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ARAUJO v. U.S.

January 23, 2004.

Jose Luis ARAUJO, Maria ARAUJO, Plaintiffs
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARILYN PATEL, Chief Judge District

MEMORANDUM & ORDER Re: Plaintiffs' and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment
This matter comes before the court on cross-motions for partial summary judgment regarding the impact of the Ninth Circuit's decision in Castro-Cortez v. INS on this litigation. Plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability, since the Ninth Circuit has already decided that question in their favor. Defendant, meanwhile, argues that a different question was at issue in Castro-Cortez, and thus that the Ninth Circuit's holding is functionally inapplicable to this case. Having considered the arguments presented and for the reasons stated below, the court enters the following memorandum and order.

BACKGROUND

  The facts that give rise to this case are already well-described in the Ninth Circuit's decision in Castro-Cortez v. INS, 239 F.3d 1037 (9th Cir. 2001). For the sake of clarity and completeness, the court summarizes them again here.

  Plaintiff Jose Luis Araujo, a citizen of Mexico, initially came to the United States in 1979. Id., at 1041. In 1983, Araujo was caught and deported by the INS after that agency determined that he had entered the United States illegally. Id. at 1042. Shortly after his deportation Araujo again returned to the Page 2 United States illegally, and in 1996 he married Maria Araujo, a United States citizen. Id. In 1997, the INS became aware that Mr. Araujo was again unlawfully in the country when he filed of an "Application to Adjust Status" to lawful permanent resident. Joint Statement of Undisputed Facts, at 2. On the morning of March 2, 1999, INS officers arrested plaintiff at his home and informed him that he would be taken "straight to Mexico" per a reinstated order of deportation. Castro-Cortez, 239 F.3d at 1041-42. Araujo was flown to Phoenix, Arizona, and then placed on a bus and driven to Nogales, Mexico, where he was deposited on March 3rd. Id., at 1042. The INS took this action under the legal auspices Section 241(a)(5) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), the relevant portion of which is codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5), which permits the INS to reinstate prior orders of removal against aliens who have unlawfully reentered the United States. Id., at 1040.

  Jose Luis Araujo subsequently filed a habeas petition with the Ninth Circuit, arguing both that his summary expulsion from the United States violated his right to procedural due process and that section 1231(a)(5) did not apply to him because he had reentered the United States in violation of a prior deportation order many years before the passage of IIRIRA. In Castro-Cortez (a consolidated case involving several similar habeas petitions by individuals deported pursuant to this provision), the Ninth Circuit granted Araujo's habeas petition and ordered him returned to the United States, holding that "Congress clearly intended that the statute [sec. 1231(a)(5)] should not be applied retroactively to aliens whose reentry occurred prior to its enactment." Id., at 1051. In an unpublished decision, the Circuit subsequently awarded attorney's fees to plaintiffs' counsel under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d).

  After the resolution of plaintiff's habeas case, Jose Luis Araujo and his wife Maria Araujo filed suit against the United States, seeking civil damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for injuries sustained in the course of Mr. Araujo's unlawful detention and deportation. Castro-Cortez v. INS, CV-98-01371-TSZ, at 3. Plaintiffs allege that by taking Mr. Araujo into custody and deporting him pursuant to an inapplicable statute, the INS committed the tort of false arrest and false imprisonment (which in California are amalgamated as one offense). This case now comes before the court on cross-motions for Page 3 summary judgment which ask this court to determine what effect, if any, the Ninth Circuit Castro-Cortez holding has upon the pendent legal and factual issues in Plaintiff's suit for damages.

 LEGAL STANDARD

  I. Summary Judgment

  Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, discovery and affidavits show that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id., The moving party for summary judgment bears the burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). On an issue for which the opposing party will have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only point out "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id.

  Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by its own affidavits or discovery, "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Mere allegations or denials do not defeat a moving party's allegations. Id.; see also Gasaway v. Northwestern Mut. Life Ins. Co., 26 F.3d 957, 960 (9th Cir. 1994). The court may not make credibility determinations, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, and inferences to be drawn from the facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 501 U.S. 496, 520 (1991).

 II. Collateral Estoppel

  According to the doctrine of collateral estoppel, "once a court has decided an issue of fact or law necessary to its judgment, that decision may preclude relitigation of the issue in a suit on a different cause of action involving a party to the first case." Dodd v. Hood River County, 59 F.3d 852, 863 (9th Cir. 1995). Page 4 Collateral estoppel applies only where "(1) the issue necessarily decided at the previous proceeding is identical to the one which is sought to be relitigated; (2) the first proceeding ended with a final judgment on the merits; and (3) the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted was a party or in privity with a party at the first proceeding." Hydranautics v. Filmtec Corp., 204 F.3d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

 DISCUSSION

 I. The ...


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