United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (ECF NO. 14)
CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the court is plaintiffs' “emergency motion
for a preliminary injunction” that seeks to “stop
future proceedings and hearings” in Sutter County. (ECF
No. 14.) Through their motion plaintiffs are attempting to
prevent their child from being adopted.
allege that defendants violated their rights under the Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendments when they removed plaintiffs'
child without a warrant and conducted a blood draw without
consent. (ECF No. 12 at 4-6.) In their second amended
complaint, plaintiffs name three Butte County social and DHS
workers and one Sutter County social worker. (Id. at
2-3.) The complaint also appears to name Butte and Sutter
County Social Services. (Id. at 1.)
have now filed three requests for injunctions. (ECF Nos. 8,
11, 14.) The present injunction seeks to stay state-court
proceedings regarding the adoption of plaintiffs' child.
(ECF No. 14.)
court held a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for an
emergency injunction on October 16, 2019, but plaintiffs
failed to attend. (ECF No. 15.) It appears that defendants
have not yet been properly served, but in any event no one on
defendants' behalf appeared at the hearing.
federal district court does not have jurisdiction to review
errors in state court decisions in civil cases. Dist. of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476
(1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413,
415 (1923). “The district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction either to conduct a direct review of a state
court judgment or to scrutinize the state court's
application of various rules and procedures pertaining to the
state case.” Samuel v. Michaud, 980 F.Supp.
1381, 1411-12 (D. Idaho 1996), aff'd, 129 F.3d 127 (9th
Cir. 1997). See also Branson v. Nott, 62 F.3d 287,
291-92 (9th Cir.1995) (finding no subject matter jurisdiction
over section 1983 claim seeking, inter alia, implicit
reversal of state trial court action); MacKay v.
Pfeil, 827 F.2d 540, 544-45 (9th Cir. 1987) (attacking
state court judgment because substantive defense improper
under Rooker-Feldman). That the federal district
court action alleges the state court's action was
unconstitutional does not change the rule. Feldman,
460 U.S. at 486. If federal claims are “inextricably
intertwined” with a state court judgment, the federal
court may not hear them. Id. “[T]he federal
claim is ‘inextricably intertwined' with the state
court judgment if the federal claim succeeds only to the
extent that the state court wrongly decided the issues before
it.” Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1,
25 (1987) (Marshall, J., concurring). In sum, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies “[i]f a
federal plaintiff asserts as a legal wrong an allegedly
erroneous decision by a state court, and seeks relief from a
state court judgment based on that decision.” Noel
v. Hall, 341 F.3d 1148, 1163-64 (9th Cir. 2003).
However, plaintiffs can state section 1983 claims against
state officers, such as social workers involved in
family-court proceedings, which do not directly attack the
state court judgment. See Hardwick v. Cty. of
Orange, 844 F.3d 1112, 1116 (9th Cir. 2017) (allowing a
section 1983 action to proceed against social workers for
allegedly providing perjured testimony in a dependency
proceeding that resulted in a mother losing custody).
plaintiffs' complaint and injunction request plaintiffs
appear to allege three wrongful acts: (1) false arrest; (2)
separation of child; (3) and illegal blood draw(s). However,
the injunction specifically only addresses the separation,
and clearly is seeking to have the federal courts intervene
in the state-court proceeding that is adjudicating custody of
plaintiffs' child. The injunction request, therefore,
amounts to an attempt to litigate in federal court matters
that are inextricably intertwined with a state-court
decision. Accordingly, the court does not have jurisdiction
to grant plaintiffs the relief requested in their injunction,
as granting plaintiffs' request would be tantamount to
“review[ing] errors in state court decisions in civil
cases.” Feldman, 460 U.S. at
IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that plaintiffs' motion for a
TRO (ECF No. 14) be denied.
findings and recommendations are submitted to the United
States District Judge assigned to the case, pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Within fourteen
(14) days after being served with these findings and
recommendations, any party may file written objections with
the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document
should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate
Judge's Findings and Recommendations.” Any reply to
the objections shall be served on all parties and filed with
the court within fourteen (14) days after service of the
objections. The parties are advised that failure to file
objections within the specified time may waive the right to
appeal the District Court's order. Turner v.
Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez
v. Ylst 951 F.2d 1153, 1156-57 (9th Cir. 1991).