United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT AND
AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
C. NIVISON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Susan and Louis Dussault filed a complaint (ECF No. 1) and an
amended complaint (ECF No. 11) through which filings they
attempt to assert claims against the Kennebec County Probate
Court, the Waterville District Court, the State Police, and
filed applications to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF Nos. 3
and 12), which applications the Court granted. (ECF Nos. 6
and 14.) In accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a
preliminary review of Plaintiffs' complaint and amended
complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
a review of Plaintiffs' complaint and amended complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), I recommend the
Court dismiss the matter.
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 Plaintiffs filed in support of their complaint and
amended complaint reveal Plaintiffs' claim, which
Plaintiffs allege arises under the Ninth Amendment, is based
on Plaintiffs' dissatisfaction with state court
proceedings, which resulted in the termination of
Plaintiffs' parental rights regarding their minor child
and the granting of a third party's petition for the
adoption of the child.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ' possessing
‘only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.'” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251,
256 (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
Plaintiffs' complaint and amended complaint fails to
reveal a basis upon which this Court could exercise
extent Plaintiffs assert their claim against the State of
Maine through its agencies, 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.
to the extent Plaintiffs ask the Court to overturn or revisit
decisions of a state court, Plaintiffs' 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 Cir.
1998) (unpublished) (citing District of Columbia Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983); Rooker
v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923)).
Plaintiffs have not asserted an actionable claim within the