United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon the motion of pro se
plaintiff Edward George Gassel for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. The Court has considered the financial information
submitted in support, and will grant the motion. The Court
will also dismiss the complaint, without prejudice.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss
a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead
more than “legal conclusions” and
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action [that are] supported by mere conclusory
statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim
for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Id. at 679. “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.”
Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to, inter alia, draw
upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at
conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the
Court must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal
construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). However, this does not mean that pro se
complaints may be merely conclusory. Even pro se complaints
are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim
for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon,
623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal
courts are not required to “assume facts that are not
alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would
have formed a stronger complaint”). In addition,
affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal
construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary
civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes
by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v.
U.S., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff alleges that defendant Smith was a case manager
employed by the Missouri Department of Social Services.
Plaintiff has not identified any of the other defendants
named in the caption of the complaint.
alleges that Tiffany took actions that resulted in his
children being removed from his custody in March of 2017. His
allegations state as follows (in part):
March 1, 2017, Joe Tiffany had my son who was 4 at the time
pull his pants down outside and talked to my son and then
attempted to enter my home, all this without my permission.
He claimed my house smelled bad when first thing you smell
when you enter premised is propane heater, not pets so I
agreed to remove children and get rid of some pets and even
agreed to intensive home services.
March 3, 2017, Joe Tiffany returned to my home and said it
was better but did not say the children could be there said
he would call when his recommendation for home services went
through, but there was no paper signed for any plan then. Joe
Tiffany went back to Division of Family Services and told
everyone he didn't want my children in my home. I had
also called his supervisor Laurie Grime and told her about
his conduct on March 1, 2017 and she told me he could do
whatever he wanted without a warrant and hung up on me and
refused to pick up phone again when I kept calling back.
March 7, 2017, Bria Ward, Sarah Hill, Tonya came to my house
threatening, bullying into letting them see the whole place
including my bedroom when I said my room has nothing to do
with it they said we can't give you service unless we see
the whole house. Then they said with their supervisor on the
phone you have to get rid of all your pets and I said no I
would put them outside. Obviously them and their supervisor
Brittany said no services cause I wouldn't get rid of the
animals and that I was only willing to put them outside. I
told the dad [Edward Gassell] well I guess our children
can't live with us then. One of them said why not. I said
well if you say house ain't safe cause of the bathroom
floor that they said was weak which they wouldn't know
cause they didn't even step on the floor, then my
children won't live with us, and then I said I would sign
guardianship of the children over to my ex-husband Joe
[Robbins]. While I did what they wanted they also got mad as
I was leaving the house cause I told Edward the dad of the
children that if I was doing drugs or drinking or actually
abusing and neglecting the children or sleeping with everyone
in town they wouldn't have even been interested in taking
the children unless it was for our son's disability check
and to get social security…so they went to the
juvenile officer and told him my house smelled, that there
was poop all over, the bathroom floor was too weak, and they
said I told them that I would rather sign my children over to
my ex-husband than get rid of animals and my son's teeth
were bad. The juvenile officer believed them and gave
Gretchen Plaggenberg and Samantha Faulkner the paper with the
children's names on it and he had put the Judge's
name on it and they claimed intentional neglect….
request for relief, plaintiff seeks to have his children
returned to him and monetary damages for emotional distress.
case will be dismissed pursuant to the domestic relations
exception. “The domestic relations exception, first
articulated in Barber v. Barber, 62 U.S. 582, 584
(1858), divests the federal courts of jurisdiction over any
action for which the subject is a divorce, allowance of
alimony, or child custody.” Khan v. Khan, 21
F.3d 859, 861 (8th Cir. 1994) (internal citation amended).
Even “when a cause of action closely relates to but
does not precisely fit into the contours of an action for
divorce, alimony or child custody, federal courts generally
will abstain from exercising jurisdiction.”
Id. In the case at bar, plaintiff is asking this
Court to determine that Tiffany and the other named