Hucul v. Mathews Burwell et al

Filing 118

ORDER: (1) Granting Defendants' Motions Dismiss; And (2) Denying The Kronzek Defendants' Motion For Sanctions. It is ordered that the Court grants defendants' motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 32 , 33 , [ 43], 48 , 51 , 59 , 77 , 78 , 80 , 83 ) and dismisses plaintiff's complaint with prejudice. The Court also denies the kronzek defendants' motion for sanctions (ECF No. 81 ). This Order ends the litigation in this matter. Signed by Judge Janis L. Sammartino on 2/6/2017. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(dxj) (sjt).

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MICHAEL HUCUL, Case No.: 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) Plaintiff, 12 13 14 ORDER (1) GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO DISMISS; AND (2) DENYING THE KRONZEK DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SANCTIONS v. SYLVIA MATHEW-BURWELL, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 17 (ECF Nos. 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 43, 48, 51, 59, 77, 78, 80, 81, 83) 18 19 Presently before the Court are various Rule 12(b) motions filed by Defendants 20 Jeffrey Miller (ECF No. 26); Traci Hoppes (ECF No. 27); Garrison Klueck (ECF No. 28); 21 the Law and Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes, APC (ECF No. 29); the Honorable 22 Michael D. Washington (ECF No. 30); County of San Diego (ECF No. 32); Steven M. 23 Bishop and The Law Office of Steven M. Bishop (ECF No. 33); State of Michigan and its 24 Governor Richard Dale Snyder (ECF No. 43); Charles M. Kronzek and Kronzek & 25 Cronkright P.L.L.C. (the “Kronzek Defendants”) (ECF No. 48); County of Ingham and the 26 Honorable R. George Economy (ECF No. 51); American Bar Association and its president 27 Paulette Brown (ECF No. 59); State of California and its Governor Edmund Gerald Brown 28 Jr. (ECF No. 77); the Honorable Mike Bishop and the Honorable Darrell Issa (ECF No. 1 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 78); Department of Health and Human Services, Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, 2 Senator Gary Peters, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Diane Feinstein, and Senator 3 Barbara Boxer (ECF No. 80); and State Bar of Michigan and its President Lori Buiteweg 4 (ECF No. 83) (collectively, the “MTDs”), as well as the Kronzek Defendants’ Motion for 5 Sanctions (ECF No. 81). 6 After granting several of Plaintiff’s motions for extension of time, Plaintiff filed his 7 responses to Defendants’ various motions, (ECF Nos. 69, 74, 87, 88, 91, 94, 96, 99, 100, 8 101, 103), and in doing so violated the Court’s several admonitions to file a single 9 opposition to the Defendants’ various motions, (ECF Nos. 86, 90, 98). Several Defendants 10 have also filed replies to Plaintiff’s responses. (ECF Nos. 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 11 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115.) 12 After reviewing the parties’ arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS 13 Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss and DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE Plaintiff’s 14 Complaint. 15 BACKGROUND 16 Plaintiff filed a rambling 116-page complaint with hundreds of pages of attached 17 exhibits against over thirty defendants. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff’s alleged injuries stem from 18 various events in a family court case beginning in Michigan and continuing to California, 19 where it is currently pending in San Diego. (Compl. 29,1 ECF No. 1.) The ongoing family 20 court case began when Plaintiff and his then-wife Janet Kren filed for divorce in Michigan 21 in September 2004. (Id. at 29, 39.) The Kronzek Defendants represented Ms. Kren in the 22 Michigan proceedings. (Id. at 31.) These proceedings included orders regarding child 23 support and other matters regarding Plaintiff’s son, over which Judge Economy presided. 24 (Id. at 32.) In 2012, the Michigan court granted Ms. Kren’s request to move with her and 25 Plaintiff’s son to California. (Id. at 30.) Plaintiff moved from Michigan to California to be 26 closer to his son. (Id. at 30, 49.) The family court case is ongoing in the Superior Court of 27 28 1 Pin citations refer to the CM/ECF page numbers electronically stamped at the top of each page. 2 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 California, County of San Diego. (Id. at 29.) 2 The complaint is not organized in any cognizable fashion, but it appears to the Court 3 that Plaintiff accuses Defendants of violating his constitutional rights under the Fourth, 4 Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as for “Fraud upon the 5 Court.” (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff seeks to maintain this case as a class action and remove the 6 entirety of his ongoing state case to this Court. (Id. at 114.) 7 Plaintiff seeks a wide array of relief for various alleged wrongs. He seeks declaratory 8 judgments that certain statutes and regulations relating to family law are unconstitutional. 