(PS) Hawkins v. Callejas, et al, No. 2:2020cv00156 - Document 49 (E.D. Cal. 2023)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes on 1/19/2023 RECOMMENDING defendants' 41 motion to dismiss be granted; the 40 second amended complaint filed on August 30, 2022 be dismissed without prejudice; and this action be closed. Referred to Judge Dale A. Drozd; Objections to F&R due within 14 days. (Yin, K)

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(PS) Hawkins v. Callejas, et al Doc. 49 Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 1 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 KET HAWKINGS III, 12 13 14 15 16 No. 2:20-cv-0156 DAD DB PS Plaintiff, v. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILD AND FAMILY ADULT SERVICES, Defendant. 17 18 Plaintiff Ket Hawkings III is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was referred to 19 the undersigned in accordance with Local Rule 302(c)(21) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Pending 20 before the undersigned is defendants’ motion to dismiss the second amended complaint pursuant 21 to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 41.) For the 22 reasons stated below, the undersigned recommends that defendants’ motion to dismiss be granted 23 and the second amended complaint be dismissed without further leave to amend. 24 BACKGROUND 25 Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, commenced this action on January 22, 2020, by filing a 26 complaint and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) Plaintiff is proceeding 27 on a second amended complaint alleging that plaintiff’s rights under the Indian Child Welfare 28 Act, (“ICWA”), 25 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq., were violated as the result of actions by defendant 1 Dockets.Justia.com Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 2 of 7 1 employees of the Sacramento County Department of Child and Adult Services during state court 2 child custody proceedings involving plaintiff’s children. On September 13, 2022, defendants 3 Michelle Callejas, Jeff King, Dorothy Gipson, Joanne East, and Shaunna Buono filed the pending 4 motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 41.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on September 28, 2022. (ECF No. 5 45.) Defendants filed a reply on October 10, 2022. (ECF No. 46.) Plaintiff filed a sur-reply on 6 October 14, 2022.1 (ECF No. 47.) Defendants’ motion was taken under submission on October 7 25, 2022. (ECF No. 48.) STANDARD 8 9 I. 10 Legal Standards Applicable to Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a defendant to raise the defense, by 11 motion, that the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of an entire action or of specific 12 claims alleged in the action. “A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction may 13 either attack the allegations of the complaint or may be made as a ‘speaking motion’ attacking the 14 existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact.” Thornhill Publ’g Co. v. Gen. Tel. & Elecs. Corp., 15 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979). 16 When a party brings a facial attack to subject matter jurisdiction, that party contends that 17 the allegations of jurisdiction contained in the complaint are insufficient on their face to 18 demonstrate the existence of jurisdiction. Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 19 (9th Cir. 2004). In a Rule 12(b)(1) motion of this type, the plaintiff is entitled to safeguards 20 similar to those applicable when a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is made. See Sea Vessel Inc. v. Reyes, 21 23 F.3d 345, 347 (11th Cir. 1994); Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 n. 6 (8th Cir. 22 1990). The factual allegations of the complaint are presumed to be true, and the motion is granted 23 only if the plaintiff fails to allege an element necessary for subject matter jurisdiction. Savage v. 24 Glendale Union High Sch. Dist. No. 205, 343 F.3d 1036, 1039 n. 1 (9th Cir. 2003); Miranda v. 25 Reno, 238 F.3d 1156, 1157 n. 1 (9th Cir. 2001). Nonetheless, district courts “may review 26 27 28 1 The filing of a sur-reply is not authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the Local Rules. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12; Local Rule 230. Nonetheless, in light of plaintiff’s pro se status, the undersigned has considered the sur-reply in evaluating defendants’ motion to dismiss. 2 Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 3 of 7 1 evidence beyond the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for 2 summary judgment” when resolving a facial attack. Safe Air for Everyone, 373 F.3d at 1039. 3 When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion attacks the existence of subject matter jurisdiction, no 4 presumption of truthfulness attaches to the plaintiff’s allegations. Thornhill Publ’g Co., 594 F.2d 5 at 733. “[T]he district court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings, but may review any 6 evidence, such as affidavits and testimony, to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of 7 jurisdiction.” McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988). When a Rule 8 12(b)(1) motion attacks the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, plaintiff has the burden 9 of establishing that such jurisdiction does in fact exist. Thornhill Publ’g Co., 594 F.2d at 733. 10 II. Legal Standards Applicable to Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) 11 The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal 12 sufficiency of the complaint. N. Star Int’l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm’n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 13 1983). “Dismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of 14 sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 15 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A plaintiff is required to allege “enough facts to state a claim to 16 relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A 17 claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw 18 the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. 19 Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 20 In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, the 21 court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint and construes the allegations in the light 22 most favorable to the plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Love v. 23 United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). In general, pro se complaints are held to less 24 stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 25 520-21 (1972). However, the court need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the 26 form of factual allegations. United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th 27 Cir. 1986). 28 //// 3 Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 4 of 7 While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an 1 2 unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A 3 pleading is insufficient if it offers mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the 4 elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 5 (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory 6 statements, do not suffice.”). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff “can prove 7 facts which it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have 8 not been alleged.” