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Yarborough v. Johnson

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 12, 2018

CURTIS J. YARBOROUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
NATASHA JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Esther Salas, U.S.D.J.

         Before the Court is Defendant Ivelisse Abreu's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Curtis J. Yarborough's (“Plaintiff's”) Complaint (D.E. No. 1 (“Compl.”)). (D.E. No. 8). Defendants Natasha Johnson, Patricia Risch, and the Department of Human Services joined the Motion to Dismiss on April 19, 2018. (D.E. No. 9). The Court has considered the parties' submissions and rules on the motion without oral argument. See D.N.J. Civ. R. 78.1(b); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b). For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         The Complaint is not a model of clarity but contains sufficient information for the Court to conclude that Plaintiff is under a New Jersey state-court child support obligation. (See, e.g., Compl. § III(C) (“[T]he defendants deceived . . . me by saying . . . I had to pay for [my] child . . . .”); id. § IV (“$404 dollars of my income is being taken monthly . . . .”)). Plaintiff alleges that the defendants “violated his 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendment rights by forcing” that child support obligation on him and failing to “warn . . . of the legal consequences.” (See Id . § III(C)). The Court, therefore, construes the Complaint as an attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the child support obligation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See id.; see also D.E. No. 7 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983)).[1]

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Younger Abstention

         Abstention from the exercise of jurisdiction under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), is rooted in “a strong federal policy against federal-court interference with pending state judicial proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances.” Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 431 (1982). Younger abstention is “fully applicable” to civil state judicial proceedings “when important state interests are involved.” Id. at 432.

         The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has “articulated three requirements which must be met before a federal court may properly invoke the Younger abstention doctrine: ‘(1) there are ongoing state proceedings that are judicial in nature; (2) the state proceedings implicate important state interests; and (3) the state proceedings afford an adequate opportunity to raise federal claims.'” Port Auth. Police Benev. Ass'n, Inc. v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J. Police Dep't, 973 F.2d 169, 173 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Schall v. Joyce, 885 F.2d 101, 106 (3d Cir. 1989)). The Court of Appeals has specifically ruled that abstention was proper when a plaintiff raised a constitutional challenge to a New Jersey state-court child support obligation. See, e.g., DiPietro v. New Jersey Family Support Payment Ctr., 375 Fed.Appx. 202, 204-05 (3d Cir. 2010).

         “Strictly speaking, Younger abstention is not analyzed under either Rule 12(b)(1) or 12(b)(6), ” see Knox v. Union Twp. Bd. of Educ., No. 13-5875, 2015 WL 769930, at *5 n.7 (D.N.J. Feb. 23, 2015), but “[d]ismissal on abstention grounds without retention of jurisdiction is in the nature of a dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), ” Gwynedd Properties, Inc. v. Lower Gwynedd Twp., 970 F.2d 1195, 1206 n.18 (3d Cir. 1992) (emphasis added). Accordingly, “courts in this District have treated [a motion to dismiss on the basis of] Younger abstention as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, ” see, e.g., Tobia v. Lakewood Bd. of Educ., No. 16-4850, 2017 WL 1206010, at *3 (D.N.J. Mar. 31, 2017), “in that matters outside of the pleadings are not to be considered, ” see Knox, 2015 WL 769930, at *5 n.7. Therefore, in determining whether the Court may dismiss the Complaint on the basis of Younger abstention, the Court will not consider matters outside the pleadings. See id.

         III. Analysis

         The defendants submit, among other arguments, that “[t]he Court should abstain . . . as there is an ongoing state court proceeding.” (See generally D.E. No. 8-2 at 8-11). Because the Court agrees, the Court need not consider Defendants' remaining arguments. See, e.g., Hayes v. Rogers, No. 07-3774, 2008 WL 2025145, at *3 (D.N.J. May 8, 2008).

         A. Younger Abstention

         As observed above, the Court of Appeals has “articulated three requirements which must be met before a federal court may properly invoke the Younger abstention doctrine.” See Port Auth., 973 F.2d at 173. The Court examines each in turn.

         1. Ongoing ...


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