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McCollum v. State ex rel. Secretary of Department for Children and Families

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 8, 2014

RONNIE LEN McCOLLUM; REBECCA M. ELDRIDGE; AND JILL McCOLLUM, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF KANSAS, ex. rel. SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES; NEOSHO MEMORIAL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER; SAINT FRANCIS COMMUNITY SERVICES; GREENWOOD COUNTY COURT; WEST ELK SCHOOL DISTRICT #282, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Ronnie Len McCollum, Rebecca M. Eldridge, and Jill McCollum bring this action pro se against Defendants State of Kansas ex. rel. Secretary of Department for Children and Families ("DCF"), Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, Saint Francis Community Services, Greenwood County Court, and West Elk School District #282. Defendants each filed a Motion to Dismiss (Docs. 27, 28, 30, 32, and 34) asserting that dismissal is appropriate because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In response to Defendants' motions, Plaintiffs filed a Motion "[f]or Lawyer's Entry of Appearance, " a Motion for "Federal Injunction of 40 Days, " a Motion "[t]o Explain All Uncertainty in This Case, " and a Motion for Grand Jury Investigation (Doc. 36). Plaintiffs have also filed a separate Motion for Grand Jury Investigation (Doc. 45) and Motion for Return of Children (Doc. 48). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and denies all of Plaintiffs' motions.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint on February 1, 2014, and an Amended Complaint on March 1, 2014. Plaintiffs indicate on the Civil Cover Sheet that jurisdiction is based on diversity, that the parties are all citizens of Kansas, that the nature of the suit is civil rights and personal injury, and that its origin is a removal from state court.[1] Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have violated federal and state laws, including the following: "Article VII Section 14 of the Bill of Rights, " the "civil or equal rights, privileges, or immunities accorded to citizens of, or persons within the jurisdiction of, the United States (28 U.S.C. ยง 1343), " the Endangered Species Act of 1973, [2] and the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children ("CINC Code").[3]

It appears from the Complaint and Amended Complaint that Plaintiffs Ronnie McCollum and Rebecca Eldridge are the parents of three minor children, identified as J.W.A.E., D.M.L.M., and D.A.N.M., who have been placed in foster care. Plaintiff Jill McCollum appears to be the aunt of the three children, as the children are referred to as her nephews. Although Plaintiffs do not say explicitly, it is apparent from the Amended Complaint that many of Plaintiffs' allegations arise from proceedings in CINC case numbers 12 JC 19 and 12 JC 20 in Greenwood County District Court. Plaintiffs allege the following: that one or more Defendants "[w]ould not let [Plaintiff] Jill McCollum be a foster mom and she passed all requirements again a local personal grudge and these boys are her nephews";[4] that "the State of Kansas does not enforce Chapter 38 Article 22 they let children like J.W.A.E., D.M.L.M. be abused both sexually and physically";[5] that one or more Defendants would not allow Plaintiffs "Ronnie Len McCollum and Rebecca M. Eldridge take J.W.A.E. and D.M.L.M. to their own private doctors to be checked both physically and mentally";[6] that "Shawn Dixon and Kathy Wiggins added false statements on Permanency Plan on 7-30-13"[7] and "would be on their cell phones doing personal things"[8] during visits with the children; that "Shawn Dixon made D.M.L.M have a red mark in the middle of his forehead by grabbing with just one arm and pulled D.M.L.M. up with force and by this action made D.M.L.M. have a red mark in the middle of his forehead";[9] that Defendant "Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center dropped a baby by accident"[10] and "did not honor the privacy act"[11] for Plaintiffs Ronnie Len McCollum and Rebecca M. Eldridge; and that a Greenwood County District Court judge would not let Plaintiffs Ronnie McCollum and Eldridge file criminal charges in the CINC cases involving their children.

Plaintiffs demand the following relief: that J.W.A.E., D.M.L.M., and D.A.N.M. "be returned immediately to their respective families"[12] and that this Court issue injunctive relief to address the alleged abuse of Plaintiffs' children while in foster care, the alleged failure to report child abuse, and the alleged falsifying of State of Kansas paperwork on Permanency Planning. Plaintiffs demand monetary damages in the amount of three million or thirty million dollars.

Each Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss on the basis that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and that Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiffs did not file a response to Defendants' motions. Instead, Plaintiffs filed a separate document, moving the Court for "Lawyers Entry of Appearance, " a federal injunction of forty days, "to explain all uncertainty in this case, " and a federal grand jury investigation.[13] Plaintiffs also filed a separate Motion for Grand Jury Investigation and Motion for Return of Children.

II. Plaintiffs' Motions for Lawyers Entry of Appearance, an Injunction, to Explain Uncertainty, and a Grand Jury Investigation (Doc. 36)

A. Motion "For Lawyers Entry of Appearance"

Plaintiffs' first motion is "[f]or Lawyers Entry of Appearance."[14] If Plaintiffs have retained counsel, those attorneys do not need to obtain leave of Court to enter their appearance. If Plaintiffs are referring to the two attorneys that have been appointed to represent them in the state court CINC proceedings, that appointment does not extend to this case, and the Court cannot compel those attorneys to appear here.

To the extent Plaintiffs seek to have counsel appointed to represent them in this case, the Court denies such request. In deciding whether to appoint counsel in a civil case, a district court considers "the merits of the litigant's claims, the nature of the factual issues raised in the claims, the litigant's ability to present his claims, and the complexity of the legal issues raised by the claims."[15] Here, Plaintiffs have shown that they can communicate facts, cite to law, and present arguments. The issues in the pleadings-allegations of abuse of children while in foster care and inappropriate conduct in CINC cases-are not complex. Furthermore, Plaintiffs cannot succeed on the merits of their claims, as the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Accordingly, the Court denies Plaintiffs' Motion "[f]or Lawyers Entry of Appearance."

B. Motion for Federal Injunction of Forty Days

Plaintiffs state that they "need a 40 day injunction where nothing happens for 40 days at the state courts or Federal courts till all this these motions to dismiss are gone over with a fine tooth & comb [sic]." Plaintiffs have not demonstrated any grounds for the entry of an injunction to stay this case. Additionally, except in very limited circumstances, which Plaintiffs have not shown here, the Court does not have the power to enjoin state court proceedings.[16]

To the extent Plaintiffs are seeking an extension of time to respond to Defendants' motions to dismiss, the Court denies Plaintiffs' motion. District of Kansas Local Rule 6.1(a) requires that all motions for an extension of time to perform an act required to be performed within a specified time must show: (1) whether there has been a prior consultation with other parties and the other parties' views; (2) the date when the act was first due; (3) if prior extensions have been granted, the number of extensions granted and the date of expiration of the last extension; and (4) the cause for the requested extension.[17] Plaintiffs have not complied with these requirements. Therefore, the Court denies Plaintiffs' motion for a federal injunction of forty days.

C. Motion to Explain All Uncertainty

Plaintiffs' third motion is a request "to explain all uncertainty in this case." The Court denies this motion. It is not clear what specific relief Plaintiffs are seeking, and Plaintiffs have not stated ...


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