United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
BENNETH O. AMADI, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, ET AL., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
case arises from a child custody dispute. Plaintiff Benneth
Amadi (“Amadi” or “plaintiff”)
alleges that defendants, employees of the Massachusetts
Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) and
the Massachusetts Juvenile Court (“the Juvenile
Court”), are, inter alia, conspiring to
violate his constitutional rights, preventing him from seeing
his children and obstructing his access to court.
motions for injunctive relief, an order to show cause and to
strike are currently before the Court. For the reasons that
follow, those motions will be denied. Defendants' motion
to dismiss the case is also before the Court but before
deciding it, the Court will accept briefing as to whether the
case should be stayed pending a decision of the First Circuit
Court of Appeals (“First Circuit”) in
plaintiff's prior action.
se plaintiff Amadi is a licensed attorney in
Massachusetts. Defendants are the DCF, DCF Commissioner Linda
Spears, DCF Attorney Sean Bernard (“Attorney
Bernard”), DCF Manager Roger Randall, DCF Social
Workers Sean Ferrick and Ronald Strand and a Massachusetts
Juvenile Court Judge, Garrett McManus (“Judge
McManus”). This case is related to a lengthy dispute
over the custody of plaintiff's four minor children. In
July, 2013, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, which
has jurisdiction over divorces and child custody, granted
plaintiff temporary custody of his children.
January, 2014, DCF filed a care and protection case
concerning the children in Juvenile Court. Contemporaneously,
the children were removed from plaintiff's custody and
temporarily placed in foster care. According to defendants,
the removal occurred after two reports from mandated
reporters alleged that plaintiff was neglecting or abusing
the children and his refusal to cooperate with the
investigation of the reports. Plaintiff contends that DCF
“fraudulently and illegally” removed the children
because its employees had “the dubious intention of
transferring the custody to [the mother]”.
defendants' recounting of the facts, after the children
were placed in foster care, the DCF developed “service
plans” for the parents to complete in order to regain
assert that the mother completed her plan and cooperated with
DCF whereas plaintiff did neither. In May, 2014, DCF returned
physical custody of the children to their mother because of
her cooperation but it retained legal custody.
contends that the mother regained custody as a result of
gender discrimination and a conspiracy between Judge McManus
and DCF. In support of those allegations, plaintiff claims
that in May, 2014, Sara Garofalo, a DCF supervisor, told him
that he lost custody because he is a man. Plaintiff also
contends that at the June, 2015 Juvenile Court proceeding,
Attorney Bernard admitted in open court that DCF had no case
against him and that the dispute is between the parents and
belongs in Probate Court.
strenuously deny plaintiff's version of the facts. Ms.
Garofalo has submitted an affidavit stating that she
“told Mr. Amadi exactly the opposite of what he alleges
[she] said”. She states that she
[s]pecifically told Mr. Amadi that [DCF] does not take
custody of children because of the gender of the parent[.]
Bernard submitted an affidavit stating that plaintiff
“misconstrues” his statements in the Juvenile
Court. He explains that when he said “this is really
the mother's case against the father” he meant that
DCF had determined that the mother was a fit parent and would
therefore support her in a custody dispute.
care and protection case in Juvenile Court is ongoing and
Judge McManus apparently plans to set a trial date after this
Court decides plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief.
has filed two lawsuits in this Court concerning the ongoing
custody proceedings. He filed the first complaint in May,
2016. This Court dismissed that case based on the
Younger doctrine in July, 2016. Amadi v.
McManus, et al., No. 16-cv-10861-NMG, 2016 WL 3814597,
at *5 (D. Mass. July 11, 2016), appeal docketed, No.
16-1960 (1st Cir. Jul. 27, 2016) [hereinafter “the
prior action”]. Plaintiff's appeal of that decision
is now pending before the First Circuit. Id.
September, 2016, plaintiff filed his complaint in this case
and moved for a preliminary injunction. Amadi v.
Dep't Child. & Fam., et al., 16-cv-11901-NMG (D.
Mass. filed Sept. 19, 2016). Shortly thereafter, he moved for
injunctive relief ex parte and defendants filed a
motion to dismiss and their opposition to injunctive relief.