United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
action involves Defendants' roles in the placement of
Plaintiff Preston Jenkins's (“Jenkins”) child
into protective custody. Jenkins filed this action and a
motion to proceed in forma pauperis on March 23, 2017 (Doc.
1). Before the Court could rule on his motion, Jenkins paid
the $400 filing fee.
review of Jenkins's complaint and its attachments, the
Court finds the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives it
of subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's purported
federal claim. Because the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the purported federal claim, it cannot
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Jenkins's state
law claim. Accordingly, this case is DISMISSED WITHOUT
matter arises out of state family court proceedings in the
Circuit Court of Jackson County. The Court outlines only the
facts relevant to the instant dispute, which it gleans from
Jenkins's complaint (Doc. 1-1) and its attachments (Doc.
September of 2016, Jenkins's minor son was committed to
his custody for a probationary period during which Jenkins
was subject to the supervision of the state family court.
Mot. for Expedited Case Rev. (Doc. 1-2 at 7). On January 23,
2017, Laverne D. Dailey (“Dailey”), a deputy
juvenile officer for the Circuit Court of Jackson County,
filed a motion for expedited case review regarding this
placement. Id. In her motion, Dailey asserted that
she had “concerns [regarding] the juvenile's home
life and placement with his father.” Id. For
example, Jenkins had “displayed bizarre behaviors such
as calling the Juvenile Probation Officer at 3a.m., [and]
making threats to sue the Officer for harassment.”
Id. She also noted that she had concerns about
“Jenkins's mental health and obsession over past
events.” Id. Dailey requested expedited case
review “to change placement of the child from his
father to . . . the juvenile's adult sister” and to
put additional services into place “in order to secure
safety and eventually reunify the child with his
February 15, 2017, Judge David Michael Byrn (“Judge
Byrn”) granted Dailey's motion and held a case
review hearing. J. Upon Case Review Hearing (Doc. 1-2 at 4).
After the hearing, Judge Byrn entered an order finding it
unnecessary “for the parents to have attorneys
appointed for them in order to proceed with a full and fair
hearing, ” and placing Jenkins's son in the
probationary custody of Brittany Jones. J. Upon Case Rev.
Hearing (Doc. 1-2 at 4). Judge Byrn further ordered that
Jenkins's son undergo a psychiatric evaluation and be
provided individual therapy. Id.
then filed the instant suit in federal court.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possess only
the power authorized by the Constitution and statute.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). “[I]t 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.” Id. (citations omitted).
“[W]here jurisdiction does not exist the court, whether
trial or appellate, shall dismiss the action sua sponte . . .
.” Williams v. Rogers, 449 F.2d 513, 518 (8th
here attempts to invoke federal question jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1331. But, even where § 1331 seems to
create subject matter jurisdiction, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine may preclude the exercise of
federal jurisdiction. With the exception of habeas claims,
this doctrine “precludes lower federal courts from
exercising judgment over actions seeking review of, or relief
from, state court judgments.” Hageman v.
Barton, 817 F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2016).
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies to cases: (1)
brought by the party that lost in state court; (2)
complaining of injuries caused by state court judgments; (3)
rendered before the district court proceedings commenced; and
(4) inviting district court review and rejection of those
judgments. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus.
Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291-92 (2005).
now challenges Judge Byrn's custody decision, alleging:
(1) a violation of his constitutional rights by Judge Byrn;
and (2) a state law libel claim against Dailey for the
statements made in her motion for expedited review. After
review, the Court finds that all four Rooker-Feldman
requirements are met, and the Court lacks jurisdiction over
Jenkins's claim against Judge Byrn. First, Jenkins's
son was placed into protective custody pursuant to Judge
Byrn's February 15, 2017, order, and against
Jenkins's wishes. This means Jenkins “lost”
at the state court level. Second, Jenkins is complaining of
an injury-the removal of his son from his custody-that stems
directly from Judge Byrn's custody order. Third, Judge
Byrn's order was entered on February 15, 2017, more than
a month before Jenkins filed this action. Finally, the fourth
element is satisfied because in order to prevail in his