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Deweese v. Tazewell County

March 24, 2006

THOMAS DEWEESE, AMY DEWEESE, K.D., N.D., AND Z.D., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TAZEWELL COUNTY, ILLINOIS, LORRY ANDERSON, MEREDITH FARLEY, MICHELLE DEVOS, LYNDA SHARP LOWER, PATRICK FLANNIGAN, RICHARD STEWART, JENNIFER SEWARD, CHRISTINA SHOWALTER, AND METHODIST MEDICAL CENTER OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the Court are Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint [Doc. # 98]; Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. # 103]; Motion of Defendants Farley, Devos and Sharp-Lower to Dismiss Amended Complaint [Doc. # 106]; Defendant Tazewell County's Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Strike [Doc. # 109]; Motion to Dismiss by Defendants' Flannigan, Stewart, Seward, and Showalter [Doc. # 113]; Defendant Lorry Anderson's Motion for More Definite Statement Pursuant to Rule 12(e) [Doc. # 120]; Defendant Methodist Medical Center of Illinois' Motion to Dismiss [Doc. # 129]; Plaintiffs' Petition for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. # 133]; Plaintiffs N.D. and Z.D.'s Motion to Withdraw Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. # 148]; and Plaintiffs N.D. and Z.D.'s Motion to Withdraw Petition for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. # 149].

I. BACKGROUND

The following allegations are taken from the Amended Complaint. On or about March 6, 2003, Plaintiffs Thomas and Amy Deweese were referred to "Families First" where Defendant Lorry Anderson was assigned as their caseworker. On March 25, 2003, Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umhotz caused to be filed a "Shelter Care Petition" regarding Plaintiffs K.D and Z.D. in Tazewell County Court. This petition, written by Defendant DCFS Social Worker Richard Stewart, alleged that Plaintiffs K.D. and Z.D. had been abused or neglected, and that K.D and Z.D. were residing in Tazewell County. In fact, Amy Deweese, K.D., and Z.D. were residing in Peoria County at the time. The petition was "rife with allegations, innuendo, and allusions but nothing in it showed any abuse nor neglect of [K.D. or Z.D.]." On or about March 28, 2003, Anderson issued an unspecified type of report and informed Amy Deweese that her children were in "protective custody," and Plaintiffs' case was referred to Defendant Catholic Charities, Inc., where Defendant Meredith Farley was assigned as the caseworker. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant DCFS Social Workers Stewart and Showalter had an "overly keen and extreme interest in the fact that Amy Deweese was newly pregnant," and that the reason Families First and Catholic Charities, Inc., were involved with Plaintiffs was to take Amy Deweese's unborn child.

On April 1, 2003, the Shelter Care Petition was heard and K.D. and Z.D. were ordered to reside apart from their parents. Thereafter, Farley delayed services to Plaintiffs and did not file a "service plan" until July 24, 2003. The delay was partly to "wait until [N.D.] was born." On September 21, 2003, Plaintiff N.D. was born at Methodist Medical Center. During the hospital stay, N.D. was subjected to a "criminal drug screening," and Farley and Defendant DCFS Social Worker Patrick Flannigan conspired to remove N.D. from his parents. N.D. was removed from his parents custody and was placed with foster parents by Catholic Charities, Inc., with the implication that N.D. was up for adoption. In May 2004, Defendant Michelle Devos became Plaintiffs' caseworker.

During the pendency of the shelter care case, Catholic Charities "did anything and everything to avoid providing the Deweese parents 'services'." Specifically, the Amended Complaint alleges that, the "Catholic Charities Defendants" conspired to delay the resolution of the shelter care case by (1)creating new and unnecessary services; (2) not allowing the family to have family counseling; (3) defaming and slandering Amy Deweese by, inter alia, declaring Amy "crazy" and stating that she needed a psychiatric evaluation; and (4) abusing the children's visitation time by discussing the shelter care case, telling the children what they could or could not discuss with their parents, never increasing the time to promote family unity, and withholding visitation until Tom Deweese showed the caseworker his FOID card. Plaintiffs also allege that Catholic Charities, Inc., forced K.D. and Amy Deweese to participate in an "explicit sex program."

Plaintiffs claim their constitutional rights were violated when Defendants (1) unjustifiably used "illegal and unconstitutional means" to remove the minor Plaintiffs from their parents (Count I); (2) conspired to "illegally detain" and "artificially" keep the minor Plaintiffs out of their parents custody (Count II); (3) conspired to "string their contracts through various means" to procure Federal Government funding (Count III); (4) conspired to show a minor child explicit sexual material against her parents wishes (Count IV); (5) conspired to "illegally detain" or take N.D. from his parents and give him to foster parents (Count V); (6) deliberately violated federal law by "searching" N.D. by conducting a urine screen for drugs (Count VI); (7) abused Plaintiffs' civil rights and abused process by prosecuting the shelter care petition with an ulterior purpose (Count VII); (8) delayed services and created new services in the shelter care case (Count VIII); (9) conspired to infringe and violate Thomas Deweese "right to keep and have firearms" (Count IX); and (10) failed to meet deadlines prescribed by state law in the shelter care case, and repeatedly slandered, libeled, and defamed Plaintiffs in the shelter care case (Count X). Plaintiffs further claim that (1) Defendants' employers are liable on a respondeat superior basis (Count XI); (2) that the individual Defendants have no immunity under state law (Count XII); and (3) that Defendants' employers have a duty to indemnify the individual Defendants that were acting within the scope of their employment. Plaintiffs claim all of these violations where undertaken pursuant to Defendant Tazewell County's "policy and practice," by Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office employees and the various social worker Defendants. Plaintiffs have also filed two separate motions for preliminary injunctions. In the first, they seek an order forbidding contact between Plaintiffs and Defendants. In the second, they seek an order prohibiting Defendant Methodist Medical Center from conducting any further drug tests or searches on infants and children without the express consent of the parents.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must view the Complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff and the Complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations must be accepted as true. Williams v. Ramos, 71 F.3d 1246, 1250 (7th Cir. 1995). Therefore, a complaint can only be dismissed if a plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts upon which relief can be granted. Travel All Over the World, Inc. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 73 F.3d 1423, 1429-30 (7th Cir. 1996). However, the Court is not bound by a plaintiff's legal conclusions. Baxter by Baxter v. Vigo County School Corp., 26 F.3d 728, 730 (7th Cir. 1994).

III. ANALYSIS

Defendants*fn1 have moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint. On September 14, 2005, the Court appointed a Guardiam Ad Litem ("GAL") to represent the interests of the minor Plaintiffs N.D., and Z.D. Due to a scrivener's error K.D. was not appointed counsel until March 22, 2006 and therefore no response has been filed on her behalf. Because the claims and rights of the parents differ from those of the children, the Court will address the parents' claims first, and then the childrens' claims.

A. The Parents' Claims

All of the motions to dismiss are based on, inter alia, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and Younger abstention doctrine. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds the parents ...


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