9 (Id. at 19–20, 38, 47, 73, 112.) He also complains that several orders issued by the judicial 10 Defendants in this case were and are unconstitutional. (Id. at 32–34, 40–43, 46, 49, 51, 53– 11 56, 60, 68, 70, 72, 74, 77–79, 83–84, 98, 102, 113.) And he complains that certain 12 Defendants acted fraudulently or conspiratorially through “symbiotic” relationships in 13 order to violate his constitutional rights throughout the course of the ongoing family court 14 case. (Id. at 45, 46–49, 53, 57–59, 63–66, 68, 70, 72, 74, 77–79, 85, 89, 99, 113.) For these 15 alleged violations, Plaintiff seeks declaratory, injunctive, and equitable relief, along with 16 statutory and punitive damages. (Id. at 2.) He also seeks attorney’s fees. (Id. at 114.) 17 18 LEGAL STANDARDS I. Rule 12(b)(1) 19 A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges 20 a court’s subject matter jurisdiction. Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction 21 that “may not grant relief absent a constitutional or valid statutory grant of jurisdiction” 22 and are “presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary affirmatively 23 appears.” A–Z Int’l v. Phillips, 323 F.3d 1141, 1145 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations 24 and citations omitted). 25 Rule 12(b)(1) motions may challenge jurisdiction facially or factually. Safe Air for 26 Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). “In a facial attack, the challenger 27 asserts that the allegations contained in a complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke 28 federal jurisdiction. By contrast, in a factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the 3 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.” Id. 2 II. Rule 12(b)(6) 3 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the 4 defense that the complaint “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” 5 generally referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates whether a complaint states 6 a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is 8 entitled to relief.” Although Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,’ . . . it 9 [does] demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me 10 accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. 11 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide 12 the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and 13 a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 14 at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). “Nor does a complaint suffice 15 if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 16 at 677 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). 17 “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, 18 accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting 19 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A claim is facially plausible 20 when the facts pled “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant 21 is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). That is not to 22 say that the claim must be probable, but there must be “more than a sheer possibility that a 23 defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Facts “‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability” 24 fall short of a plausible entitlement to relief. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). 25 Further, the Court need not accept as true “legal conclusions” contained in the complaint. 26 Id. This review requires context-specific analysis involving the Court’s “judicial 27 experience and common sense.” Id. at 678 (citation omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded 28 facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the 4 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 complaint has alleged—but it has not ‘show[n]’—‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” 2 Id. 3 Complaints must also comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which requires 4 that each pleading include a “short and plain statement of the claim,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 5 8(a)(2), and that “each allegation must be simple, concise, and direct,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 6 8(d)(1). A court may dismiss a complaint for failure to comply with Rule 8 where it fails 7 to provide the defendant with fair notice of the wrongs allegedly committed. See McHenry 8 v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178–80 (9th Cir. 1996) (upholding Rule 8(a) dismissal of 9 complaint that was “argumentative, prolix, replete with redundancy, and largely 10 irrelevant”). 11 Plaintiff is proceeding pro se; thus, the Court has and will continue to liberally 12 construe his pleadings. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The Court will 13 grant leave to amend unless it determines that no modified contention “consistent with the 14 challenged pleading . . . [will] cure the deficiency.” DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 15 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Schriber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture 16 Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986)). 