United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 21, 2017, pro se plaintiff Rapheal Proctor
filed this lawsuit against the District of Columbia agency he
referred to as "Title 4-D Child Support Enforcement
Agency, "Aggie Rhodes, one of the agency's
employees, Adia L. Melendez, a D.C. Superior Court Magistrate
Judge, and Donald Wills,  who plaintiff identifies as his
employer. Compl. [Dkt. # 1], Plaintiff appears to be
challenging the initiation and enforcement of a child support
order. See generally id.
bases his claim on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and he alleges that
the child support order violates his constitutional right to
due process, his right to equal protection under the law, and
his right not to be compelled to be a witness against
himself. Compl. at 1-3, 6, 8 ("I'm filling
[sic] this complaint resulting from child support
hearing where my constitutional rights have been violated
I've been jailed and force[d] to enter into a
contract."). He also seems to bring a defamation claim
against the agency. Id. at 9-10 (defining
"defamation" and alleging that he has "been
stalked[, ] labeled an obligor, and dead beat dad which are
false statements, my property and my public image has been
tarnished and vandalized ... as a result of the child support
enforcement agencies [sic] tactics to enforce an
unfair and bias[ed] contract"). In his complaint,
plaintiff seeks injunctive relief "to put a stop to
ongoing income with holdings [sic] and repeated
conduct that violates [his] rights," as well as $75, 000
dollars in damages. Id. at 10.
before the Court are two motions to dismiss: one filed by
defendant Wills on October 16, 2017, and one filed on
November 22, 2017 by defendants CSSD and Rhodes. Wills Mot.;
Defs.' Mot.; Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Defs.'
Mot. [Dkt. # 12] ("Defs.' Mem."). Defendant
Wills argues that the case against him should be dismissed
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to
state a claim because the complaint "lacks any
allegations that [he] individually took or has taken any
action against the [p]laintiff" Wills Mot. at 2. The
other defendants moved to dismiss the case under both Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) arguing that:
(1) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the
matter under the domestic relations exception; (2) under the
Younger abstention doctrine, the Court should not
interfere with an ongoing Superior Court proceeding; (3)
defendant CSSD is non sui juris and therefore cannot
be sued, but substituting the District of Columbia as the
proper defendant would be futile because plaintiff has failed
to state a plausible claim for municipal liability under 42
U.S.C. § 1983; (4) the complaint does not allege any
wrongdoing by defendant Aggie Rhodes; and (5) Magistrate
Judge Melendez is entitled to absolute immunity for actions
taken in her judicial capacity. See Defs.' Mot.
Court informed plaintiff on November 2, 2017, and again on
November 22, 2017, that if he did not file a timely response
to either motion to dismiss, the Court would treat the
motions as conceded and dismiss the case. Order [Dkt. # 11];
Order [Dkt. # 13]. Plaintiff filed a single opposition on
November 27, 2017, Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 14]
("PL's Opp."), and both defendants replied.
Defs.' Reply in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 15]
("Defs.' Reply"); Donald Wills Reply in Supp.
of Wills Mot. [Dkt. # 16] ("Wills Reply").
the Court cannot hear the case under the domestic relations
exception to federal court jurisdiction as well as under the
Younger abstention doctrine, and the Magistrate
Judge is absolutely immune, the Court will grant
defendants' motions and dismiss the case for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
is a party to an ongoing child support proceeding in D.C.
Superior Court. See Ex. 1 to Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. #
12-1] ("Superior Court Docket"). On July 14, 2017,
that court determined that plaintiff was the father of a
minor child based on genetic test results. Id. at
No. 17. At the same hearing, Magistrate Judge Melendez
entered a Temporary Support Order requiring plaintiff to pay
$1, 080.00 per month in child support. Id. at No.
alleges that he was held in contempt of court by Magistrate
Judge Melendez, and that he was then jailed and "forced
to enter into a contract with the child support enforcement
program via [a] [c]ourt ordered DNA test which [he]
didn't consent to." Compl. at 3. After the DNA test,
plaintiff claims that CSSD issued an income withholding
order, without a judicial signature, to his employer
defendant Wills. Id. The complaint alleges that the
order is "fraudulent" because it requires him to
pay $1, 080.00 per month "without [having] inquired]
[into his] ability to pay." Id.
his alleged attempts to put a stop to the withholding order
"via email and faxes and trips delivering a deprivation
of rights warning to the child support enforcement
agency," plaintiff claims that defendant Wills continues
"to send [his] compensation for [his] labor to the wage
with holding [sic] unit at the child support
collection agency." Compl. at 3. Further, plaintiff
alleges that he has been falsely labeled a "dead beat
dad," that his "public image has been
tarnished," and that he has "been threatened and
targeted at [his] home and at [his] work place" by media
"as a result of the child support enforcement
agenc[y's] tactics to enforce an unfair and bias[ed]
contract." Id. at 9-10. The complaint alleges
that this "[d]efamation has negatively impacted
[plaintiffs] performance at [his] job," and it caused
him to be terminated. Id. at 10.
evaluating a motion to dismiss under either Rule 12(b)(1) or
12(b)(6), the Court must "treat the complaint's
factual allegations as true and must grant plaintiff 'the
benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts
alleged.'" Sparrow v. United Air Lines,
Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (internal
citations omitted), quoting Schuler v. United
States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979); see also
Am. Nat'l Ins. Co. v. FDIC, 642 F.3d 1137, 1139
(D.C. Cir. 2011), quoting Thomas v. Principi, 394
F.3d 970, 972 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Nevertheless, the Court need
not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those
inferences are unsupported by facts alleged in the complaint,
nor must the Court accept plaintiffs legal conclusions.
Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See
Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife,504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992);
Shekoyan v. Sibley Int'l Corp., 217 F.Supp.2d
59, 63 (D.D.C. 2002). Federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies
outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am.,511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994);
see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. EPA,363 F.3d 442, 448
(D.C. Cir. 2004) ("As a court of limited jurisdiction,
we begin, and end, with an examination of our
jurisdiction."). "[B]ecause subject-matter
jurisdiction is 'an Art[icle] III as well as a statutory
requirement ... no action of the parties can confer
subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal ...