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Frederick of Family Gonora v. Office of Child Support Services

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 21, 2019

Frederick of the Family Gonora, Plaintiff,
v.
Office of Child Support Services, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PETER G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter comes before the Court on a motion filed by Defendant County of Monmouth to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint. (ECF No. 28). Defendant Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) has joined this motion. (ECF No. 30). Because this matter is the subject of an ongoing state court proceeding, this Court shall dismiss the complaint. Further, to grant Plaintiff another chance to amend would be futile; as such, the dismissal is with prejudice.

         Background

         Plaintiffs complaint is very difficult to construe; however, he appears to challenge services provided by the Child Support Enforcement Program, known as Title IV-D, 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. It appears that individuals associated with OCSS performed paternity establishment services, without giving plaintiff due notice. Specifically, Plaintiff claims these individuals used his social security number to violate his constitutional rights "by using the number to track and hunt him down through Proactive Matching." (Amended Complaint, ECF No 25 at ¶ 36). Plaintiff asserts federal civil rights claims for general deprivations of constitutional rights.

         Plaintiff initially filed a complaint on March 19, 2018. This Court, after hearing oral argument, dismissed that complaint by order dated November 26, 2018. (ECF No. 23). Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on December 7, 2018. (ECF No. 25). Defendant filed this motion on December 19, 2018. (ECF No. 28).

         Legal Analysis

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), [1] the Court is required to accept as true all allegations in the Complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and to view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). "To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 (2007)). While a court will accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; see also Morse v. Lower Merion School District, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). A complaint should be dismissed only if the well-pleaded alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. See In re Warfarin Sodium, 214 F.3d 395, 397-98 (3d Cir. 2000).

         Where, as here, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court reads Plaintiffs complaint generously and holds it "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, "a pro se plaintiff is not exempt from his burden of providing some affirmative evidence, i.e. not just mere allegations, to establish a prima facie case; and also to show that there is a genuine dispute for trial." Niblack v. Murray, No. 12-6910, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99325, at *7 (D.N.J. July 29, 2016) (citing Barnett v. N.J. Transit Corp., 573 Fed.Appx. 239, 243 (3d Cir. 2014)).

         Abstention

         "[F]ederal courts have a strict duty to exercise the jurisdiction that is conferred upon them by Congress." Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716 (1996). "This duty is not, however, absolute." Id. "[F]ederal courts may decline to exercise their jurisdiction, in otherwise 'exceptional circumstances,' where denying a federal forum would clearly serve an important countervailing interest, for example, where abstention is warranted by considerations of 'proper constitutional adjudication,' 'regard for federal-state relations,' or 'wise judicial administration.'" Id. (quoting Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 813 (1976)).

         "Younger v. Harris ... and its progeny espouse a strong federal policy against federal-court interference with pending state judicial proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances." Middlesex Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass 'n, 457 U.S. 423, 431 (1982). Abstention should be invoked rarely; "only 'in a few carefully defined situations.'" Zahl v. Warhafting, 655 Fed. App'x, 66, 70 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Gwynedd Props., Inc. v. Lower Gwynedd Twp., 970 F.2d 1195, 1199 (3d Cir. 1992)). "[I]n order for a district court to abstain under Younger, three requirements must be met: (1) there must be ongoing state proceedings that are judicial in nature; (2) the state proceedings must implicate important state interests; and (3) the state proceedings must provide an adequate opportunity to raise federal claims." Dixon v. Kuhn, 257 Fed.Appx. 553, 555 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Anthony v. Council, 316 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2003)). Each factor is evaluated below.

         As to the first factor, the amended complaint alleges the existence of an ongoing state court proceeding that concerns the payment of child support, as shown in several references:

• "N.J. OCSS agents induced the Monmouth county Administrator, Board of Chosen freeholders, attorneys, family court judges, clerk of court, sheriffs department etc., to voluntarily enter into a 45 C.F.R. §302.34 Title IV-D contract to provide Title IV-D enforcement services that are initiated by OCSS and only target the individual group defined as non-custodial parents in return for payment from the Federal Government." (Amended Complaint at ¶ 8).
• "Monmouth County Chancery Division Family Part Judges provides magistrate services that target only individual non-custodial parents subject to Title IV-D activities ... and certify that all hearings are conducted in compliance with Title IV-D of the ...

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