CA9: Younger abstention applied except to ptf’s 4A claim because it wouldn’t enjoin state proceedings

Younger abstention was properly granted, in part, because the state nuisance proceeding was a civil enforcement proceeding within the scope of Younger, the state proceedings implicated important state interests, the state proceedings provided an adequate opportunity for the state action defendants to raise federal constitutional claims, and except with respect to the allegedly unreasonable search, plaintiffs’ success on their claims for damages under § 1983 for violations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the Contract Clause of the Constitution and the Fair Housing Act, would have the practical effect of enjoining the state proceedings. As to plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claim, however, the district court erred in abstaining from the § 1983 because a determination on that claim would not have the same practical effect as a declaration or injunction on pending state administrative proceedings. Herrera v. City of Palmdale, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8272 (9th Cir. Mar. 20, 2019).

The Fourth Amendment claims arise from the defendants’ search of the motel and subsequent entry onto the property to enforce the abatement proceedings, rather than from a challenge to the state proceeding as a whole or the state’s allegedly discriminatory motivation in initiating such action. A ruling in favor of the Herreras on such claims would presumably not invalidate the basis for the code-violation enforcement proceedings, and the Fourth Amendment claims themselves are not at issue in such proceedings. See AmerisourceBergen, 495 F.3d at 1151-52 (holding that Younger abstention from a breach of contract claim was improper where federal jurisdiction over the claim “would not have enjoined or in any way impeded the ongoing litigation” in state court where there was no “counterclaim in state court proceedings attempting to enforce” such contract claim). We may not abstain based on a mere “potential for conflict.” Id. at 1151. Thus, unlike a determination that the civil proceeding itself is constitutionally deficient, a determination that a Fourth Amendment violation occurred and that the Herreras are entitled to monetary damages would not “have the same practical effect as a declaration or injunction on pending state proceedings.” Gilbertson, 381 F.3d at 968.

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