United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Johnson and Brandon Jorgenson, Pro Se Plaintiffs.
C. Sandstad, St. Louis County Attorney's Office, for
Defendants St. Louis County Public Health & Human
Services, Sarah Anderson, Hannah Jo Checketts, and Kelly Jane
Kathryn Iverson Landrum, Minnesota Attorney General's
Office, for Defendant Joan Mahle.
A. Solheim and Pat O'Neill, III, Larson King, LLP for
Defendants Laura Yoki, Lon Yoki, and Gayle Koop.
ORDER ON OBJECTIONS TO REPORT AND
RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Plaintiffs' Objections
(“Objections”) [Doc. No. 124] to the August 28,
2019 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [Doc.
No. 123] filed by Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois. For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Objections are
overruled, the magistrate judge's R&R is affirmed and
adopted in full, and Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [Doc.
No. 10] is DISMISSED in its entirety without
Aimee Johnson and Brandon Jorgenson seek reinstatement of
their parental rights over their two minor children, as well
as punitive damages for purported fraud, misrepresentations,
and violations of their constitutional rights that allegedly
occurred during or in relation to a Minnesota state court
proceeding in which Plaintiffs' parental rights were
terminated. (Id. at 4.) As the magistrate judge
noted, the details of Plaintiffs' complaint are less than
clear. However, the exhibits attached to or necessarily
embraced by the pleadings, as well as public records,
demonstrate that the underlying proceeding at issue was
entitled In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of
Aimee Renee Johnson & Brandon John Jorgenson
(“In re the Welfare of Children of Johnson &
Jorgenson”), Case Nos. 69DU-JV-16-519 &
69DU-JV-17-357 (Cty. of St. Louis Dist. Ct.); (See
Solheim Decl. Ex. 1 [Doc. No. 24-1].)
magistrate judge's R&R accurately summarizes the
procedural and factual history of the underlying state case.
(See R&R [Doc. No. 123] at 3-4.) Accordingly,
the Court only briefly discusses that background here. In
late 2013, St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services
began investigating Plaintiff Jorgenson after Plaintiff
Johnson reported that she had concerns that he was abusing
their two children. See Petition for Termination of
Parental Rights, In re the Welfare of Children of Johnson
& Jorgenson, Case No. 69DU-JV-17-357 (Cty. Of St.
Louis Dist. Ct. May 4, 2017). Eventually, after additional
investigation, the children were placed in foster care.
4, 2017, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and
Human Services filed a Petition for the Termination of
Parental Rights as to Plaintiffs and their two children.
See id.; (see also Landrum Decl. Ex. B
[Doc. No. 31-1] at 12 (full copy of the petition for
termination of parental rights).) On January 16, 2018, the
case went to trial; both Plaintiffs were present and
represented. See Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Order for Termination of Parental Rights at 1,
In re the Welfare of Children of Johnson &
Jorgenson, Case Nos. 69DU-JV-16-519 & 69DU-JV-17-357
(Cty. Of St. Louis Dist. Ct. Feb. 16, 2018). After morning
testimony, Plaintiffs met with their attorneys and
subsequently informed the district court that they wished to
voluntarily terminate their parental rights. (Id. at
1-2.) The district court accepted Plaintiffs' voluntary
consents to termination, awarded guardianship of the two
children to the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services, and
closed the state court case. (Id. at 1-2.) Shortly
thereafter, Plaintiffs moved to withdraw their respective
consents to termination; the district court denied those
motions on February 7, 2018. (Id.)
March 30, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Reconsider and
Reopen their parental rights termination case. See
Order at 1, In re the Welfare of Children of Johnson
& Jorgenson, Case Nos. 69DU-JV-16-519 &
69DU-JV-17-357 (Cty. Of St. Louis Dist. Ct. Apr. 9. 2018).
The district court denied that motion, noting that Plaintiffs
had failed to appeal the termination of their parental rights
in a timely manner and that they had provided no new
information that would otherwise permit the district court to
relieve them from the prior order. (Id.at 1-2.)
commenced this suit on January 15, 2019 (see Compl.
[Doc. No. 1], ) seeking vacation of the state court's
order terminating their parental rights, as well as punitive
damages stemming from purportedly false statements and
violations of their constitutional rights made during the
underlying proceeding, (see Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 10]
at 6.) Plaintiffs also filed a lengthy catalogue of exhibits
in support of their claims. Defendants-St. Louis County's
Public Health and Human Services Department, several social
workers, the children's guardian ad litem, and the
Plaintiffs' children's foster parents-filed motions
to dismiss Plaintiffs' amended complaint on various
grounds. (See, e.g., Doc. Nos. 21, 27, and 59.) In
response, Plaintiffs filed numerous motions generally aimed
at either opposing the Defendants' motions to dismiss or
at vacating the state court's termination of their
parental rights. (See, e.g., Doc. Nos. 82, 98, 101,
magistrate judge took the various motions (Doc. Nos. 21, 27,
59, 82, 98, 101, and 110) under advisement without a hearing.
(See Min. Entry [Doc. No. 81] (noting that Doc. Nos.
21, 27, and 59 would be taken under advisement); Order re:
Motions [Doc. No. 112] at 2-3 (noting that Doc. Nos. 82, 98,
101, and 110 would be considered at the same time as the
other motions, and barring submission of any other motions
until the pending motions were decided).)
August 28, 2019, the magistrate judge filed his R&R.
(See R&R [Doc. No. 123].) He recommended that
the Court find that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
Plaintiffs' case under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, or in the alternative, the domestic relations
exception to federal subject matter jurisdiction.
(See R&R [Doc. No. 123] at 12.) Accordingly, the
magistrate judge recommended granting in part
Defendant Joan Mahle's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 27]
and Defendants St. Louis County, Sarah Anderson, Hannah Jo
Checketts, and Kelly Jane Thompson's Motion to Dismiss
[Doc. No. 59] and dismissing Plaintiffs' claims without
prejudice, but denying in part each motion to the
extent they seek dismissal with prejudice because absent
subject matter jurisdiction, dismissal cannot be given
res judicata effect. (R&R [Doc. No. 123] at 13.)
Judge Brisbois also recommended that Defendants Lon Yoki,
Laura Yoki, and Gayle Koop's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No.
21] be denied as moot. (R&R [Doc. No. 12] at 13.)