Decision Date11 January 1982
Docket NumberCiv. No. S-81-135 LKK.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
PartiesCONSORTIUM OF COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATIONS, Chico Housing Improvement Program, Plaintiffs, v. Raymond DONOVAN, in his Capacity as Secretary of Labor; Carolyn Golding, in her Capacity as Regional Administrator for the Department of Labor; John Otero, individually and in his Capacity as Grants Officer for the Department of Labor; Butte County, in its Capacity as Prime Sponsor; James Rackerby, in his Capacity as Director of the Butte County Employment and Training Administration, Defendants.


Andrew T. Holcombe, Michael R. Bush, Legal Services of Northern Cal., Chico, Cal.

Roberta Ranstrom, Eugene Moriguchi Legal Services of Northern Cal., Sacramento, Cal., for plaintiffs.

William B. Shubb, U.S. Atty., Solomon E. Robinson, Asst. U.S. Atty., Sacramento, Cal., for federal defendants.

Daniel V. Blackstock, Butte County Counsel, Oroville, Cal., for defendants Butte County and James Rackerby.


KARLTON, District Judge.

The instant action is before the court on the federal defendants'1 motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment. Defendants Butte County and James Rackerby (hereinafter "local defendants") have joined in said motion. Below I will set forth the factual background against which the present motion must be considered.

The plaintiffs in this action are the Consortium of Community Based Organizations (hereinafter "Consortium") and the Chico Housing Improvement Program (hereinafter "CHIP"). Plaintiff Consortium is made up of various community based organizations which have either applied for and been denied program funding pursuant to the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), 29 U.S.C. § 801, et seq., or have allegedly been discouraged from applying for said funding by virtue of certain conduct of the various defendants.2 See Plaintiffs' Complaint, para. 11. Plaintiff CHIP is a local non-profit corporation that purports to provide numerous housing related services to low income individuals. The federal defendants are alleged to play various roles in the administering of the CETA program at the federal level.3 Defendant Butte County is a unit of local government which has been designated by the Secretary of Labor as the "prime sponsor"4 in charge of the distribution of awarded CETA funds in Butte County. Defendant Rackerby is the Director of the Butte County Employment and Training Administration and as such is the administrator of the CETA program, at the prime sponsor level, in Butte County.

In essence, plaintiffs allege that the local defendants have engaged in a policy of denying plaintiffs certain benefits relative to program funding to which they are entitled pursuant to CETA. In particular, plaintiffs allege that the local defendants have violated both the statutory provisions of CETA and the United States Constitution by refusing to provide for their representation on the local CETA planning council and by developing a policy which discriminates against them in favor of government agencies seeking CETA funding. The plaintiffs also allege that the federal defendants were aware of said violations by the local defendants and failed to take action to ensure CETA funds were administered in accordance with law. This inaction by the federal defendants is alleged to violate the terms of CETA and plaintiffs' constitutional right to due process. Finally, plaintiffs allege that by virtue of their action and inaction the federal defendants have acted in concert with the local defendants and their policy of denying plaintiffs their statutory and constitutional rights. Plaintiffs allege that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the claims set forth above pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(3) & (4), 1361, 2201, and 2202.

The federal defendants, in their motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, argue that this court lacks jurisdiction to hear plaintiffs' claims. They assert that CETA itself provides the exclusive means for judicial review of the present claims, requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to seeking review directly in the United States Court of Appeals. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 816, 817. Given this adequate judicial review provision of CETA, the federal defendants argue that jurisdiction in this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 does not exist in this case. Recognizing, however, that this court would have jurisdiction to hear substantial constitutional claims, and pendent statutory claims, pursuant to Section 1331 the federal defendants argue that the plaintiffs have failed to allege any such substantial constitutional claims. It is also asserted by these defendants that 28 U.S.C. § 1343 does not provide for jurisdiction over federal agents acting under color of federal law and, in any event, CETA is not an Act of Congress creating "equal rights" or "civil rights" and thus jurisdiction over these claims does not exist under Section 1343 pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Chapman v. Houston Welfare Rights Organization, 441 U.S. 600, 99 S.Ct. 1905, 60 L.Ed.2d 508 (1979). Finally, the federal defendants assert that neither 28 U.S.C. § 1361 (mandamus jurisdiction) nor 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202 (Declaratory Judgment Act) provide an independent basis for the court's jurisdiction over the claims in this action. The local defendants join in the federal defendants' motion and, in addition, suggest that this case may be moot.

