United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MONANITA C. SAMUELS PLAINTIFF
JERRILYNN WHALEY DEFENDANTS
H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court.
Monanita C. Samuels filed this pro se civil action
on a general complaint form. Because Plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis, this Court must review the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and
McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir.
1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock,
549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons that follow, the Court
will dismiss this action.
identifies two Defendants in this action - Jerrilyn Whaley, a
“Social Service Worker, ” and Courtney Croley,
“Family Service Office Supervisor, ” in
Elizabethtown, Kentucky. In her complaint, Plaintiff states
that the basis for federal question jurisdiction is
“Amendment 1, 4, and 14 in the United States
Constitution. Part 1 Section 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14 and
Section 2C of the Kentucky Bill of Rights.”
then writes: “My family has been separated due
malicious lies from this person who is abusing her power. . .
. Jerrilyn on 11/23/16 removed my girls by lying to the court
with false proof of court violation. Cortney backed her on
the allegations of neglect to my girls and placed them with
foster care instead of family.”
Relief section of the complaint, Plaintiff states: “My
family is suffering mental and emotional pain also separation
anxiety. We are entitled to $ 3 million dollars for pain,
suffering, and time that has damaged me and my 4 and 8 year
review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), a district court must
dismiss a case at any time if it determines that the action
is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). In order to survive dismissal for failure to
state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded
factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G
Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “[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)). However, while liberal, this standard of review does
require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions.
See Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum,
58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995). The Court's duty
“does not require [it] to conjure up unpled
allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16,
19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff.
Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co.,
518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise
would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all
potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would
also transform the district court from its legitimate
advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out
the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a
party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d
1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
Plaintiff's complaint alleges constitutional claims
against state officials, the Court construes it as an action
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
1983 creates no substantive rights, but merely provides
remedies for deprivations of rights established
elsewhere.” Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of
Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements
are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635 (1980). “[A] plaintiff must
allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution
and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988). “Absent either element, a section 1983 claim
will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d
502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).
Plaintiff does not specify in what capacity she is suing
Defendants, the Court will assume for purposes of this
initial review that she intends to sue them in both their
official and individual capacities.
“[O]fficial-capacity suits . . . ‘generally
represent [ ] another way of pleading an action against an
entity of which an officer is an agent.'”
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985)
(quoting Monell v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs. of
N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978). As social workers,
Defendants are employees of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and
the claims brought against them in their official capacities
are deemed claims against the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 166. State
officials sued in their official capacities for money damages
are not “persons” subject to suit under §
1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Thus, to the extent that
Plaintiff seeks money damages from Defendants in their
official capacities, she fails to state a cognizable claim
under § 1983. Additionally, the Eleventh Amendment acts
as a bar to claims for monetary damages against Defendants in
their official capacities. Kentucky v. Graham, 473
U.S. at 169. Thus, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims
will be dismissed.
claims against Defendants in their individual-capacities must
also be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. The Sixth Circuit has repeatedly held
that social workers are absolutely immune for actions that
are “intimately associated” with the judicial
phase of proceedings relating to the welfare of the child.
Rippy v. Hattaway, 270 F.3d 416, 422 (6th Cir.2001).
This quasi-judicial immunity prohibits any claim against
Defendants based upon their function of advising the court
regarding the best interests of a child, even if they are
incorrect in their assessments. Id. This immunity
also applies even if Defendants made false statements or
misrepresentations to a court in the course of child welfare
judicial proceedings. See Pittman v. Cuyahoga Cty.
Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 640 F.3d 716,
726 (6th Cir. 2011); see also Lunsford v. Ky. Cabinet for
Health & Family Servs., No. 12-58-DLB, No.
12-136-DLB, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97557, at *15 (E.D. Ky.
July 13, 2012) (dismissing claim against social worker based
on allegations that her report and recommendation to a family
court contained false and defamatory statements as barred by
quasi-judicial immunity); Evans v. Downey, No.
1:15-cv-00117-GNS, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82237, at *7-8 (W.D.
Ky. June 23, 2016) (holding social worker would be entitled
to immunity even if he made intentional misrepresentations in
his report to the court). Moreover, to the extent that
Plaintiff's claims are based upon Defendants' actual