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Sanchez v. CFS Dept of Health & Human Services State of Montana

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

March 6, 2018

KRISSY SANCHEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CFS DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES STATE OF MONTANA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Timothy J. Cavan United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Krissy Sanchez filed two motions to proceed in forma pauperis (Docs. 1, 5), a proposed Complaint (Doc. 2), a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Emergency Motion for Return of Child (Doc. 6), and a Motion for Emergency Injunction (Doc. 8). She alleges Defendants violated her First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution by removing her children from her custody without sufficient cause. (Doc. 2 at 6.)

         The motions to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted. But the Court must abstain from hearing Ms. Sanchez's claims for injunctive relief at this time, and those claims should be dismissed. Ms. Sanchez's claims for monetary relief should also be stayed pending the resolution of state court proceedings regarding the custody of her children. The petition for writ of habeas corpus and emergency motion for return of child and motion for emergency injunction should be denied.

         I. MOTIONS TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         Ms. Sanchez's motions to proceed in forma pauperis are sufficient to make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. §1915(a). (Docs. 1, 5.) The request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

         II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Parties

         Ms. Sanchez is proceeding without counsel. She names the following Defendants from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services: the Child and Family Services Division of the Department of Health and Human Services State of Montana; Cierra Rash, CPS social worker; Christy Ellerbee, CPS supervisor; Jason Larson, regional supervisor; Moyra Anthony, CFS case worker; Maurita Johnson, administrator CPS; Sheila Hogan, Director DPHHS; Laura McCullough, compliance and critic incident manager; Debbie Kirby, social worker and Jen Weber, CFS supervisor.

         She also names Detective Mcave, Deputy Lauwers, Sgt. Taylor, and Deputy Cunningham from the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Department; Deputy County Attorney Cory Harrington; and City Council member Chris Friedel from Friedel LLC as Defendants. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 4-5, 9-12.)

         B. Factual Allegations

         On September 1, 2017, Defendant Ceirra Rash went to Ms. Sanchez's home to investigate allegations regarding Ms. Sanchez's care of her children. She was accompanied by Defendant Chris Friedel. Ms. Sanchez told Ms. Rash she had evidence to disprove the allegations, but ultimately Ms. Sanchez indicated she did not want to continue without an attorney. Ms. Rash eventually left the house stating she would get a court order or the police.

         After Ms. Rash left, Ms. Sanchez walked to the community garden with her son to pick vegetables and fruit. While there, she got a call from a neighbor informing her that the police had just kicked in the door of her house. As she returned to her home, Deputy Mcave stopped her and advised her that she was being detained because social services was picking up her son. Ms. Sanchez tried to explain that her son was not in imminent danger. Nevertheless, more police arrived and Ms. Sanchez's son was removed from the home.

         DPHHS filed for custody of Ms. Sanchez's son based upon Ms. Rash's affidavit, which Ms. Sanchez disputes. She also claims DPHHS did not offer services to allow her to keep her son in her home, and the agency has only allowed her to see her son for a total of eight hours since September 1, 2017. She also states the agency has not allowed her to see her 15-year-old daughter during that time period.

         Ms. Sanchez states that a hearing on these issues has been scheduled in state court. In the meantime, the Department has forced her to undergo “voluntary” services to see her child. She alleges these services are triggering trauma and PTSD from her own childhood, because she is being forced to discuss traumatic events which a counselor had advised her not to revisit.

         She claims her son has been placed in a home where he is at risk for sexual abuse, exposure to drug use by siblings, and exposure to prostitution. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 13-18.)

         III. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915

         A. ...


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