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.

Banks-Bennett v. O'Brien

December 20, 2007

MRS. SHIRLEY BANKS-BENNETT, PLAINTIFF
v.
MR. JOHNNY O'BRIEN, OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

We are considering Defendant Johnny O'Brien's motion to dismiss the complaint filed by pro se Plaintiff, Shirley A. Banks-Bennett. (doc. 7). O'Brien is the President of the Milton Hershey School. Plaintiff's son, George Banks-Bennett, is a student at the school. In addition to the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff has filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") and a motion for appointment of counsel. (docs. 2, 3). We will dismiss the complaint without prejudice, deny Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel, and grant the motion to proceed IFP.

II. Background

Plaintiff's complaint presents three claims on behalf of her fourteen-year-old son, George. We will construe the three items listed as "Issues" on Plaintiff's "Pleading" as the claims in her complaint. According to Plaintiff, they are:

"Child abuse/verbal abuse," "Contact parents/sponsor," and "Retaliation." (doc. 1, p. 1).

Plaintiff claims that George was subjected to "child abuse and verbal abuse" on a daily basis between August 20, 2007, and September 13, 2007. (doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff appears to allege that the abuse came from "the house parent of Edgewood," and included "profanity toward George in front of the boys in Edgewood." Id. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that the house parent stated: "You are not King Sh-t [sic]" and "I will put my foot up your as- [sic]." Id.

Under the "Contact Parent/Sponsor" heading, Plaintiff describes events occurring between September 18, 2007, and September 22, 2007. Apparently, George was disrespectful and received detention. Id. When Plaintiff was informed of George's detention, she spoke with a "Mr. Randolph" who informed her that George had been moved to the school's health center because the "House Mother found a bullet in George's drawer." Id. at 2-3. George claimed that the bullet was not his and had been there when he moved to the room. Id. at 3. Plaintiff contends that school rules require officials to contact a parent if the student is admitted to the health center. Id.

Plaintiff's third claim concerns George's purported "disrespectful" "dissent." Id. at 3. According to Plaintiff, school officials retaliated against George in response to the dissent. The retaliatory conduct included a search of George's room and backpack on October 2, 2007, revealing "over the counter Excedrin," and requiring George to perform two hours of work due to his detention instead of one hour of work. Id.

III. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Claims on Behalf of Her Son

Prior to considering Plaintiff's motions for appointment of counsel and to proceed IFP, we must address Plaintiff's attempt to represent her son George, a minor. A litigant in federal court has a statutory right to proceed pro se. 28 U.S.C. § 1654 (1994). Additionally, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c), a representative or guardian "may sue or defend on behalf of a minor . . . ." However, in the Third Circuit it is "well-established" that a non-attorney parent is not entitled to represent her child in place of an attorney. Osei-Afriyie v. Med. Coll. of Pa., 937 F.2d 876, 883 (3d Cir. 1991). See also Collinsgru v. Palmyra Bd. of Educ., 161 F.3d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1998) (collecting cases and discussing policy considerations).*fn1

Here, Shirley Banks-Bennett asserts claims on behalf of "George A. Bennett-Banks [sic]", her fourteen-year-old son. (doc. 1, p. 1). As a minor, George does not have capacity to sue in Pennsylvania. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b)(1) (capacity to sue determined by "law of the individual's domicile"); 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. ยง 5533(b) (defining "minor" as "any individual who has not yet attained 18 ...


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.