121 F.3d 557 (9th Cir. 1997), 95-16474, Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. v. City & County of San Francisco

Docket Nº:95-16474.
Citation:121 F.3d 557
Party Name:97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6534, 97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 10,681, CHASE MANHATTAN BANK, N.A., as Trustee of the IBM Retirement Plan Trust Fund, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY & COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO; San Francisco Board of Supervisors; Assessment Appeals Board for the City and County of San Francisco; Doris Ward, Tax Assessor for the City and County of
Case Date:August 18, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 557

121 F.3d 557 (9th Cir. 1997)

97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6534,

97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 10,681,

CHASE MANHATTAN BANK, N.A., as Trustee of the IBM Retirement

Plan Trust Fund, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

CITY & COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO; San Francisco Board of

Supervisors; Assessment Appeals Board for the City and

County of San Francisco; Doris Ward, Tax Assessor for the

City and County of San Francisco; Thad Brown, Tax Assessor;

Bruce Jamison, County Recorder, Greg Diaz, Acting County

Recorder for the City and County of San Francisco,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 95-16474.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 18, 1997

Argued and Submitted Oct. 7, 1996.

Robert W. Fischer, Jr., Dewey Ballantine, Los Angeles, CA, for plaintiff-appellant.

Page 558

Claude F. Kolm, Deputy City Attorney, Louise H. Renne, City Attorney, Dennis Aftergut, Chief Asst. City Attorney, Owen Clements, Deputy City Attorney, Sally B. McGough, Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco, CA, for defendants-appellees.

Wayne Lewis Lesse, San Francisco, CA, for Amicus Curiae.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California; Vaughn R. Walker, District Judge Presiding. D.C. No. CV-95-00004-VRW.

Before: HARLINGTON WOOD, JR., [*] SCHROEDER and HALL, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

The issue is whether the Tax Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1341 ("TIA"), bars this suit for a judgment declaring that an upward reassessment of value for San Francisco real-estate tax purposes is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461 ("ERISA"), where the reassessment adversely affects an ERISA plan. The district court held the TIA bars the action, and we affirm.

In 1986, the IBM Retirement Plan Trust Fund ("Plan") purchased an annuity contract from Equitable Life Assurance Society of America ("Equitable"). As part of the contract, Equitable allocated a share of its interest in One Market Plaza Corporation into a separate account for the benefit of the Plan. Defendants City and County of San Francisco deemed this transfer a change in ownership under California law. See Cal. Rev. & Tax.Code §§ 60-69.3. This determination allowed them to reassess, upward, the property tax on One Market Plaza.

As trustee of the Plan, Chase Manhattan Bank ("Chase"), filed a complaint in district court seeking a declaratory judgment stating that the creation of the separate account could not amount to a change of ownership for California tax purposes, because such a determination was preempted by ERISA. See 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a), which preempts state laws that "relate to" ERISA plans. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction on account of the TIA. The district court agreed with the defendants and Chase appeals.

This court reviews de novo the district court's conclusion that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Wilson v. A.H. Belo Corp., 87 F.3d 393, 396 (9th Cir.1996); Cripps v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1264 (9th Cir.1992).

The TIA provides that "district courts shall not enjoin, suspend or restrain...

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