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Pelino v. Hens-Greco

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 23, 2017

VITOA. PELINO, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGEKATHRYN HENS-GRECO, NANCY AQUINO, RAMONA TROY, and RAETONE MCKENZIE, Defendants.

          MEMORDANDUM OPINION

          Joy Flowers Conti Chief United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         On January 16, 2015, plaintiff Vito A. Pelino (“Plaintiff”), an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, initiated this civil rights action by filing a pro se complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against defendants Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco (“Hens-Greco”), of the Family Division of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, and defendants Nancy Aquino, Ramona Troy, and Raetone McKenzie, employees of the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families (collectively, the “CYF Defendants, ” and together with Hens-Greco, “Defendants”).[1] (ECF No. 3). Now pending before the court are the motion to dismiss filed by Hens-Greco, along with a brief in support (ECF Nos. 14-15), and the motion to dismiss filed by the CYF Defendants (ECF Nos. 16-17). Having been fully briefed, the motions are ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth herein, the court will grant Defendants' motions.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History

         According to Plaintiff, his children were removed from the custody of their mother on January 15, 2009, and adjudicated dependent on March 20, 2009. (ECF No. 6 at 6). On January 31, 2011, Hens-Greco changed the children's goal from reunification with their mother to reunification with Plaintiff. (Id.) On February 18, 2011, Plaintiff was arrested on charges of homicide, kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that

Nancy Aquino, Ramona Troy and Raetone McKenzie filed a petition to terminate [his] parental rights raising several claims that the record shows are false. Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco issued a “No Contact” order almost immediately after Petitioner's arrest on 2-18-11 denying petitioner his parental rights before any such petition was granted. On 10-26-11 Judge Hens-Greco terminated this Petitioner's parental rights with no legal grounds during a hearing in which Petitioner was not permitted to be present. However, on 1-31-11, Judge Hens-Greco ruled the goal for the children was “reunification with father”. The only reason for the TPR was this Petitioner's arrest.

(Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff appealed the termination of his parental rights to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which denied his appeal on June 29, 2012. (ECF No. 6 at 6). Plaintiff's children were subsequently adopted. (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

         More specifically, with regard to Hens-Greco, Plaintiff alleges:

By deliberately exacerbating Plaintiff's criminal history, Kathryn Hens-Greco committed fraud in open Court and effectively denied Plaintiff due process of law . . . .
By banning all communication between Plaintiff and his children, via [the] no contact Order, Kathryn Hens-Greco denied Plaintiff his right to familial association as guarantee by the First Amendment . . . .
By terminating Plaintiff's parental rights when no legitimate legal grounds existed and, in fact, were fabricated by Kathryn Hens-Greco who, as the fact finder, was well aware of the facts of this case, Plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were blatantly violated.

(ECF No. 6 at 12). With respect to the CYF Defendants, Plaintiff alleges:

By banning all communication between Plaintiff and his children, via no contact Order, the above-named Defendants denied Plaintiff his right to familial association as ...

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