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Warda v. Santee Apartments LP

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 11, 2017

SAWSAN WARDA, and MAJID M. TOMA, Plaintiffs,
v.
SANTEE APARTMENTS LP, Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM Q. HAYES United States District Judge.

         The matter before the Court is the Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 3) filed by Plaintiffs Majid M. Toma and Sawsan Warda ("Plaintiffs") and the Motion to Dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order and Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 8) filed by Defendant Santee Apartments LP ("Defendant").

         I. Introduction

         On March 30, 2017, Plaintiffs initiated this action by filing a Complaint (ECF No. 1), a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2), and the Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 3). On March 30, 2017, the Court issued an order granting Plaintiffs' motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 4).

         In their Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiffs contend that if the Court did not grant injunctive relief preventing Defendant from enforcing a lockout "against Plaintiffs based on a default judgment in an Unlawful Detainer action[, ]" Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm by "be[ing] denied the opportunity ... to reside in the community and environment of the[ir] choice." (ECF No. 3 at 1-2, 7). Plaintiffs contend that temporary injunctive relief "is necessary to preserve the status quo so that this Court can make the determination as to whether the intended denial of housing was motivated by discrimination based on disability in violation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and related state laws." Id. at 7. Plaintiffs contend that there is a substantial likelihood they will prevail on the merits because Defendant has refused to provide Plaintiffs with a reasonable accommodation and has attempted to remove Plaintiffs from their rental unit "prior to engaging in the interactive process as part of the reasonable accommodation request." Id. Plaintiffs contend that "[t]he threatened injury to Plaintiffs far outweighs any potential harm to Defendant" and issuing a temporary restraining order will not harm the public interest. Id. at 7-8.

         On March 30, 2017, the Court issued an order granting Plaintiffs' request for a temporary restraining order. (ECF No. 6). The Court found that Plaintiffs had "identified immediate and irreparable injury which may result before Defendant can be heard in opposition." Id. at 2. The Court found that Plaintiffs had "made an adequate attempt to provide Defendant with notice of this action and the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order prior to any irreparable injury [, ]" and found "that Plaintiffs have met the requirements of Rule 65(b)." Id. The Court ordered that Defendant "is hereby ENJOINED from taking any actions to prevent Plaintiffs' continuous occupancy of their rental unit, pending further order of this Court." Id. at 2-3.

         On April 4, 2017, Defendant filed Proof of Service (ECF No. 7) and the Motion to Dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order and Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (ECF No. 8). On April 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendant's Motion to Dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order and opposition. (ECF No. 11). On April 6, 2017, the Court held a hearing regarding the temporary restraining order, where counsel for both parties entered appearances and presented argument to the Court. (ECF No. 12).

         II. Motion to Dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order and Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 8)

         A. Contentions of the Parties

         Defendant contends that this Court is prohibited from entering temporary injunctive relief by the Anti-Injunction Act. Defendant contends that the Anti-Injunction Act "prohibits a federal district court from issuing a temporary restraining order staying unlawful detainer proceedings in state court." (ECF No. 8 at 11). Defendant contends that the injunction requested by Plaintiffs does not fall into any of the three exceptions to the Anti-Injunction Act. Id. at 11-14.

         Plaintiffs contend that the "necessary in aid of its jurisdiction" exception to the Anti-Injunction Act applies to this case, so that this Court may issue the injunctive relief requested by Plaintiffs. (ECF No. 11 at 3). Plaintiffs contend that another district court has found that courts "can enjoin a state court eviction proceeding where certain important housing rights are in jeopardy of being lost, such as housing subsidized under the low-income Section 8 federal housing assistance program." Id. (citing Sierra v. City of New York, 528 F.Supp.2d 465, 468 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)). Plaintiffs contend they "are recipients of subsidized housing under the federally funded Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program ("LIHTC")[, ]" and "the potential loss of housing subsidized under the LIHTC program is equally as devastating as losing Section 8 housing." Id. at 4. Plaintiffs contend that "federal courts do have the authority to enjoin a landlord from denying housing where the 'necessary in aid of its jurisdiction' exception extends to cases where some federal injunctive relief may be necessary to prevent a state court from so interfering with a federal court's consideration or disposition of a case as to seriously impair the federal court's flexibility and authority to decide the case." Id. at 3 (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         B. Legal Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b)(4) provides that "[o]n 2 days' notice to the party who obtained the [temporary restraining] order without notice-or on shorter notice set by the court-the adverse party may appear and move to dissolve or modify the order." Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b)(4). Upon the filing of a motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order, "[t]he court must . . . hear and decide the motion as promptly as justice requires." Id.

         "A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Nat'l Res. Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). The standard for issuing a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order under Rule 65 are the same. See Quiroga v. Chen, 735 F.Supp.2d 1226, 1228 (D. Nev. 2010) ("Temporary restraining orders are governed by the same standard applicable to preliminary injunctions."). "The stringent restrictions imposed by . . . Rule 65 on the availability of ex parte temporary restraining orders reflect the fact that our entire jurisprudence runs counter to the notion of court ...


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