United States District Court, D. Nebraska
JASON J. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
NEBRASKA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, NEBRASKA FAMILIES COLLABORATIVE, SARPY COUNTY ATTORNEY, CASA OF SARPY COUNTY, CAPSTONE BEHAVI ORAL HEALTH, BENEFICIAL BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, ANGELA THELEN, PSW NDHHS and Individual, DAVID NEWELL, NFC and Individual, DONNA ROZELL, NFC and Individual, JEF FERY VANDENBERG, NFC and Individual, LISA MINARDI, NFC and Individual, JENNIFER RICHEY, NFC and Individual, MICHELLE ADAMS, NFC and Individual, SANDRA MARKLEY, Deputy Sarpy County Attorney and Individual, and RAY KOPP, CASA of Sarpy County and Individual, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint (Filing No. 1) under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e). The court finds that Plaintiff's
complaint fails to state a claim. However, out of an
abundance of caution, the court will grant Plaintiff leave to
file an amended complaint.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Complaint (Filing No. 1) names multiple defendants,
including the Nebraska Department of Health and Human
Services, Nebraska Families Collaborative, Sarpy County
Attorney's Office, CASA of Sarpy County, Capstone
Behavioral Health, Beneficial Behavioral Health, and several
purported state and county employees. Plaintiff maintains
that the defendants failed to properly investigate claims
relating to a petition which sought to have Plaintiff's
children removed from his custody. He also asserts that the
defendants interfered with a state investigation and
conspired to cover-up their misconduct. In addition,
Plaintiff vaguely references religious discrimination and
harassment claims. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief, the
termination and prosecution of certain employees, a public
apology, and that the State of Nebraska be ordered to
terminate its contractual relationship with Defendant
Nebraska Families Collaborative.
APPLICABLE STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“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.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins
v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However,
“[a] pro se complaint must be liberally construed, and
pro se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than
other parties.” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Against the State of Nebraska and Official Capacity
Plaintiff has failed to state claims against the State of
Nebraska. The Eleventh Amendment bars claims for damages by
private parties against a state, state instrumentalities, and
an employee of a state sued in the employee's official
capacity. See, e.g., Egerdahl v. Hibbing Cmty.
Coll., 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995); Dover
Elevator Co. v. Arkansas State Univ., 64 F.3d 442,
446-47 (8th Cir. 1995). Any award of retroactive monetary
relief payable by the state, including for back pay or
damages, is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment absent a
waiver of immunity by the state or an override of immunity by
Congress. See, e.g., id.;
Nevels v. Hanlon, 656 F.2d 372, 377-78 (8th Cir.
1981). Sovereign immunity does not, however, bar damages
claims against state officials acting in their personal
capacities, nor does it bar claims brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983 that seek equitable relief from state
employee defendants acting in their official capacity.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the Nebraska
Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other
purported state entities. These claims are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. Likewise, Plaintiff's claims seeking
monetary relief against the state employee defendants in
their official capacities are precluded.
Claims Against Sarpy County
has failed to state a claim against Sarpy County and the
county employees acting in their official capacities. As a
municipality, Sarpy County can only be liable under §
1983 if a municipal policy or custom caused his injury.
See Monell v. New York Department of Social
Services,436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Moreover, a claim
against an individual in his official capacity is, in
reality, a claim against the entity that employs the
official, in this case, Sarpy County. See Parrish v.
Luckie,963 F.2d 201, 203 n.1 (8th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff
has failed to allege that a county policy or custom caused ...