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Richard Francis Boone v. State of California

November 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Savage, J.


In this pro se action, the plaintiff, Richard Francis Boone ("Boone"), challenges a support order issued by a California court and enforced by a Pennsylvania court.*fn1 He claims that Butte County Superior Court wrongfully ordered him to pay child support, and the County of Delaware wrongfully enforced the order. He has named as defendants the State of California and the County of Butte, which initiated the child support proceedings; the County of Delaware, which enforced the Butte County child support order; and Patricia Coleman, the child's maternal grandmother and custodian. Boone claims that the governmental defendants abused their discretion and maliciously executed the child support order against him. His sole allegation against Coleman is that she falsely claims to be the child's grandmother.

The defendants have filed motions to dismiss the complaint. They raise improper service, lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Boone responded to the motions by filing a motion to quash, in which he reiterates the claims in his complaint. He argues that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy against him and wrongfully ordered him to pay child support for a child who is not his.

Boone is attacking the validity of the California court's support order. In effect, he improperly attempts to appeal the order in federal court. Thus, his complaint will be dismissed because there is no federal subject matter jurisdiction.


As best as can be discerned from the plaintiff's complaint, the alleged facts are as follows.

In 1996, the Butte County Department of Child Support Services initiated an action against Boone, as the father of Taylor Boone, for child support. In 2000, the Butte County Superior Court determined that Boone is the father of the child and ordered him to pay child support. Boone, incarcerated in California at the time, contested paternity.

Following his release from prison, Boone moved to Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, enforcement action was taken in the Delaware County Court. According to Boone, in 1999, while he was contesting paternity, a lien was placed on his home, and he and his wife were threatened and harassed.

On April 27, 2005, Boone filed an action in this court, alleging that Patricia Coleman misled the Butte County Department of Child Services regarding Boone's paternity and he was wrongfully ordered to pay child support. Boone v. State of California, et al., No. 05-CV-1991 (E.D. Pa. 2005). That federal action was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on July 11, 2005. Seven years later, he filed this action, alleging the same claims.

Motion to Dismiss Standard

A motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) attacking the court's jurisdiction is treated the same as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Gould Elecs. Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000). However, a jurisdictional motion challenging the factual underpinnings of a court's jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) requires less deference to the plaintiff's complaint. CNA v. United States, 535 F.3d 132, 139 (3d Cir. 2008). Because a "factual attack" in a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss addresses the court's power to hear the case, there is no presumption of truthfulness and we may consider materials outside the complaint to satisfy ourselves that the exercise of federal jurisdiction is proper. Id. at 139, 145.

The plaintiff has the burden of persuading the court that it has jurisdiction. Gould, 220 F.3d at 178. However, the pro se plaintiff's pleadings must be considered deferentially, affording him the benefit of the doubt where one exists. Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002)). Consistent with the deferential standard, we shall keep Boone's pro se status in mind when we examine the facts relevant to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. Nw. Airlines, Inc., 673 F.2d 700, 711 (3d Cir. 1982) (citing Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 n.16 (3d Cir. 1977)) (noting that there is a flexible form of the jurisdictional inquiry at the trial court level).


Preclusive Effect of ...

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