Snyder v. Altman, No. CV 77-4520-F.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Citation444 F. Supp. 1269
Docket NumberNo. CV 77-4520-F.
Decision Date08 February 1978
PartiesLouise SNYDER, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. Bruce A. ALTMAN, Individually and in his official capacity as Public Guardian of Los Angeles County, and Lance Brisson, Individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Public Guardian of Los Angeles County, Defendants.

444 F. Supp. 1269

Louise SNYDER, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
Bruce A. ALTMAN, Individually and in his official capacity as Public Guardian of Los Angeles County, and Lance Brisson, Individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Public Guardian of Los Angeles County, Defendants.

No. CV 77-4520-F.

United States District Court, C. D. California.

February 8, 1978.


444 F. Supp. 1270

Neal S. Dudovitz, Gill Deford, National Senior Citizens Law Center, Los Angeles, Cal., for plaintiff.

John H. Larson, County Counsel, Leslie C. Randall, Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles, Cal., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

FERGUSON, District Judge.

The named plaintiff in this action seeks a declaratory judgment (1) that she and the class she represents, conservatees and wards of the public guardian, are entitled to receive care and treatment in the setting which is least restrictive of their civil liberties, and (2) that certain practices of the public guardian violate state statutory provisions regarding the duties of guardians and conservators and violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs. She also seeks to enjoin the practice of placing conservatees or wards in other than the least restrictive treatment centers necessary, and seeks damages for violation of her civil rights. The defendants have moved for abstention.

The general rule is that there is no need to exhaust possible state remedies before pursuing a civil rights action in federal court. "It is no answer that the State has a law which if enforced would give relief. The federal remedy is supplementary to the state remedy, and the latter need not be first sought and refused before the federal one is invoked." Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 183, 81 S.Ct. 473, 482, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1960). Therefore, the fact that the plaintiffs may have a state forum available to them or that there are state procedures which they could use to pursue their claims does not mean that this court cannot or should not decide this case.

The doctrine of abstention, however, may apply to prevent a federal court from exercising jurisdiction, even though exhaustion of state remedies is not strictly necessary. See McRedmond v. Wilson, 533 F.2d 757 (2d Cir. 1976) for an analysis of the interplay between the exhaustion of remedies doctrine and the abstention doctrine, and a description of abstention as an exception to the general rule that no exhaustion of state remedies is necessary in a § 1983 case.1 The courts have recognized several different theories of abstention (Santiago v. Philadelphia, 435 F.Supp. 136 (E.D.Penn. 1977)), at least two of which overlap in this case. These are the theories based on the cases of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971) and Railroad

444 F. Supp. 1271
Commission v. Pullman, 312 U.S. 496, 61 S.Ct. 643, 85 L.Ed. 971 (1941)

In Younger the Supreme Court held that a federal court could not intervene in a pending state criminal proceeding. Cases since Younger have extended this principle to preclude federal courts from interfering with state court jurisdiction in a civil proceeding in which the state has important interests at stake akin to those involved in a criminal prosecution. Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U.S. 592, 95 S.Ct. 1200, 43 L.Ed.2d 482 (1975) (civil nuisance abatement); Juidice v. Vail, 430 U.S. 327, 97 S.Ct. 1211, 51 L.Ed.2d 376 (1977) (civil contempt); Trainor v. Hernandez, 431 U.S. 434, 97 S.Ct. 1911, 52 L.Ed.2d 486 (1977) (action by state agency seeking restitution of welfare payments).

The relief requested in this case would interfere substantially with the continuing jurisdiction of the state courts over probate conservatorships. The California courts have recognized that a conservatorship is under the continuing jurisdiction of the court which appoints the conservator. Guardianship of Kemp, 43 Cal.App.3d 758, 118 Cal.Rptr. 64 (1974); Browne v. Superior Court, 16 Cal.2d 593, 107 P.2d 1 (1940). In the Browne case, the plaintiff was an elderly lady who had been placed in a nursing home in Northern California by her guardian, who had been appointed by the Santa Barbara Superior Court. She petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, and a Northern California court granted the petition. The California Supreme Court held that habeas corpus relief was improper because the petitioner admitted that she was not challenging the fact of her custody under the guardianship, but rather the conditions of that custody, which she alleged were unduly restrictive of her liberty. (This is very similar to the claim made in the...

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3 practice notes
  • Lake v. Speziale, Civ. A. No. N-83-346 (TFGD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • February 22, 1984
    ...1982); Meyer v. Frank, 550 F.2d 726, 729 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 830, 98 S.Ct. 112, 54 L.Ed.2d 90 (1977); Snyder v. Altman, 444 F.Supp. 1269, 1270 4 The instant case is distinguishable from Bedrosian v. Mintz, 518 F.2d 396 (2d Cir.1975), in which the Court found abstention was pro......
  • United States v. Articles of Hazardous Substance, No. C-78-23-G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • February 8, 1978
    ...avoided by, CPSC in the Pactra case and in the present case that the Commission does what it pleases with little concern for the 444 F. Supp. 1269 restrictions or limitations placed upon it by the Congress or the Constitution. These continuing acts are classic examples of the arrogance of b......
  • Thompson v. Medical Licensing Bd., No. 2-1076A395
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 26, 1979
    ...526, 19 L.Ed.2d 647; McNeese v. Board of Education (1963), 373 U.S. 668, 83 S.Ct. 1433, 10 L.Ed.2d 622; Snyder v. Altman (D.C.Cal.1978), 444 F.Supp. 1269; Kahn v. Shainswit (D.C.N.Y.1976), 414 F.Supp. 1064. Thompson then concludes, "Applying the federal decisions in § 1983 actions, it is cl......
3 cases
  • Lake v. Speziale, Civ. A. No. N-83-346 (TFGD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • February 22, 1984
    ...1982); Meyer v. Frank, 550 F.2d 726, 729 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 830, 98 S.Ct. 112, 54 L.Ed.2d 90 (1977); Snyder v. Altman, 444 F.Supp. 1269, 1270 4 The instant case is distinguishable from Bedrosian v. Mintz, 518 F.2d 396 (2d Cir.1975), in which the Court found abstention was pro......
  • United States v. Articles of Hazardous Substance, No. C-78-23-G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • February 8, 1978
    ...avoided by, CPSC in the Pactra case and in the present case that the Commission does what it pleases with little concern for the 444 F. Supp. 1269 restrictions or limitations placed upon it by the Congress or the Constitution. These continuing acts are classic examples of the arrogance of b......
  • Thompson v. Medical Licensing Bd., No. 2-1076A395
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 26, 1979
    ...526, 19 L.Ed.2d 647; McNeese v. Board of Education (1963), 373 U.S. 668, 83 S.Ct. 1433, 10 L.Ed.2d 622; Snyder v. Altman (D.C.Cal.1978), 444 F.Supp. 1269; Kahn v. Shainswit (D.C.N.Y.1976), 414 F.Supp. 1064. Thompson then concludes, "Applying the federal decisions in § 1983 actions, it is cl......

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