the preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs have presented evidence that a delay in the resolution of the merits would cause severe economic hardships. The defendants have not pleaded facts indicating they would suffer similar hardships. The defendants are not prohibited from enforcing their gaming laws. Rather, the defendants are simply required to comply with the law by obtaining cross-designation or approval from federal officers pursuant to Rule 41(a). A stay of the injunction also would not ultimately advance the progress of this litigation. Therefore, the defendants' request is denied.
C. RES JUDICATA
The defendants contend res judicata precludes the Barona plaintiffs from seeking relief from this court. The defendants contend a prior suit brought by the Barona Tribal Bingo against the County of San Diego bars the present action. In 1989, the Barona Tribal Bingo brought suit against the County, alleging the County was without jurisdiction to enforce state gaming laws on the Barona Reservation. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment for the County.
Res judicata precludes parties and their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in a prior action. Federated Dep't Stores v. Moitie, 452 U.S. 394, 398, 69 L. Ed. 2d 103 , 101 S. Ct. 2424 (1981). The doctrine of res judicata extends only to facts and conditions existing at the time of the prior judgment. Clark v. Yosemite Community College, 785 F.2d 781, 789 (9th Cir. 1986). Res judicata does not bar a subsequent action based on facts or conduct occurring since the time of the prior judgment. Id.
The Barona plaintiffs' current action is not barred by res judicata, because this action involves an entirely different set of circumstances. The prior case involved the execution of search warrants in 1989. The present case involves a subsequent and unrelated search and seizure. Further, the defendants have not presented any facts indicating that the Barona plaintiffs are the same party that litigated the prior action or were privies to that party. The only plaintiff in the prior action was Bingo Enterprises, Incorporated. The plaintiff in this action is the Barona Band of Mission Indians. Therefore, res judicata does not bar the present action.
D. YOUNGER ABSTENTION
Finally, the defendants argue the Younger abstention doctrine requires this court to abstain in order to allow the criminal prosecutions to continue. The Younger doctrine does not require this court to abstain from determining the merits of the action.
In applying the Younger doctrine, federal courts must examine (1) the nature of the state proceedings to determine whether the proceedings implicate important state interests, (2) the timing of the request for federal relief to determine whether there are ongoing state proceedings, and (3) the ability of the federal plaintiff to litigate its federal constitutional claims in the state proceedings. Partington v. Gedan, 880 F.2d 116, 121 (9th Cir. 1989). The Younger doctrine, however, applies only to actions brought by the individuals being prosecuted in a state court. Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 928, 45 L. Ed. 2d 648 , 95 S. Ct. 2561 (1975). In other words, a "state defendant's inability to bring a federal action because of a pending state prosecution does not affect other potential federal plaintiffs who are not themselves the subject of pending prosecution." Ripplinger v. Collins, 868 F.2d 1043, 1049 (9th Cir. 1989).
This court is aware of the vital interests served by the Younger doctrine and the proper respect and deference owed the state court. The court also acknowledges the strong interest of the state to enforce its gaming laws and to prevent the infiltration of organized crime and other criminal elements into gaming permitted within the state's geographical boundaries. Nevertheless, this case is unique because Congress has clearly stated that the state courts are without jurisdiction to criminally prosecute individuals for alleged violations of gaming laws made applicable under the IGRA. 18 U.S.C. § 1166(d). Further, the plaintiffs in this case are not the individuals the state wishes to prosecute. Accordingly, the defendants' request for abstention is denied.
DATED: Feb. 24, 1992
MARILYN L. HUFF, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.