Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Udoh v. Minnesota Department of Human Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 21, 2017

TONYA UDOH and EMEM UDOH, individually, and on behalf of their minor children, K.K.W., and K.C.W., Plaintiffs,
v.
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.

          Tonya 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, [1] Catrina Blair, and Linda Thompson.

          Nathan 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.

          John 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 Mock.

          John R. Marti and Lauren O. Roso, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP, for defendants CornerHouse, Patricia Harmon, Bill Koncar, and Grace Ray.

          ORDER

          Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge

         This 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[2] 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.

         A few matters merit comment:

         First, 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.

         Second, 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 Rooker-Feldman defense.

         Third, 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 defense.

         This is 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) (citation omitted).

         Fourth, 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.