United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiffs Tanya
Robbins and Edward Gassel for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis in this civil action. The Court has reviewed the
financial information submitted in support, and will grant
the motions. The Court will also dismiss the complaint,
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), 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 draw on its judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the
Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the
Court liberally construes the allegations. 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 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. United States, 508
U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiffs allege that between March 1 and March 7, 2017,
defendants took actions that resulted in their children being
removed from Ms. Robbins custody. Plaintiffs' allegations
state as follows (in part):
Joe Tiffany came to my house on a hotline call which was
unsubstantiated child abuse. He had my son pull his pants
down outside without my permission he talked to my son
without my permission then started to enter my house without
permission. He trespassed, no warrant, no informing me of my
rights to an attorney then and there.
March 1, 2017, Joe Tiffany also had lied and said my house
stunk like cats the thing is when you first step into place
you smell propane heater next to door. He told me to remove
my children, clean the place, and agree to intensive home
services. I told him if it would allow me to keep my children
I would do anything. I did what I was told. Then on March 2-3
he went to ex-husband's place where my children were at
the girl since March 1. The boy had been there since Feb. 27.
He intimidated my ex-husband into letting him in his place,
once again trespass, no warrant. Said the place was fine for
the children to stay at.
March 6th Joe Tiffany came again to my house, said the place
was better, did not say my children couldn't be there,
said he put the order in for intensive home services, said he
would call when it went through somewhere between March 1 and
March 7. I had called his supervisor Laurie Grimes and
complained about everything Joe Tiffany did. First she told
me he could do whatever he wanted and hung up on me. When I
tried to call her back she absolutely refused to answer the
phone. March 7th ISS workers Sarah Hill and another woman
along with Tonya Shearin caseworker now and ISS supervisor
Brittany Robbins on the phone another started bullying me and
demanding I let them see my whole place. I told them my
bedroom was off limits they said then we can't give you
the services, so since I didn't want my children taken I
let them see the whole place. They looked in the bathroom saw
the floor and automatically assumed it was weak. Then they
started demanding I get rid of all my cats. I told them I
would put the cats outside but they said no you have to get
rid of all of them. I still refused and said I would let my
ex-husband have guardianship of my children until I had stuff
to plaintiffs' complaint are nineteen pages of additional
facts and accusations regarding plaintiffs'
children's custody proceedings. Plaintiffs also quotes
the Bill of Rights and several Missouri state statutes, but
do not allege facts to support any claim under these laws.
For relief, plaintiffs seek damages for pain and suffering
and also seek $80, 000 from defendants for refusal to place
the children in the home of a family of friend.
carefully reviewed and liberally construed the complaint, the
Court has concluded that it fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. First, the allegations in the
complaint are duplicative of many of the allegations
plaintiffs have previously brought in four separate cases
before this Court: (1) 1:17-CV-53 ACL (E.D. Mo. filed Jun.
29, 2017) (dismissed for lack of diversity jurisdiction); (2)
1:17-CV-54 ACL (E.D. Mo. filed Jun. 29, 2017) (dismissed
pursuant to domestic relations exception); (3) 1:17-CV-79
(E.D. Mo. filed Jun 23, 2017) (dismissed pursuant to domestic
relations exception); and (4) 1:17-CV-134 SNLJ, (E.D. Mo.
filed Oct. 31, 2017) (dismissed for failure to state a
claim). All four cases have been dismissed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e). As a result, the complaint will be
dismissed as duplicative. E.g., Cooper v.
Delo, 997 F.2d 376, 377 (8th Cir. 1993) (§ 1915(e)
dismissal has res judicata effect on future IFP petitions).
this case falls under the domestic relations exception and
will be dismissed for this reason. “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 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. Here, plaintiffs are asking
the Court to determine that Tiffany and the other named
defendants in the caption committed wrongdoing in connection
with state child custody ...