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Green v. Kansas City Juvenile Court

United States District Court, D. Kansas

September 6, 2019

MONICA GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
KANSAS CITY JUVENILE COURT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Kathryn H. Vratil, United States District Judge.

         On July 1, 2019, plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against Kansas City Juvenile Court. Complaint (Doc. #1). Plaintiff alleges that defendant committed various intentional torts: defamation of character, libel, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Her allegations apparently relate to proceedings in which a district attorney from Wyandotte County, Kansas filed a motion to terminate plaintiffs parental rights. Plaintiff asserts that the Court has jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship and federal civil rights violations. However, while plaintiff checks the box on the complaint form, alleging that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction based on an alleged civil rights violation, the complaint form does not mention civil rights. She did not explain which protected right defendant allegedly violated, or explain how defendant violated that right.

         On July 10, 2019, U.S. Magistrate Judge Teresa J. James ordered plaintiff to show good cause in writing why the Court should not dismiss this action for (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction and (2) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Order To Show Cause (Doc. #9) at 4. Judge James also instructed plaintiff to explain why the Court should not abstain from hearing her claims under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Id. This matter comes before the Court on plaintiffs Response To Order To Show Cause (Doc. #11) filed August 14, 2019. For reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff failed to show good cause why the Court should not dismiss this action.

         I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         In her Response To Order To Show Cause (Doc. #11), plaintiff does not clearly explain why the Court has subject matter jurisdiction in this case. She does not mention diversity of citizenship, and only vaguely refers to a potential claim arising under federal law. Instead, plaintiff makes a conclusory statement, without further explanation, that defendant violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         Courts may exercise jurisdiction only when specifically authorized to do so, see Castaneda v. INS. 23 F.3d 1576, 1580 (10th Cir. 1994), and must "dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceeding in which it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking." Scheideman v. Shawnee Cty. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs. 895 F.Supp. 279, 280 (D. Kan. 1995) (citing Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co.. 495 F.2d 906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974)); Fed. R . Civ. P. 12(h)(3). Because federal courts have limited jurisdiction, the law imposes a presumption against jurisdiction. Marcus v. Kan. Dep't of Revenue. 170 F.3d 1305, 1309 (10th Cir. 1999). Therefore, plaintiff bears the burden of showing that jurisdiction is proper and must demonstrate that the case should not be dismissed. Id.; see Jensen v. Johnson Cty. Youth Baseball League, 838 F.Supp. 1437, 1439-40 (D. Kan. 1993). Conclusory allegations of jurisdiction are not enough. Jensen, 838 F.Supp. at 1439-40.

         Because plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court construes her complaint liberally and holds it to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). The Court, however, does not assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. Id.

         Here, plaintiff has not established subject matter jurisdiction. First, she has not shown diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Section 1332 requires complete diversity between all plaintiffs and all defendants. See Radii v. Sanborn W. Camps. Inc.. 384 F.3d 1220, 1225 (10th Cir. 2004). Here, the parties are not completely diverse. It is highly doubtful that Kansas City Juvenile Court is an entity which is capable of being sued. But if it is, it is - like plaintiff - a citizen of the State of Kansas. Plaintiffs complaint actually asserts that both she and defendant are Kansas citizens, with defendant located at 711 Armstrong Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas 66101. Complaint (Doc. #1) at 2. Therefore, because the parties are not completely diverse, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under Section 1332.

         Second, plaintiff has not established federal question jurisdiction. In her complaint, plaintiff checks the box which states that the Court has jurisdiction "because of violation of 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. § 1343)." Under Section 1343, a federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over civil actions authorized by law:

(1) To recover damages for injury to his person or property, or because of the deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, by any act done in furtherance of any conspiracy mentioned in section 1985 of Title 42;
(2) To recover damages from any person who fails to prevent or to aid in preventing any wrongs mentioned in section 1985 of Title 42 which he had knowledge were about to occur and power to prevent;
(3) To redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States;
(4) To recover damages or to secure equitable or other relief under any Act of Congress providing for the protection of civil ...

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