United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
pro se, Oceanus Sterling Gibbs seeks to appeal the
proceedings of a family court case in Chatham County Superior
Court under the guise of a civil rights complaint. Doc. 1 at
2-4. He asks the Court to dismiss a child support decree,
recalculate his child support monthly payment, dismiss his
child support payments currently in arrears, and redistribute
the equity in the home he co-owned with his child's
mother. Id. at 4; see also Id. at 5-8
Complaint here must be dismissed, as there is no basis for
federal jurisdiction over it. Doc. 1. It is well settled that
federal courts have no power to consider claims for which
they lack subject-matter jurisdiction. Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994);
Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S.
534, 541 (1986). Subjects of divorce, custody, and alimony
are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the state courts,
and under almost all circumstances the federal courts lack
jurisdiction over these disputes. See Ankenbrandt v.
Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 695-700 (1992) (explaining the
"longstanding rule" that "federal courts lack
jurisdiction over certain domestic relations matters");
In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586, 594 (1890); Barber
v. Barber, 62 U.S. 582 (1858). This Court must abstain
from interfering with the functioning of the state courts in
issuing and enforcing divorce, alimony, and child custody
decrees. Ankenbrandt, 504 U.S. at 703-04.
is a second jurisdictional roadblock to plaintiffs complaint.
This Court is not empowered to sit as an appellate court
authorized to review the final decisions of state court
tribunals. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust
Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); District of Columbia Court
of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); see also
Verizon Md. Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of Md., 535
U.S. 635, 644, n. 3 (2002) ("The Rooker-Feldman doctrine
merely recognizes that 28 U.S.C. § 1331 is a grant of
original jurisdiction, and does not authorize district courts
to exercise appellate jurisdiction over state-court
judgments, which Congress has reserved to this Court,
see § 1257(a)."). The only federal court
that can review judgments entered by a state court in civil
litigation is the Supreme Court of the United States.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1257. Lower federal courts (in
almost all cases) simply lack subject-matter jurisdiction
when the state court's judgment is the source of the
injury of which plaintiffs complain in federal court.
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp.,
544 U.S. 280, 291-92 (2005).
plaintiff has not articulated any cognizable federal claim
over which this Court may assert jurisdiction, dismissal is
recommended. Bender, 475 U.S. at 541;
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Though the Court would
normally give plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint
to correct these deficiencies, it is clear that no possible
amendment could invoke this Court's jurisdiction over his
claims. Because amendment would be futile, dismissal with
prejudice is appropriate. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action"); see also Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp.,
546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006) ("[W]hen a federal court
concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety").
Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3.
Within 14 days of service, any party may file written
objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on
all parties. The document should be captioned
"Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendations." Any request for additional time to
file objections should be filed with the Clerk for
consideration by the assigned district judge.
the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district
judge. The district judge will review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that failure to
timely file objections will result in the waiver of rights on
appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v. V.A. Leasing
Corp., 648 F.App'x 787, 790 (11th Cir. 2016);
Mitchell v. U.S., 612 F.App'x 542, 545 (11th
REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED.
 In cases where the plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis, which the Court GRANTS
here on indigency grounds (doc. 2), it is required to screen
each case and dismiss any action or appeal that involves an
untrue allegation of poverty or that is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
See, e.g., Langlois v.
Traveler's Ins. Co., 401 F.App'x 425, 426-27
(11th Cir. 2010) (even though IFP's litigant's
pro se complaint failed to state basis for federal
jurisdiction and failed to state a claim, and she failed to
seek leave to amend her complaint, nevertheless she should
have been afforded an opportunity to amend deficiencies prior
to dismissal, where no undue time had elapsed, and no undue
prejudice could be shown); Cockrell v. Sparks, 510