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PENA v. MATTOX

March 29, 1995

RUBEN PENA, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD MATTOX, CHARLES BRETZ, PATRICIA SCHNEIDER, and UNKNOWN OTHERS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GEORGE M. MAROVICH

 Plaintiff Ruben Pena's ("Pena") Complaint alleges state law claims for abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and for violation of his parental rights under the Illinois Constitution. Pena also alleges civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) claiming that the Defendants conspired to deprive him of his constitutionally protected parental rights. Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court will grant the Defendants' motion to dismiss Pena's constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) and will dismiss the remaining state law claims without prejudice.

 BACKGROUND

 For purposes of Defendants' motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true the following factual allegations taken from Pena's Complaint. Amanda Mattox is the daughter of Defendant Edward Mattox. Pena, age 19 at the time, and Amanda Mattox, then age 15, began dating in late 1991. In August 1992, Amanda told Pena she thought she was pregnant. In November of 1992, Amanda's aunt, Defendant Patricia Schneider, had Amanda take a home pregnancy test; the test confirmed Amanda's pregnancy. After learning of Amanda's pregnancy her parents prohibited her from seeing the Plaintiff. Pena and Amanda continued to see one another against her parents' wishes.

 On December 8, 1992, Amanda phoned Pena and told him she felt sick. Pena visited Amanda and asked her to tell her parents that she felt sick. Thereafter, Pena phoned Amanda's house seeking information about Amanda. However, no one at the Mattox house would tell Pena anything about Amanda.

 Near midnight on December 9, 1992, Defendant Mattox phoned Pena and asked to meet with him. Pena went to the restaurant which Mattox had suggested. While waiting for Mattox to arrive at the restaurant, Pena was arrested. Pena was arrested on a felony criminal complaint, signed by Mattox. The criminal complaint contained false allegations, in that it stated that Pena, "knowingly committed an act of sexual penetration, to wit: sexual intercourse, with Amanda J. Mattox, a person who was at least 13 years of age but under 17, at the time when Defendant was at least 5 years older than Amanda J. Mattox."

 Pena alleges that on the date Mattox signed the criminal complaint, December 9, 1992, and swore under oath that the charge was true, Mattox knew that Pena was not five years older than Amanda. Pena also alleges, on information and belief, that Defendant Bretz, an Assistant State's Attorney for Will County, drafted and authorized the complaint; and knew prior to drafting the complaint that Pena was not five years older than Amanda.

 The arrest warrant issued by Judge Masters, in conjunction with the criminal complaint, set Pena's bail at $ 30,000. After learning of the arrest, Chris DeCamp, Pena's sister, telephoned the Mattox residence. Defendant Schneider answered DeCamp's call. Schneider identified herself as a judge *fn1" and told Chris DeCamp not to call the Mattox house again. Schneider told her that Pena's bail would be raised the next day. The next day, December 10, 1992, Defendant Bretz directed Assistant State's Attorney Martina Kulick to seek an increase in Pena's bail. On that day, Pena's bail was raised to $ 45,000. Neither Pena nor his family could raise the money for the bail.

 On December 11, 1992, Defendant Bretz reduced the felony charge against Pena to a misdemeanor. Pena pled guilty to the misdemeanor, received 24 months supervision and was released from jail that same day. As a condition of his release, Pena was ordered to "have no contact with Amanda J. Mattox or any member of her immediate family" effective until April 19, 1994. Immediately after being released from jail, Pena left Illinois allegedly out of fear that Defendants would "continue to exert improper influence with the Sheriff's Department, State's Attorneys Office and the Judiciary if he remained in Illinois."

 Pena alleges that while he was in custody, Amanda was taken to Indiana on or about December 9, 1992 to give birth. The child was then placed for adoption in Indiana. Pena was neither informed that Amanda gave birth nor did he consent to the adoption.

 DISCUSSION

 When considering a motion to dismiss, the court assumes the truth of all well-pled factual allegations and makes all possible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Capitol Leasing Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993). A court should not dismiss a complaint unless it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Ross v. Creighton University, 957 F.2d 410, 413 (7th Cir. 1992); Gorski v. Troy, 929 F.2d 1183, 1186 (7th Cir. 1991). However, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts in the complaint to outline the elements of a cause of action, Ellsworth v. Racine, 774 F.2d 182, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1047, 89 L. Ed. 2d 574, 106 S. Ct. 1265 (1986), and only factual allegations will be considered because the plaintiff's legal conclusions are not binding on the court. Reichenberger v. Pritchard, 660 F.2d 280, 282 (7th Cir. 1981). With these liberal standards in mind, the Court proceeds to address the central constitutional issue in this case. *fn2"

 Pena's Parental Rights

 Ruben Pena wanted to be a father and he lost that opportunity as his child was placed for adoption in Indiana. Pena seeks recovery for that loss under the Due Process Clause. Initially, we must identify the liberty interest at stake here. The relationships that develop within a family and the relationship between parent and child are accorded a tremendous degree of respect and sanctity in the history and laws of this Nation. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651, 31 L. Ed. 2d 551, 92 S. Ct. 1208 (1972). At the same time, the Supreme Court has also noted that the substantive due process rights of an unwed father may be curtailed in certain circumstances without running afoul of the Constitution. Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 54 L. Ed. 2d 511, 98 S. Ct. 549 (1978); see also Allen v. Allen, 48 F.3d 259, 1995 WL 64278 (7th Cir. 1995).

 Defendants concede that traditionally the parent-child relationship involves a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause. Defendants argue, however, that more than a biological relationship is required before Pena is entitled to the full measure of constitutional protections. Pena responds that Defendants actions deprived him of the opportunity to establish a bond with his child. Defendants also focus on the availability of state ...


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