United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
Regina Carranza moved to proceed in forma pauperis in
litigation against the Department of Child Services of St.
Joseph County and of Kosciusko County, and the State of
Indiana. Chief Judge Theresa Springmann recognized that Ms.
Carranza is unable to prepay the filing fee, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(1), but required her to file a complaint by April 28,
2017 so the court could determine if Ms. Carranza adequately
states a claim, § 1915(e)(2)(B); Rowe v. Shake,
196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999) (“The district court
may screen the complaint prior to service on the defendants,
and must dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a
claim.”). Ms. Carranza mailed her complaint to the
court in time to meet Judge Springmann's deadline. The
case was then transferred to the undersigned judge.
same standard applies under § 1915(e)(2)(B) as in a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d
1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). To state a claim, a complaint
need only contain a short and plain statement showing that
the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See EEOC v.
Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th
Cir. 2007). The court must accept as true all well-pleaded
factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of Ms. Carranza. See Hecker v. Deere
& Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009). A
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728
(7th Cir. 2014). “Specific facts are not necessary; the
statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what .
. . the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). The
court will interpret Ms. Carranza's complaint liberally
because she's litigating without counsel. See Ray v.
Clements, 700 F.3d 993, 1002 (7th Cir. 2012).
Carranza claims that the Department of Child Services
didn't follow its own procedures and brought an
unsubstantiated neglect case against her, defaming and
humiliating her. According to Ms. Carranza, the department
seems to have based its case on how she provided medical care
to her child, who had a medical condition requiring continued
care. She says she provided medical evidence to the
department, but the department didn't follow appropriate
administrative review procedures. She says it didn't
visit Ms. Carranza's home for an evaluation, it based a
report on incorrect information collected while the children
were staying at their grandmother's house, and it never
visited the grandmother's house. She claims that because
the department didn't follow its own procedures, it
endangered her children. She also says the department altered
over three hundred records.
Carranza says her children were denied their right to medical
care, and that the department violated their rights,
particularly the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of
the Fourteenth Amendment, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132; and
section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.
§ 794(a). She asks for $42 million in damages,
injunctive relief, and costs.
Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act
claims, Ms. Carranza doesn't explain whether she has a
disability. If she has a disability, she doesn't explain
whether the department denied her benefits as a result of
that disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12132; 29 U.S.C. §
794(a). She also doesn't allege facts indicating that the
department failed to reasonably accommodate a disability.
Oconomowoc Residential Programs v. City of
Milwaukee, 300 F.3d 775, 783 (7th Cir. 2002). She
doesn't allege facts indicating that the department
intentionally discriminated against her on the basis of a
disability. See Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d
400 (7th Cir. 2010); Gile v. United Airlines, Inc.,
95 F.3d 492 (7th Cir. 1996). She also doesn't show that
the department's policies disparately impacted
individuals with disabilities. See Bennett v.
Roberts, 295 F.3d 687, 698 (7th Cir. 2002). For her
Title VII claims, Ms. Carranza doesn't argue that
she's subject to any sort of employment discrimination.
For her Equal Protection Clause claim, Ms. Carranza
doesn't argue facts showing that the department
intentionally discriminated against her based on a protected
status. See Vill. of Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous.
Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977).
the Eleventh Amendment bars both the Equal Protection and Due
Process claims. The Eleventh Amendment provides that
“an unconsenting State is immune from suits brought in
federal courts by her own citizens as well as by citizens of
another state. . . . This jurisdictional bar applies
regardless of the nature of the relief sought.”
Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465
U.S. 89, 100 (1984) (internal quotation and citations
omitted). Suits against state agencies, like the Department
of Child Services, are also barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
Ind. Prot. & Advocacy Servs. v. Ind. Family &
Social Servs. Admin., 603 F.3d 365, 370 (7th Cir. 2010).
1983 doesn't help Ms. Carranza get around this problem.
It provides that “[e]very person who, under color of .
. . [law] subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of
the United States or other person within the jurisdiction
thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be
liable to the party injured in an action at law.” 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Because Congress didn't intend for
Section 1983 to disturb states' Eleventh Amendment
immunity, states are not “persons” liable for
money damages under Section 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't
of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989). This principle
extends to governmental entities and agencies, like the
Department of Child Services, that are considered to be
“arms of the state.” Id. at 70; Ind.
Prot. & Advocacy Servs. v. Ind. Family & Social
Servs. Admin., 603 F.3d at 370 (“If properly
raised, the [Eleventh A]mendment bars actions in federal
court against a state, state agencies, or state officials
acting in their official capacities.”). A district
court can dismiss a case based on Eleventh Amendment immunity
even if the defendants haven't argued it. Ind. Prot.
& Advocacy Servs. v. Ind. Family & Social Servs.
Admin., 603 F.3d at 370. As a result, Ms. Carranza
can't sue the Department of Child Services or the State
of Indiana for the alleged constitutional violations.
these reasons, Ms. Carranza's motion for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis [Doc. No. 1] is DENIED and her case is
DISMISSED. The ...