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Ni-Shon Latia Lawton v. Clementon Elementary

July 21, 2011

NI-SHON LATIA LAWTON
BEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CLEMENTON ELEMENTARY
SCHOOL/DISTRICT AND ATLANTIC
COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF NEW
JERSEY, WILLIAM E. SHERER, AND SHARON
PAISLEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. Nos. 7, 8)

OPINION

This is a child custody dispute disguised as a civil rights lawsuit. Plaintiff Ni-Shon Latia Lawton Bey alleges that Defendant Clementon Elementary School ("Clementon Elementary") failed to prevent her son's father, Defendant William E. Sherer, from removing her son from Clementon Elementary without Plaintiff's consent. Plaintiff asserts claims for fraud, false arrest, kidnapping and other vague "federal and civil rights violations." (Compl. at 1). Presently before the Court is the motion by Clementon Elementary (Doc. No. 7), and the motions by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County and Judge Mark H. Sandson (Doc. No. 8) to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(B)(6). For the following reasons, Defendants' motions are GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

All of the background facts of this case are derived from the Complaint and assumed true.

Plaintiff and Mr. Sherer are the parents of Zachary Sherer, a student at Clementon Elementary. Defendant Sharon Paisley is an associate of Mr. Sherer, who shares custody of Zachary with Mr. Sherer. Plaintiff alleges that on March 27, 2008, Mr. Sherer went to Clementon Elementary and removed Zachary from school without her consent, and that Clementon Elementary wrongfully permitted Mr. Sherer to "kidnap" Zachary. (Compl. at 1).

Sometime before March 27, 2008, Plaintiff and Mr. Sherer were involved in a dispute for custody of Zachary. During that dispute, Plaintiff and Mr. Sherer appeared at a hearing before Judge Mark. H. Sandson in Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County. Plaintiff claims that during the hearing, she attempted to present evidence, but Judge Sandson dismissed her evidence and inappropriately ordered her to pay $65.00 per week in child support payments. Plaintiff also believes that Judge Sandson demonstrated "pure racial bias" towards her during the custody proceedings, and ordered her to pay child support even though Mr. Sherer owed her $16,400.00 in child support, but paid only $25.00.

Plaintiff and Zachary did not communicate for one month after the hearing before Judge Sandson. As a result, Plaintiff notified the Pleasantville Police Department and asked a police officer to visit the residence of Mr. Sherer and Ms. Paisely. After the police investigated the incident they assured Plaintiff that her son Zachary was safe. Approximately ten minutes after the police departed, Plaintiff received a call from Mr. Sherer. Plaintiff alleges that during her telephone conversation with Mr. Sherer, she told him that "she was taking him to court." (Compl. at 2). Plaintiff claims that after the conversation, Mr. Sherer informed the police that she threatened to kill his family.

Sometime after Plaintiff's conversation with Mr. Sherer, Pleasantville police officers went to Plaintiff's residence to deliver a temporary restraining order. When the officers arrived, Plaintiff was not present. Plaintiff alleges that two days later, the police officers returned to Plaintiff's residence and arrested her for violating a restraining order and making terroristic threats. After the arrest, Plaintiff spent three days in jail.

On October 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed the Complaint. The Complaint alleges "[t]here have been very serious constitutional violations in this matter involving fraud, false arrest, kidnapping and state, federal and civil right violations on myself (Ni-Shon Latia Lawton Bey) and Zachary Sherer, my son." (Id.). On January 17, 2011, Clementon Elementary moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. No. 7). Clementon Elementary argued that the Court should dismiss the Complaint because (1) Plaintiff failed to comply with the applicable statute of limitations, and (2) the Complaint fails to allege a plausible claim of supervisory liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 15, 2011, Defendants Atlantic County Government of New Jersey ("the State of New Jersey"), Judge Sandson, and the Superior Court of New Jersey moved to dismiss the Complaint, arguing that: (1) Plaintiff's claims against the State of New Jersey are meritless because New Jersey is entitled to sovereign immunity; (2) the Court should dismiss all claims against Judge Sandson and the State of New Jersey because they are not "persons" under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (3) the Court must dismiss all claims against Judge Sandson because he is entitled to judicial immunity. (Doc. No. 8). The parties submitted their respective briefs and the motions are ripe for review.

II. STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. With a motion to dismiss, "'courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). In other words, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

In making this determination, a court must engage in a two-part analysis. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009); Fowler, 578 F.3d at 2010-11. First, the court must separate factual allegations from legal conclusions. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. Second, the court must determine whether the factual allegations are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 1950. Determining plausibility is a "context-specific task" that requires the court to "draw on its ...


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