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Ramos v. Putnam Family Court

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 18, 2017

JOSE ERIC RAMOS, Plaintiff,
v.
PUTNAM FAMILY COURT, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVEW ORDER

          Victor A. Bolden, United States District Judge

         Jose Eric Ramos (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institute (“MacDougall-Walker”), brings this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”), against the Putnam Family Court, Peter Barbone from Social Family Services at the Putnam Superior Court, Judge Michael E. Riley of the Connecticut Superior Court, Support Enforcement Agent Johara Craig at the Putnam Superior Court, and Connecticut Support Enforcement Services at the Putnam Superior Court (collectively, “Defendants”). ECF No. 1.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint . . . [that] is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or that “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. 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) (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint that includes only “labels and conclusions, ” “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or “naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement, ” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” a pro se complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72-73 (2d Cir. 2009) (“Even after Twombly, though, we remain obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally . . . . We conclude, nonetheless, that the amended complaint fails to state [a claim] . . . even under liberal standards of review for pro se pleadings.”).

         II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         Mr. Ramos's allegations arise from an underlying custody case in the Putnam Family Court. Compl. at 3, ECF No. 1. Mr. Ramos alleges that he was “denied equal rights, privileges [and] immunity of the law as well as equal protection of the law” in the custody case by all Defendants. Id. Mr. Ramos requests money damages, “to be reconnected [sic] with [his] children, ” to be able to resume contact with his children, and “visitation upon release.” Id. at 6.

         Mr. Ramos alleges that he filed for visitation rights and for joint custody of his children at the Putnam Superior Court, and that he was instructed to meet with Mr. Barbone, an employee of Family Services. Compl. at 5. Mr. Ramos alleges that he complied “with all stipulations nd instructions mandated by the court, ” and that Judge Riley than ruled that Mr. Ramos be granted “visitation and contact rights” as to his children. Id.

         Mr. Ramos alleges that, throughout the course of his underlying family court case, the mother of his children “did not comply [with court orders] or appear for court on multiple occasions.” Compl. at 5. Mr. Ramos alleges that, in response, he contacted and spoke with Mr. Barbone and Judge Riley multiple times and filed motions for contempt multiple times, but that they took no action. Id. Mr. Ramos further alleges that the mother then moved the children out of state without consulting him first, and that Mr. Barbone and Judge Riley took no action, even after Mr. Riley spoke to them and filed motions for contempt. Id. Mr. Ramos alleges that the law provided that no party to a custody case could remove the children from the state while the custody case was pending, and that if a party failed to appear before the court, the court should rule in favor of the opposing party. Id. at 6. He alleges that Mr. Barbone and Judge Riley denied him the protection of those laws and caused him harm. Id.

         Mr. Ramos further alleges that Child Support Enforcement Services has a mission statement “to provide for people who pay support.” Compl. at 6. Mr. Ramos implies that because he paid child support, he is allegedly entitled to have a relationship with and see his children, and that he has been denied access to his children. Id. He claims that some of the Defendants, without specifying which of the Defendants, still “want [him] to pay [child] support even though they claim to not even know where or how my kids are.” Id.

         Mr. Ramos also alleges that Defendants, without specifying which of the Defendants, issued a warrant for his arrest because he allegedly missed one court date in March of 2009, for which he had not received notice. Compl. at 6.

         III. DISCUSSION

         All of the allegations in Mr. Ramos's Complaint arise from a Connecticut state court adjudication of his custody case, state court decisions as to child support, and the state's enforcement of child support orders. As explained below, the Court concludes that all of Mr. Ramos's claims, against all Defendants, are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). Furthermore, certain of his claims would also be barred on other grounds, including by Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, by judicial immunity, and by the domestic relations exception.

         A. Rooker-Fe ...


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