United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
CHRISTINA M. BATISTA, Plaintiff,
CHRISTIN CARTER, et al, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER I.
Kenneth M. Hoyt, United States District Judge
the Court is the defendants', Christin Carter and the
State of Texas, motion to dismiss the plaintiff's,
Christina M. Batista, suit pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The Court has reviewed the
pleadings on file in this suit and conducted a phone
conference and determines that the motion should be granted.
plaintiff and her husband were the subject of a suit to
terminate the parent-child relationship between them and
their children in the 314th Judicial District Court of Harris
County Texas. See [CA. No. 2016-042565]. On or about
August 1, 2017, the state court entered an order terminating
the plaintiff and her husband's parental rights and
removed the children from their custody. The plaintiff did
not appeal the state court's order. However, her husband
appealed the order and the status of that appeal is unclear
and not readily apparent. Nevertheless, the husband is not a
party to the plaintiff's federal suit, the case at bar.
suit, the plaintiff admits, among other statements, that her
suit arises out of the state termination order. Among her
claims she asserts that the Department of Family and
Protective Services and CPS violated state law and her
federal “due process rights” under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981. The defendants seek dismissal of the
plaintiff's suit under the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine
(federal trial courts lack authority to review final
judgments of state courts); and, the Eleventh Amendment, of
the federal Constitution (immunity from suit is enjoyed by
state officials where relief sought is other than injunctive
12(b)(1) permits the dismissal of an action for the lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “If
[a federal] court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, [it] must dismiss the
action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); see also Berkshire
Fashions, Inc. v. M.V. Hakusan II, 954 F.2d 874, 880 n.3
(3rd Cir. 1992) (citing Rubin v. Buckman, 727 F.2d
71, 72 (3d Cir. 1984)) (reasoning that “[t]he
distinction between a Rule 12(h)(3) motion and a Rule
12(b)(1) motion is simply that the former may be asserted at
any time and need not be responsive to any pleading of the
other party.”) Since federal courts are considered
courts of limited jurisdiction, absent jurisdiction conferred
by statute, they lack the power to adjudicate claims.
See, e.g., Stockman v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 138
F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing Veldhoen v. United
States Coast Guard, 35 F.3d 222, 225 (5th Cir. 1994).
Therefore, the party seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a
federal court carries “the burden of proving subject
matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence.” Vantage Trailers, Inc. v. Beall
Corp., 567 F.3d 745, 748 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing New
Orleans & Gulf Coast Ry. Co. v. Barrois, 533 F.3d
321, 327 (5th Cir. 2008); see also Stockman, 138
F.3d at 151.
evaluating jurisdiction, “a [federal] court is free to
weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of
its power to hear the case.” MDPhysicians &
Assoc., Inc. v. State Bd. of Ins., 957 F.2d
178, 181 (5th Cir. 1992) (citing Williamson v.
Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981)); see also
Vantage Trailers, 567 F.3d at 748 (reasoning that
“[i]n evaluating jurisdiction, the district court must
resolve disputed facts without giving a presumption of
truthfulness to the plaintiff's allegations.”) In
making its ruling, the court may rely on any of the
following: “(1) the complaint alone, (2) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or
(3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the
court's resolution of disputed facts.”
MDPhysicians, 957 F.2d at 181 n.2 (citing
Williamson, 645 F.2d at 413).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a defendant to
move to dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
Under the demanding strictures of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,
“the plaintiff's complaint is to be construed in a
light most favorable to the plaintiff, and the allegations
contained therein are to be taken as true.”
Oppenheimer v. Prudential Sec., Inc., 94 F.3d 189,
194 (5th Cir. 1996). In essence, “the district court
must examine the complaint to determine whether the
allegations provide relief on any possible theory.”
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th
Cir. 2001.) Under Rule 12(b)(6), a court will dismiss a
complaint only if the “[f]actual allegations [are not]
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the
complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct.
1955, 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). To survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Id. at 1965.
plaintiffs § 1981 suit must be dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, Eleventh Amendment immunity and
failure to state a cognizable claim. See Beall
Corp., 567 F.3d at 748; Ramming, 281 F.3d at
161 and Ex Parte Young,209 U.S. 123 (1908). The
plaintiffs pleading and the transcript show that the
plaintiffs federal civil right suit arises out of the state
court order that terminated her parent-child relationship
with her children. A court may dismiss a case where it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction, a cognizable suit is not pled