LaDuke v. Nelson

Decision Date10 June 1985
Docket NumberNos. 83-3608,84-4148,s. 83-3608
Citation762 F.2d 1318
PartiesCharles LaDUKE, et al., Plaintiffs/Appellees, v. Alan C. NELSON, etc., et al., Defendants/Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Michael J. Fox, Skellenger, Ginsberg & Bender, Seattle, Wash., for plaintiffs/appellees.

Marshall Tamal Golding, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for defendants/appellants.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

Before FARRIS, ALARCON and FERGUSON, Circuit Judges.

FERGUSON, Circuit Judge:

The Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") appeals from an injunction issued by the district court prohibiting the INS from conducting farm and ranch checks of migrant farm housing without a warrant, probable cause, or articulable suspicion. See LaDuke v. Nelson, 560 F.Supp. 158 (E.D.Wash.1982). The INS also appeals the award of fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act. We affirm.


The plaintiffs, residents of migrant farm dwellings in the INS region known as the Spokane Sector, covering the states of Washington, Idaho and Montana, brought suit in 1977 alleging that the defendant's practice of initiating and executing searches of migrant farm housing violated their Fourth Amendment rights. The district court certified the plaintiffs as a class in 1979 under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2). In 1981 the district court refined the plaintiff class to include all persons who have resided or will reside in particularly described farm housing within the Sector.

The district court found that the INS engaged in a "standard pattern" of searches within farm labor housing communities in the Sector. The court found that the INS initiated these warrantless searches without articulable suspicion or probable cause. LaDuke, 560 F.Supp. at 161; see note 12 infra. The armed Border Patrol agents periodically cordoned off migrant housing during early morning or late evening hours, surrounded the residences in emergency vehicles with flashing lights, approached the homes with flashlights, and stationed officers at all doors and windows. The agents would then conduct house-to-house searches either without consent or with the alleged "knowing" consent of the occupants.

The district court found that under these circumstances the occupants were not free to leave and, consequently, a seizure had taken place. The court further found that any consent obtained was involuntary given the substantial show of official force. The court also found that the seizures took place without probable cause, reasonable belief, or articulable suspicion that illegal aliens were present. The court enjoined the defendants and those acting in concert with them from engaging in similar unconstitutional farm check practices.


The standard of review over the district court's grant of a permanent injunction must, of course, be segmented according to the component functions performed by the district court. See United States v. McConney, 728 F.2d 1195 (9th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 105 S.Ct. 101, 83 L.Ed.2d 46 (1984). Accordingly, the district court's findings of fact are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard. Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). A district court's findings on the voluntariness of consent to search are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard. United States v. Caicedo-Guarnizo, 723 F.2d 1420, 1423 (9th Cir.1984). The district court's finding that the ranch checks are not based on articulable suspicion is also reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard. United States v. Garcia-Nunez, 709 F.2d 559, 561 (9th Cir.1983). Cf. United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 416, 101 S.Ct. 690, 694, 66 L.Ed.2d 621 (1981). 1 Because the court's jurisdiction is dependent on Article III standing, this issue is subject to de novo review. Finally, the district court's determinations on questions of law and on mixed questions of facts and law implicating constitutional rights are reviewed de novo. United States v. McConney, 728 F.2d at 1203. 2


This opinion will focus on the major arguments 3 raised by the INS in the following sequence:

(A) Do the plaintiffs have Article III standing to seek an injunction?

(B) Did the district court err in its decision on the merits of plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim?

(C) Did the district court err in finding the essential prerequisites for an injunction met and, if not, is the issued injunction overbroad?

(D) Was the class properly certified under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2)?

(E) Was the award of attorney fees and costs appropriate under the Equal Access to Justice Act?


