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Lisboa v. New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 7, 2019

ANGEL LISBOA, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, JOSEPH PIZARRO, N.J. FAMILY CARE, and STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Defendants.

          ANGEL LISBOA, Plaintiff appearing pro se

          ASHLEY LAURA COSTELLO STATE OF NEW JERSEY OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, On behalf of Defendants.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter concerns constitutional claims by Plaintiff, Angel Lisboa, who is proceeding pro se, [1] arising out of past and ongoing child custody proceedings in New Jersey state family court. Defendants[2] have moved to dismiss all claims in Plaintiff's complaint. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Based on the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint and documents attached to his complaint, it appears that Plaintiff is the father of four daughters who are currently in the custody of Defendant New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P). Previously, the girls were in the custody of their mother while Plaintiff was incarcerated from 2012 through November 2015, and they remained in her custody until May 2017 when CP&P removed them from their mother's care due to neglect.

         Plaintiff relates that in May 2017 he met with CP&P caseworkers in a parking lot while the girls were being treated at a hospital for a severe case of scabies. Plaintiff claims that the caseworkers stated the only way Plaintiff could obtain custody of his daughters was to sign documents agreeing to his brother and girlfriend supervising him at all times. Plaintiff claims that he refused to sign the documents, but the caseworkers said if he did not, the girls would be placed in foster case. Plaintiff claims that he signed the documents under duress in order to obtain custody of his daughters.[3]

         On April 10, 2018, CP&P removed the girls from Plaintiff's care. Plaintiff claims that several reasons were asserted for the girls' removal, including the loss of his job. Plaintiff asserts he lost his job due to absences caused by unnecessary and burdensome requirements imposed by CP&P such as drug testing and his decision to use doctors of his choice rather than through state-provided programs. He was also evicted from his apartment. Plaintiff refutes that he was neglecting his daughters, which was CP&P's ultimate basis for their removal. It appears that all four daughters are currently in foster care and under CP&P's custody.

         Plaintiff has asserted constitutional claims for three events relative to the custody of his children: (1) the state court's refusal to provide him with a transcript for an October 10, 2017 family court hearing;[4] (2) the removal of his children from his custody on April 10, 2018; and (3) the loss of his own state-provided medical insurance when his daughters were removed from his custody in April 2018.

         CP&P, along with Defendant Joseph Pizarro, whom Plaintiff claims was the videotape and transcript coordinator who denied Plaintiff's October 10, 2017 transcript request, have moved to dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims on numerous bases, including sovereign immunity, absolute quasi-judicial immunity, and failure to state any cognizable claims. Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to Defendants' motion, but after Defendants filed their motion, Plaintiff filed a letter on the docket asking this Court to intervene in the ongoing state court custody case. (Docket No. 12.)

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject matter jurisdiction

         Plaintiff has brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the U.S. Constitution. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         B. Standard for ...


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