United States District Court, D. Minnesota
TONYA UDOH and EMEM UDOH, individually, and on behalf of their minor children, K.K.W., and K.C.W., Plaintiffs,
MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; CHARLES E. JOHNSON; DONOTHAN BARTLEY; ANN NORTON; DANIEL E. JOHNSON; CATRINA BLAIR; CITY OF MAPLE GROVE; CITY OF MAPLE GROVE POLICE DEPARTMENT; MELISSA PARKER; CITY OF PLYMOUTH; CITY OF PLYMOUTH POLICE DEPARTMENT; MOLLY LYNCH, KELVIN PREGLER; INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 279; JOANNE WALLEN; KAREN WEGERSON; ANN MOCK; CORNERHOUSE; PATRICIA HARMON; BILL KONCAR; GRACE W. RAY; and LINDA THOMPSON, Defendants.
and Emem Udoh, pro se.
Frederick J. Argir, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE,
for defendants Minnesota Department of Human Services and
Charles E. Johnson.
Christiana M. Martenson and Daniel D. Kaczor, HENNEPIN COUNTY
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for defendants Donothan Bartley, Ann
Norton, Daniel E. Engstrom,  Catrina Blair, and Linda Thompson.
C. Midolo and Paul D. Reuvers, IVERSON REUVERS CONDON, for
defendants City of Maple Grove, City of Maple Grove Police
Department, Melissa Parker, City of Plymouth, City of
Plymouth Police Department, Molly Lynch, and Kelvin Pregler.
P. Edison and Michael J. Waldspurger, RUPP, ANDERSON, SQUIRES
& WALDSPURGER, P.A., for defendants Independent School
District No. 279, Joanne Wallen, Karen Wegerson, and Ann
R. Marti and Lauren O. Roso, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP, for
defendants CornerHouse, Patricia Harmon, Bill Koncar, and
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs Emem and Tonya
Udoh's objection to the May 5, 2017 Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge
Steven E. Rau. Judge Rau recommends denying the Udohs'
first motion to strike as moot and denying their second motion
to strike on the merits. The Court has conducted a de novo
review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3). Based on that review, the Court overrules the
Udohs' objection and adopts Judge Rau's R&R.
matters merit comment:
the Udohs argue that it was “objectively
unreasonable” for Judge Rau to issue his R&R before
giving them another chance to argue those motions at the June
6, 2017 motion hearing. ECF No. 128 at 3. The Court
disagrees. For one thing, neither district judges nor
magistrate judges are required to hear oral argument on civil
motions. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b) (“By rule
or order, the court may provide for submitting and
determining motions on briefs, without oral
hearings.”); Skarzynski v. CIA, 637 F.
App'x 220, 221 (7th Cir. 2016) (“ District courts
may, at their discretion, rule on motions without an oral
hearing . . . .”). What is more, the June hearing had
nothing to do with the May R&R. The May R&R
recommended denial of two motions to strike that the Udohs
briefed in January and argued in March. See ECF Nos.
30-31, 36-37, 39, 89, 117. Judge Rau scheduled the June
hearing to address nine unrelated motions-two motions for
judgment on the pleadings, two motions to dismiss, and five
motions to amend the complaint. See ECF Nos. 56, 65,
73, 90, 99, 101, 102, 118, 131, and 139. There was nothing
unreasonable about Judge Rau's issuance of the May
R&R recommending denial of the Udohs' motions to
strike prior to the June hearing.
the Udohs argue that defendants' Rooker-Feldman
defense is barred by the fact that “Plaintiffs or
Defendants were not [the] ‘same parties' to Mr.
Udoh['s] criminal judgment.” ECF No. 128 at 6. To
be sure, “[t]he Rooker-Feldman doctrine does
not bar actions by nonparties to the earlier state-court
judgment.” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 466
(2006). But Emem was a party “to the earlier
state-court judgment.” Id. He was the losing
defendant in that prosecution. And if Rooker-Feldman
means anything, it means that “state-court
losers” cannot ask federal courts to invalidate
state-court judgments that were entered against them
“before the [federal] court proceedings
commenced.” Shelby Cty. Health Care Corp. v. S.
Farm Bureau Cas. Ins., 855 F.3d 836, 840-41 (8th Cir.
2017) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus.
Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). The fact that the
Udohs' current lawsuit may involve additional parties
does not bar defendants from asserting a
the Udohs point out that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
only prevents federal courts from overturning state-court
judgments; it does not prevent federal courts from
considering constitutional challenges to state statutes.
See ECF No. 128 at 2-3 (citing Skinner v.
Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 532 (2011)). That is true as a
general matter. But the facts in Skinner were
different from the facts here. In Skinner, the
plaintiff's constitutional challenge to Texas's
“postconviction DNA statute” did not
“necessarily” implicate the validity of his
underlying conviction. Skinner, 562 U.S. at 530,
534. Here, by contrast, the Udohs have asked the Court to
expunge their Minnesota Department of Human Services
maltreatment records. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 211, 230. It is
unclear whether these records include Emem's state-court
convictions. It is also unclear whether the Court may expunge
those records without first determining that Emem's
state-court convictions were invalid. Until these legal and
factual issues are more fully developed, it would be
premature to strike defendants' Rooker-Feldman
not to say that defendants' Rooker-Feldman
defense will ultimately prevail. That is a question for
another day. But striking a defense under Rule 12(f) before
the defendant has had a chance to fully present that defense
“is an extreme and disfavored measure.” BJC
Health Sys. v. Columbia Cas. Co., 478 F.3d 908, 917 (8th
Cir. 2007). At this point, defendants'
Rooker-Feldman defense is not clearly
“foreclosed by prior controlling decisions or
statutes” on point. EEOC v. Prod. Fabricators,
Inc., 873 F.Supp.2d 1093, 1097 (D. Minn. 2012) (citation
omitted). Rather, it “fairly presents a question of law
or fact which the court ought to hear.” Lunsford v.
United States, 570 F.2d 221, 229 (8th Cir. 1977)
the Udohs repeat their argument that Exhibits 1, 2, and 3
should be stricken because they are redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, and scandalous. The Court disagrees. These
exhibits simply document the results of Emem's appeals of
his state-court convictions. Exhibit 1 is an opinion by the
Minnesota Court of Appeals partially affirming Emem's
convictions. Exhibit 2 is an order from the Minnesota Supreme
Court denying Emem's petition for further review. And
Exhibit 3 is a letter ...