The INS has challenged the plaintiffs' standing to bring suit for injunctive relief under Article III of the Constitution. The "case or controversy" standing requirement serves to limit federal jurisdiction to those cases in which an adversarial setting is guaranteed by the parties' "personal stake" in the outcome of the litigation. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2204, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). The Supreme Court has also extended the standing inquiry beyond this Article III based minimum to include judicially imposed "prudential limitations" on the appropriate exercise of federal judicial power. Allen v. Wright, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 3315, 3324-25, 82 L.Ed.2d 556 (1984); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. at 499-500, 95 S.Ct. at 2205. The "irreducible minimum" demanded of a proper plaintiff by Article III's constitutional demands, however, requires that a plaintiff show he has "personally ... suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant," that can be "fairly" traced to the defendant's challenged conduct, and which "is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision." Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472, 102 S.Ct. 752, 758, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982).

Added to this core constitutional standing test are judicially created prudential limitations, including: a general prohibition on "raising another person's legal rights", 4 a preference for the resolution of "generalized grievances" in the representative branches, 5 and the "requirement that a plaintiff's complaint fall within the zone of interests protected" by the pertinent law. Allen v. Wright, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 3315, 3324-25, 82 L.Ed.2d 556 (1984). Finally, the Supreme Court has indicated that, at least when injunctive relief is sought, litigants must adduce a "credible threat" of recurrent injury. 6 Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 103 S.Ct. 1855, 1857 n. 3, 75 L.Ed.2d 903 (1983); Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 103 S.Ct. 1660, 75 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983). We first address the significance of Lyons to plaintiffs' standing to seek injunctive relief. 7

In Lyons, the plaintiff brought suit under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Los Angeles and four of its police officers. The plaintiff had previously been subjected to an allegedly unprovoked and unjustified "chokehold" by a police officer in the course of a routine stop for a traffic violation. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's affirmance of a preliminary injunction in three discrete holdings. First, the Court held that Lyons lacked standing under the case or controversy clause of Article III to seek injunctive relief and consequently the lower courts lacked jurisdiction over his injunctive claim. Id. at 101, 103 S.Ct. at 1664. Second, the Court held that the plaintiff had not met the standards for issuance of injunctive relief. Id. at 109, 103 S.Ct. at 1668. Third, the Court held that the jurisprudential concerns of "equity, comity, and federalism" sharply constrict federal judicial oversight of "state law enforcement authorities," id. at 112, 103 S.Ct. at 1670, thereby making injunctive relief inappropriate.

As the Supreme Court summarized: "Lyons' standing to seek the injunction requested depended on whether he was likely to suffer future injury from the use of the chokeholds by police officers." 461 U.S. at 105, 103 S.Ct. at 1667. Relying heavily on O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 94 S.Ct. 669, 38 L.Ed.2d 674 (1974) and Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 96 S.Ct. 598, 46 L.Ed.2d 561 (1976), the Court held that Lyons did not face "a real and immediate threat of again being illegally choked." Id. 461 U.S. at 110, 103 S.Ct. at 1669. Finding the plaintiff's allegation of future injury speculative, id. at 108, 103 S.Ct. at 1668, Court held that the objective "reality of the threat of repeated injury," id. at 107 n. 8, 103 S.Ct. at 1668 n. 8, was beyond reasonable belief given the remote probability that Lyons would once again violate the law and incite an unjustifiable response by Los Angeles police. Finally, the Court found probative the fact that the district court had made "no finding that Lyons faced a real and immediate threat of again being illegally choked." Id. at 110, 103 S.Ct. at 1669.

At a minimum, Lyons requires that the "personal stake" showing necessary under Article III in cases involving injunctive relief includes an essential showing of the likelihood of similar injury in the future. At least for Lyons, past injury was insufficient, standing alone, to afford him a "personal stake" in the prospective relief provided by an injunction. 8 Four fundamental differences between Lyons and this case demonstrate why the plaintiff class has a sufficient "personal stake" under Article III to warrant the prospective relief only an injunction can provide.

The first difference between Lyons and this case lies in the respective district court findings on the likelihood of recurrent injury. The district court in Lyons made no finding of likely recurrence, Lyons, 461 U.S. at 110 n. 9, 103 S.Ct. at 1669 n. 9, while the district court in this case made a specific finding of likely...

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