17 ANALYSIS 18 Various Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint for failure to state a claim 19 for relief. The Court largely agrees with Defendants, and more fundamentally concludes 20 that Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to comply with the basic requirements of Federal Rule of 21 Civil Procedure 8(a). See Davis v. Unruh, No. 3:16-CV-0897-BTM-WVG, 2016 WL 22 4142338, at *5 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2016) (finding same based on similar facts); see also 23 Cafasso, United States ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058–59 (9th 24 Cir. 2011) (collecting cases upholding Rule 8 dismissals where pleadings were “verbose,” 25 “confusing,” “distracting, ambiguous, and unintelligible,” “highly repetitious,” comprised 26 of “incomprehensible rambling,” and noting that “[o]ur district courts are busy enough 27 without having to penetrate a tome approaching the magnitude of War and Peace to discern 28 a plaintiff’s claims and allegations.”). But there is still a larger, jurisdictional problem in 5 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 this case.2 Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss based on the 2 following. 3 I. Rooker-Feldman Doctrine 4 Under the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction 5 to hear what are essentially appeals from state court judgments. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. 6 Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 283–84 (2005); Cooper v. Ramos, 704 F.3d 772, 7 778 (9th Cir. 2012) (“It is a forbidden de facto appeal under Rooker–Feldman when the 8 plaintiff in federal district court complains of a legal wrong allegedly committed by the 9 state court, and seeks relief from the judgment of that court.” (internal quotation marks 10 omitted)). “The purpose of the doctrine is to protect state judgments from collateral federal 11 attack. Because district courts lack power to hear direct appeals from state court decisions, 12 they must decline jurisdiction whenever they are ‘in essence being called upon to review 13 the state court decision.’” Doe & Assocs. Law Offices v. Napolitano, 252 F.3d 1026, 1030 14 (9th Cir. 2001). 15 A district court is further barred from considering claims that are “inextricably 16 intertwined” with a state court judgment. Bianchi v. Rylaarsdam, 334 F.3d 895, 898 (9th 17 Cir. 2003). A claim is “inextricably intertwined” with a state court judgment if “the 18 adjudication of the federal claims would undercut the state ruling or require the district 19 court to interpret the application of state laws or procedural rules . . . .” Id. 20 The Rooker–Feldman jurisdictional bar applies even if the complaint raises federal 21 constitutional issues. D.C. Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483 n.16, 486; Henrichs v. 22 Valley View Dev., 474 F.3d 609, 613 (9th Cir. 2007). More specifically, the bar applies if 23 the challenge to the state court decision is brought as a § 1983 civil rights action alleging 24 violations of the Due Process Clause. See Branson v. Nott, 62 F.3d 287, 291 (9th Cir. 1995); 25 Worldwide Church of God v. McNair, 805 F.2d 888, 893 n.4 (9th Cir. 1986). 26 27 28 For this reason, the Court need not reach Defendants’ several other arguments regarding, e.g., judicial immunity, lack of personal jurisdiction, or sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. 2 6 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 The Court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s case 2 regarding the state court’s prior orders under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Plaintiff seeks 3 damages, declaratory, and injunctive relief based on the outcome of various proceedings 4 in Ingham County Circuit Court and San Diego Superior Court. At their core, Plaintiff’s 5 various claims against all Defendants hinge on his allegations that these state court 6 decisions deprived him of various constitutional rights. In other words, Plaintiff seeks to 7 challenge, here in federal court, adverse rulings in state court. This is precisely the type of 8 case Rooker-Feldman bars. See Nadolski v. Winchester, No. 13-CV-2370-LAB-DHB, 9 2014 WL 3962473, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2014). “It is well-established that when a 10 plaintiff brings a claim to federal court that challenges the outcome of proceedings in 11 family court, such a claim is barred by the [Rooker-Feldman] doctrine.” Id. (collecting 12 authority); see also Moore v. Cnty. of Butte, 547 F. App’x 826, 829 (9th Cir. 2013) 13 (affirming dismissal on Rooker-Feldman grounds a federal suit arising out of state court 14 divorce and child custody proceedings); Gomez v. San Diego Family Ct., 388 F. App’x 685 15 (9th Cir. 2010) (affirming district court’s dismissal of action challenging state court child 16 custody decision under Rooker-Feldman); Sareen v. Sareen, 356 F. App’x 977 (9th Cir. 17 2009) (affirming district court’s dismissal of action alleging constitutional violations in 18 plaintiff’s child custody proceedings under Rooker-Feldman). 