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James v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 8, 2018

CAILIN JAMES, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMOWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PATTI B. SARIS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the plaintiff's renewed motions to proceed in forma pauperis and directs her to show cause in writing why this action should not be dismissed, or, in the alternative, file an amended complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         Cailin James (“James”) brings this action on behalf of herself and her three minor children alleging, among other things, that in custody disputes before the Massachusetts courts they were subjected to discrimination based upon mental disability. See Complaint (“Compl.”). The first-page of the complaint states that the action is brought pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act and lists nine “related” cases from other federal district courts .[1] See Compl. at ¶ 10 (plaintiff hopes to go to Multi district litigation with the other federal cases listed); see also id. at p. 28-p. 30.

         The case caption of the complaint lists as defendants the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and to “see attached” for the full list of the defendants. Id. The body of the complaint identifies 56 defendants including the biological father of plaintiff's children, several Massachusetts state court judges and state court employees, attorneys practicing in Massachusetts, several DCF offices, the Georgetown and West Newbury Police Departments, several school principals, and several counseling and family service entities and their employees. Id. at ¶¶ 37-92.

         The complaint consists primarily of a recounting of events surrounding the plaintiff's contact with the various defendants during divorce and child custody proceedings as well as her unsuccessful efforts to have certain judges recused, certain witness testimony barred and certain state court proceedings stayed.

         Plaintiff alleges that in 2012 she obtained a “Separation Agreement” that she contends was discriminatory and unfair because it “was highly bias to father and should not have been allowed by Judge Abber.” Compl. at ¶¶ 14, 15. She alleges that the agreement “incorporated a disparate marital asset disbursement, unfair property disbursement, and parenting plan with bargained-for terms, ” id. at ¶ 14, and that it provided her with “with child support, primary residential custody - as a result of father's assault and battery on Ms. James in January, 2011, which left her with permanent spinal injury and PTSD, and alimony - and joint legal custody - made under threat by father and counselors for father, causing extreme duress - the parties children: L.K., N.K., and J.K.” Id.

         For relief, plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages as well as $250, 000 reimbursement for expenses she incurred. Compl., Relief at ¶¶ 7, 8. She also seeks “[i]njunctive relief [to] honor the Separation Agreement dated 5/12 as a permanent order” and to “declare all orders and judgments between 5/12 and [the] present legally null and void.” Id., Relief at ¶¶ 10, 11. Additionally, she seeks to have this court (1) declare that “Defendants” have violated the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, (2) enjoin “Defendants, their officers, agents and employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with Defendants, as well as any successors or assigns” from engaging in discriminatory policies and practices against individuals based on their disabilities, ” (3) order “Defendants” to modify their policies and practices and promptly remedy the alleged statutory violations; (4) terminate “Defendants' federal financial assistance” and “assess a civil penalty against defendants, ” and (5) award attorneys' fees and costs.” Id., Relief at ¶¶ 1-11. In the body of the complaint, plaintiff states that a “mitigating measure and remedy would require the restoration of Plaintiff children to Plaintiff mother, per enforcement of [the judgment of divorce].” Compl. at p. 47 (¶ 11).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Plaintiff's Renewed Motions to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff's renewed motions to proceed in forma pauperis are allowed. Because plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, her complaint is subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         II. Screening of the Complaint

         Because the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, her complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This statute authorizes federal courts to dismiss actions in which a plaintiff seeks to proceed without prepayment of fees if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         When examining the sufficiency of the pleadings, the court considers whether the plaintiff has pled “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). The court accepts as true the factual allegations of the complaint, draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff that are supported by the factual allegations, and determines whether the complaint, so read, sets forth a claim for recovery that is “ ‘plausible on its face.” Eldredge v. Town of Falmouth, 662 F.3d 100, 104 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted)). A plaintiff's complaint need not provide an exhaustive factual account, only a short and plain statement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). However, the allegations must be sufficient to identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to harm and the ...


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