December 12, 2014
JOSETTE HERNANDEZ, PLAINTIFF
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. So she turns to this court instead, alleges that her eviction violates the Fair Housing Act,  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.
The standards for granting a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction are the same. 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.” “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.” It is never granted as of right. 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.
However, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. 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.” The Rooker–Feldman doctrine recognizes that a district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review—directly or indirectly—a state court judgment. 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.”The doctrine also bars relitigation of issues that are “inextricably intertwined” with a state court judgment 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.