United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Dennis Saylor United States District Judge
reasons stated below, plaintiff will be ordered to show cause
why this action should not be dismissed within 21 days of the
entry of this Memorandum and Order.
se plaintiff Michelle Lynn McNeil has filed a
thirty-page, six-count complaint purportedly on behalf of
herself, other heirs, and her father's
estate. The complaint arises out of her
unsuccessful attempt to become appointed the personal
representative of her father's estate in an ongoing
probate matter before the Bristol County Probate Court.
Rather than appeal the orders of the Probate Court, plaintiff
instead brought an action in this Court seeking monetary
damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. Along with her
complaint, plaintiff filed a motion to proceed in forma
Plaintiff's Complaint Is Subject to
motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be allowed.
As a pro se plaintiff, however, summonses will not
issue unless the Court determines that the complaint states a
claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28
U.S.C. §1915(e). Furthermore, the Court is obligated to
inquire sua sponte into its own subject-matter
jurisdiction. See McCulloch v. Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5
(1st Cir. 2004). “If the court determines at any time
that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must
dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). In
conducting this review, the Court must liberally construe the
complaint because plaintiff is proceeding pro se. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
The Complaint Fails to State a Claim Upon Which Relief
Can Be Granted
Bristol County Probate Court Is Immune from
Bristol County Probate Court, as an arm of the state, is
immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh
Amendment to the United States Constitution. Dicenzo v.
Prob., No. 15-CV-30171-MAP, 2015 WL 9690895, at *3 (D.
Mass. Nov. 19, 2015) (dismissing claim against Massachusetts
Probate Court under Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity),
report and recommendation adopted sub nom. Dicenzo v.
Massachusetts Prob. & Family Court, No.
15-CV-30171-MAP, 2016 WL 128127 (D. Mass. Jan. 12, 2016).
Accordingly, plaintiff's claims against Bristol County
Probate Court are subject to dismissal on the ground of
Judge Field Is Absolutely Judicially Immune from
claims against Judge Katherine A. Field are barred by the
doctrine of absolute judicial immunity. Becks v. Plymouth
County Superior Court, 511 F.Supp.2d 203, 206 (D. Mass.
2007) (“Absolute immunity from civil liability applies
to any judicial officer for any normal and routine judicial
act.”). “Absolute immunity applies to
‘judges performing judicial acts within their
jurisdiction, ' and the protection it affords applies
even if the official ‘acted maliciously and corruptly
in exercising his judicial . . . functions' or ‘in
the presence of grave procedural errors.'” Ives
v. Agastoni, No. CV 15-30153-MAP, 2015 WL 9647559, at *3
(D. Mass. Dec. 14, 2015) (quoting Goldstein v.
Galvin, 719 F.3d 16, 24 (1st Cir. 2013)), report and
recommendation adopted, No. 15-CV-30153-MAP, 2016 WL 79881
(D. Mass. Jan. 5, 2016). All of the allegations concerning
Judge Field relate to judicial actions in the ongoing probate
proceedings. Accordingly, the claims against defendant Judge
Katherine Field are subject to dismissal on the ground of
absolute judicial immunity.
Bristol Register of Probate and Probate Court Employees
Are Entitled to Quasi-Judicial Immunity
“doctrine of quasi-absolute judicial immunity extends
to employees of a court when they perform tasks that are an
integral part of the judicial process.” Andre v.
Moriarty, No. CV-11-40009-FDS, 2011 WL 1456773, at *7
(D. Mass. Apr. 4, 2011); see Bowen v. Worcester Family
& Prob. Court, No. CV-14-40113-TSH, 2014 WL 5106419,
at *1 (D. Mass. Oct. 9, 2014) (dismissing action sua
sponte, holding that quasi-judicial immunity attached to
probate and family court register and other court personnel
acting in furtherance of their judicial duties). Here,
plaintiff claims that the register of probate and various
other staff have failed to undertake their official duties of
probating the plaintiff's father's estate properly.
As pleaded, the complaint is insufficient to overcome a
defense of quasi-judicial ...