187 F.3d 1160 (10th Cir. 1999), 98-1314, Amanatullah v Colorado Med. Exam'r

Docket Nº:98-1314
Citation:187 F.3d 1160
Party Name:FAISAL F. AMANATULLAH, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COLORADO BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, an agency of the State of Colorado; JAMES P. BORGSTEDE, M.D.; MEMBERS OF PANEL A OF THE COLORADO BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, IRENE AGUILAR, M.D., ELIZABETH FEDER, PH.D., WARREN T. JOHNSON, M.D. JANE A. KENNEDY, D.O., G. EDWARD KIMM, JR., M.D., in their individ
Case Date:July 22, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 1160

187 F.3d 1160 (10th Cir. 1999)

FAISAL F. AMANATULLAH, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

COLORADO BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, an agency of the State of Colorado; JAMES P. BORGSTEDE, M.D.; MEMBERS OF PANEL A OF THE COLORADO BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, IRENE AGUILAR, M.D., ELIZABETH FEDER, PH.D., WARREN T. JOHNSON, M.D. JANE A. KENNEDY, D.O., G. EDWARD KIMM, JR., M.D., in their individual and official capacities; MEMBERS OF PANEL B OF THE COLORADO BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, ROGER M. BARKIN, M.D., LOUIS B. KASUNIX, D.O., Vice President, RAY ANN BRAMMER, Esq., Chair Public Member, PAMELA L. KIMBROUGH, M.D., JOHN T. AMMONS, M.D., in their official capacities only; SUSAN MILLER, administerial employee of the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners; SHANNEL LORANCE, administerial employee of the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners; JOHN DOES 1 through 5; and JANE DOES 1 through 5; agents of the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 98-1314

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

July 22, 1999

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (D.C. No. 97-WM-2581)

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Chris L. Ingold (Paul D. Cooper with him on the briefs), of Cooper & Clough, P.C., Denver, Colorado, for the appellant.

John S. Sackett, Assistant Attorney General, (Gale A. Norton, Attorney General, and Gregg E. Kay, First Assistant Attorney General, with him on the brief), State of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, for the appellees.

Before TACHA, BARRETT, and BRORBY, Circuit Judges.

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BARRETT, Senior Circuit Judge.

Faisal F. Amanatullah, M.D., (Amanatullah) appeals the district court's Order abstaining from considering his claims on the merits and dismissing his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint.

Facts

Amanatullah is a physician licensed to practice medicine in Colorado and Nevada.1 Appellees are the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners (the Colorado Board) and various officers and employees of the Board.

In 1994, the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners (the Nevada Board) filed an administrative complaint against Amanatullah, alleging five instances of substandard patient care (Counts 1-5) and twenty-four instances of overcharging for diagnostic testing in violation of Nevada regulations (Counts 6-29). (App. Vol. 2 at 718-66.) On April 3, 1995, Amanatullah settled the complaint with the Nevada Board. Id. Vol. 1 at 69-77. The Nevada Board dismissed the substandard patient care charges with prejudice and Amanatullah pled nolo contendere to the overcharging violations. Id. at 75-77. Amanatullah received a public reprimand and paid a fine, but remains in good standing with the Nevada Board. Id. Following the settlement, Amanatullah relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In December, 1995, the Colorado Board began an investigation into the Nevada allegations. See id. at 261. The Colorado Board contacted the Nevada Board and received a copy of the reprimand letter, settlement, and complaint against Amanatullah. On March 13, 1996, the Colorado Board inquiry panel sent a "30 day" letter to Amanatullah, requesting information regarding Counts 6-29, the overcharging allegations, of the Nevada complaint.2 Id. at 78-79. Amanatullah responded on April 12, 1996. Id. at 94-97. On May 22, 1996, the inquiry panel voted to issue a second "30 day" letter to Amanatullah regarding Counts 1-5 of the Nevada complaint, the substandard care allegations. Id. at 264, 266-67. Amanatullah responded to the second inquiry on June 5, 1996. Id. at 268-71. In July, 1996, the inquiry panel reviewed Amanatullah's second response and voted to refer the case to Complaints and Investigations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies for investigation and a review by an internal medicine consultant. Id. at 274.

In September, 1997, after reviewing Amanatullah's response to its May 22, 1996, "30-day" letter and the report on its own investigation, the inquiry panel referred the case to the Attorney General for commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings to revoke Amanatullah's license. Id. at 280. Amanatullah was notified by letter of September 16, 1997. Id. Vol. 2 at 432.

On December 9, 1997, Amanatullah filed this § 1983 action, seeking to enjoin the Colorado Board's proceedings against his Colorado medical license and damages stemming from the Colorado Board's alleged violations of his civil rights. Id. Vol. 1, Tab 1 at 1-21. On July 20, 1998, the district court dismissed Amanatullah's complaint based on the court's conclusion that it must abstain under the doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Id. Vol. 5, Tab 64 at 1450-60.

On appeal, Amanatullah contends that the district court erred in dismissing his complaint and that the Colorado Board is violating his constitutional rights. Amanatullah asserts that the district court erred in abstaining pursuant to Younger because: (1) substantial proceedings on

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the merits took place in federal court before any state proceedings, (2) the state proceedings cannot address his federal claims raised in his complaint, and (3) dismissal of his damages claim was improper.3 On the merits, Amanatullah argues that the Colorado Board is violating his rights by denying full faith and credit to the Nevada Board's order, and by exceeding its limited authority under its enabling statute.4 Amanatullah asserts that the district court should have enjoined the clear violations of his rights. We review de novo the district court's decision to abstain pursuant to Younger. Taylor v. Jaquez, 126 F.3d 1294, 1296 (10th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 118 S.Ct. 1187 (1998).

Discussion

"Younger abstention dictates that federal courts not interfere with state court proceedings by granting equitable relief-such as injunctions of important state proceedings or declaratory judgments regarding constitutional issues in those proceedings-when such relief could adequately be sought before the state court." Rienhardt v. Kelly, 164 F.3d 1296, 1302 (10th Cir. 1999). A federal court must abstain from exercising jurisdiction when: (1) there is an ongoing state criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding, (2) the state court provides an adequate forum to hear the claims...

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