United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
John Moore, proceeding pro se, filed this civil
action against Joseclen Gossett and Teri Sincuure, a Support
Master and Clerical Supervisor, respectively, of the Family
Division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. He has
also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis. (ECF No. 1.) For the following reasons, the
Court will grant Moore leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and will dismiss his Complaint.
Complaint, Moore alleges that on May 23, 2017, he had a
Family Court support hearing. (Compl. at 3.) Moore told
Gossett that he “was on SSD [Social Security
Disability] and had not worked since 2014.”
(Id.) He also mentioned that the IRS and the Army
had been garnishing his income. (Id.) Moore alleges
that Gossett entered an “[illegal] order [that
violates] state and feder[a]l [guidelines]” because it
directed that more than 50% of his income be allocated for
support. (Id.) Moore states that this led to him
becoming homeless. (Id.) He further alleges that
Gossett refused to change the order on December 23, 2017
“[where he] had to see mental health.”
(Id.) He also contends that on June 14, 2018,
Sicuure “intentional[ly] gave [him] misleading
information despite he[r] work exp[erience] of more th[a]n 10
states that because of the Defendants' actions, he is
“now suffering from depression.” (Id. at
4.) He indicates that he has received treatment at the VA
Hospital. (Id.) As relief, he requests that the
Court “overturn the order” and also award him
$150, 000.00 “for emotional duress and loss of funds
and dam[a]ges.” (Id.)
Court will grant Moore leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is not capable of
paying the fees necessary to commence this action.
Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) requires the
Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim.
Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable
to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236,
240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine
whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). Conclusory
statements and naked assertions will not suffice.
Id. Additionally, the Court may dismiss claims based
on an affirmative defense if that defense is obvious from the
face of the complaint. See Reaves v. Pa. Bd. of Prob.
& Parole, 580 Fed.Appx. 49, 51 n.1 (3d Cir. 2014)
(per curiam); cf. Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448,
459 (3d Cir. 2013). As Moore is proceeding pro se,
the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v.
Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
noted above, Moore requests that this Court “overturn
the order” entered by Gossett. Pursuant to the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, however, “federal
district courts lack jurisdiction over suits that are
essentially appeals from state-court judgments.”
Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild
LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 165 (3d Cir. 2010). Based on that
principle, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives a
federal district court of jurisdiction over “cases
brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused
by state-court judgments rendered before the district court
proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and
rejection of those judgments.” Id. at 166
(quotations omitted). Accordingly, the Court lacks
jurisdiction to review and overturn the support order in
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state law.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Here,
Moore's Complaint fails to allege a meritorious §
1983 claim against a proper defendant.
appears that Moore believes that Gossett violated his rights
by entering the support order that garnished more than 50% of
his income. However, Gossett is entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity because “[her] judgment[ is]
‘functional[ly] comparab[le]' to [that] of
judges-that is, because [she], too, ‘exercise[s] a
discretionary judgment' as a part of [her]
function.” Kulesa v. Rex, 519 Fed.Appx. 743,
746 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (third and fourth alterations
in original) (quoting Antoine v. Byers & Anderson,
Inc., 508 U.S. 42, 436 (1993); see also Schapiro v.
Montgomery Cty. Court, No. CIV. A. 95-0986, 1995 WL
348670, at *2-3 (E.D. Pa. June 8, 1995). Here, it is clear
that Moore sued Gossett based upon her exercise of
discretionary judgment in his support matter. Accordingly,
his claims against her are barred by quasi-judicial immunity.
respect to Sincuure, Moore vaguely alleges that on June 14,
2018 she intentionally gave him misleading information.
(Compl. at 3.) Moore's Complaint lacks any facts
suggesting that Sincuure “did not act within [her]
discretion, outside the scope of [her] duties, or contrary to
the direction of a judicial officer.” Kulesa,
519 Fed.Appx. at 746 (citing Gallas v. Supreme Court of
Pa., 211 F.3d 760, 772-73 (3d Cir. 2000); Kincaid v.
Vail, 969 F.2d 594, 601 (7th Cir. 1992); Lockhart v.
Hoenstine, 411 F.2d 455, 460 (3d Cir. 1969)). At this
time, the Court cannot determine whether Moore has ...