Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion from Nov. 3

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

Hakeem v. Kansas Department of Human Services, et al.

In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act which provided economic impact payments of up to $1,000 per eligible adult and $500 per qualifying child. Maikijah Hakeem, who is civilly committed in Minnesota pursuant to a state court order, received about $1,813.36. According to Hakeem, while he was in the care of the state of Minnesota, the Kansas Department for Children and Families and its secretary illegally seized his EIP and applied it to his past-due child support obligations. 

Sept. 24, 2021, Hakeem filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. He raised two causes of action against the defendants: unauthorized interception of EIP and breach of security in violation of the CARES Act. Ultimately, the district court dismissed Hakeem’s complaint for failure to state a claim. The district court concluded that the CARES Act didn’t prevent the Kansas DCF from intercepting Hakeem’s EIPs, and the state was shielded by sovereign immunity. The district court also denied Hakeem’s request to amend his complaint. Hakeem appealed the district court’s dismissal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Hakeem argued the district court erred in dismissing his claims for failure to state a claim, not holding the defendants in default and denying Hakeem an opportunity to amend his complaint.

The 10th Circuit ruled that although there were some procedural missteps leading up to the district court’s screening of Hakeem’s suit, the district court was correct in its decision not to enter a default judgment against the defendants because the record didn’t establish that they were ever served. The 10th Circuit also found that the relief Hakeem sought was barred by sovereign immunity and that the district court acted within its discretion to deny Hakeem the opportunity to amend his complaint.

A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel out of Kansas City, Kansas, affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Hakeem’s complaint.

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