19 The different types of allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint do not alter the Court’s 20 conclusion. Plaintiff’s request that the Court review the constitutionality of certain judicial 21 orders is without question barred under Rooker-Feldman. See, e.g., Nadolski, 2014 WL 22 3962473, at *4. Plaintiff also seeks declaratory judgment that certain statutes and 23 regulations are unconstitutional. But the Court is not convinced that these are general 24 attacks on the constitutionality of these provisions. See Cooper, 704 F.3d at 777–78 (“To 25 determine whether an action functions as a de facto appeal, we ‘pay close attention to the 26 relief sought by the federal-court plaintiff.’” (citation omitted) (emphasis in original)). 27 Rather, a review of the Complaint demonstrates that Plaintiff attacks these statutes and 28 regulations in order to void the orders and other proceedings in his ongoing state court case. 7 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 (See, e.g., Compl. 83 (“Therefore this Plaintiff respectfully prays . . . [that] . . . the orders 2 issued by [Judge Washington] . . . be voided for vagueness . . . .”), ECF No. 1.) Here, 3 Plaintiff “both asserts as [his] injury legal error or errors by the state court and seeks as his 4 remedy relief from the state court judgment.” Cooper, 704 F.3d at 781 (emphasis in 5 original) (citing Kougasian v. TMSL, Inc., 359 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2004)). Because 6 Plaintiff in fact challenges the various outcomes in his ongoing state case, it is “immaterial 7 that [Plaintiff] frames his federal complaint as a constitutional challenge to the state 8 court[’s] decision[], rather than as a direct appeal of th[at] decision.” Id. (internal quotation 9 marks omitted) (citing Bianchi, 334 F.3d at 900 n.4). Thus, the Court concludes that 10 Plaintiff’s claims for declaratory judgment are barred under Rooker-Feldman. See id. at 11 779–81 (finding that Rooker-Feldman barred a claim where the plaintiff argued that he was 12 “not attacking the specific interpretation that the Superior Court applied to his case, but 13 rather that [the statute], as written by the California legislature and as interpreted by the 14 California Courts, constitute[d] an unconstitutional denial of due process” (emphasis in 15 original)). 16 Nor do Plaintiff’s allegations of fraudulent activity or conspiracies to deprive him of 17 his constitutional rights based on a “symbiotic relationship” between the Defendants fare 18 any better. (See, e.g., Compl. 113 (arguing that all of the named Defendants had a 19 “symbiotic relationship” that allowed them to collectively deprive Plaintiff of his 20 constitutional rights in ordering him to pay child support), ECF No. 1.) As with Plaintiff’s 21 constitutional challenge, these claims are a thinly veiled backdoor into attacking the state 22 court’s decisions regarding his child support payments. (See, e.g., id. at 53 (lamenting the 23 fact that a San Diego Superior Court order replaced a more favorable order to Plaintiff 24 where the previous order “was granted by the Court and no level of chicanery on the part 25 of Mr. Martin or the State of California and the County of San Diego’s ‘symbiotic’ 26 relationship with Mr. Bishop should have been allowed to violate my substantive due 27 process rights”).) Indeed, Plaintiff’s request that this Court evaluate the motives and 28 activities of the named states, governors, agencies, congressional leaders, judges, lawyers, 8 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 and legal organizations in passing, enforcing, or prosecuting certain regulations and 2 statutes, in order to invalidate the various state court orders against him based on those 3 same regulations and statutes, would impermissibly “undercut the state ruling[s]” on these 4 issues. See Bianchi, 334 F.3d at 898; see also Doe & Assocs. Law Offices, 252 F.3d at 1030 5 (noting that “where the district court must hold that the state court was wrong in order to 6 find in favor of the plaintiff, the issues presented to both courts are inextricably 7 intertwined”). In other words, Plaintiff’s “alleged conspiracy is a fig leaf for taking aim at 8 the state court’s own alleged errors. It is precisely this sort of horizontal review of state 9 court decisions that the Rooker–Feldman doctrine bars.” Cooper, 704 F.3d at 782. 10 To be sure, there is an exception to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine where the state 11 court’s judgment is based on extrinsic fraud. See Noel, 341 F.3d at 1164. “Extrinsic fraud 12 is conduct which prevents a party from presenting his claim in court.” Kougasian, 359 F.3d 13 at 1140 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). But from what the Court can 14 decipher from his Complaint, Plaintiff’s two discrete allegations of external fraud do not 15 demonstrate that any Defendant prevented him from presenting his claim to the Court. 16 First, the fact that the Kronzek Defendants presented Plaintiff with a court order, signed by 17 Judge Economy allegedly without a hearing, (Compl. 