United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. SAPORITO, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
federal civil rights action was commenced upon the filing of
a pro se complaint by the plaintiff, Jerry John
Masi, on April 16, 2018. (Doc. 1). Masi has been granted
leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this action.
complaint names a single defendant, Luzerne County Children
and Youth Services (“Luzerne CYS”). Although it
is not a model of clarity, the gravamen of Masi's
complaint is that Luzerne CYS played a role in his loss of
primary physical custody over his nine-year-old son,
apparently to the child's birth mother, on or about
November 16, 2017. When Masi sought assistance from CYS in
securing his son's return, he was refused.
same time, the birth mother and her family took actions that
resulted in Masi's eviction or displacement from his
residence. Masi seeks an injunction ordering that his custody
over his son be restored, and an award of $100 million in
damages. A copy of a state court order attached to Masi's
complaint indicates that the state court custody proceedings
remained ongoing at the time of the filing of this federal
these circumstances, we find it appropriate to recommend
sua sponte dismissal of the complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1) motion is the proper mechanism for raising the
issue of whether Eleventh Amendment immunity bars the
exercise of federal jurisdiction. Blanciak v. Allegheny
Ludlum Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 694 n.2 (3d Cir. 1996)
(citing Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-100 (1984)). The plaintiff
bears the burden of establishing the existence of subject
matter jurisdiction when challenged under Rule 12(b)(1).
See Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d
1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991). A defendant may challenge the
existence of subject matter jurisdiction in one of two
fashions: it may attack the complaint on its face or it may
attack the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact,
relying on evidence beyond the pleadings. See Gould
Elecs. Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir.
2000); Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan
Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). Where a
defendant attacks a complaint as deficient on its face,
“the court must consider the allegations of the
complaint as true.” Mortensen, 549 F.2d at
891. “In deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) facial attack, the
court may only consider the allegations contained in the
complaint and the exhibits attached to the complaint; matters
of public record such as court records, letter decisions of
government agencies and published reports of administrative
bodies; and ‘undisputably authentic' documents
which the plaintiff has identified as a basis of his claims
and which the defendant has attached as exhibits to his
motion to dismiss.” Medici v. Pocono Mountain Sch.
Dist., No. 09-CV-2344, 2010 WL 1006917, at *2 (M.D. Pa.
Mar. 16, 2010). However, when a motion to dismiss attacks the
existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, “no
presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's
allegations, ” and “the trial court is free to
weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of
its power to hear the case.” Mortensen, 549
F.2d at 891. This case falls into the former category.
sole defendant named in the complaint is Luzerne CYS. Masi
seeks both injunctive relief and damages from the defendant.
seeks an injunctive order directing Luzerne CYS to return
primary physical custody over his son to him. We find that
Younger abstention principles dictate dismissal of
the complaint with respect to Masi's claims for
prospective injunctive relief. See generally Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971).
Third Circuit has explained:
The doctrine of Younger abstention reflects a strong
federal policy against federal-court interference with
pending state judicial proceedings absent extraordinary
circumstances. Accordingly, in certain circumstances,
district courts must abstain from exercising jurisdiction
over a particular claim where resolution of that claim in
federal court would offend principles of comity by
interfering with an ongoing state proceeding.
Younger abstention is appropriate when: (1) there
are ongoing state proceedings that are judicial in nature;
(2) the state ...