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Izquierdo v. State

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 21, 2014

ALEJANDRO IZQUIERDO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Defendants.

Alejandro Izquierdo, Newark, NJ, Plaintiff pro se.

Robert Hayes Murphy, Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General State of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ,

OPINION

DICKINSON R. DEBEVOISE, Sr., District Judge.

Presently before the Court is the Motion [16] of all Defendants to dismiss the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint [1] and are accepted as true for purposes of this Opinion and the accompanying Order.[2] See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).

In the 70-page Complaint, Plaintiff Alejandro Izquierdo describes a multi-year history of interaction among himself, the mother of his child, and the New Jersey State Division of Youth and Family Services ("DYFS"), including civil litigation in the state courts of New Jersey which resulted in an order giving DYFS the care and supervision of Plaintiff's child, restraining Plaintiff from the home in which his child resides, and granting Plaintiff supervised visits with his child. Plaintiff states that he was appointed counsel from the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender to represent him in the proceedings in state court, which are ongoing. In short, Plaintiff is dissatisfied with the quality of supervision provided by DYFS and with the representation he has received from his public defender. He contends that DYFS has violated his constitutional rights as well as various state laws, and he asserts jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as under other provisions relating to general federal-question jurisdiction and supplemental jurisdiction over state-law claims.

The Complaint names as Defendants the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Division of Youth and Family Services, and the New Jersey State Office of the Public Defender. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, monetary damages, and injunctive relief.

II. ANALYSIS

The Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that the Eleventh Amendment deprives this Court of jurisdiction and that they are not persons subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[3] In addition, this Court is independently required to dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, in forma pauperis actions, such as this, that fail to state a claim or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Finally, a federal court may sua sponte raise the issue of Eleventh Amendment immunity as it relates to its own jurisdiction. See Walsh v U.S. , 328 F.Appx. 806, 809 (2009) (citing United States v. Bein , 214 F.3d 408, 412 (3d Cir. 2000)).

A plaintiff may have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983 provides in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Malleus v. George , 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).

The Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that, "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of ...


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