United States District Court, E.D. California
AMENDED ORDER AND FINDINGS AND
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
motion captioned “Motion to Set Aside State Court's
Order Appointing Receiver as Void Order, ” ECF No. 28,
came on for hearing on June 14, 2017. Plaintiff Narenda
Sharma appeared in pro se. Counsel John M. Fujii appeared for
defendant City of Redding, and Ivo Keller specially appeared
on behalf of the Receiver.
Amended Order and Findings and Recommendations replaces the
Order and Findings and Recommendations issued on June 16,
2017 (ECF No. 38), which is withdrawn. The only change is to
certain background facts regarding the status of the subject
property. See infra, p. 2:13-14 & fn. 1. Because
the court's analysis and recommendations are unchanged,
no new objection period is required and the previously filed
objections will be deemed objections to the findings and
recommendations set forth below.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, purportedly as
assignee for Shree Shiva, LLC, the former owner of the
Americana Lodge in Redding. ECF No. 1. The complaint alleges
numerous constitutional violations in the City's pursuit
of nuisance abatement proceedings against the motel property.
City filed a Complaint for Nuisance Abatement and
Receivership in Shasta County Superior Court, pursuant to the
California Health and Safety Code, on October 27, 2015. The
complaint was based on a city inspection of the property
which had identified 532 code violations and other nuisance
conditions. Shree Shiva, LLC, through counsel, subsequently
stipulated to the appointment of a Receiver, and the court
issued a Receivership Order on January 22, 2016. The
court-appointed Receiver took possession and control over the
property, and determined that rehabilitation would require a
cost-prohibitive degree of re-building and re-construction.
Demolition of the building was also determined to be
cost-prohibitive due to the presence of asbestos. The
Receiver obtained court approval to sell the property
“as-is” to a buyer willing and able to
rehabilitate it. The receiver entered into a contract to sell
the property on December 16, 2016. The court entered an order
approving the sale on April 10, 2017. The Receiver continues to
report to the court; the case remains open.
complaint alleges that the City's actions (1) constitute
a taking of property without just compensation, (2) violated
procedural due process, (3) constituted a conspiracy with the
Receiver, (4) violated the property access rights of the
owners, and (5) violated the constitutional guarantee of
equal protection. ECF No. 1 at 17-20. Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.
Id. at 20.
has not identified a basis for his motion, in the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure or otherwise. He seeks a court
order invalidating the Receivership Order of the Shasta
County Superior Court. This request cannot be construed as a
motion for a preliminary injunction, because the requested
order would neither maintain the status quo nor direct a
party to the lawsuit to take action. See Arizona Dream
Act Coalition v. Brewer, 757 F.3d 1053, 1060-61
(9th Cir. 2014) (distinguishing between
prohibitory injunctions and mandatory injunctions); see
also Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 428 (2009)
(injunction is “means by which a court tells someone
what to do or not to do”). On the contrary, the motion
seeks to upend the status quo and to do so by direct federal
court fiat. The familiar standards for preliminary injunctive
relief do not apply to such a request.
axiomatic that the moving party must present a legal basis
for extraordinary relief. Plaintiff has identified no
authority for the proposition that a federal district court
may “set aside” or otherwise vacate or invalidate
an order of a state court in this context. Accordingly,
plaintiff's motion is subject to summary dismissal as
it is clear that this court has no authority to grant the
requested relief. The federal district court has no power to
review the actions of the Shasta County Superior Court or to
set aside its orders. Our Constitution contemplates a dual
system of federal and state courts, which cannot function if
federal courts intervene in state judicial proceedings. The
state courts are constitutionally entitled to independence.
Accordingly, state proceedings must normally continue
unimpaired by intervention from the lower federal courts.
Relief from state court error comes through the state
appellate courts and ultimately, in some circumstances, from
the U.S. Supreme Court. See Chick Kam Soo v. Exxon
Corp., 486 U.S. 140, 146 (1988). Absent a specific
constitutional or statutory grant of authority, which is
absent here, this court simply has no authority to invalidate
state court orders. The motion should be denied on this
ground as well.
the requested relief is barred by the abstention doctrine
first announced in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37,
45 (1971), which held that federal courts should not
ordinarily enjoin pending criminal proceedings in state
courts. The Younger abstention doctrine is based on
considerations of equity, comity, and federalism.
Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1, 10-11
(1987). It has been extended to a limited class of civil
proceedings, specifically those which are “akin to
criminal prosecutions, ” or which “implicate a
State's interest in enforcing the orders and judgments of
its courts.” Sprint Communications, Inc. v.
Jacobs, 134 S.Ct. 584, 588 (2013) (citations omitted).
The Supreme Court has laid out a three-part test for
determining when to apply Younger to a civil
proceeding. Abstention is required if the state proceedings:
(1) are ongoing; (2) implicate “important state
interests”; and (3) provide an adequate opportunity to
raise federal questions. Middlesex County Ethics
Committee v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423,
432 (1982). The Ninth Circuit has articulated an implied
fourth requirement that (4) the federal court action would
“enjoin the proceeding, or have the practical effect of
doing so.” Gilbertson v. Albright, 381 F.3d
965, 978 (9th Cir. 2004) (en banc).
well established that the circumstances warranting
Younger abstention include civil enforcement
proceedings. New Orleans Public Service, Inc. v. Council
of New Orleans, 491 U.S. 350, 367-68 (1989). When a
state or local government entity is in an enforcement
posture, exercising its executive authority to regulate or
remedy socially harmful conduct, the “important state
interest requirement” is easily met. Potrero Hills
Landfill, Inc. v. County of Solano, 657 F.3d 876, 883-84
(9th Cir.2011). Accordingly, federal actions challenging the
enforcement of public nuisance laws are barred by
Younger. Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U.S.
592 (1975); see also Woodfeathers, Inc. v. Washington
County, Oregon, 180 F.3d 1017, 1021 (9th Cir. 1999)
(“Civil actions brought by a government entity to
enforce nuisance laws have been held to justify
all the requirements for Younger abstention are
present. First, the Shasta County nuisance abatement
proceeding is ongoing. Second, that proceeding by its nature
implicates important state regulatory and enforcement
interests in nuisance abatement. Third, the Shasta County
Superior Court is a venue in which federal questions can be
raised, and plaintiff has in fact presented his concerns
there (albeit unsuccessfully). Finally, the action plaintiff
seeks - an order ...