32, ECF No. 1), is not indicative of 18 external fraud; rather, it reflects the internal process of the state court. To the extent 19 Plaintiff objected to Judge Economy’s order, he could have sought proper recourse in the 20 state proceedings. Second, Plaintiff argues that various attorneys, including his own 21 attorneys, acted fraudulently when presenting a document for the state court judge’s 22 approval that was different than what Plaintiff allegedly agreed to. (See, e.g., id. at 87–89.) 23 But this does not change the fact that, through his counsel, Plaintiff presented his claim in 24 court, or that Plaintiff could have petitioned the court to reconsider its allegedly erroneous 25 decision or appealed it.3 And again, the ex parte nature of opposing counsel’s hearing with 26 27 28 3 Whether Plaintiff also seeks to hold his attorneys accountable for ineffective assistance of counsel, which seems to be the core of this particular claim, (Compl. 87–89, ECF No. 1), is available to him in state court. 9 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 the state court judge in this particular matter, (id.), speaks to the internal processes of the 2 state court proceedings, not an external fraud. Finally, even assuming these claims of fraud 3 are an exception to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court concludes that Plaintiff fails 4 to allege facts plausibly showing that the Defendants acted fraudulently or that their actions 5 caused a grave miscarriage of justice. See Kearns v. Ford Motor Co., 567 F.3d 1120, 1126 6 (9th Cir. 2009) (listing elements of California fraud claim); Appling v. State Farm Mut. 7 Auto. Ins. Co., 340 F.3d 769, 780 (9th Cir. 2003) (discussing fraud on the court). Thus, the 8 Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate an extrinsic fraud exception to the 9 jurisdictional bar set forth by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss based on the 10 11 Rooker-Feldman doctrine. 12 II. Younger Abstention 13 Even if this case is not barred under Rooker-Feldman, or to the extent Plaintiff seeks 14 to enjoin or other federal intervention in his ongoing state proceedings, the Court concludes 15 that it must abstain from hearing this case under the principles of Younger abstention. See 16 H.C. ex rel. Gordon v. Koppel, 203 F.3d 610, 612 (9th Cir. 2000). In Younger v. Harris, an 17 appellee sought injunctive relief in federal court, effectively challenging a pending state- 18 court indictment and charged violation of the California Penal Code. 401 U.S. 37, 38 19 (1971). A three-judge Federal District Court held that it had jurisdiction and power to grant 20 the injunction; but the Supreme Court reversed. Id. at 38, 50–54. The Court held that federal 21 courts may not enjoin pending state criminal prosecutions “even if such statutes [under 22 which plaintiffs are charged] are unconstitutional . . . .” Id. at 49 (citation omitted); see also 23 id. at 54 (noting that the Younger principle is supplemental to the prohibition on injunctions 24 set forth in the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283). 25 Subsequently, the Younger principle has been expanded from pending state criminal 26 prosecutions to pending state civil suits, see, e.g., Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1 27 (1987), and pending state administrative proceedings involving “important state interests,” 28 see, e.g., Ohio Civil Rights Comm’n v. Dayton Christian Sch., Inc., 477 U.S. 619, 627 10 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 (1986). “The Supreme Court in Younger ‘espouse[d] a strong federal policy against federal- 2 court interference with pending state judicial proceedings.’” Koppel, 203 F.3d at 613 3 (citing Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 431 4 (1982)). “Absent extraordinary circumstances, Younger abstention is required if the state 5 proceedings are (1) ongoing, (2) implicate important state interests, and (3) provide the 6 plaintiff with an adequate opportunity to litigate federal claims.” Id. (citing San Remo Hotel 7 v. City of S.F., 145 F.3d 1095, 1103 (9th Cir. 1998)). 8 The first requirement is satisfied, since Plaintiff admits that the proceedings in San 9 Diego Superior Court are ongoing.4 (See Compl. 29, ECF No. 1.) Second, important state 10 interests are also implicated. “Family relations are a traditional area of state concern.” 11 Koppel, 203 F.3d 610, 613 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting 12 Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 435 (1979)). The state “has a vital interest in protecting ‘the 13 authority of the judicial system, so that its orders and judgments are not rendered 14 nugatory.’” Id. (quoting Juidice v. Vail, 430 U.S. 327, 336 n.12 (1977)). “This is a 15 particularly appropriate admonition in the field of domestic relations, over which federal 16 courts have no general jurisdiction, . . . and in which the state courts have a special expertise 17 and experience.” Id. (citations omitted). Third, Plaintiff indisputably has an adequate forum 18 in which to pursue his federal claims, since San Diego Superior Court is a court of general 19 jurisdiction. Id.; see also Monteagudo v. Alksne, No. 11-CV-1089-IEG BGS, 2011 WL 20 3903226, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 6, 2011) (collecting further reasons for adequacy of a state 21 court forum). And Plaintiff fails to persuade the Court that any exceptions to Younger 22 abstention apply. See, e.g., Younger, 401 U.S. at 49, 53–54. Thus, the Court concludes that 23 “[t]his is precisely the type of case suited to Younger abstention.” Koppel, 203 F.3d at 613. 