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Gina Diane Inda Dela Cruz v. Patricia Mcmanaman

September 26, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge



Plaintiff Gina Diane Inda Dela Cruz ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, asserts that Defendants Director of Child Welfare Services ("CWS") Patricia McManaman ("McManaman")*fn1 and social workers Carlene Greenlee ("Greenlee") and Patrice Bell ("Bell") (collectively, "Defendants")*fn2 violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights when Plaintiff's newborn daughter was taken into protective services and Plaintiff was prevented from having unsupervised visits with her children.

Currently before the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, in which they argue that this action should be dismissed with prejudice because: (1) it is barred by claim preclusion, where Plaintiff previously brought these same claims against Greenlee, Bell, and Lillian Koller (the former Director of the DHS) in the Third Circuit Court for the State of Hawaii, Dela Cruz v. Child Welfare Services, Civ. No. 10-0-0202 (the "State Action"), which was dismissed on summary judgment, and (2) Plaintiff has failed to establish that McManaman had any personal involvement in the alleged deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Based on the following, the court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.


A. Factual Background

1. Allegations in the Amended Complaint

As alleged in the Amended Complaint and as provided in its attached exhibits, on December 18, 2009, Plaintiff gave birth to a baby girl at Hilo Medical Center. Doc. No. 10, Am. Compl. ¶ 1; Am. Compl. Ex. G ¶ 1. Plaintiff disclosed to hospital staff that she had a previous CWS case regarding her six other children who now live with their father (Plaintiff's ex-husband), and the hospital staff notified Child Protective Services ("CPS") of Plaintiff's new baby. See Am. Compl. Ex. F. On December 21, 2009, Greenlee met with Plaintiff and the baby's father, Jamin Garcia ("Garcia"), and they agreed upon a safety plan that allowed Plaintiff to leave the hospital with the baby. Id.

On December 23, 2009, Greenlee visited Plaintiff and Garcia at Garcia's house, and disclosed to Garcia's family details regarding Plaintiff's previous CPS case and other confidential facts regarding Plaintiff. Am. Compl., ¶¶ 5, 7; see also Am. Compl. Ex. G. at 6. As a result, Garcia's family told Plaintiff to leave the house. Am. Compl. Ex. A. That same day, Greenlee notified the Hawaii County Police Department that Plaintiff was unable to take care of her baby, and the baby was taken into protective custody. Am. Compl. Exs. C, G ¶ 9; see also Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2, 9. According to Plaintiff, Greenlee should not have used the information regarding her other CPS case to impact custody of her baby because Plaintiff had not done anything harmful to her baby and Greenlee did not otherwise evaluate her parenting skills. Am. Compl. Ex. G ¶¶ 4, 5. Plaintiff further asserts that Greenlee diagnosed Plaintiff as mentally ill even though there was no proper evaluation. Id. ¶ 5.

As to Bell, the Amended Complaint and exhibits explain that she was Plaintiff's social worker on Plaintiff's previous CPS case and began to counsel Plaintiff regarding her newborn. Id. ¶¶ 10-12. Bell has allegedly refused to allow Plaintiff unsupervised visits with her children on the basis that Plaintiff "[is] not ready yet," and disregarded the progress Plaintiff has made in counseling and parenting classes. Id. ¶¶ 11, 12. The Amended Complaint further asserts that Bell required Plaintiff to attend an anger management class, where Plaintiff was harmed when another attendee attempted to hit Plaintiff. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Bell "mess[ed] up my background by putting CPS classes that my husband Gregory Dela Cruz did on me so I couldn't get a job as a certified nurses assistant . . . ." Id. at p. 5, ¶ 7.

Plaintiff seeks the return of her children and $20 million in damages.

2. The State Action

On July 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed an action in the Third Circuit Court of the State of Hawaii (the "State Action") asserting claims against the same Defendants*fn3 in this action, as well as some additional defendants. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed September 7, 2010, described her claims as "bad faith, negligently interfering parental rights [sic], emotional distress, taking a child with no proof of evidence, no probable cause, invasion of confidentiality and privacy, [and] false police report," and sought return of all seven of her children, the erasure of all her CPS files, and $10 million in damages. Doc. No. 39, Defs.' Concise Statement, Ex. B. The Amended Complaint further asserted that Bell had prevented Plaintiff from having her children for the past three years, and that Greenlee lied about Plaintiff in court documents and took Plaintiff's newborn away. Id.

On May 23, 2011, the State Action Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On July 19, 2011, the Third Circuit Court granted the Motion with prejudice as to all Defendants. See id. Ex. C. Judgment was entered in that case on April 24, ...

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