United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
JORGE GARCIA and JORGE GARCIA, on behalf of his biological daughter M.G., Plaintiff,
KIM FOX, State's Attorney for County, CHARLES GOLBERT, Acting Director of the Public Guardian's Office, BEVERLY WALKER, Acting Director of the Department of Children and Family Services, CHILDREN'S HOME & AID, EMILY REYNOSO, TAYLOR HOMYK, STEPHANIE WIELAND, MCCARRE WARD, and SARAH DONOVAN, Defendants.
JOHNSON COLEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles Golbert, Sarah Donovan, Kim Fox, and McCarre
Ward's Motion to Dismiss  and Defendant Illinois
Department of Children and Family Services's Motion to
Dismiss  are granted.
Plaintiff Jorge Garcia is also engaged in ongoing litigation
related to the issues underlying this litigation in the state
juvenile court. The Court recognizes the importance and
sensitivity of parental-child rights, and the state juvenile
court system's expertise and exclusive jurisdiction over
this type of domestic relations issue, especially in light of
the ongoing nature of the juvenile court litigation.
December 31, 2015, a Circuit Court of Cook County judge took
temporary custody of Plaintiff Jorge Garcia's minor
daughter A.G. On January 29, 2016, the judge held a
post-deprivation hearing on temporary custody of A.G. and
determined there was probable cause that A.G. was abused or
neglect, that immediate and urgent necessity required removal
from her parents' custody, and that reasonable efforts
had been made to keep the family intact. Plaintiff Garcia was
present for those proceedings. On December 21, 2016, the
judge adjudicated A.G. a ward of the court and found that she
was abused or neglected as defined by the Juvenile Court Act,
705 ILCS 405/2-3. After a dispositional hearing, the court
found Plaintiff Garcia and A.G.'s mother were unable to
care safely for A.G. and appointed the Illinois Department of
Children and Family Services Guardianship Administrator as
A.G.'s legal guardian. Since the dispositional hearing,
there have been periodic permanency hearings to assess the
parents' progress in correcting the conditions that
brought the case into that court. On May 10, 2018, the judge
entered an order for permanent substitute care pending a
hearing on the termination of parental rights due to
Plaintiff Garcia's and the mother's lack of progress.
15, 2018, Plaintiff Jorge Garcia and Jorge Garcia, on behalf
of his biological daughter M.G., filed this case. Plaintiff
filed an eight-count Amended Complaint on October 29, 2018
against many Defendants, including Defendants Charles
Golbert, Sarah Donovan, Kim Fox, and McCarre Ward (the
“Cook County Defendants”) and Defendant
Department of Children and Family Services (the “DCFS
Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges that the Cook County
Defendants and DCFS Defendants violated his Fourth Amendment,
Fifth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and seek
monetary damages, declaratory judgment, and injunctive
relief. The Cook County Defendants and the DCFS Defendants
move to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction and failure to state a claim under Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
Court must dismiss any action for which it lacks subject
matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1). As the party asserting jurisdiction,
plaintiff has the burden of establishing it under Rule
12(b)(1). Glaser v. Wound Care Consultants, Inc.,
570 F.3d 907, 913 (7th Cir. 2009). When considering Rules
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, the Court accepts
all of the plaintiff's allegations as true and views them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Lavalais v.
Vill. of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir.
2013). The Court, however, may also consider evidence outside
of the pleadings to ensure jurisdiction is proper. Evers
v. Astrue, 536 F.3d 651, 656-57 (7th Cir. 2008). To
survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain allegations that “state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Lavalais, 734 F.3d
at 632 (internal quotations omitted). The plaintiff does not
need to plead particularized facts, but the allegations in
the complaint must be sufficient to “raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).
Cook County Defendants contend that this Court does not have
subject-matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to the
domestic relations exception to federal jurisdiction and the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The DCFS Defendants
similarly assert that this Court does not have subject-matter
jurisdiction based on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
and the Younger abstention doctrine. Plaintiff
responds that these doctrines do not apply because this Court
does not have to render a decision as to the best interest of
the child or make any findings of fact as to child custody.
the root issue underlying Plaintiff's allegations are the
custody matters at issue in the ongoing juvenile court
action. This Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction
over domestic relations matters, which include child custody
issues. See Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689,
704, 112 S.Ct. 2206, 119 L.Ed.2d 468 (1992) (“[T]he
domestic relations exception encompasses  cases involving
the issuance of a … child custody decree.”).
Indeed, the current proceeding in juvenile court is the only
proper venue for the events underlying Plaintiff's
allegations in this case.
the Younger abstention doctrine requires federal
courts to refrain from exercising their jurisdiction when
relief may interfere with certain state proceedings. See
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-44, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27
L.Ed.2d 669 (1971). Younger abstention is
appropriate where “there is an ongoing state proceeding
that is judicial in nature, involves important state
interests, provides the plaintiff an adequate opportunity to
raise the federal claims, and no exceptional circumstances
exist.” Ewell v. Tony, 853 F.3d 911, 916 (7th
Cir. 2017). Each of those considerations exists here. The
Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over allegations that
overlap with the ongoing juvenile court proceedings.
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes individuals
from seeking review of state court judgments in federal
court. Rooker v. Fid Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413, 414, 44
S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923). Thus, to the extent Plaintiff
seeks to have this Court review any prior orders from the
ongoing juvenile court proceeding, this Court is not the
proper place. Appropriate appellate options exist within the
state court system. Because this Court does not have subject
matter jurisdiction over this matter, the Court does not
address the Defendants' alternative Rule 12(b)(6)
arguments for dismissal.
the Cook County Defendants'  and the DCFS
Defendants'  motions to dismiss are granted, and
Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed as to the Cook ...