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Turner v. State

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

July 26, 2018

CICELY TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF ILLINOIS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss the Amended Complaint (d/e 21, 25). Defendants argue that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed the Initial Complaint on December 26, 2017. On February 26, 2018, Plaintiff sought leave to file her Amended Complaint. On March 2, 2018, the Court granted the request and docketed the Amended Complaint (d/e 24).

         The Amended Complaint seeks liability against the State of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Governor Bruce Rauner, Assistant State's Attorney Kendra Hansel, State's Attorney John Milhiser, and DCFS Director Beverly Walker.

         The allegations in the Amended Complaint and the reasonable inferences made therefrom establish that on July 27, 2016, Defendants removed Plaintiff's two children, Atalia Turner and Zimri Turner, from her custody. The Amended Complaint brings three claims. Claim 1 is for illegal search and seizure by the Springfield Police Department and DCFS. Claim 2 includes two claims: violation of Plaintiff's Due Process rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Claim 3 alleges that Defendants have illegally seized Plaintiff's property (Atalia and Zimri Turner). The Amended Complaint seeks equitable relief in the form of return of the children to Plaintiff's custody or to that of a relative. Plaintiff also seeks information as to the whereabouts and contact information of the children. The Amended Complaint also prays for monetary relief in the form of damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages, for a total of $90, 000, 000.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         To survive a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for failure to state a claim for relief, the complaint must provide a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction and of the claim showing Plaintiff is entitled to relief. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(1); Silha v. ACT, Inc., 807 F.3d 169, 173 (7th Cir. 2015).

         However, pro se complaints are construed liberally by the Court and held to a “less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015); see also Curtis v. Bembenek, 48 F.3d 281, 283 (7th Cir. 1995) (noting that “in reviewing a pro se complaint, we must employ standards less stringent than if the complaint had been drafted by counsel”).

         Additionally, the Court may consider documents attached as exhibits to the complaint when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Ctrs. v. Centennial Mortg., Inc., 398 F.3d 930, 933 (7th Cir. 2005); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is part of the pleading for all purposes.”). The Court may also consider matters of public record in determining whether the complaint's allegations are sufficient to meet this standard. Olson v. Champaign Cnty., Ill., 784 F.3d 1093, 1096 n.1 (7th Cir. 2015).

         III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

         This Court has diversity subject matter jurisdiction over “all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

         Applying this leniency, construing the Amended Complaint favorably to Plaintiff, and taking all factual allegations in the Amended Complaint as true, the Court concludes that the Amended ...


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