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Huot v. Mt State Dept. of Child & Family Services

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

September 18, 2017

SAFRON HUOT
v.
MT STATE DEPT. OF CHILD & FAMILY SERVICES

          REBECCA F. DOHERTY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pro se plaintiff Safron Huot filed the instant complaint on July 12, 2017. Plaintiff, a citizen of Montana, asserts claims that evidently arise out of child custody matters conducted in Montana state courts, against the following defendants: (1) MT State Dept of Child & Family Services; (2) MT Supreme Court; (3) Deer Lodge County MT District Court; (4) Ray Dayon; (5) Cal Boyal; (6) Cindy Johnson; (7) Deer Lodge Medical Center; (8) Wayne R. Martin; (9) Susanne M. Clague; (10) Ben Krakowka; (11) Susan Day; (12) Dave Fenchak; (13) Mary Jo Fortner; and (14) Roger Fortner, all Montana residents. [Rec. Doc. 1, pp. 1-4] Plaintiff asserts that her lawsuit involves a “federal question” [Id. at 4], yet enumerates twelve claims related to the judicial termination of her parental rights. Plaintiff asserts that she has filed or attempted to file her lawsuit in fifty other federal district courts throughout the country. [Rec. Doc. 1-3]

         Law and Analysis

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court may dismiss a case if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Additionally, the court is required to dismiss an action if the court determines it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         This Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's lawsuit. "[F]ederal courts are duty-bound to examine the basis of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte." See Union Planters Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Salih, 369 F.3d 457, 460 (5th Cir. 2004). See also In re Bass, 171 F.3d 1016, 1021 (5th Cir. 1999) ("Federal courts must be assured of their subject matter jurisdiction at all times and may question it sua sponte at any stage of judicial proceedings."). "It is incumbent on all federal courts to dismiss an action whenever it appears that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking." See Stockman v. Federal Election Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998).

         A federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over civil cases "arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In this case, Plaintiff has failed to identify any specific cause of action that would allow the Court to exercise federal question jurisdiction over her lawsuit.

         A federal court also has subject matter jurisdiction over civil cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, exclusive of interest and costs, and in which diversity of citizenship exists between the parties. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Because Plaintiff identifies herself and each defendant as citizens of Montana, diversity jurisdiction is lacking.

         Even if the Court retained subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's lawsuit, dismissal is appropriate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) for improper venue. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b):

A civil action may be brought in-
(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.

         Given that plaintiff is a resident of Montana, each defendant is a resident of Montana and the subject matter of the complaint took place in Montana, the proper venue for ...


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