FRANCO et al v. NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Mary L. Cooper on 10/26/2015. (kas, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
KENNETH FRANCO and
NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-5551 (MLC)
THE PARTIES were ordered to show cause why the Court should not (1) remand
this action due to untimely removal, or (2) stay and administratively terminate this action
on several grounds. (See dkt. 9.) The Court assumes the familiarity of the parties with
the Order to Show Cause. The Court will resolve the Order to Show Cause on the papers.
See L.Civ.R. 78.1(b).
THE DEFENDANTS in response have demonstrated that this action was timely
removed. (See dkt. 15 at 2–5 (demonstrating relevant state-court order was entered June
12, 2015, but not received by defendants until June 17, 2015); dkt. 15-1 at 2–3 (same);
dkt. 17 at 5 (same).) The argument by the plaintiffs to the contrary is without merit. (See
dkt. 16 at 7 (arguing motion practice preceding entry of state-court order triggered thirtyday period under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3)).) The Court will vacate the part of the Order to
Show Cause concerning untimely removal.
THE PARTIES acknowledge that disciplinary proceedings involving the plaintiffs
are pending before the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (“State Administrative
Proceedings”). (See dkt. 12 at 7, 11; dkt. 15 at 13–14; dkt. 16 at 5, 7–8.) Pursuant to the
Younger abstention doctrine, the Court thus intends to abstain from adjudicating the
claims in this action until the conclusion of the State Administrative Proceedings,
including any appeals from any decisions issued therein to the New Jersey appellate
courts. See Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 435
(1982) (discussing Younger abstention doctrine); see also ACRA Turf Club v. Zanzuccki,
748 F.3d 127, 138 n.9 (3d Cir. 2014) (suggesting state administrative proceeding and
subsequent state-court review are part of single unitary process under Younger).
THE COURT lacks the authority to dismiss any claims or remand this action
pursuant to the Younger abstention doctrine in this instance, and thus will stay and
administratively terminate this action pending the outcome of the State Administrative
Proceedings. See Gwynedd Props. v. Lower Gwynedd Twp., 970 F.2d 1195, 1204 & n.14
(3d Cir. 1992) (stating in Younger context that district court is without discretion to
dismiss, rather than stay, monetary-relief claim that may not be redressed in state
proceeding); Bongiorno v. Lalomia, 851 F.Supp. 606, 610–17 (D.N.J. 1994) (staying
action, rather than dismissing complaint, as monetary-damage claim might not be
resolved in pending state proceeding), aff’d, 39 F.3d 1168 (3d Cir. 1994).1
The Court would be compelled to remand this action to state court for lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction if the plaintiffs were to voluntarily dismiss their recently-added claims
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
THE PARTIES are advised to (1) refrain from moving to reopen this action until
the State Administrative Proceedings are resolved, and (2) submit proper documentation
in support of that potential motion to reopen, e.g., final orders disposing of the State
Administrative Proceedings. The plaintiffs, assuming the Court were to grant a motion to
reopen, must then seek leave to amend their allegations to reflect the resolution of the
State Administrative Proceedings.
THE OTHER ISSUES raised in the Order to Show Cause need not be addressed
because either (1) the parties have demonstrated that they are moot, or (2) the Court is
relying upon Younger abstention. For good cause appearing, the Court will (1) grant the
Order to Show Cause insofar as it concerns a stay and an administrative termination
pursuant to the Younger abstention doctrine, (2) vacate the Order to Show Cause insofar
as it concerns other issues, and (3) issue an appropriate order and judgment.
s/ Mary L. Cooper
MARY L. COOPER
United States District Judge
Dated: October 26, 2015
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