United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. MILLER, JR. JUDGE
Sanders filed a complaint against Eddy and Ethel Bean. Mr.
Sanders has also filed a concurrent motion to proceed in
forma pauperis against both entities. Mr. Sanders qualifies
for a filing fee waiver, but his complaint fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, so the court denies
his motion to proceed in forma pauperis and dismisses his
court “may screen the complaint prior to service on the
defendants, and must dismiss the complaint if it fails to
state a claim.” Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778,
783 (7th Cir. 1999). The court must dismiss an in forma
pauperis complaint if it fails to state a claim under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Both 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
have the same standard. 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 Mr. Sanders. 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 Mr. Sanders' complaint liberally
because he's litigating without counsel. See Ray v.
Clements, 700 F.3d 993, 1002 (7th Cir. 2012).
Sanders claims that Eddy and Ethel Bean committed perjury and
broke a verbal contract during a child guardianship hearing.
Mr. Sanders asks that this court invalidate any judicial
actions stemming from the guardianship hearing, monetary
compensation, a public apology from Eddy and Ethel Bean, or,
in the alternative, ninety days in jail for the defendants.
court doesn't have the judicial power to hear this case.
While the ability to bring a case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
is broad there are caveats. One of these caveats are
domestic-relations lawsuits. The “domestic-relations
exception” discourages federal courts from hearing
cases - including both diversity and federal-question
lawsuits - that would traditionally fall within the ambit of
domestic-relations or family courts. Jones v.
Brennan, 465 F.3d 304, 306 (7th Cir. 2006); Marshall
v. Marshall, 547 U.S. 293, 305-306 (2006);
Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 703 (1992);
Friedlander v. Friedlander, 149 F.3d 739, 740 (7th
exception itself covers a “narrow range of domestic
relations issues involving the granting of divorce, decrees
of alimony, ” and child custody orders.
Ankenbrandt, 504 U.S. at 701-702. It is
“materially identical” to the probate exception.
Struck v. Cook Cnty. Pub. Guardian, 508 F.3d 858,
859 (7th Cir. 2007); Jones, 465 F.3d at 306-307
(probate exception); Allen, 48 F.3d at 262 n.3 (7th
Cir. 1995) (domestic relations exception). Both are construed
narrowly, with a focus on the need to prevent federal courts
from “disturb[ing] or affect[ing] the possession of
property in the custody of a state court.” Marshall
v. Marshall, 547 U.S. at 311 (quoting Markham v.
Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494 (1946)). Mr. Sanders'
claims against Eddy and Ethel aren't claims over which
the district court has jurisdiction. Dawaji v.
Askar, 618 Fed.Appx. 858, 860 (7th Cir. 2015) (no
jurisdiction over child custody dispute); Friedlander v.
Friedlander, 149 F.3d 739, 740 (7th Cir.1998) (same).
Mr. Sanders' 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim must therefore
Mr. Sanders's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. No. 2] is DENIED and his complaint [Doc. No.
1] is DISMISSED. The ...