United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ENOH A. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
SYMONE S. SALMON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Casper United States District Judge
1, 2015, plaintiff Enoh Johnson ("Johnson") filed a
complaint on behalf of himself and his two minor children
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the United Nations
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("CAT"). He named
as defendants Symone Salmon ("Salmon"), the mother
of his children and Kathleen LaSalle ("ADA
LaSalle"), an Assistant District Attorney for Ventura
County, California. Johnson’s claims concern the
alleged abuse of his children and his unsuccessful efforts to
retain custody of his children through litigation in both the
Massachusetts and California state courts. As relief, Johnson
sought, inter alia, an order vacating the California
custody judgment and reinstating a custody order from the
Suffolk County Probate & Family Court ("Suffolk Probate
Court"). He also sought an order awarding jurisdiction
over the custody issues to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Finally, he sought monetary damages of one million dollars
for his children for the alleged abuse they suffered while in
the custody of their mother.
September 10, 2015, the Court (Cabell, M.J.) issued a
Memorandum and Order, D. 5, granting Johnson leave to proceed
in forma pauperis and directing certain documents be
placed under seal insofar as they contained confidential
information about the minor children. Additionally, the
Memorandum and Order addressed the numerous legal impediments
to Johnson’s claims that subjected this action to
light of the legal impediments discussed in the Memorandum
and Order, Johnson was directed to demonstrate good cause why
this action should not be dismissed, or, in the alternative,
file an Amended Complaint.
November 20, 2015, Johnson filed a document entitled
"Motion to Amend." D. 10. On March 8, 2016, this
action was reassigned to this Court for further proceedings.
The Amended Complaint
threshold matter, this Court will construe Johnson’s
motion to amend as his amended complaint, which shall
supersede his original. Significantly, Johnson does not
include defendants Salmon or ADA LaSalle in the amended
complaint. Instead, he names Police Officer Ryan Cunningham
("Officer Cunningham") and School Principal Ms.
Mary Driscoll ("Principal Driscoll") as defendants
Additionally, Johnson does not invoke expressly any claims
pursuant to the CAT or 42 U.S.C. § 1983; however, in the
body of his amended complaint, he asserts due process
violations by the new defendants, alleging that they acted
under color of state law. Johnson does, however, allege
expressly that his first claim for relief arises under the
"Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act as amended by
P.L. 111-320, the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010."
("CAPTA") Am. Compl., D. 10, at 1. His second claim
for relief arises under "Family Code Title 5 (The
Parent-Child Relationship) Subtitle B. suits affecting the
parent-child relationship. Chapter 152 (uniform child custody
Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and thereof.[)]"
("Family Code 5"). Id.
Johnson reiterates his allegations in the original complaint
with respect to child custody disputes and the alleged abuse
of his children. Briefly, in 2008, the Suffolk Probate Court
granted him and Salmon joint legal and physical custody of
their minor children. He claims that in 2011, while the
children were living with their mother in California, they
were abused by Salmon and other family members. Thereafter,
in December 2012, Johnson filed, in the Suffolk Probate
Court, a motion for a modification of custody of his children
to protect them from domestic violence. In March 2013, the
Suffolk Probate Court granted him temporary custody of his
children. In 2014, the children were placed in a mental
health treatment program through the Massachusetts Department
of Children and Family Services and were attending school in
October 2014, Salmon appeared in the Ventura County Superior
Court in California and was granted temporary custody,
allegedly without Johnson’s knowledge or consent and
without service of notice on him by Salmon. In view of this
custody order, Salmon flew from California to Massachusetts
and removed the children from school and from their mental
treatment. Prompted by Salmon’s actions,
Johnson disputed the jurisdiction of the Ventura County
Superior Court to grant temporary custody to Salmon and
challenged the propriety of doing so based on her alleged
record of abuse. On November 7, 2014, the Ventura County
Superior Court again awarded temporary custody to Salmon.
Johnson alleges, for a number of reasons, that the Ventura
County Superior Court lacked authority to award Salmon
2015, the Suffolk Probate Court issued a decision finding
that it did not have jurisdiction over Johnson’s motion
for modification of custody. Johnson disagrees with this
finding and argues that the children are domiciliary citizens
of Massachusetts and thus it has jurisdiction because it is
the "home state" of the children.
to the new claims in the Amended Complaint, Johnson alleges
that Officer Cunningham called Salmon on November 1, 2014 and
ordered her to return the children to Johnson. He also
alleges that on the same day, Boston Police Officer Sgt.
O’Neill (not named as a defendant in the amended
complaint) called both Salmon and the children’s
grandmother, Laura Hopkins, and ordered them to return the
minor children to Johnson. He further alleges that Officer
Cunningham knew about the abuse and neglect of his children
and was acting under color of state law when he made a
custody decision in favor of Salmon, by allowing the children
to remain living with her. Further, he alleges that, due to
Officer Cunningham’s lack of understanding of probate
and family laws, he did not act properly, because he should
have insisted that both parties bring the matter before the
Suffolk Probate Court, to have that court decide on custody.
with respect to Principal Driscoll, Johnson claims that she
was acting under color of law when she made a custody
decision in favor of Salmon, despite knowing of the abuse
from the children’s mother. Johnson contends that she
should have insisted that both parties bring this matter
before the Suffolk Probate Court to decide on custody.
The Amended Complaint is Subject to ...