United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM C. LEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff, Benjamin Andrew Byerline
(“Byerline”) filed suit against Defendant Mari
Love (“Love”), a Department of Child Services
caseworker, related to actions taken in an ongoing state
court matter. Presently before the Court is Love's Motion
to Dismiss [DE 11] pursuant to Fed.R.Civ. P. 12(b)(1).
Byerline did not respond. For the following reasons,
Love's Motion to Dismiss will be GRANTED.
filed his Amended Complaint [DE 10] wherein he asserts the
following: Love was assigned to Byerline as the case manager.
[DE 10 at ¶3(A)]. As part of her obligations, Love files
reports with the Allen Circuit Court in Cause No.
02D08-1807-JC-380. Byerline alleges that Love filed the
following reports: (1) stating minor child is not in need of
dental conditions [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(1)]; (2) stating
Byerline refused to provide clothing upon removal of minor
child [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(2)]; (3) stating Byerline is a
high risk for mental issues [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(3)]; (4)
listing home visits that did not occur [DE 10 at
¶3(A)(4)]; (5) not listing home visits that did occur
[DE 10 at ¶3(A)(5)]; (6) stating Byerline's home was
clutter [sic] and disaray [sic] during a home visit [DE 10 at
¶3(A)(6)]; (7) stating Byerline has failed to provide
changes in household composition, housing, and employment [DE
10 at ¶3(A)(7)]; (8) stating Byerline has refused all
home visits [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(8)]; and (9) stating minor
child is able to visit with her half-sister weekly [DE 10 at
asserts Love has only conducted one home visit and has been
inconsistent in her filed reports. [DE 10 at
¶3(A)(14-15)]Byerline further alleges that Love:
“put [Byerline's] visits on hold, once [Byerline]
asked for more visitation time with minor child to protect
the best interest of the Licensed Foster Care
placement” [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(10)]; violated court
order by not providing referrals for service to Byerline by
date established in court order [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(11)];
and refused to release drug test results [DE 10 at
¶3(A)(12)]. Finally, Byerline claims Love made a
statement that “some Indiana dads are only good for
death benefits” on a “social public
platform.” [DE 10 at ¶3(A)(13)].
to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(1), a
defendant may move to dismiss claims over which the federal
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the
“power to decide” and must be conferred upon a
federal court. In re Chicago, Rock Island & Pac. R.R.
Co., 794 F.2d 1182, 1188 (7th Cir.1986). When
jurisdictional allegations are questioned, the plaintiff has
the burden of proving that the jurisdictional requirements
have been met. Kontos v. United States Dep't of
Labor, 826 F.2d 573, 576 (7th Cir.1987). In reviewing a
Rule 12(b)(1)motion to dismiss, the Court may look beyond the
complaint and review any extraneous evidence submitted by the
parties to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction
exists. United Transp. Union v. Gateway Western R.R.
Co., 78 F.3d 1208, 1210 (7th Cir.1996). Mindful of this
standard, the Court turns now to the pending motion.
he has not expressly indicated it in his Amended Complaint
(although in a previous Complaint he did do so), Byerline is
attempting to bring suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983
against Love, a state actor, for violation of his
Constitutional rights. The Amended Complaint fails to
delineate which of his Constitutional rights Byerline
believes have been violated but the Court can surmise that he
is seeking redress for what he believes is a violation of his
Due Process rights.
Amended Complaint, Byerline references Allen Circuit Court
Cause Number 02D08-1807-JC-380 which is an ongoing Child in
Need of Services proceeding involving a minor. Love has moved
to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1) and the Younger abstention doctrine.
jurisdiction is the first question in every case, and if the
court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction, it must proceed
no further.” State of Illinois v. City of
Chicago, 137 F.3d 474, 478 (7th Cir. 1998). Under the
Younger abstention doctrine, see Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), federal courts are required
“to refrain from exercising jurisdiction over federal
constitutional claims that seek to interfere with or
interrupt ongoing state proceedings.” Courthouse
News Serv. v. Brown, 908 F.3d 1063, 1071 (7th Cir.
2018), petition for cert. filed (U.S. Mar. 13,
2019). The doctrine originally required abstention in cases
in which a criminal defendant sought a federal injunction to
stay or enjoin state court proceedings. See 401 U.S.
at 40-41; Courthouse News Serv., 908 F.3d at 1071.
However, the Supreme Court extended the doctrine to civil
proceedings “in which the state's interests are so
important that exercise of federal judicial power over those
proceedings would disregard the comity between the states and
federal government.” Courthouse News Serv.,
908 F.3d at 1071.
the case here. In CHINS proceedings, “the law
recognizes the state's interest in protection of
children....” Millspaugh v. Wabash Cty. Dep't
of Pub. Welfare, 746 F.Supp. 832, 848 (N.D. Ind. 1990),
aff'd, 937 F.2d 1172 (7th Cir. 1991).
Byerline's Amended Complaint seeks review in this federal
court of decisions made in an Indiana state court CHINS
proceeding to which it appears his minor child is a party. He
seeks to have this court intervene or interfere with the
assessment of this case by Love, the case manager assigned to
the case. This Court does not have jurisdiction to review
those state court proceedings, even though it is alleged that
the proceedings have deprived Byerline of his federal rights.
See, e.g., Ritter v. Ross, 992 F.2d 750
(7th Cir. 1993). As a result, this Court lacks jurisdiction
over this action and the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
reasons stated, Love's Motion to Dismiss [DE 11] is
GRANTED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to enter ...