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Rasheed v. Floyd County CPS

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

July 16, 2019

LOUISA M. RASHEED, Plaintiff,
v.
FLOYD COUNTY CPS, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          RICHARD L. YOUNG, UNITED STATE DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Louisa M. Rasheed (“Rasheed”), proceeding pro se, alleges Floyd County Child Protective Services (“CPS”) violated her Constitutional rights by infringing on her fundamental right to parent her child. Because CPS is not a “person” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and CPS is entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, CPS's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. Background[1]

         The Complaint, construed liberally, alleges that CPS deprived Rasheed of custody of her son due to false claims over her fitness as a mother. (Filing No. 1, Compl. at 2). Her case has been ongoing with CPS for over three years. (Id.). Rasheed alleges the Department of Child Services (“DCS”), Rasheed's case manager, and the social workers made her feel vulnerable and useless to society “and did their very best to convince the Judge and everyone involved in the case that [she] was unfit.” (Filing No. 1-1 Attachment to Complaint at ecf p. 3). Furthermore, Rasheed alleges that DCS and her social worker attempted to force her to sign a document regarding supervised visitation, but she refused. (Id. at ecf p. 11).

         On August 24, 2018, Rasheed filed her Complaint, alleging CPS violated her Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by depriving her of her child. (Id. at ecf p. 5). She also alleges that CPS has committed “parental alienation, misrepresentation, [and] negligence.” (Compl. at 2).

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim when the plaintiff “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim of relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the complaint alleges factual content that allows the court to make the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Bell, 550 U.S. at 556.[2]

         III. Discussion

         CPS moves to dismiss Rasheed's Complaint because CPS is not a ‘person' under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and CPS is entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.

         A. Validity of Claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege, “(1) that defendant[s] deprived him of a constitutional right; and (2) that the defendant[s] acted under color of state law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006). The defendant must also be a “person”, as “[p]ersonhood is an essential element of a § 1983 claim[.]” Lett v. Magnant, 965 F.2d 251, 255 (7th Cir. 1992). States, state officials acting within their official capacities, and arms of the states, such as state agencies, are not “persons” within the meaning of § 1983. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989); Lett, 965 F.2d at 255.

         Here, Floyd County CPS is not a “person” under § 1983. CPS is a local branch of the Department of Child Services in Floyd County. Townsley v. Marion County Dept. of Child Services, 848 N.E.2d 684, 686 (Ind.Ct.App. 2006); see also Heinzeman v. State, 895 N.E.2d 716, 725 n. 5 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008) (noting that CPS became part of DCS when DCS was statutorily created). DCS was created by Indiana Code § 31-25-1-1 and is a state agency. East v. Lake County Sheriff, No. 2:14-cv-058 PPS JEM, 2015 WL 528 6920, at *5 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 9, 2015) (“[T]here is not question that DCS is a branch of the State of Indiana.”). Because CPS is an “arm of the state, ” it is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983. Therefore, Rasheed's § 1983 claim fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         B. Sovereign Immunity Under the Eleventh Amendment

         “The Eleventh Amendment bars private litigants' suits against nonconsenting states in federal courts, with the exception of causes of action where Congress has abrogated the states' traditional immunity through its powers under the Fourteenth Amendment.” Joseph v. Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin System, 432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005). Congress did not abrogate States' Eleventh Amendment immunity when it enacted § 1983. Moore v. State of Ind., 999 F.2d 1125, 1128-1129 (7th Cir. 1993). Moreover, “state agencies, as ‘arms of ...


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