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Kedrowski v. Madden

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 26, 2019

David M. Kedrowski, Plaintiff,
v.
Mary E. Madden et al., Defendants.

          AMENDED ORDER ADOPTING IN PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on United State Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau's April 9, 2019 Report and Recommendation (R&R). (Dkt. 126.) The R&R recommends granting Defendants' motions to dismiss and denying Plaintiffs motion for discovery and an evidentiary hearing. Plaintiff filed timely objections to the R&R. For the reasons addressed below, the R&R is adopted in part and the case is dismissed without prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff David M. Kedrowski brings claims against fourteen Defendants. Defendants are Minnesota state officials for the Fourth Judicial District, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women and its executive director, the Battered Women's Justice Project and its senior legal policy advisor, the Fund for the City of New York and one of its employees, and Hennepin County and the Chief Deputy Hennepin County Attorney.

         Kedrowski alleges that the Fourth Judicial District's impartiality was tainted when the district accepted a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). Kedrowski contends that the Fourth Judicial District adopted policies and practices that were pro-female and that unfairly favored alleged domestic abuse victims. For example, Kedrowski asserts that the district's policies made it easier for litigants claiming to be domestic abuse victims to procure orders for protection (OFPs) and created unfair obstacles for the accused domestic abuser during litigation.

         Kedrowski alleges that his experiences with the Fourth Judicial District-namely, his OFP proceeding and his divorce proceeding-were negatively affected by the Fourth Judicial District's bias. In August 2015, Kedrowski's then-wife filed an ex parte request for an OFP against Kedrowski. The judge presiding over the matter issued the OFP, requiring Kedrowski to move out of his house and altering his custodial rights to his child. Three weeks later, a different judge dismissed the OFP, finding that the allegations in the OFP petition "did not meet the definition of Domestic Abuse."

         Kedrowski also was involved in a divorce proceeding that he had initiated in Hennepin County Family Court in October 2015. According to Kedrowski, the referee assigned to his divorce proceeding, Defendant Mary E. Madden, was biased against him because of allegations of domestic abuse. As a result of this bias, Kedrowski contends, Referee Madden ordered Kedrowski to seek permission before filing any motions during the divorce proceeding. Kedrowski alleges that Referee Madden prevented him from filing numerous motions, including motions addressing the custody of Kedrowski's child. Kedrowski appealed the divorce proceeding in the Minnesota Court of Appeals challenging the alleged judicial bias in Hennepin County Family Court.

         Before this Court, Kedrowski alleges eight Section 1983 claims and one Section 1985 conspiracy claim. The Section 1983 claims allege violation of the right to an independent tribunal, violation of the right to a fair and impartial tribunal, violation of equal rights, violation of procedural due process, failure to train, failure to supervise, and violation of substantive due process. Defendants move to dismiss Kedrowski's amended complaint.

         On April 9, 2019, the magistrate judge issued an R&R that recommends granting Defendants' motions to dismiss on several alternative grounds. Kedrowski objects to each ground for dismissal.

         ANALYSIS

         The district court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which an objection is made and, upon doing so, "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); LR 72.2(b)(3). The Court construes Kedrowski's objections liberally because he is proceeding pro se. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         The R&R recommends that the Court decline to exercise jurisdiction based on the Younger abstention doctrine. Kedrowski argues that the Younger doctrine does not apply because his complaint does not seek this Court's intervention in the divorce proceeding.[1]Moreover, Kedrowski argues, this case presents an "extraordinary circumstance" that warrants an exception to the Younger doctrine.

         In Younger v. Harris, the Supreme Court of the United States emphasized the vital role of federalism in the country's judicial system and the importance of preventing the federal courts from unduly interfering with legitimate state activities. See 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971). The Younger doctrine directs federal courts to abstain from exercising subject-matter jurisdiction over a federal claim when "(1) there is an ongoing state proceeding, (2) that implicates important state interests, and (3) that provides an adequate opportunity to raise any relevant federal questions." Tony Alamo Christian Ministries v. Selig, 664 F.3d 1245, 1249 (8th Cir. 2012). "For purposes of applying Younger abstention, the relevant time for determining if there are ongoing state proceedings is when the federal complaint is filed." Id. at 1250. The Younger doctrine extends to Section 1983 cases. Cedar Rapids Cellular Tel, L.P. v. Miller, 280 F.3d 874, 881 (8th Cir. 2002).

         Kedrowski filed his complaint in this Court on September 4, 2018, when his divorce proceeding was on appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.[2] As such, the first element of the Young ...


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