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 9 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). 10 In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court is permitted 11 to consider material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint, documents that are not 12 physically attached to the complaint if their authenticity is not contested and the plaintiff’s 13 complaint necessarily relies on them, and matters of public record. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 14 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001). ANALYSIS 15 16 The second amended complaint repeatedly alleges that the defendants, in their official 17 capacities, initiated and/or authorized “the adoption process of Plaintiff[’]s children . . . without 18 considering the ICWA Laws[.]” (Sec. Am. Compl. (ECF No. 40) at 2-3.) The second amended 19 complaint seeks, in relevant part, an order from this court rescinding “the State Court Order 20 termination [of] Plaintiff’s Parental rights[.]” (Id. at 9.) 21 The Rooker-Feldman doctrine typically bars federal courts from exercising subject-matter 22 jurisdiction over an action in “which a party losing in state court” seeks “what in substance would 23 be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States district court, based on the losing 24 party’s claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser’s federal rights.” Johnson v. De 25 Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994). However, “[t]he purpose of ICWA was to rectify state 26 agency and court actions that resulted in the removal of Indian children from their Indian 27 communities and heritage.” Doe v. Mann, 415 F.3d 1038, 1047 (9th Cir. 2005). 28 //// 4 Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 5 of 7 1 2 In this regard, the ICWA places certain requirements on state court child custody proceedings concerning Indian children. For example: 3 No termination of parental rights may be ordered in such proceeding in the absence of a determination, supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. 4 5 6 7 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f). Additionally, “indigent Indians . . . are entitled to counsel who can 8 effectively represent their interests.” Doe v. Mann, 285 F.Supp.2d 1229, 1240 (N.D. Cal. 2003). 9 To enforce these protections 25 U.S.C. “§ 1914 provides the federal courts authority to 10 invalidate a state court foster care placement or termination of parental rights if it is in violation 11 of §§ 1911, 1912, or 1913” of the ICWA. Mann, 415 F.3d at 1047; see also 25 U.S.C. § 1914 12 (“any parent or Indian custodian from whose custody such child was removed . . . may petition 13 any court of competent jurisdiction to invalidate such action upon a showing that such action 14 violated any provision of sections 1911, 1912, and 1913 of this title”). 15 However, as plaintiff has been repeatedly advised, the ICWA applies only to an “Indian 16 child,” which is defined as “any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a 17 member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological 18 child of a member of an Indian tribe.” 25 U.S.C. § 1903(4). The second amended complaint does 19 not contain factual allegations establishing that plaintiff’s children are members of an Indian tribe 20 or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and are the biological children of a member of an 21 Indian tribe. 22 Instead, the second amended complaint alleges that plaintiff “and his children is of Indian 23 descent, [and] is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe,” because plaintiff’s grandmother 24 “was a Walla Walla Indian and a member of the Confederated Tribe of Umatilla Indians.” (Sec. 25 Am. Compl. (ECF No. 40) at 4-5.) In the sur-reply plaintiff argues that “[f]rom the quantum of 26 the Indian Blood Plaintiff children have in their genes qualify them for eligible membership in an 27 Indian tribe[.]” (Sur. Reply (ECF No. 47) at 2.) Assuming arguendo that this is true, that does 28 not satisfy the requirements of the ICWA. 5 Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 6 of 7 In this regard, it is not enough for plaintiff’s grandmother to have been a tribal member or 1 2 plaintiff’s children to have “Indian Blood.” Put plainly, in order for the ICWA to apply either 3 plaintiff’s children must already be members of an Indian tribe or plaintiff must be a member of 4 an Indian tribe. See generally Esquivel v. Fresno Cnty. Department of Social Services, Case No. 5 1:22-cv-0001 EPG, 2022 WL 17343869, at *7 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 30, 2022) (“Plaintiff’s father’s 6 potential eligibility for tribal membership does not render the minors at issue Indian children 7 within the meaning of ICWA, because the parent must be ‘a member of an Indian tribe’ – not 8 merely eligible for membership.”). The second amended complaint also alleges in a vague and conclusory manner “that the 9 10 protection of the ICWA must be expanded in the present case, such as expanding the definition of 11 an Indian child.” (Sec. Am. Compl. (ECF No. 40) at 4-5.) The second amended complaint refers 12 to no authority permitting the Court to undertake such action nor is the undersigned aware of any 13 such authority. Accordingly, the undersigned finds that defendants’ motion to dismiss should be granted. 14 15 II. Further Leave to Amend 16 The undersigned has carefully considered whether plaintiff could further amend the 17 complaint to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Valid reasons for denying leave to 18 amend include undue delay, bad faith, prejudice, and futility.” California Architectural Bldg. 19 Prod. v. Franciscan Ceramics, 818 F.2d 1466, 1472 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Klamath-Lake 20 Pharm. Ass’n v. Klamath Med. Serv. Bureau, 701 F.2d 1276, 1293 (9th Cir. 1983) (holding that 21 while leave to amend shall be freely given, the court does not have to allow futile amendments). In light of the deficiencies noted above and plaintiff’s repeated inability to cure those 22 23 defects, the undersigned finds that granting plaintiff further leave to amended would be futile. 24 //// 25 //// 26 //// 27 //// 28 //// 6 Case 2:20-cv-00156-DAD-DB Document 49 Filed 01/19/23 Page 7 of 7 CONCLUSION 1 2 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that: 3 1. Defendants’ September 13, 2022 motion to dismiss (ECF No. 41) be granted; 4 2. The second amended complaint filed on August 30, 2022 (ECF No. 40) be dismissed 5 without prejudice; and 6 3. This action be closed. 7 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 8 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days 9 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 10 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 11 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Any reply to the objections 12 shall be served and filed within fourteen days after service of the objections. The parties are 13 advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the 14 District Court’s order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 15 Dated: January 19, 2023 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 DLB:6 DB\orders\orders.pro se\hawkins0156.mtd3.f&rs 28 7
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