Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Winkler v. Grant

April 8, 2008

MARC WINKLER PLAINTIFF,
v.
MATTHEW GRANT, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN EMPLOYEE OF ONTARIO COUNTY DSS, HOLLY ADAMS, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ATTORNEY FOR ONTARIO COUNTY DSS, JESSICA PICCHI (COSENTINO), BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN EMPLOYEE OF ONTARIO COUNTY DSS, WAYNE SCHOONMAKER, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN EMPLOYEE OF ONTARIO COUNTY DSS, ROBERT KRAMER, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN EMPLOYEE OF ONTARIO COUNTY DSS, EILEEN TIBERIO, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN EMPLOYEE OF ONTARIO COUNTY DSS, CRAIG DORAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS JUSTICE OF THE FAMILY COURT OF ONTARIO COUNTY, NEW YORK, ONTARIO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Marc Winkler, ("Winkler") proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various federal laws claiming that the defendants violated his federal constitutional and statutory rights with respect to a New York State custody proceeding involving his minor children. Specifically, Winkler contends that his children were unlawfully removed from his home and placed in foster care in violation of his civil rights.

Pending before the court are five motions including: (1) defendant Craig Doran's motion to dismiss (docket item no. 17); (2) the remaining defendants' motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative for summary judgment (docket item no. 13); (3) plaintiff's motion "to supplement jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims); (4) plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment; and (5) defendants' motion to strike.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant Doran's motion to dismiss, grant the remaining defendants' motion to dismiss, deny plaintiff's motions, and deny as moot defendants' motion to strike.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff claims that in 2003, the defendants violated his due process rights by unlawfully temporarily removing four of his children from his custody and intentionally and maliciously delaying custody proceedings following the removal of his children from his home. He further contends that in 2004, the defendants violated his constitutional rights in connection with the temporary removal of a fifth child, a 3-day old newborn, from his home.

I. Legal Standards for evaluating Motions to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment

The defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure claiming that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must ascertain, after presuming all factual allegations in the pleading to be true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, whether or not the plaintiff has stated any valid ground for relief. Ferran v. Town of Nassau, 11 F.3d 21, 22 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. denied 513 U.S. 1014 (1994). The court may grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion only where "`it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Allen v. WestPoint-Pepperell, Inc., 945 F.2d 40, 44 (2d Cir. 1991) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). "This rule applies with particular force where the plaintiff alleges civil rights violations or where the complaint is submitted pro se." Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998).

With respect to defendants' motion for summary judgment, Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all inferences and ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54 (2nd Cir. 1997). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of summary judgment is appropriate. Annis v. County of Westchester, 136 F.3d 239, 247 (2nd Cir. 1998).

II. Defendant Doran's Motion to Dismiss

Defendant Craig Doran, a Family Court Justice in the Ontario County, New York, Family Court, moves to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint against him on grounds that he is entitled to absolute immunity because the acts that he took which are complained of by the plaintiff were judicial acts undertaken in his capacity as a Family Court judge.

It is well settled that judges are absolutely immune from suit for any actions taken within the scope of their judicial responsibilities. See, e.g., Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991). The protection of immunity is not pierced by allegations that the judge acted in bad faith or with malice. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967). The United States Supreme Court has expressly applied the doctrine of judicial immunity to actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Pierson, 386 U.S. at 547.

The Supreme Court has developed a two-part test for determining whether or not a judge is entitled to absolute immunity. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978). First, "[a] judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority; rather, he will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the 'clear absence of all jurisdiction.'" Id. at 356-57 (quoting Bradley, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) at 351 (1871)). Second, a judge is immune only for actions performed in his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.