United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO PROCEED IN
DISTRICT COURT WITHOUT PREPAYING THE FILING FEE AND
RECOMMENDATION THAT CASE BE DISMISSED
WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending before the court is Monica May Parent's Request
to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying the Filing
reviewed Parent's request, the court concludes that
Parent lacks the financial resources to prepay the fees and
costs associated with this action. Therefore, Parent's
Request to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying the
Filing Fee will be granted.
that determination is only half of the court's inquiry.
Because the court is granting Parent's Request to Proceed
in District Court without Prepaying the Filing Fee, the court
must proceed with the second step of the analysis under 28
U.S.C. § 1915 and determine whether the complaint is
legally sufficient to proceed.
sought to ensure that no citizen would be denied the
opportunity to commence a civil action in any court of the
United States solely due to poverty. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992) (quoting Adkins v.
E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342
(1948)). However, Congress also recognized that “a
litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by the
public, unlike a paying litigant, lacks an economic incentive
to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or repetitive
lawsuits.” Id. (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989)). In order to balance
these competing concerns, before it can allow the plaintiff
to proceed in forma pauperis, the court is obligated to
determine that this case (1) is not frivolous or malicious,
(2) does not fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, and (3) does not seek monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Thus, although “a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)), a pro
se complaint must meet these minimal standards before the
court shall grant a plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Denton, 504 U.S. at 31;
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325. Although factual
allegations must be weighed in favor of the plaintiff, that
does not mean that the court is required to accept without
question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations.
Denton, 504 U.S. at 32. Thus, a court may dismiss a
claim as frivolous if it is “clearly baseless, ”
“fanciful, ” “fantastic, ”
“delusional, ” “irrational, ”
“wholly incredible, ” or “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at
32-33. A court may not dismiss a claim as frivolous simply
because “the plaintiff's allegations are
might not be frivolous or malicious but nonetheless fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted and therefore
be subject to dismissal. In determining whether a complaint
is sufficient to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the court applies the same
well-established standards applicable to a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 611 (7th Cir. 2000).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Although the allegations in a complaint need not be detailed,
a complaint “demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading
that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of
further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation
marks, citation, and brackets omitted). The complaint must be
sufficiently detailed “to give the defendant fair
notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957)) (quotation marks and ellipses omitted).
complaint contains well-pleaded, non-frivolous factual
allegations, the court should assume the veracity of those
allegations and “then determine whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679. “Determining whether a complaint
states a plausible claim for relief will … be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
the standards set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) in
mind, the court turns to the allegations raised in the
plaintiff's complaint. Parent's allegations relate to
events occurring in Pierce and Polk counties, both of which
are in the Western District of Wisconsin. 28 U.S.C. §
130(b). However, the court will transfer this matter to the
proper district only if there is potential merit to
says she is “sueing Polk Co. for unlawfully taking son
away from me.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) She asks the court to
give her full custody of her son, to change his last name,
and award her and her son both $50, 000. (ECF No. 1 at 4.)
She also asks that she be allowed to move out-of-state with
her son. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) Parent names as defendants a Polk
County Circuit Court judge and two guardians ad litem who
were involved in a Child in Need of Protection or Services
are at least three reasons why Parent's complaint must be
judges are absolutely immune from suit for their judicial
actions. See Richman v. Sheahan, 270 F.3d 430, 434
(7th Cir. 2001) (citing Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
11-12 (1991); Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219,
225-29 (1988)). Similarly, guardians ad litem “are
absolutely immune from liability for damages when they act at
the court's direction.” Cooney v.
Rossiter, 583 F.3d 967, 970 (7th Cir. 2009). “They
are arms of the court, much like special masters, and deserve
protection from harassment by disappointed litigants, just as
judges do.” Id. Although there may be
exceptions to this general rule of absolute immunity, see
Golden v. Helen Sigman & Assocs., 611 F.3d 356, 361
(7th Cir. 2010) (noting that a guardian ad litem might not be
immune for actions taken as an advocate in the role of a
child's attorney), Parent's complaint does not allege
facts suggesting such an exception might apply.
Parent's complaint fails to state a claim. In effect, she
is asking a federal court to upset the order of a state
court. Cf. Johnson v. Orr, 551 F.3d 564, 568 (7th
Cir. 2008) (“To determine whether
Rooker-Feldman bars a claim, we look beyond the four
corners of the complaint to discern the actual injury claimed
by the plaintiff.”). District courts lack such
authority. See, e.g., Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi
Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). Thus, the
court lacks jurisdiction over Parent's claims. See
Frederiksen v. City of Lockport, 384 F.3d 437, 438 (7th
Cir. 2004). Although narrow exceptions exist for certain
extreme cases, see Loubser v. Thacker, 440 F.3d 439,
441-42 (7th Cir. 2006), or when the federal claim is distinct
from the decision of the state court, see Johnson v.