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Lazaridis v. Wehmer

January 7, 2010

EMMANUEL N. LAZARIDIS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS LEGAL CUSTODIAN OF V.L.,
A MINOR,
v.
LAVINA TINA WEHMER; MATTHEW NEIDERMAN; CATHERINE SUTER; AFRODITI MINA MAUROEIDI; OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE; ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSEPH BIDEN, III
EMMANUEL N. LAZARIDIS, APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. (D.C. Civil No. 1-06-cv-00793) District Judge: Honorable Sue L. Robinson.

Per curiam.

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 34.1 on December 3, 2009

Before: RENDELL HARDIMAN and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges

OPINION OF THE COURT

Pro se appellant Emmanuel Lazaridis filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware raising various constitutional and statutory claims relating to child custody proceedings and the registration of foreign custody orders in the state of Delaware against his ex-wife, her attorneys, and the Delaware Attorney General. Lazaridis now appeals from the District Court's October 30, 2008 and January 14, 2009 orders dismissing his complaint and denying his motion for reconsideration. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the District Court's orders.

I. Background

At issue in this appeal is the custody of V.L., Lazaridis's and defendant Wehmer's daughter.*fn1 In June 2004, a French court granted Wehmer and Lazaridis joint custody of V.L. but ordered that the child's primary residence be with Wehmer. Wehmer thereafter sought to register the French custody order in Delaware Family Court pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"), as adopted by the State of Delaware.*fn2 See 13 Del. C. Ann. § 1934(a). As permitted by Delaware law, Lazaridis challenged the registration of the order. See 13 Del. C. Ann. § 1934(d). In March 2005, the Family Court held a hearing at which Lazaridis's attorney argued that Delaware lacked jurisdiction to enforce or to register the French order. Although the Family Court ordered briefing on "whether there were any valid grounds for challenging the registration," it ultimately denied Lazaridis's motion.

Lazaridis appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court, claiming, among other things, that: (1) the UCCJEA violates the Delaware Constitution; (2) the UCCJEA, as applied, violated his right to due process; and (3) the Family Court abused its discretion by ordering the registration of the French order. In June 2006, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Family Court's order and declined to consider Lazaridis's constitutional claims because he had not raised them before the Family Court. See Letsos v. Warren, 901 A.2d 120 (Del. 2006).

In August 2006, Lazaridis filed a motion in Family Court seeking relief from the registration and enforcement of the 2004 French custody order on the basis that Greece was exercising jurisdiction over V.L. He claims that the Family Court never ruled on this motion.

Meanwhile, in August 2005, a French court issued another custody order giving Wehmer the right to "exclusively exercise parental authority" over V.L. In October 2006, Wehmer requested that the Family Court register the order, and on December 6, 2006, Lazaridis filed a motion challenging the registration of that order.

On December 27, 2006, Lazaridis filed the instant complaint against Wehmer, her attorneys, and the Delaware Attorney General. Lazaridis set forth the following three claims: (1) the UCCJEA and Uniform Interstate Family and Support Act ("UIFSA") violated the due process rights guaranteed by the Delaware Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, both generally and as applied to him; (2) V.L.'s "fundamental rights" were violated because the Delaware courts applied the UIFSA and UCCJEA rather than Greek law, which includes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and (3) Wehmer and her attorneys conspired to violate Lazaridis's and V.L.'s rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Lazaridis asked the District Court to enjoin the Delaware courts from enforcing current or future foreign orders registered in Delaware Family Court under the UCCJEA or UIFSA. He also sought to enjoin the defendants from registering or enforcing French orders in Delaware courts. Finally, Lazaridis requested monetary damages pursuant to the § 1983 claim.

On January 31, 2007, a Greek court issued a custody order granting temporary custody of V.L. to Lazaridis. That order was continued on April 27, 2007. And on July 30, 2007 the Delaware Family Court vacated the registration of the 2005 French order, citing the January 2007 Greek order.

In August 2007, Lazaridis filed a motion to reopen in Family Court seeking to vacate the registration of the 2004 French order. The Family Court, on November 29, 2007, issued a decision denying his request based on the doctrine of res judicata. T.W. v. ...


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