provisions of the Ordinance. Notwithstanding Judge Kozinski's provocative statement in Sierra Lake, 938 F.2d at 955, this Court concludes that Plaintiff has not established that the available state court procedure will not provide an adequate opportunity to challenge the Hollister rent control ordinance.
Another district court considering this issue in a motion to dismiss found that state court proceedings provide an adequate forum in which to challenge mobilehome park rent control ordinances. Casella v. City of Morgan Hill, No. 91-1034, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14904 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 1991). The Casella opinion noted that state court proceedings provided a "full and fair opportunity to litigate" federal claims in state court. Casella, No. 91-1034, LEXIS 14904 at *7.
Casella opined that the state appellate court in Casella v. City of Morgan Hill, 230 Cal. App. 3d 43, 280 Cal. Rptr. 876 (1991), rendered a thoughtful opinion explicating its decision to decline to follow the Ninth Circuit's rationale in Hall, 833 F.2d 1270. The Court concurs with the Casella District Court's finding that prior to rejecting the arguments, the state appeals court gave meaningful consideration to the Casella plaintiffs' contentions that Hall was controlling precedent. Casella, No. 91-1034, LEXIS 14904, at *7-8.
Mission Oaks argues here, as the Casella plaintiffs did, that Hall and Sierra Lake are controlling precedent. Mission Oaks asserts that Judge Kozinski's statement in Sierra Lake regarding state courts' refusal to follow Hall validates its argument that Mission Oaks has no adequate opportunity to raise federal claims in state court.
However, as Casella noted in its review of the argument, while United States Supreme Court decisions are binding on state courts, federal appeals court decisions are persuasive, not controlling precedent. Casella, No. 91-1034, LEXIS 14904, at *10, (citing 9 Witkin, California Procedure § 779 (3rd ed. 1985)). In rejecting the application of the rationale for a physical takings claim to a challenge to a rent control ordinance (i.e., a "regulatory taking"), the state appeals court distinguished Hall from Loretto, 458 U.S. 419, 73 L. Ed. 2d 868, 102 S. Ct. 3164 (1982) in a reasoned manner. Casella, No. 91-1034, LEXIS 14904 at *7-8.
Additionally, as Mission Oaks acknowledged at oral argument, the state court in the present action will be bound by the Supreme Court's decision in a similar challenge to a local rent control ordinance which was recently argued before the Supreme Court. Yee v. City of Escondido, 224 Cal. App. 3d 1349, 274 Cal. Rptr. 551 (1990), cert. granted in part, 112 S. Ct. 294 (1991)(argued January 22, 1992).
Therefore, the Court concludes that the state court proceeding provides Mission Oaks with an adequate forum within which to pursue its federal claims.
Finally, while Younger abstention usually does not apply in situations in which the federal plaintiff is also the plaintiff in state court, Fresh Int'l Corp., 805 F.2d at 1360 n.8, the Court here finds Younger applicable. Mission Oaks has in effect sought to "shield" itself from unfavorable state court decisions on takings law. See, Crawley v. Hamilton County Comm'ns, 744 F.2d 28, 30 (6th Cir. 1984)(Younger abstention appropriate where state court plaintiffs "attempting to use federal courts to shield themselves from state court enforcement efforts."). In the instant case the Court finds that plaintiff has unsuccessfully argued that state court proceedings will not provide an adequate opportunity to raise its federal claims. The Court finds Younger controlling and abstains from the action.
2. Plaintiff's "Reservation" Not Applicable
A reservation of litigation of federal claims is appropriate in Pullman abstention situations where the federal court retains jurisdiction but parties are sent to state court to obtain ruling on a state law question. England v. Louisiana State Bd. of Medical Examiners 375 U.S. 411, 11 L. Ed. 2d 440, 84 S. Ct. 461 (1964). The instant case does not present such a situation.
Here, Mission Oaks filed a Reservation of Right to litigate Federal claims in Federal Court prior to filing the present federal suit. The Reservation was filed approximately one year after Plaintiff brought suit in state court; after Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment filed in state court and after consideration of the Plaintiff's Writ Petition challenging the Rent Commission's action. Thus the case had proceeded substantially prior to Mission Oaks determining it would file in federal court.
The Court concludes that the "England" Reservation does not control in this situation. Plaintiff had the opportunity to file in federal court prior to filing in state court or at a point in time closer to the initiation of the state proceedings.
The Court concludes that abstention on Younger grounds is appropriate. Therefore, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED.
United States District Judge
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