Below I will address each of the issues raised by the defendants' motions seriatum. In this opinion I decide that the case is not moot since the defendants have not demonstrated that the allegedly illegal behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur. Nonetheless, I also find that this action must be dismissed against the federal defendants since CETA itself provides the exclusive remedy for its violation when the claim is asserted against the United States or its agencies and that plaintiffs' claims do not rise to the dignity of a constitutional violation. Finally, however, I find that plaintiffs' allege a violation of a federal law, CETA, which is sufficient to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the local defendants, and that under the most recent teachings of the Supreme Court, this court has jurisdiction to consider the claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. While this result may appear anomalous, the asymmetry results from the complex inter-relationship of the law concerning substantive claims and the limited jurisdiction of federal courts.


The local defendants suggest that, at least to the extent plaintiffs seek a proper application of CETA's requirements, this action is moot. In support of this position the local defendants assert that the present administration has defunded Title VI, and thus the CETA program, and that the local defendants are "winding down" the last of the CETA funded programs.

As noted, the matter is before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment. To the extent defendants would have the court consider matters outside the pleadings the motion must be resolved under summary judgment standards. See Solinger v. A & M Records, Inc., 586 F.2d 1304, 1307-08 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied 441 U.S. 908, 99 S.Ct. 1999, 60 L.Ed.2d 377 (1979); Carlsberg v. Gatzek, 442 F.Supp. 813 (C.D.Cal.1977). On a motion for summary judgment it is well settled that the moving party has the burden of demonstrating that no material issue of fact exists and that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Blair Foods, Inc. v. Ranchers Cotton Oil, 610 F.2d 665 (9th Cir. 1980); British Airways Board v. Boeing Co., 585 F.2d 946 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied 440 U.S. 981, 99 S.Ct. 1790, 60 L.Ed.2d 241 (1979). Because the burden is on the moving party, the evidence before the court is to be construed in favor of the opposing party and all favorable inferences are to be drawn in his favor. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); Calnetics Corp. v. Volkswagen of America, Inc., 532 F.2d 674 (9th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 940, 97 S.Ct. 355, 50 L.Ed.2d 309 (1976). Finally, any doubt as to the existence of a material issue of fact is to be resolved against the movant. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., supra; Pepper & Tanner, Inc. v. Shamrock Broadcasting, Inc., 563 F.2d 391 (9th Cir. 1977).

In this instance the exacting standards for summary judgment are supplemented by similarly stringent standards relative to the disposition of the underlying substantive issue. Claims of mootness implicate the court's jurisdiction since the federal courts are without power to decide questions which cannot affect the rights of litigants in the cases before them. See St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Barry, 438 U.S. 531, 537, 98 S.Ct. 2923, 2927, 57 L.Ed.2d 932 (1978); Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division v. Craft, 436 U.S. 1, 7-8, 98 S.Ct. 1554, 1559-60, 56 L.Ed.2d 30 (1978); North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 404, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971). Nonetheless, the test for mootness in cases in which the defendants have, for some reason, ceased the allegedly illegal conduct is a stringent one.5 United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Association, 393 U.S. 199, 203, 89 S.Ct. 361, 364, 21 L.Ed.2d 344 (1968). Although subsequent events may reduce the practical importance of the case for the parties, it is not rendered moot unless the defendant is able to demonstrate that the subsequent events make it absolutely clear that the allegedly illegal behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur. The defendant's burden in this regard is a heavy one. Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 487, 100 S.Ct. 1254, 1260, 63 L.Ed.2d 552 (1980); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631, 99 S.Ct. 1379, 1383, 59 L.Ed.2d 642 (1979); United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Association...

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