United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
OPINION AND ORDER
D.CLARKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Aubrey Fitzgerald, a self-represented litigant, seeks to
proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") in this
action on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor child,
D.F. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' complaint
(#1) is DISMISSED without prejudice and with leave to file an
amended complaint within thirty (30) days of this Order.
Plaintiffs IFP application (#6) is held in abeyance and will
be reconsidered upon the filing of an amended complaint.
all parties instituting any civil action in United States
District Court must pay a statutory filing fee. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a). However, the federal IFP statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1), provides indigent litigants an opportunity
for meaningful access to the federal courts despite their
inability to pay the costs and fees associated with that
access. To authorize a litigant to proceed IFP, a court must
make two determinations. First, a court must determine
whether the litigant is unable to pay the costs of commencing
the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Second, it must
assess whether the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
the second of these determinations, district courts have the
power under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen
complaints even before the service of the complamt on the
defendants and must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state
a claim. Courts apply the same standard under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) as when addressing a motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison
v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To
survive a motion to dismiss under the federal pleading
standards, the complaint must include a short and plain
statement of the claim and "contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief
that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Ail.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. The plausibility standard . .. asks for more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Id. The Court is not required to
accept legal conclusions, unsupported by alleged facts, as
se pleadings are held to less stringent standards than
pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-521 (1972). That is, the court should construe
pleadings by pro se plaintiffs liberally and afford
the plaintiffs the benefits of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v.
Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th
Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). Additionally, a pro
se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in
the complaint and the opportunity to amend, unless the
complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment.
The Complaint is dismissed for failure to state a
has completed the paperwork provided by the Court titled,
"Complaint for a Civil Case." According to the
form, she intends to bring suit against Scott
Marical, Ashland City Police Officer; "Suzanne Cutler
and Wendy Shumway, "Housewife, 'Priesthood
Holder,' members of the church of Latter-Day
Saints;" "Deena Harris, Amanda Roberson, Kerry
Avalon, Leilani Humphries, and Kelly Packard;" as well
as Hon. Benjamin Bloom and Hon. Patricia Crain, Jackson
County Circuit Court Judges. Plaintiff lists numerous federal
statutes and provisions of the United States Constitution as
being at issue in the case, including the Fair Housing Act,
the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act,
and various clauses of the First, Sixth, Eight, Ninth,
Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
narrative written by Plaintiff in order to explain her claims
is extremely confusing, and very little of it connects the
named defendants to the federal statutes and constitutional
claims she lists. A few main themes are apparent, however.
Plaintiff experienced a medical emergency in 2015 and was
hospitalized for a period of time. She also had an ongoing
legal proceeding, which she feels was unfairly resolved
against her. Her son was removed from her care and custody,
and, although she admits that this happened while she was
incapacitated in the emergency room, she claims that the
removal was equivalent to a hate crime against her and her
son. She is currently pregnant and she is afraid that DHS
will remove the baby from her care when he is born. Finally,
Plaintiff claims that the adoption of her first-born son into
a family who are members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints
is a violation of the Constitutional principle known as
"the separation of church and state." The Court is
certainly sympathetic to the idea that Ms. Fitzgerald has
suffered, medically and legally. Unfortunately, Plaintiff
fails to request relief that is within the Court's
authority to grant. Federal Courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction. The Younger abstention doctrine
deprives federal courts of jurisdiction in ongoing state
criminal proceedings in circumstances where the federal court
is being called upon to interfere with or obstruct such state
judicial proceedings. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971); Canatella v. California, 304 F.3d 843. 850
(9th Cir. 2002). On the civil side, pursuant to the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal courts lack subject
matter jurisdiction "when the federal plaintiff both
asserts as her injury legal error or errors by the state
court and seeks as her remedy relief from the state
court judgment." Kongasian v. TMSL, Inc., 359
F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2004); Cooper, 704 F.3d at
777-78. See also Meek v. Zopan, 2017 WL 902864, at
*3 (D. Or. Mar. 6, 2017). In other words, if Plaintiff is
dissatisfied with the outcome of a case in state court, she
may not attempt to overturn that outcome by challenging that
case in federal court. In order to challenge the outcome of a
custody dispute, for instance, a person must appeal that
state court judgment to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Attempting to challenge it in federal court is an improper
collateral attack. Therefore, any claims asserted by
Plaintiff that arise out of a state court proceeding and
attempt to overturn the outcome of that proceeding will not
while the Court must liberally construe any claims Plaintiff
makes as a self-represented party, certain claims are simply
barred. For instance, judges and those performing judge-like
functions are absolutely free from liability for damages for
acts performed in their official capacities. Ashelman v.
Pope, 793 F.2d 1072, 1075 (9th Cir.1986) (en banc).
Judicial immunity from claims for damages generally can be
overcome only in two sets of circumstances. First, a judge is
not immune from liability for non-judicial actions, i.e.,
actions not taken in the judge's judicial capacity.
See Hylandv. Wonder, 117 F.3d 405, 413 n. 1 (9th
Cir.1997) (holding that judge may lose protection of judicial
immunity when performing administrative act). Second, a judge
is not immune for actions, though judicial in nature, taken
in the complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). As long as the judge has
jurisdiction to perform the "general act" in
question, he or she is immune however erroneous the act may
have been, however injurious the consequences of the act may
have been, and irrespective of the judge's claimed
motivation. Harvey v. Waldron, 210 F.3d 1008, 1012
(9th Cir.2000) (citing Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474
U.S. 193, 199-200 (1985)).
case, Plaintiff does not allege that Judge Bloom or Judge
Crain took any actions outside of their judicial capacity.
Indeed, Plaintiffs main complaints include decisions made
regarding custody of Plaintiff s son and Plaintiffs own
charges of contempt of court and violation of a no-contact
order. None of these allegations meet the requirements to
allow Plaintiff to bring a claim for damages against a judge.
The claims against these defendants are barred.
other allegations are implausible to the point of being
frivolous. She claims that Officer Marical conspired with
"religious zealots" to kidnap her son while she was
incapacitated in the emergency room. Later in the narrative
it becomes clear that she lost custody of her son in legal
proceedings in state court. Plaintiff must therefore seek
redress of that decision in state court.
claims that the actions taken against her regarding the
custody of her child were motivated by religious hatred
because her family are "Irish-American survivors of
Catholic holocaust," but she does not connect this
conclusory claim with any factual allegations against any
specific defendant. Plaintiff also discusses in-depth a
theory of "maternal cellular damages," but does not
state any factual allegations that amount to a cognizable
claim for relief in relation ...