Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Major v. Luzerne County Children and Youth Services

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 20, 2019

DELEON MAJOR, Administrator of the Estate of DEVON MAJOR and Administrator of the Estate of EZEKIEL MAJOR, Plaintiff
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES, : PHILADELPHIA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF: CHILDREN AND YOUTH, and CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, : Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court are a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed on behalf of defendant Luzerne County Children and Youth Services (“LCCYS”) (Doc. 27) and a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed on behalf of defendants Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Youth (“DHS”) and the City of Philadelphia (Doc. 29). Upon review, the defendants’ motions will be granted.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         By way of relevant background, on July 9, 2018, Deleon Major (“plaintiff”), as Administrator of the Estates of Devon Major and Ezekiel Major, filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County alleging a single claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. On August 6, 2018, the matter was removed to this court. (Doc. 1). On September 5, 2018, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint in which he again sets forth only one count alleging substantive and procedural due process violations under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Doc. 10).

         On February 1, 2019, a motion for judgment on the pleadings was filed on behalf of LCCYS (Doc. 27) along with a brief in support thereof (Doc. 28). A motion for judgment on the pleadings was filed on behalf of DHS and the City of Philadelphia on February 5, 2019 (Doc. 29) along with a brief in support thereof (Doc. 30). The plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to DHS’s motion on February 19, 2019 (Doc. 35) and a brief in opposition to LCCYS’s motion on March 1, 2019 (Doc. 37). Reply briefs were filed by DHS on March 5, 2019 (Doc. 39) and LCCYS on March 7, 2019 (Doc. 41).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The standard for deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) is identical to that for deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Turbe v. Gov’t of V.I., 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991). In deciding the defendants’ motions, the court must read the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all well-pleaded, material allegations in the complaint must be taken as true. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). However, the court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if they are unsupported by the facts as set forth in the complaint. See California Pub. Employee Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp., 394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). The court also need not accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

         A viable complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 554 (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (holding that, while the complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain more than a “formulaic recitation of the elements” of a claim and must state a claim that is plausible on its face) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, supra, and providing further guidance on the standard set forth therein).

         In deciding the defendants’ motions, the court should generally consider only the allegations contained in the complaint, the exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and “undisputably authentic” documents which plaintiff has identified as the basis of his claim. See Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. v. White Consolidated Industries, Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.1993).

         III. DISCUSSION

         According to the factual allegations of the amended complaint, on November 18, 2014, the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas ordered that the plaintiff, the father of Devon and Ezekiel Major, and Susan Major (“Ms. Major”), the mother of the children, share legal custody of the children. The order gave the plaintiff primary physical custody of the children and permitted the children to relocate to the plaintiff’s residence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The order further gave partial physical custody of the children to Ms. Major during the summers, on alternate weekends and on specific school breaks.

         On January 12, 2016, DHS received a Child Protective Services report which alleged that Ezekiel, then five years old, was observed that day with a bruise on the left side of his face near his eye and that there was a bruise on the back of his left shoulder. The report alleged that when Ezekiel was asked what happened, he stated that on January 11, 2016, the plaintiff had hit him with a belt because he was hitting Devon. The report alleged that Ms. Major was residing in Arizona and was not involved in the children’s care and that the plaintiff was the primary caregiver for the children.

         On the date of the report, DHS conducted a home visit with the plaintiff, Devon and Yolanda Edwards, who was the plaintiff’s paramour at the time. During this visit, the plaintiff admitted to hitting Ezekiel with a belt causing injury to his back, but denied being the cause of the other injuries. DHS then informed the plaintiff that the children could not remain in his care while the investigation was pending. Ms. Major, who was apparently residing in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, not Arizona, agreed to care for the children pending a Shelter Care Hearing. On that date, DHS obtained an Order for Protective Custody and the children were placed with Ms. Major in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

         On January 14, 2016, a Shelter Care Hearing was held in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and, as a result of that hearing, the Order for Protective Custody was lifted, DHS’s temporary commitment was discharged, and DHS was ordered to supervise. The court ordered that Ms. Major provide a progress report and treatment plan, a list of the types of medications prescribed by her psychiatrist/psychologist and a list of her previous hospitalizations. It was further ordered that DHS make a referral to LCCYS to request a courtesy home visit of Ms. Major’s home to assess the safety of the children in the home due to Ms. Major having a history of mental health issues, namely, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) and severe depression. At the time, Ms. Major had been hospitalized in mental health facilities three times within the prior five years. It is alleged that Ms. Major would become suicidal and have homicidal ideations with thoughts of killing Mr. Major and his paramour, she admitted to using cannabis on a daily basis, and she had been charged with use/possession of drug paraphernalia and credit card fraud. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.