United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is a civil rights action filed under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The matter comes before the court on the
defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim (Doc. #23). Plaintiff has filed no response.
Accordingly, the Court decides this matter as an uncontested
motion. See D. Kan. R. 7.4(b).
a private, non-profit Kansas corporation licensed by the
Kansas Department for Children and Families as a child
placing agency. The individual defendants, Hooper, Nelson,
and Smith, are employed by KVC.
November 24, 2014, the State of Kansas filed a petition in
the District Court of Franklin County alleging that C.S.
required temporary placement outside of his home. After a
hearing, the Franklin County District Court adjudicated C.S.
to be a Child in Need of Care (“CINC”).
November 3, 2016, the Franklin County District Court
terminated the parental rights of plaintiff and the mother of
C.S. The appeal by the mother of C.S. was affirmed; the
appeal by plaintiff remains pending in the Kansas Court of
seek the dismissal of this matter on several grounds: (1) a
lack of subject matter jurisdiction under either the
Younger v. Harris abstention doctrine or the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine; (2) a lack of subject
matter jurisdiction under the Domestic Relations Exception;
and (3) a failure to state a claim for relief.
courts of limited jurisdiction, federal courts are duty bound
to examine facts and law in every lawsuit before them to
ensure that they possess subject matter jurisdiction.”
The Wilderness Soc'y v. Kane Cty., Utah, 632
F.3d 1162, 1179 n. 3 (10th Cir. 2011)(Gorsuch, J.,
concurring). This evaluation incudes an inquiry into whether
a federal court judgment on a claim presented would interfere
with a pending state proceeding. D. L. v. Unified Sch.
Distr. No. 497, 392 F.3d 1223-1227-28 (10th Cir. 2004).
abstention doctrine announced in Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37 (1971), “dictates that federal courts
should not interfere with state court proceedings …
when such relief could adequately be sought before the state
court.” Reinhardt v. Kelly, 164 F.3d 1296,
1302 (10th Cir. 1999). Such abstention is required when (1)
there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding; (2) the state
court provides an adequate forum to consider the claims
presented in the federal complaint; and (3) the state
proceedings involve important state interests, that is,
“matters which traditionally look to state law for
their resolution or implicate separately articulated state
policies.” Amanatullah v. Colo. Bd. of Med.
Exam'rs, 187 F.3d 1160, 1163 (10th Cir.
1999)(quoting Taylor v. Jaquez, 126 F.3d 1294, 1297
(10th Cir. 1997)).
the conditions for Younger abstention are met. There
is an ongoing state court proceeding, the state court
provides an adequate forum for plaintiff's claims
presented in this complaint, and the state proceedings
involve important state interests concerning domestic
relations. See, e.g., Alferez ex rel. Calderon v.
Chronister, 41 F.Supp.2d 1238, 1240 (D.Kan.
1999)(holding that state's interest in family relations
and child welfare required abstention from a case involving
pending CINC petition in state court).
domestic relations exception to federal jurisdiction
recognized by the United States Supreme Court likewise
supports the conclusion that the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction to address plaintiff's claims. In
Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689 (1992), the
Supreme Court stated that “[t]he whole subject of the
domestic relations of husband and wife, parent and child,
belongs to the laws of the States and not to the laws of the
United States.” Ankenbrandt, 504 U.S. at 703.
defendants argue that plaintiff fails to state a claim for
relief against them because (1) they are not state actors, as
required by § 1983, but employees of a private,
non-profit organization; and (2) the complaint does not
contain sufficient allegations that they either acted under
color of state law or conspired with state actors to violate
state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege “the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show
that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting
under color of state law.” Bruner v. Baker,
506 F.3d 1021, 1025-26 (10th Cir. 2007)(citation omitted). A
person acts “under color of state law” when he
“exercises power possessed by virtue of state law and
made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the
authority of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 49 (1988)(citation omitted). Private conduct does
not satisfy the element ...