Isbell v. State of Oklahoma, Department of Human Services et al

Filing 34

ORDER ADOPTING 17 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION by Judge William Alsup. (whalc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/12/2018)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 SARAH ISBELL, No. C 18-00269 WHA United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Plaintiff, ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 11 v. 12 STATE OF OKLAHOMA, et al., 13 Defendant. 14 15 16 17 18 INTRODUCTION In this civil rights action, Magistrate Judge Robert Illman has filed a Report and Recommendation regarding dismissal of the complaint. For the reasons below, the Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED and the complaint is DISMISSED. 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 / STATEMENT On January 11, pro se plaintiff Sarah Isbell brought this action against (1) the State of Oklahoma and its Department of Human Services, (2) Jim Hutchinson, the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Health and Human Services, in his official and individual capacities, (3) the State of California and its Department of Human Services, and (4) Alisha Griffin, the Director of the California Department of Child Support Services, in her official and individual capacities. Plaintiff seeks relief under the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Dkt. No. 1). On March 13, after reviewing the complaint, Magistrate Judge Robert Illman filed a Report and Recommendation. Judge Illman found the complaint challenged an Oklahoma state court judgment ordering plaintiff to pay monthly child support and further challenged subsequent actions 1 taken by defendants to enforce the judgment. Judge Illman also determined it was unclear whether 2 plaintiff sought to pursue claims against defendants separate and apart from her de facto appeal 3 from the state court judgment and accordingly recommended dismissing the action for lack of 4 jurisdiction with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed her objections to the Report and Recommendation 5 on April 5 (Dkt. Nos. 17, 27). 6 7 ANALYSIS Where a party objects to a Report and Recommendation, “[a] judge of the [district] court 8 shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the [Report and Recommendation] to 9 which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Plaintiff objects on two grounds. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Plaintiff first argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is inapplicable to this action because 11 the Oklahoma child support order is not a “final judgment.” Not so. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine 12 applies not just to final state court orders and judgments, but also to interlocutory orders and 13 non-final judgments issued by a state court. Doe & Assoc. Law Offices v. Napolitano, 252 F.3d 14 1026, 1030 (9th Cir. 2001). “Because district courts lack power to hear direct appeals from state 15 court decisions, they must decline jurisdiction whenever they are ‘in essence called upon to review 16 the state court decision.’” Ibid. (quoting D.C. Ct. of App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 n.16 17 (1983)). 18 Plaintiff next contends that even if the support order is subject to Rooker-Feldman, the “vast 19 majority” of her complaint relates to enforcement actions taken by defendants after issuance of the 20 Oklahoma court’s judgment. To the extent her claims relate to actions taken prior to issuance of the 21 judgment, plaintiff states that her claims are directed at defendants’ policies, practices and decisions 22 “which impair her Constitutional rights, not as a de facto appeal of the state court support order.” 23 Despite this objection, plaintiff seeks leave to “withdraw[ ] any statement” in her complaint “which 24 could be read to call on this court to conduct a direct appellate review of legal errors by the state 25 court” and to amend her complaint so as to “restate her claims to more specifically clarify facts 26 supporting her claims” (Dkt. No. 27 at 4, 20). 27 28 This order agrees with the Report and Recommendation’s finding that, as currently pled, the complaint is unclear as to whether plaintiff is pursuing claims apart from the attempted de facto 2 1 appeal. “A federal action constitutes such a de facto appeal where ‘claims raised in the federal 2 court action are ‘inextricably intertwined’ with the state court’s decision such that the adjudication 3 of the federal claims would undercut the state ruling or require the district court to interpret the 4 application of state laws or procedural rules.’” Reusser v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 525 F.3d 855, 859 5 (9th Cir. 2008). This order also agrees that plaintiff should be granted leave to amend the 6 complaint in order to clarify her claims. 7 8 9 CONCLUSION For the reasons stated herein, the Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED. The complaint is accordingly DISMISSED. By MAY 11, plaintiff may file an amendment complaint raising any United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 claims which are not inextricably intertwined with the Oklahoma court’s judgment and not 11 otherwise subject to dismissal. 12 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 15 Dated: April 12, 2018. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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