United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.
granting Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the
court now conducts an initial review of Plaintiff's
Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is
appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
sues Governor Pete Ricketts and three officials who
apparently deal with child-support enforcement for the
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Plaintiff
complains that he should not have had to pay child support
for the past 15 years because he is “aboriginal and
indigenous to this land, ” and “child support is
used to steal the birthrights of these indigenous
peoples.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 4.) Plaintiff
requests to be reimbursed for the past 15 years of
child-support payments, plus interest, and to be relieved of
future payment obligations. (Id.)
to Plaintiff's Complaint is a letter from Defendant Byron
Van Patten, Administrator for Child Support Enforcement of
the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, stating
that the Department received a child-support order from the
Knox County District Court on July 9, 2003, and the
Department intends to enforce such order until paid in full
or until the issuing court changes the child-support order.
(Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 6.)
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).
claim is subject to dismissal under the domestic-relations
doctrine. It is well-settled that the “whole subject of
the domestic relations of husband and wife, parent and child,
belongs to the laws of the states, and not to the laws of the
United States.” In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586,
593-94 (1890). The United States Supreme Court has recognized
a domestic relations exception “to the jurisdiction of
the federal courts in light of long-held understandings and
policy considerations.” Whiteside v. Nebraska State
Health and Human Services, No. 4:07CV3030, 2007 WL
2123754, *1 (D. Neb. July 19, 2007) (citing Ankenbrandt
v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 694-95 (1992)). It is clear
from the Complaint that granting Plaintiff the relief sought
would require the court to entangle itself into issues of
state child-support law, an area in which it does not have
Rooker-Feldman doctrine also precludes consideration
of Plaintiff's claim. This doctrine provides that, with
the exception of habeas corpus petitions, lower federal
courts lack subject-matter jurisdiction over challenges to
state-court judgments and state proceedings. Mosby v.
Ligon, 418 F.3d 927, 931 (8th Cir. 2005). See D.C.
Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983);
Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923).
Specifically, the doctrine “bars federal courts from
hearing cases brought by the losing parties in state court
proceedings alleging ‘injury caused by the state-court
judgment and seeking review and rejection of that
judgment.'” Mosby, 418 at 931 (quoting
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544
U.S. 280 (2005)). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine also
applies to state proceedings that are essentially judicial in
nature. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 467. See also
Ballinger v. Culotta, 322 F.3d 546, 548 (8th Cir. 2003).
It appears that Nebraska state courts have entered orders
regarding Plaintiff's child-support obligations. (Filing
No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 6.) In order for Plaintiff to properly
challenge these state-court orders, he must seek the
appropriate state remedies.
Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed without prejudice
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because amendment of
his Complaint would be futile. Horras v. Am. Capital
Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798, 804 (8th Cir. 2013)
(district court may deny leave to amend when amendment would
ORDERED that this case is dismissed without prejudice for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and judgment ...