United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
REFERRING CASE TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES R. BREYER United States District Judge
Ayla Erler brought suit against her ex-husband, Defendant
Yashar Erler, for failing to maintain his obligation to
support Ayla at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines under
the I-864 form, Affidavit of Support. In 2013, the Court
filed an order “denying plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment and giving parties notice regarding possible
summary judgment for defendant.” Erler v.
Erler, No. CV-12-2793-CRB, 2013 WL 6139721, at *1 (N.D.
Cal. Nov. 21, 2013). The Court found that though
Yashar'sobligation continued irrespective of their
divorce proceedings, Ayla, who lived with her adult son,
earned above 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. In 2016,
the Ninth Circuit vacated the Court's grant of summary
judgment to Yashar. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case with
instructions to determine Yashar's obligation to Ayla
based on a one-person household, disregarding Ayla's
adult son's income.
explained below, the Court DENIES Yashar's motion for
summary judgment and GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART
Ayla's motion for summary judgment.
Court holds that Ayla's food stamps from California and
her pension from the Turkish Government are income, which
reduces the sum that Yashar owes to Ayla. The Court ORDERS
the parties to return to Magistrate Judge Cousins to
determine the exact monetary damages consistent with this
emigrated from Turkey in November 2008 to marry Yashar, an
American citizen. Erler v. Erler, 824 F.3d 1173,
1175 (9th Cir. 2016). The parties signed a premarital
agreement, which stated that “neither party shall seek
or obtain any form of alimony or support from the
other.” Id. Ayla and Yashar married on April
15, 2009. Id. On April 29, 2009, as a part of
Ayla's naturalization process, Yashar signed the I-864
form, Affidavit of Support (“Affidavit”).
Id. The Affidavit included a commitment to support
Ayla at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Id.
March 25, 2011, Ayla and Yashar separated. Id. After
the separation, in April 2011, Ayla moved in with her adult
son, Dogukan Solmaz, a California resident. Id.
Yashar paid $3, 500 to Ayla to assist with moving expenses.
Id. at 1176. Yashar and Ayla appeared in the Family
Law Division of Superior Court of California, County of San
Mateo on March 22, 2012, and finalized their divorce on May
4, 2012. Yashar Decl. Ex. D (dkt. 70-5). The court ordered
Ayla to reimburse Yashar $10, 242.00 for possession of his
property. Id. Yashar claims in his motion that he
has yet to collect this payment but does not provide support
for his claim. See Yashar Mot. (dkt. 70) at 3. Ayla
has not worked since the separation. Ayla 2017 Decl. (dkt.
71-1) ¶ 2.
May 2011 to October 2012, Ayla received approximately $200
per month in food stamps from the State of California.
Id. ¶ 6. In February 2013, the State of
California resumed dispersing food stamps to Ayla.
also has a pension from the Turkish government for her prior
service in its telecommunications department. Id.
¶ 4. Ayla claims that she can only access the funds in
Turkey and must use a Turkish debit card to do so.
Id. She does not receive any of the pension funds
for use in the United States. Id. In her prior
declaration, in 2013, Ayla conceded that her adult
“daughter in Turkey accesses the pension funds and uses
them to pay for her own living expenses in Turkey.”
Ayla 2013 Decl. (dkt. 7) ¶ 17. Ayla's account
records show consistent money withdrawals from 2011 to 2016.
See Yashar Decl. Ex. I (dkt. 70-10).
31, 2012, Ayla filed this action, asserting that Yashar has
failed to meet his obligation to maintain Ayla at 125% of the
Federal Poverty Guidelines since their separation in March
2011. Erler, 824 F.3d at 1176. Filing for summary
judgment, Ayla sought declaratory relief, monetary damages,
and legal fees. Id. In response, Yashar filed an
opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment, contending
that the divorce ended his obligation. Yashar 2013 Mot. (dkt.
