United States District Court, D. Maine
ANTONIOS N. DIMOULAS, on behalf of minor children T.D. and A.D., Plaintiff,
STATE OF MAINE, et al., Defendants
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
has filed a complaint (ECF No. 1) and additional documents
(ECF Nos. 8, 12) through which filings he evidently seeks to
assert a claim against numerous individuals as the result of
incidents or proceedings that interfered with his contact
with his minor children.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
4), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 6.) In
accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary
review of Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C.
a review of Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2), I recommend the Court dismiss
federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is
designed to ensure meaningful access to the federal courts
for those persons unable to pay the costs of bringing an
action. When a party is proceeding in forma pauperis,
however, “the court shall dismiss the case at any time
if the court determines, ” that the action is
“frivolous or malicious” or “fails to state
a claim on which relief may be granted” or “seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
“Dismissals [under § 1915] are often made sua
sponte prior to the issuance of process, so as to spare
prospective defendants the inconvenience and expense of
answering such complaints.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).
considering whether a complaint states a claim for which
relief may be granted, courts must assume the truth of all
well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
a pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to “less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972),
this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not
required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim,
” Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st
Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal court, it is
not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that a defendant
acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively allege facts
that identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the
plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a remedy.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
documents Plaintiff filed in support of his complaint and the
responsibilities of some of the individuals he named as
defendants in this action suggest Plaintiff's claim is
based at least in part on his dissatisfaction with state
court processes in Maine and New Hampshire as they relate to
his contact with his minor children. “‘Federal
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ' possessing
‘only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.'” Gunn v. Minton, __ U.S. __, 133
S.Ct. 1059, 1064 (2013) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)).
“It 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.”
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377 (citation omitted).
“A court is duty-bound to notice, and act upon, defects
in its subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte.”
Spooner v. EEN, Inc., 644 F.3d 62, 67 (1st Cir.
2011). A review of Plaintiff's complaint fails to reveal
a basis upon which this Court could exercise either federal
question jurisdiction or diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332.
extent Plaintiff asserts his claim against the State of
Maine, its agencies, and state officers acting in their
official capacities, such as the Department of Human Services
and certain state court judicial officers, the defendants are
not persons subject to federal court jurisdiction under the
Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Eleventh
Amendment bars the case from proceeding against the
defendants in federal court. Will v. Mich. Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989); Poirier v.
Mass. Dep't of Corr., 558 F.3d 92, 97 n. 6 (1st Cir.
2009); Nieves-Marquez v. Puerto Rico, 353 F.3d 108,
124 (1st Cir. 2003).
extent Plaintiff asserts his claim against local
municipalities and municipal officers or officials with state
authority, although the named defendants might be susceptible
to suit under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Plaintiff has failed to assert any facts that would support a
plausible federal claim against any of them. Plaintiff also
has failed to assert facts that would support a plausible
claim based on state law, and the parties are not diverse in
their citizenship for purposes of federal court diversity
jurisdiction. For the exercise of diversity jurisdiction
to be valid, there must be “complete diversity of
citizenship as between all plaintiffs and all
defendants.” Connectu LLC v. Zuckerberg, 522
F.3d 82, 91 (1st Cir. 2008).
extent Plaintiff asserts his claim against private
individuals, specifically private attorneys and a guardian ad
litem, the citizenship of Plaintiff and the private
individuals is not diverse for purposes of diversity
jurisdiction, and a basis for federal question jurisdiction
is not evident from the pleadings. Furthermore, Plaintiff has
failed to assert any facts that would support a plausible
claim against the private individual defendants.
to the extent Plaintiff asks the Court to overturn or revisit
decisions of a state court, Plaintiff's claim is
precluded by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. “The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents the lower federal
courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases brought by
‘state-court losers' challenging ‘state-court
judgments rendered before the district court proceedings
commenced.'” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S.
459, 460 (2006) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)); Walczak v.
Mass. State Retirement Bd., 141 F.3d 1150 (1st ...