United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
TAMEKA S. MINOR, Plaintiff,
CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY, MARQUETA LNU, WORKER; ASHLEY BRADFORD, SUPERVISOR; MANAGER, CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY; AND HEAD OF CORPORATION, CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY; Defendants.
ELIZABETH S. ("BETSY") CHESTNEY, UNITED STATES
the Court in the above-styled cause of action are
Plaintiff's pro se Application to Proceed in
District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs and proposed
civil complaint, filed August 6, 2019 [#1]. The motions were
automatically referred to the undersigned upon filing, and
the undersigned has authority to enter this order pursuant to
28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(A). By her motion, Plaintiff seeks
leave to proceed in forma pauperis (âIFPâ) based on her
inability to afford court fees and costs. Having considered
the motion and documentation provided by Plaintiff, the Court
will grant the motion to proceed IFP but order Plaintiff to
file a more definite statement before ordering service on
Motion to Proceed IFP
parties instituting any civil action, suit, or proceeding in
a district court of the United States, except an application
for a writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $350,
as well as an administrative fee. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a). Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP
includes her income and asset information, which indicates
that Plaintiff receives approximately $500 per month in
income, as well as disability payments, but has no savings or
assets. She also makes monthly payments to the IRS in the
amount of $200. The information demonstrates that Plaintiff
does not have sufficient monthly resources available to pay
the filing fee, and the Court will grant the motion to
More Definite Statement
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is empowered to screen
any civil complaint filed by a party proceeding IFP to
determine whether the claims presented are (1) frivolous or
malicious; (2) fail to state a claim on which relief may be
granted; or (3) seek monetary relief against a defendant who
is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Plaintiff's Complaint sues the Child
Protective Agency and various individuals who work at the
Agency as manager, supervisor, and case worker. (Compl.
[#1-1].) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants wrongfully accused
her of abusing her children and removed her children from the
home without legal basis. Plaintiff's Complaint states
that Defendants engaged in an illegal abduction and
kidnapping of her children and asserts claims for a violation
of due process pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl.
[#1-1].) Plaintiff seeks an order returning her children to
her care and custody and $2, 000, 000 in damages for the
emotional suffering the actions of Defendants have caused
Court construes Plaintiff's Complaint as a suit against
the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services'
Child Protective Services Department (“DFPS”), as
this is the legal entity responsible for investigations into
child abuse and neglect and the placement of children into
foster care. Moreover, the San Antonio office of DFPS is
located at the address listed for the named Defendants in
Plaintiff's Complaint. See DFPS Office Locations
for Region 8-San Antonio, available at
(last visited August 9, 2019).
reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court has identified
several issues with her allegations, which may be complete
bars to her claims. First, Plaintiff's Complaint does not
specify whether she is suing the individual DFPS employees in
their official or individual capacities. DFPS is a state
agency that enjoys immunity from suit in this federal court
under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States
Constitution. See Valdez v. Tex. Dep't of Fam.
Protec. Servs., No. 5:14-1056-RCL, 2015 WL 4395404, at
*6 (W.D. Tex. July 15, 2015) (“As a state agency, the
TDFPS is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from
[Plaintiff's] claims.”). This means that the State
of Texas and its agencies, such as DFPS, cannot be sued as a
defendant in a federal-court action unless the state consents
to suit. See U.S. Const. amend. XI; Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100
(1984). Texas has not waived its immunity from suit as to
DFPS, meaning it has not made an exception from the State of
Texas's general Eleventh Amendment immunity to allow
suits against DFPS in federal court. See Valdez,
2015 WL 4395404, at *2 (noting that Texas has not waived
immunity as to the TDFPS). The Eleventh Amendment's reach
also extends to suits against a state agency or state
official in his or her official capacity. Clay v. Tex.
Women's Univ., 728 F.2d 714, 715-16 (5th Cir. 1984).
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims fail insofar as she is
suing DFPS as a state agency and the other Defendants in
their official capacities.
may assert claims under Section 1983 against the individual
Defendants in their individual capacities, but to do so she
must allege specific facts as to the acts taken by each
Defendant that would subject them to liability for the
constitutional deprivation at issue. Oliver v.
Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 741 (5th Cir. 2002).
Plaintiff's Complaint as currently drafted fails to do
and most importantly, the Court is unable to decipher from
Plaintiff's Complaint whether DFPS removed her children
with or without a hearing; whether there have been any
state-court proceedings on the legal status of
Plaintiff's custody over her children or other
administrative processes; and, if so, whether those
proceedings are final. Under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, an individual may not file a civil rights suit in
federal court to collaterally attack a state civil judgment.
See Liedtke v. State Bar of Tex., 18 F.3d 315, 317
(5th Cir. 1994) (citing Rooker v. Fidelity Trust
Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); District of Columbia Court
of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983)). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine establishes that a federal
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction when issues in
federal court are “inextricably intertwined” with
a final state court judgment. Davis v. Bayless, 70
F.3d 367, 375 (5th Cir. 1995). The Supreme Court has
cautioned that the doctrine is to be narrowly confined to
“cases brought by state-court losers complaining of
injuries caused by state-court judgments.” Exxon
Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280,
284 (2005). If there has been a state-court judgment against
Plaintiff, her claims are likely barred by
Rooker-Feldman. See McCullough v. Tex. Dep't
of Family & Protective Servs., No. CV H-17-83, 2017
WL 3129982, at *3-4 (S.D. Tex. May 31, 2017), report and
recommendation adopted, No. CV H-17-0083, 2017 WL
3129810 (S.D. Tex. July 21, 2017).
the Court will order Plaintiff to file a more definite
statement within 21 days of this Order to clarify her
allegations against Defendants.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's pro
se Application to Proceed in District Court without
Prepaying Fees or Costs [#1] is GRANTED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint
[#1-1] shall be filed by the Clerk without prepayment of
fees, costs or the giving of security therefore, and the
Clerk shall, until further Order of this Court, waive the
collection of any other fees or costs from Plaintiff.
However, service upon Defendants should be withheld
pending this Court's review under § 1915(e).
IS FURTHER ORDERED that within 21 days of
this Order, Plaintiff shall file a More
Definite Statement of the claims she seeks to
present to this Court. In this More Definite ...