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Rodgers v. Palumbo

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

May 21, 2013

VICTOR RODGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
LAURA PALUMBO, DEBRA WIETHORN and KAREN JOHNSON, Defendants.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Defendants Laura Palumbo, Debra Wiethorn and Karen Johnson's (collectively, "Defendants") "Motion to Dismiss" ("Motion") (docket no. 6).

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 29, 2012, Plaintiff Victor Rodgers filed a Petition ("Complaint") in the District Court for Linn County, Iowa, Case No. LACV76992. Complaint (docket no. 3). In the Complaint, Rodgers alleges that Defendants violated Rodgers's civil rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983.

On December 3, 2012, Defendants filed the Motion. On December 19, 2012, Rodgers filed a Resistance (docket no. 7). On December 26, 2012, Defendants filed a Reply (docket no. 8). Neither party requests oral argument on the Motion, and the court finds that oral argument is unnecessary. The Motion is fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Rodgers is a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rodgers seeks relief against Palumbo, Wiethorn and Johnson. Palumbo is a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At times relevant to the instant action, Palumbo was a case worker with the Iowa Department of Human Services and was involved in juvenile court proceedings. Wiethorn is a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At times relevant to the instant action, Wiethorn was a case worker with the Iowa Department of Human Services and was involved in juvenile court proceedings. Johnson is a resident of Iowa City, Iowa. At times relevant to the instant action, Johnson was an employee of the Iowa Department of Human Services and was the supervisor of Palumbo and Wiethorn.

Rodgers's child, K.R., was born in February 2009. Shortly after K.R's birth, K.R. was adjudicated as a child in need of assistance and placed in foster care. Wiethorn was assigned as the case worker for Rodgers. In May 2009, after a paternity test concluded that Rodgers was K.R.'s father, Rodgers requested custody of K.R. Defendants recommended that K.R. remain in foster care. In June 2009, Rodgers again requested that K.R. be placed with him, but this request was again denied. Later in 2009, Palumbo became the case worker assigned to Roger's case.

On May 17, 2010, the State filed a petition to terminate Roger's parental rights to K.R. A juvenile court held hearings to determine whether to terminate Roger's parental rights to K.R. on August 30, 2010, and September 24, 2010. A juvenile court terminated Roger's parental rights to K.R. on November 16, 2010. Rodgers appealed and the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court's decision on February 9, 2011.

IV. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

A. Standard of Review

"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, " and the threshold requirement in every federal case is jurisdiction. Godfrey v. Pulitzer Publ'g Co., 161 F.3d 1137, 1141 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998)). "Any party or the court may, at any time, raise the issue of subject matter jurisdiction." GMAC Commercial Credit LLC v. Dillard Dep't Stores, Inc., 357 F.3d 827, 828 (8th Cir. 2004). "Without jurisdiction[, a] court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause." Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 94 (quoting Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506, 514 (1868)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

A party may move for dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of establishing its existence. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). In assessing a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the court may consider matters and submissions outside the pleadings and makes no presumptions ...


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