24 /// 25 /// 26 27 28 Additionally, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201, the Court takes judicial notice of Plaintiff’s ongoing and prior state court proceedings because they are matters of public record. See also Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001). 4 11 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 Indeed, as in Koppel, here 2 Plaintiff[] desire[s] wholesale federal intervention into an ongoing state domestic dispute. [He] seek[s] vacation of existing interlocutory orders, and a federal injunction directing the future course of the state litigation. This is not the proper business of the federal judiciary. 3 4 5 6 203 F.3d at 613–14; see also Davis v. Unruh, No. 3:16-CV-0897-BTM-WVG, 2016 WL 7 4142338, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2016) (finding same in a case with similar facts). 8 Accordingly, the Court finds that Younger abstention is appropriate and GRANTS 9 Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss. 10 III. Sanctions 11 The Kronzek Defendants also move the Court for sanctions against Plaintiff pursuant 12 to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (ECF No. 81.) The Kronzek Defendants argue that 13 sanctions are appropriate because Plaintiff’s Complaint is frivolous, lacking any factual or 14 legal basis for support. (Id. at 7.) Thus, the Kronzek Defendants ask the Court to award 15 them $15,050 for their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in defending this action thus far. 16 A court may impose sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 if the 17 “pleading, motion, or other paper” in question is either frivolous or brought for an improper 18 purpose. Townsend v. Holman Consulting Corp., 929 F.2d 1358, 1362 (9th Cir. 1990) (en 19 banc) (citing Zaldivar v. City of L.A., 780 F.2d 823, 832 (9th Cir. 1986), overruled on other 20 grounds by Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384 (1990)); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 11(b). Both inquiries are objective. Townsend, 929 F.2d at 1362 (citing Zaldivar, 780 F.2d 22 at 829). 23 Before filing a motion for sanctions with the court, the movant must first serve the 24 motion on the other party and give him at least twenty-one days in which to correct or 25 withdraw the challenged pleading. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(2). Rule 11 sanctions “are limited 26 to ‘paper[s]’ signed in violation of the rule. Conduct in depositions, discovery meetings of 27 counsel, oral representations at hearings, and behavior in prior proceedings do not fall 28 within the ambit of Rule 11.” Christian v. Mattel, Inc., 286 F.3d 1118, 1131 (9th Cir. 2002). 12 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB) 1 The court “may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that 2 violated the rule or is responsible for the violation.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(1). “If warranted, 3 the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s 4 fees, incurred for the motion.” Id. at 11(c)(2). 5 The Court is sympathetic to the Kronzek Defendants’—and doubtless the remaining 6 Defendants’—difficulty with deciphering and responding to Plaintiff’s Complaint and 7 various oppositions. However, the Court does not believe it is appropriate to impose 8 sanctions in this case. Specifically, a claim is not objectively baseless as long as there is 9 “some plausible basis” for the argument, even if that basis is “quite a weak one.” United 10 Nat. Ins. Co. v. R&D Latex Corp., 242 F.3d 1102, 1117 (9th Cir. 2001) (emphasis in 11 original). As discussed above regarding the Rooker-Feldman doctrine’s applicability to this 12 case, Plaintiff at least raised a weak question regarding whether the Kronzek Defendants 13 committed an external fraud. Nor does the Court find that Plaintiff brought this case for an 14 improper purpose. And, even if sanctions are appropriate in this case, the Court is 15 convinced that a dismissal of Plaintiff’s Complaint with prejudice is an adequate sanction. 16 CONCLUSION 17 For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss 18 (ECF Nos. 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 43, 48, 51, 59, 77, 78, 80, 83) and DISMISSES 19 Plaintiff’s Complaint WITH PREJUDICE. See Reddy v. Litton Indus., Inc., 912 F.2d 291, 20 296 (9th Cir. 1990) (“It is not an abuse of discretion to deny leave to amend when any 21 proposed amendment would be futile.”). The Court also DENIES the Kronzek Defendants’ 22 Motion for Sanctions (ECF No. 81). This Order ends the litigation in this matter. The Clerk 23 of Court SHALL close the file. 24 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 6, 2017 26 27 28 13 16-CV-1244 JLS (DHB)

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