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Hernandez v. Westates Property Management

United States District Court, District of Nevada

December 12, 2014

JOSETTE HERNANDEZ, PLAINTIFF
v.
WESTSTATES PROPERTY MANAGEMENT; OVERTON ASSOCIATES, LP, FREDDY LUDENA, AND ALMA LOPEZ, DEFENDANTS

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S EMERGENCY MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION [DOCS. 2, 5]

Jennifer A. Dorsey United States District Judge

Plaintiff Josette Hernandez filed this action this afternoon in an attempt to stop her 5:00 p.m. eviction from her apartment unit as ordered by the Moapa Valley Justice Court. She suggests that she would appeal the justice court’s decision in the state-court system, but the Moapa Valley Justice Court is closed today.[1] So she turns to this court instead, alleges that her eviction violates the Fair Housing Act, [2] and moves for an emergency temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the eviction and the effect of the Moapa Valley court’s order.[3]

The standards for granting a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction are the same.[4] Under Rule 65(d), “Every order granting an injunction . . . must: (a) state the reasons why it issued; (b) state its terms specifically; and (c) describe in reasonable detail—and not by referring to the complaint or other document—the act or acts restrained or required.”[5] “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.”[6] It is never granted as of right.[7] As the United States Supreme Court explained in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the district court inquires whether the movant has demonstrated: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits, (2) irreparable injury, (3) that remedies available at law are inadequate, (4) that the balance of hardships justify a remedy in equity, and (5) that the public interest would not be disserved by a favorable ruling.[8]

However, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.[9] Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”[10] The Rooker–Feldman doctrine recognizes that a district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review—directly or indirectly—a state court judgment.[11] Its application “is confined to cases of the kind from which the doctrine acquired its name: cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments.”[12]The doctrine also bars relitigation of issues that are “inextricably intertwined” with a state court judgment[13] Thus, the fact that a particular provision of federal law was not raised in a state court proceeding will not bar application of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine if the federal suit is an impermissible de facto appeal.

In this case, although I am sympathetic to Hernandez’s plight, it is clear from her representations that her request to enjoin her eviction proceedings is a de facto appeal of the state court’s summary eviction decision. As I lack jurisdiction over this claim under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, Hernandez is unlikely to succeed on the merits of her claim. I need not reach the other prongs of the conjunctive test before denying her request for injunctive relief

Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs’ emergency motion for temporary restraining order [Doc. 2] and emergency motion for preliminary injunction [Doc. 5] are DENIED.


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