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Gagnon v. Essex County CPS Unit

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


March 19, 2010

MARCY GAGNON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ESSEX COUNTY CPS UNIT; JUDGE MYER, ESSEX COUNTY FAMILY COURT; ESSEX COUNTY DEPT. OF SOC. SERV., CHILD SUPPORT UNIT; HEATHER BAWCLA, SOCIAL WORKER; AND DONNA HAZELY, SOCIAL WORKER, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this pro se civil rights action filed by Marcy Gagnon ("Plaintiff") against two county departments, two county social workers, and a state court judge ("Defendants") is the County Defendants' letter-motion requesting that, if the Court deems as sufficient Plaintiff's filing of March 25, 2010, the Court provide a deadline for service of the County Defendants' Answer. (Dkt. No. 24.) The County Defendants' letter-motion is denied as moot, and the Clerk's Office is directed to issue a judgment for Defendants and close this action.

The County Defendants are correct that Plaintiff's filing of March 25, 2010--consisting of a one-page document entitled "Addendum Response to U.S. District Court's Motion"--does not constitute a sufficient Amended Complaint that states a claim upon which relief can be granted, as required by the Court's Decision and Order of February 9, 2010. The Court reaches this conclusion for two alternative reasons.

First, Plaintiff's "Addendum Response" does not constitute a complete pleading that replaces her original Complaint in its entirety, in violation of Local Rule 7.1(a)(4) of the Local Rules of Practice for this Court. (See Dkt. No. 23.) As the Court observed in its Decision and Order of February 9, 2010, although pro se litigants should be afforded special solicitude, that solicitude is not without limits; and even pro se litigants must follow the Court's procedural rules. (Dkt. No. 21, at 6.) The Court notes that, here, Plaintiff has indeed been afforded special solicitude in that she was given a generous opportunity to amend her Complaint. Furthermore, she was given adequate notice of the requirements of Local Rule 7.1(a)(4).*fn1

Second, even if the Court were to look past the formal defects in Plaintiff's "Addendum Response," the Court could not look past the substantive defects in the claims asserted therein, which defects include the second through seventh defects identified on pages 7 and 8 of the Court's Decision and Order of February 9, 2010 (involving, among other things, principles of absolute immunity, qualified immunity, limited municipal liability, and limited federal court jurisdiction over domestic relations matters). (Compare Dkt. No. 21, at 7-8 with Dkt. No. 23.)*fn2

With regard to these defects, the Court would add the following observations. Plaintiff has not alleged facts plausibly suggesting that anyone (let alone Defendants Bawcla and Hazely) acted with either intent or criminal recklessness in falsely charging her with, and/or maliciously prosecuted her for, child neglect; and mere negligence is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn3

Moreover, persons with "mental challenges [due to] being Bi-Polar" are not members of a suspect class for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment;*fn4 and the alleged classification would survive the resulting scrutiny ("rational basis scrutiny") because that alleged classification is rationally related to a legitimate state interest, specifically, protecting children from neglect.*fn5 Furthermore, setting aside the fact that deciding Plaintiff's claims would embroil this Court in reexamining the merits of disputes traditionally (and best) left to state courts,*fn6 Plaintiff has not alleged facts plausibly suggesting that the New York state appellate courts are not fora available to her for a full and fair adjudication of her claims.*fn7 Finally, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's pendent state law claims.

ACCORDINGLY, it is

ORDERED that the County Defendants' letter-motion requesting that the Court provide a deadline for service of their Answer (Dkt. No. 24) is DENIED as moot; and it is further

ORDERED that the Clerk's Office shall issue a judgment for Defendants and close this action.

The Court hereby certifies, for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that any appeal taken from this Decision and Order would not be taken in good faith.


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