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Andrews v. California Department of Consumer Affairs

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 5, 2017

MARK T. ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS DKT. NOS. 13, 17, 21, 23

          WILLIAM H. ORRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Mark Andrews alleges that his Fourteenth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when he was denied an administrative hearing regarding the suspension of his California Driver's License and California Bureau of Automotive Repair License, in connection with Child Support Proceedings in California Superior Court. He brings § 1983 claims against the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which includes the California Bureau of Automotive Repair; the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”); the Sonoma County Department of Child Support Services (“DCSS”); Kirk Gorman, an attorney for the Department of Child Support Services, Kathy Simon, a case worker for Child Support Services, and Superior Court Commissioner Louise Bayles-Fightmaster. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) (Dkt. No. 8). The defendants have filed four different motions to dismiss his claims on numerous grounds, including that this court lacks jurisdiction to hear his claims under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Because I conclude that Andrews's claims are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and this court lacks jurisdiction to hear them, the defendants' motions to dismiss are GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         At some point prior to May, 2013, Andrews was held in contempt of court for failure to make court-ordered child support payments. See FAC ¶¶ 20, 26. On May 19, 2013, he received a notice from the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (“BAR”), stating that his license to pursue a private occupation would be suspended, effective on June 23, 2013, pursuant to Family Code § 17520 and an order from the DCSS. Id. ¶ 17. On June 14, 2013 he received a notice from the DMV, stating that his driver's license would be suspended, effective July 14, 2013, pursuant to Family Code § 17520 and a DCSS order. Id. ¶ 18.

         On June 26, 2013, Andrews sent a letter to DCSS, requesting an administrative hearing regarding the suspensions of his BAR and DMV licenses. Id. ¶ 19. DCSS refused to file an appeal with the Office of Administrative Hearings. Id. ¶ 20. DCSS held multiple hearings to find Andrews in contempt of court, but no appeal hearing was held regarding the suspension of his licenses. Id.

         On September 18, 2013, Andrews asked Commissioner Louise Bayles-Fightmaster to return his licenses. Id. ¶ 21. She told Andrews that he was not entitled to a hearing under the child support laws. Id. She further told him that no one had received a notice of any request for a hearing. Id. Kirk Gorman, the attorney for DCSS, did not inform Commissioner Bayles-Fightmaster that DCSS had received a letter requesting an appeal from Andrews. Id. ¶ 22. Kathy Simon, a DCSS caseworker, was also aware of the letter. Id. ¶ 23.

         Over the next six months multiple hearings were held in Andrews's child support case. Id. ¶ 25. Kirk Gorman told Andrews and his attorney that “if you want a hearing on the license suspension, file a motion.” Id. It appears that Andrews did not file a motion.

         On February 19, 2014, Gorman told Andrews that, to get his licenses back and avoid jail time, he could either pay full child support arrearage or plead guilty to three counts of contempt, pay $500 immediately, and agree to pay $125 per month. Id. ¶ 26. Andrews's attorney, Wallace Coppock, told Andrews that if he pleaded guilty he could get his licenses back that day and still “argue this issue of due process and the fraud upon the court committed by Commissioner Louise Bayles Fightmaster and Attorney Kirk Gorman.” Id. ¶ 27. Andrews alleges that he pleaded guilty “under duress” to get his licenses back. Id. His licenses were returned two weeks later, on March 3, 2014. Id. ¶ 28.

         Andrews asserts that his due process rights were violated because his licenses were not returned to him on September 18, 2013, when he requested them before Commissioner Bayles-Fightmaster. Id. ¶ 29. He contends that Bayles-Fightmaster denied him a fair hearing in violation of his Fourteenth and Fifth Amendment rights. Id. ¶ 30. He contends that DCSS similarly violated these rights by refusing to hold an appeals hearing before taking away his licenses. Id. ¶ 32. He contends that Kirk Gorman contributed to his injuries by failing to inform Commissioner Bayles-Fightmaster that Andrews had submitted a request for an appeal to DCSS and that Kathy Simon “was complicit in the intentional damage to Plaintiff” because she was also aware of the letter. Id. ¶¶ 22, 23.

         Andrews brings § 1983 claims against the defendants seeking to redress these injuries. He seeks a declaratory judgment that he was unconstitutionally denied his due process rights to a fair hearing, $100 million in damages, and attorney's fees and costs.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) is a challenge to the court's subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ” and it is “presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The party invoking the jurisdiction of the federal court bears the burden of establishing that the court has the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to grant the relief requested. Id.

         A challenge pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) may be facial or factual. See White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000). In a facial attack, the jurisdictional challenge is confined to the allegations pled in the complaint. See Wolfe v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 362 (9th Cir. 2004). The challenger asserts that the allegations in the complaint are insufficient “on their face” to invoke federal jurisdiction. See Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). To resolve this challenge, the court assumes that the ...


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