United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon plaintiff Vincent Reed's
motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and submission
of a civil complaint. The motion will be granted, and this
action will be dismissed.
to Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, if
the Court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, the Court must dismiss the action.
Additionally, when a complaint is filed in forma pauperis,
the Court must review it and dismiss it if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Having reviewed
the instant complaint, the Court has determined that it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. The Court will therefore dismiss
filed the complaint against "Florissant County Child
Support." His allegations stem from state
determinations regarding his paternity and obligation to pay
child support. In sum, plaintiff characterizes the
state's decision regarding his obligation to pay child
support as a "contract" that the defendant
wrongfully induced him to enter, and he characterizes the
state's child support enforcement mechanism as a
"franchise." He alleges he has suffered various
penalties, including lost wages, seizure of income tax
refunds, revocation of various licenses, and damage to his
credit, and he alleges he has been wrongfully required to be
employed and make regular child support payments to the
"IV-D franchise." As relief, he seeks
"compensatory damages and punitive damages that exceed
the amount of $75, 000 due injuries."
the fourth action plaintiff has brought in this Court since
2012 seeking to challenge his child support obligation.
See Reed v. Missouri Child Support Enforcement, et
al., No. 4:12-cv-1391-CAS (2012); Reed v. Collier,
et al, No. 4:13-cv-2565-CAS (2013); and Reed v.
Domestic Relations Section/Florissant County et al, No.
4:18-cv-365-RLW (2018). All of those actions were dismissed
after the Court determined it lacked subject matter
jurisdiction. Additionally, in 2016, plaintiff filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, seeking to challenge the state court's
decision in his criminal non-support case. See Reed v.
State of Missouri, No. 4:16-cv-1444-SNLJ-PLC (2016). The
Court dismissed the petition as untimely. This Court takes
judicial notice of the foregoing actions that are closely
related to the one at bar. See United States v.
Jackson, 640 F.2d 614, 617 (8th Cir. 1981) (citations
omitted) (district court may take judicial notice, whether
requested or not, of its own records and files and facts that
are part of its public records; judicial notice is
particularly applicable to the court's own records of
prior litigation closely related to the case before it).
the Supreme Court's decision in Barber v.
Barber, 62 U.S. 582, 584 (1858), federal courts,
including the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, have
recognized a limitation on their jurisdiction over cases
involving domestic relations. See Wallace v.
Wallace, 736 F.3d 764, 766 (8th Cir. 2013) and Khan
v. Khan, 21 F.3d 859, 861 (8th Cir. 1994). In
Khan, the Eighth Circuit recognized that the
"domestic relations exception ... divests the federal
courts of jurisdiction over any action for which the subject
is a divorce, allowance of alimony, or child custody."
21 F.3d at 861 (internal citation omitted). 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. To that end,
issues concerning child support obligations are "clearly
within the domestic relations exception domain . . .".
Lannan v. Maul, 979 F.2d 627, 631 (8th Cir. 1992).
while plaintiff has drafted the complaint to sound in tort,
his claims are so inextricably intertwined with prior state
determinations regarding his child support obligation that
subject matter jurisdiction does not lie in this court.
Additionally, to the extent plaintiff asks this Court to
determine that state court decisions regarding his paternity
and child support obligation were wrong, this Court notes it
lacks subject matter jurisdiction to engage in appellate
review of state court decisions. Postma v. First Fed.
Sav. & Loan, 74 F.3d 160, 162 (8th Cir. 1996). With
the exception of habeas cases, "review of state court
decisions may be had only in the Supreme Court."
Id. The Court will therefore dismiss this case for
want of jurisdiction.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is
DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). A separate order of dismissal will be
IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that an appeal from this
dismissal would ...