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In re Guardianship of Thankamma

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 24, 2019

In re THE GUARDIANSHIP OF OMANA THANKAMMA,

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL: NO SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

          Marsha 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).

         This matter was originally filed on August 19, 2019. Since its inception, the Court has had misgivings about whether jurisdiction existed, but awaited the service of the opposing parties and their appearance in the matter in hopes that the issue would be raised and addressed by briefing on both sides. While only Interested Party Channa Copeland has appeared via counsel to date, the Court feels that further delay would only do a disservice to all concerned.

         Having 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:

         IT IS ORDERED that this matter is DISMISSED with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         Background

         This litigation commenced with the filing of a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, accompanied by a proposed Notice of Removal. Dkt. No. 1. The IFP motion was denied on September 10, 2019 (Dkt. No. 6); as of this date, no filing fee has been paid and it is the Court’s intention that the filing of this sua sponte dismissal will prevent the filing parties from the further unnecessary expenditure of their funds.

         A brief summary of the history of this litigation is in order:

         Respondents are the children of Omana Thankamma and are citizens of India – Respondents reside in the United States; 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, Respondent Jayakrishnan. In 2018, following an investigation triggered by a suspected abuse report from a neighbor, Petitioner Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) removed Omana from the home and initiated guardianship proceedings. The proceedings resulted in a guardian (Interested Party Channa Copeland) being appointed for Omana[1], and a Vulnerable Adult Protection Order (VAPO) being entered against Respondent Jayakrishnan which, while it did not exclude him from visitation, forbade him to remove his mother from any facility.

         All of the foregoing is the subject of a separate lawsuit: Nair et al. v. Copeland et al., C19-1296MJP. The complaint in that matter 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 Petitioners, culminating in 50 separate causes of action ranging from battery to racial discrimination to international treaty violations. C19-1296MJP, Dkt. No. 1-1.

         The instant matter purports to be the “removal” to federal court of the guardianship petition which was entered in King County Superior Court on August 23, 2018. Dkt. No. 1-2. The removing parties (Jayakrishnan Nair and Rajakumari Susheelkumar) allege diversity jurisdiction, international treaty violations and deprivation of constitutional rights. Dkt. No. 1-1.

         Discussion

         The allegations of this lawsuit fall squarely within the ...


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