United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L.HAYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the undersigned magistrate judge, on reference from the
District Court, is a hybrid motion to dismiss [doc. # 13] for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction, for insufficient service
of process, and for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), (5),
& (6), or alternatively, motion for more definite
statement, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e), filed by defendant, State of
Louisiana, through the Department of Children and Family
Services. The motion is opposed. For reasons assigned below,
it is recommended that the motion be GRANTED-IN-PART, and
that plaintiff's complaint, as amended, be dismissed
without prejudice, in its entirety, as to all parties.
September 12, 2018, Nakeema Stringfellow filed the instant
pro se suit against the Louisiana Department of Children and
Family Services (“DCFS”) on a court-supplied form
entitled, “Complaint Under Section 706(f) of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964.” (Compl.). From what the court may
discern, the thrust of plaintiff's complaint is that in
October 2015, Mavis Stringfellow, the grandmother of
plaintiff's three children, F.S., M.S., and J.S., filed a
complaint with DCFS that apparently resulted in DCFS's
removal of plaintiff's three children from her home.
According to the complaint, Mavis Stringfellow served as
“caretaker” for the children for over one year,
and then Natasha Stringfellow tried to care for them.
Plaintiff later was notified by social worker, Kierra
Richardson, and her supervisor, Pamela Henderson, that her
children had been placed in a shelter and other foster care.
further alleged that in June 2017, her visits with her
children inexplicably ceased. She was under the impression that
her parental rights had been suspended but temporarily, and
that she had done everything asked of her to secure her
children's return. Stringfellow also asserted that Judge
Aisha Clark discriminated against her rights and concerns,
apparently by failing to question Mavis Stringfellow or to
speak with the social workers. In March and September 2018,
Judge Tammy Lee was supposed to hold unspecified hearings,
but never did. The foster care and social workers ceased to
speak with Stringfellow.
November 13, 2018, DCFS filed the instant motion to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, for insufficient
service of process, and for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, or alternatively, motion for
more definite statement.
November 19, 2018, plaintiff filed an amended complaint(s) on
court-supplied forms, entitled, “Complaint and Request
for Injunction, ” and “Complaint for a Civil Case
Alleging Negligence.” [doc. # 16]. Her amended
complaint(s) joined additional defendants: Pamela Henderson,
Kierra Richardson, Mavis Stringfellow, plus a current
(unknown) social worker. Plaintiff alleged that she advised
Henderson of Richardson's rude attitude and negligence.
Moreover, Henderson made discriminating comments such as
“[y]ou can't never get your children.”
Plaintiff further alleged that in October 2015, the
“case plan was negligent, ” and contained false
information. She requested that her children be returned home
safely in a timely manner. She also asked for reimbursement
of travel expenses for transportation and for having to
relocate to different residences “over a period of
November 30, 2018, plaintiff submitted a document styled as a
“Motion to Review, ” [doc. # 18] which the court
construed as her opposition to the DCFS's motion to
dismiss. The gist of the rambling five page submission is
that plaintiff was dissatisfied with the process that
resulted in her children being permanently removed from her
home, and that she wants to be reunited with her children.
December 11, 2018, plaintiff filed (another) opposition to
the motion to dismiss in which she asserted, inter
alia, that she had been discriminated against as the
birth mother of her children. [doc. # 22]. DCFS filed its
reply brief that same day. [doc. # 21]. Therefore, the
matter is ripe.
reaching the merits of a case, federal courts are obliged to
ensure that they enjoy subject matter jurisdiction to hear
the matter. See Sinochem Intern. Co. Ltd. v. Malaysia
Intern. Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 430-431, 127 S.Ct.
1184, 1191 (2007); Smith v. Texas Children's
Hospital, 172 F.3d 923, 925 (5th Cir. 1999)
(courts must examine the basis for the exercise of federal
subject matter jurisdiction). This practice ensures that a
court without jurisdiction does not end up “prematurely
dismissing a case with prejudice.” See In Re: Fema
Trailer Formaldehyde Products Liability Litigation
(Mississippi Plaintiffs), In Re: Fema Trailer Formaldehyde
Products Liability Litigation (Alabama Plaintiffs), 668
F.3d 281 (5th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Lack
of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time.
Giles v. Nylcare Health Plans, Inc., 172 F.3d 332,
336 (5th Cir. 1999).
case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or
constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” Home
Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison,
143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting Nowak v.
Ironworkers local 6 Pension Fund, 81 F.3d 1182, 1187
(2nd Cir. 1996)). The party seeking to invoke jurisdiction
bears the burden of demonstrating its existence. See
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir.
2001); Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912,
916 (5th Cir. 2001). “[T]here is a presumption against
subject matter jurisdiction that must be rebutted by the
party bringing an action to federal court.” Coury
v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 248 (5th Cir. 1996) (citation
court can find that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking
based on (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or
(3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the
court's resolution of disputed facts.” Enable
Mississippi River Transmission, L.L.C. v. Nadel &
Gussman, L.L.C., 844 F.3d 495, 497 (5th Cir.2016)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
case sub judice, plaintiff checked the boxes on her
complaint form indicating that the basis for federal court
jurisdiction was federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and
diversity, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Amend. ...