the district court
proceedings commenced"—i.e., Rooker-Feldman has no
application to federal-court suits proceeding in parallel with
ongoing state-court litigation.
Id. (quoting Hoblock v. Albany County Bd. of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 85 (2d Cir. 2005)).
Plaintiffs request that this Court overturn and enjoin the unfavorable decisions of the
family court. See Dkt. No. 1 at 26. Plaintiffs claim that their injuries resulted from the custody
determination made by Defendant McGinty prior to the commencement of this action.5 See id.
As such, to the extent that Plaintiffs seek to challenge the family court decision, this Court does
not have jurisdiction to grant such relief under Rooker-Feldman.
Younger abstention "requires federal courts to abstain from exercising jurisdiction over
claims that implicate ongoing state proceedings." Torres v. Gaines, 130 F. Supp. 3d 630, 635 (D.
Conn. 2015) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-44 (1971)). This doctrine "applies if the
federal action involves ongoing: (1) 'state criminal prosecutions'; (2) 'civil proceedings that are
akin to criminal prosecutions'; or (3) civil proceedings that 'implicate a State's interest in
enforcing the orders and judgments of its courts.'" Id. at 636 (quoting Sprint Commc'ns, Inc. v.
Plaintiffs filed this action on May 26, 2017 and Defendant McGinty rendered his custody
determination on October 24, 2016. See Dkt. No. 17 at 4-5, 67.
See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971).
Jacobs, 134 S. Ct. 584, 588 (2013)). "If the federal action falls into one of these three categories,
a [c]ourt may then consider the additional factors described in Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. v.
Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 102 S.Ct. 2515, 73 L.Ed.2d 116 (1982)."7 Id. Since the
Supreme Court's decision in Sprint, several courts in this Circuit have held that Younger
abstention applies in similar circumstances as this case. See id.; see also Graham v. N.Y. Ctr. for
Interpersonal Dev., No. 15-CV-00459, 2015 WL 1120120, *2-3 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 12, 2015)
(holding that the plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief were barred by Younger where the plaintiff
sought to challenge ongoing family court proceedings regarding the loss of custody of her son).
Accordingly, as Magistrate Judge Baxter concluded, to the extent that any issues in this
litigation are still pending in family court, this Court is barred from exercising such jurisdiction
pursuant to Younger.
Opportunity to Amend
When a pro se complaint fails to state a cause of action, the court generally "should not
dismiss without granting leave to amend at least once when a liberal reading of the complaint
gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated." Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112
(2d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation and citations omitted). Of course, an opportunity to amend is
not required where "[t]he problem with [the plaintiff's] causes of action is substantive" such that
"better pleading will not cure it." Id. (citation omitted).
Defendants McGinty and Ingram are entitled to immunity, and, thus, better pleading
would not be able to cure the defects in Plaintiffs' allegations against them. Defendants Gilday,
Ingram, Beesmer, and Augustine were not state actors, and the conspiracy allegations against
The factors examine "whether the state interest is vital and whether the state proceeding
affords an adequate opportunity to raise the constitutional claims." Torres, 130 F. Supp. 3d at
them are entirely conclusory. Therefore, better pleading would not cure the substantive defects in
the complaint. Accordingly, to the extent that Plaintiffs allege constitutional and state law
violations that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over, those claims are dismissed without
leave to amend with respect to all named Defendants in this action.
However, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that, to the extent Plaintiff Amato
challenges the constitutionality of the New York Domestic Relations Law §§ 236 and 240, she
may be able to do so in certain circumstances. See Dkt. No. 11 at 25-26. The Court agrees, and
Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice with respect to a claim challenging the
constitutionality of the New York Domestic Relations Law, with only Plaintiff Amato as the
named plaintiff, and the complaint must be filed against the proper defendant, at the proper time,
and in the appropriate forum, as set forth more fully in the Order and Report-Recommendation.
See id. at 25-26.
After carefully reviewing the record in this matter, Plaintiffs' submissions and the
applicable law, and for the above-stated reasons, the Court hereby
ORDERS that Magistrate Judge Baxter's Order and Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No.
11) is ADOPTED consistent with this Memorandum-Decision and Order; and the Court further
ORDERS that Plaintiffs' complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED as against Defendants
McGinty, Ingram, Gilday, Beesmer, and Augustine; and the Court further
ORDERS that Plaintiff Amato's complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED without
prejudice with respect to any claim challenging the constitutionality of the New York Domestic
Relations Law, and only against the proper defendant for such challenge, at the proper time for
such challenge, and in the proper forum, as discussed above; and the Court further
ORDERS that the Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment in Defendants' favor and close
this case; and the court further
ORDERS that the Clerk of the Court shall serve a copy of this Order on Plaintiff in
accordance with the Local Rules.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: September 15, 2017
Albany, New York
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?