United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER OF DISMISSAL: LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER
J. Pechman, United States Senior District Judge.
[F]ederal courts have an independent obligation to ensure
that they do not exceed the scope of their jurisdiction, and
therefore they must raise and decide jurisdictional questions
that the parties either overlook or elect not to press.
Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 434 (2011).
matter was originally filed on August 16, 2019. Since its
inception, the Court has had misgivings about whether
jurisdiction existed, but awaited the service of Defendants
and their appearance in the matter in hopes that the issue
would be raised and addressed by briefing on both sides.
While not all Defendants have been served, a sufficient
number of parties have made their appearance without the
filing of a motion to dismiss or otherwise address the
jurisdictional flaws of this litigation, and the Court feels
that further delay would only do a disservice to all
reviewed the record thoroughly, including all pleadings,
declarations, and exhibits which have been filed up to this
date, the Court rules sua sponte as follows:
ORDERED that this matter is DISMISSED with prejudice for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction.
litigation commenced with the filing of a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, accompanied by a
complaint and ex parte application for temporary
restraining order. Dkt. No. 1. The IFP motion was denied
(Dkt. No. 3), and a filing fee was paid. The application for
an ex parte TRO was also denied and Plaintiffs were
ordered to serve Defendants then meet and confer on a
briefing schedule for their request for injunctive relief.
Dkt. No. 5.
responded by filing a “Petition to Terminate
Guardianship.” Dkt. No. 8. Plaintiffs also filed a
second ex parte application for a TRO (Dkt. No. 11),
which was denied with the same admonition as before. Dkt. No.
16. Following the filing by Plaintiffs of a Motion for
Sanctions (Dkt. No. 22), the Court ordered a moratorium on
further motions practice until the jurisdictional issue could
be addressed. Dkt. No. 23.
summary of the allegations of Plaintiffs’ complaint is
are the children of Omana Thankamma, and the complaint
asserts that the whole family are citizens of India –
Plaintiffs reside both in the United States and in India;
Omana, a resident of India, became disabled in 2014 while
visiting in the U.S. In 2016, after suffering a stroke, she
came under the full-time care of her son, Plaintiff
Jayakrishnan. In 2018, following an investigation triggered
by a suspected abuse report from a neighbor, Defendant
Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”)
removed Omana from the home and initiated guardianship
proceedings. The proceedings resulted in a guardian
(Defendant Channa Copeland) being appointed for
Omana, and a Vulnerable Adult Protection Order
(VAPO) being entered against Plaintiff Jayakrishnan which,
while it did not exclude him from visitation, forbade him to
remove his mother from any facility.
complaint is a lengthy, 143-page document containing a highly
detailed factual background with allegations of abuse,
neglect, harassment, retaliation and malfeasance on the part
of Defendants, culminating in 50 separate causes of action
ranging from battery to racial discrimination to
international treaty violations. The Court will not go into
any of those details since they ultimately are irrelevant to
the issue of whether jurisdiction exists in federal court to
adjudicate Plaintiffs’ complaints, a foundational
question which must be answered in the negative.
allegations of this lawsuit fall squarely within the