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York v. Allegany County Department of Social Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 15, 2016

JESSE [OR JESSIE] [1] YORK Plaintiff
v.
ALLEGANY COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, ET AL. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DISMISSAL

          Marvin J. Garbis United States District Judge.

         The Court has before it Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 8] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jesse York (“York”) and his former wife (“Krista”) are the parents of KY and EY (“the Children”).

         Defendant Allegany County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services (“Protective Services”) provides protective services for children who are believed to be neglected or abused. Defendants Christopher Offutt, Richard Paulman, Pamela Rice, and John Sangiovanni (collectively, “the Employees”) are employees of Protective Services.

         The Complaint [ECF No. 1][2] presents claims[3] in two Counts:

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - in violation of the Fourteenth Amendments (sic) (Against Defendant Allegany County Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services)
SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF - Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Deliberately Indifferent Policies, Practices, Customs, Training, and Supervision in violation of the Fourth, Fourteenth, and First Amendments and in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Against Defendant Allegany County Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services)

[ECF No. 1 at 8, 10].

         By the instant motion, Defendants seek dismissal of all claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         II. DISMISSAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)[4] tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. A complaint need only contain “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations omitted). When evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a Plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. However, conclusory statements or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not [suffice].” Id. A complaint must allege sufficient facts “to cross ‘the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         Inquiry into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Thus, if “the well-pleaded facts [contained within a complaint] do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (alteration in original)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Complaint Allegations[5]

         On an unspecified date, York and Krista were married. The couple had two sons, EY born in 1998 and KY[6] born in 2006. On a date not specified, York and Krista were divorced. In 2010, Krista married a man who became the Children's stepfather (“the Stepfather”).

         On August 3, 2011, the Circuit Court for Howard County, Maryland entered a consent order giving Krista and York “joint legal custody and shared physical custody with a specific parent schedule.” ¶ 13.

         The Complaint includes a series of allegations about actions by the Employees on which the claims presented are based. These, include allegations that:

• On October 24, 2011, Offut screamed at York and accused him of lying when York reported abuse of the Children when under the care of Krista and the Stepfather. ¶ 15.
• On some unspecified date, York reported to Protective Services that the Children reported being struck by Krista and the Stepfather on different occasions, that there were certain fights, that the Stepfather drinks in the house, and that there are drugs in the house. ¶ 16.
• Offut “continually lied” to York about the Children. ¶ 17.
• “On or about during (sic) April/May 2013 bruising was seen on the other child (sic) but ignored by defendant Pam Rice, defendant Sangiovanni and Offut” and the Children suffered bruising from an “abusive male” in Krista's house. ¶ 18.
• The Children were “under state care and or supervision” and “the supervisor” and Offut ignored the harm. Also Offut, Paulman, Rice, and Sangiovanni conspired to violate ...

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