United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, at Knoxville Division
LEON JORDAN, District Judge.
By memorandum and order dated December 22, 2014, the court granted the motion to dismiss filed by defendant Donny M. Young, concluding that Young is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. The court denied, with leave to renew, the motion to dismiss filed by defendant Misty Miller. The court granted pro se plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint. By that amended complaint [doc. 24] (hereinafter, "complaint"), plaintiff added the State of Tennessee as a defendant and clarified that defendant Miller is being sued in her official capacity only "as an employee of the State of Tennessee." [Doc. 18, p.1].
Now before the court is the "Renewed Motion to Dismiss" [doc. 26] filed by defendants Miller and the State of Tennessee (collectively, "the State defendants"). The motion has been fully briefed by the parties [docs. 27, 32, 34, 35, 37, 39] and is ripe for consideration. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted and this case will be dismissed in its entirety.
Relevant Legal Standards
The State defendants move for dismissal pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (lack of subject-matter jurisdiction), 12(b)(2) (lack of personal jurisdiction), and 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted). In substance, however, the motion is most directly brought under Rule 12(b)(1). See, e.g., Loriz v. Connaughton, 233 F.Appx. 469, 474-75 (6th Cir. 2007) (A party invoking the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is challenging the federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction.). Further, a "Rule 12(b)(6) challenge becomes moot if [the] court lacks subject matter jurisdiction." Moir v. Greater Cleveland Reg'l Transit Auth., 895 F.2d 266, 269 (6th Cir. 1990). When confronted with a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving jurisdiction. See Nichols v. Muskingum Coll., 318 F.3d 674, 677 (6th Cir. 2003).
Accompanying the State defendants' motion are two juvenile court orders. [Doc. 32]. Plaintiff has attached 18 pages of exhibits to his response brief. [Doc. 35]. In resolving a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, "the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings to resolve factual disputes concerning jurisdiction...." Nichols, 318 F.3d at 677. Where, as in the present case, a 12(b)(1) motion factually attacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must "weigh the conflicting evidence to arrive at the factual predicate that subject matter jurisdiction exists or does not exist, " and no presumption of truthfulness attaches to the factual allegations of the complaint. Ohio Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. United States of America, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990).
Plaintiff's complaint is presented in narrative form and does not specify under which federal statute, if any, he seeks relief. By comparison, plaintiff's original complaint was submitted on a form captioned "Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights (42 U.S.C. Section 1983)."
According to the complaint, on March 28, 2013, plaintiff was ordered by the Knox County Juvenile Court to surrender his four minor children to the State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS"). Defendants Young and Miller are identified as, respectively, the children's guardian ad litem and DCS case worker.
The complaint alleges that DCS held a family permanency plan meeting on April 23, 2013. At that meeting, according to the complaint, Miller stated that she and Young had decided not to place the children in the temporary care of a Ms. Kroumah as suggested by plaintiff based on the discriminatory reason that plaintiff and Ms. Kroumah are both African. The complaint further alleges that on March 6, 2013, Young expressed concern regarding the practice of female genital mutilation ("FGM") if plaintiff were to return with his children to plaintiff's native country of Mali. Plaintiff contends that, "The removal of my children [from his custody] was based on direct discriminatory allegation of Mr. Young [sic] statement to the juvenile court."
Plaintiff alleges that Young and Miller engaged in "falsification, discrimination and segregation" resulting in the institutionalization of his children for more than 90 days and an "intense emotional breakdown." The alleged "discriminatory behavior [led] to the sufferance [sic] of me and my children. The pain was unbearable when I was being asked when they can come home by my children. My son [sic] eczema was amplified out of proportion."
According to the complaint, plaintiff's children were returned to his custody on July 2, 2013. In his prayer for relief, plaintiff states in full, "I'm seeking justice for all the wrong doing caused by Donny young [sic] ...