12); Erler, 824 F.3d at 1176. He also argued that
even if the Affidavit remained valid after their divorce,
Ayla had earned at least 125% of the Federal Poverty
November 21, 2013, the Court “den[ied] plaintiff's
motion for summary judgment and [gave] parties notice
regarding possible summary judgment for defendant.”
Erler, 2013 WL 6139721, at *1. The Court held that
Yashar's obligation extends after the divorce and
continues until one of the five circumstances outlined in the
Affidavit occurs. Erler, 824 F.3d at 1176. The Court
also held that even though Yashar has a continuing
obligation, he did not breach the Affidavit, because the
financial support Ayla received from her son kept her above
125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Id. Ayla
appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Id.
8, 2016, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Court's holding
that Yashar's obligation continued after the divorce, but
vacated the Court's grant of summary judgment for Yashar.
Id. at 1180. The Ninth Circuit held that Ayla's
adult son's income is irrelevant when calculating
Yashar's financial obligation. Id. at 1179-80.
The Ninth Circuit remanded the case with instructions to
determine Yashar's annual financial obligation to Ayla
based on a one-person household. Id. at 1180.
Because the Ninth Circuit did not offer any guidance as to
what qualifies as “income” under 8 U.S.C. §
1183a, the Court must now determine, largely as a matter of
first impression, which sources of financial support, if any,
qualify as income that would mitigate or discharge
Yashar's liability. See id. (“Rather than
address these questions for the first time on appeal, we
leave them for the district court to address on
remand, both parties attended a settlement conference with
Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins. Settlement Conference
(dkt. 67). After the parties could not settle, they filed
cross-motions for summary judgment and opposition briefs.
Yashar Mot.; Ayla Mot. (dkt. 71); Yashar Opp'n (dkt. 72);
Ayla Opp'n (dkt. 73). Ayla claims that she does not have
any income as defined by 8 U.S.C. § 1183a, and thus,
Yashar owes her 125% of the Federal Poverty Guildelines minus
his one-time payment of $3, 500 for her moving expenses. Ayla
2017 Decl. ¶ 2; see Ayla Mot. at 4-5. She seeks
declaratory relief and damages in the amount of $79, 493.60,
plus attorneys' fees. Id. Yashar argues that
even without her son's financial support, Ayla has earned
above 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a one-person
household. Yashar Mot. at 2-3. In his opposition, Yashar
additionally claims that Ayla has not complied with his
discovery requests. See Yashar Opp'n at 2-9.
Court must decide whether Ayla earned any money that
qualified as income according to 8 U.S.C. § 1183a.
See Erler, 824 F.3d at 1179-80. If Ayla earned
income, then the Court must determine how much that income
reduces Yashar's financial obligation to Ayla from March
2011 through the end of 2016.
judgment is proper when “the movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue is “genuine” only if
there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable
fact finder could find for the nonmoving party, and a dispute
is “material” only if it could affect the outcome
under governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). A principal purpose
of the summary judgment procedure “is to isolate and
dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
“Where the records taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,
there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S.
574, 587 (1986).
U.S.C. § 1183a, immigrants who are deemed likely to
become public charges may gain admission to the United States
if a sponsor signs United States Citizenship Immigration
Services Form I-864 (the Affidavit), thereby promising to
maintain the sponsored immigrant at no less than 125% of the
Federal Poverty Guidelines for the immigrant's household
size. See 8 U.S.C. § 1183a(a)(1)(A); Aff. (dkt.
70-3) at 6. “The requirement under § 1183 a [sic]
that a sponsor promise to maintain the immigrant is intended
not only to protect the immigrant from poverty, but to
protect the government from a public burden.”
Carlborg v. Tompkins, 10-CV-187-BBC, 2010 WL
4553558, at *4 (W.D. Wis. Nov. 3, 2010).
Affidavit “create[s] a contract between [the sponsor]
and the U.S. Government, ” which can be enforced by the
sponsored immigrant. Aff. at 6. The sponsor's obligation