Sundy v. Friendship Pavilion Acquisition Company, LLC, 031320 FED11, 19-11391

Docket Nº:19-11391
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:TIM SUNDY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. FRIENDSHIP PAVILION ACQUISITION COMPANY, LLC, GARY PICONE, THOMAS LING, MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, ARSENAL REAL ESTATE FUND II-IDF, L.P., GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before NEWSOM, BRANCH, and HULL, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 13, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

TIM SUNDY, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

FRIENDSHIP PAVILION ACQUISITION COMPANY, LLC, GARY PICONE, THOMAS LING, MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, ARSENAL REAL ESTATE FUND II-IDF, L.P., GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 19-11391

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

March 13, 2020

DO NOT PUBLISH

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 2:18-cv-00112-SCJ

Before NEWSOM, BRANCH, and HULL, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

Tim Sundy, proceeding pro se, appeals the dismissal of his complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. His suit arises out of a lease and road-construction dispute in state court in 2015, and Sundy's subsequent state-court action against various parties and state-court judges involved in the litigation (some of which were removed to federal court). While the state-court action was pending, Sundy filed the present suit in federal court naming various individuals and entities as defendants, including (as relevant here): (1) employees in the Hall County clerk's office (collectively, the clerk defendants); (2) Christopher Carr, Georgia's Attorney General (Carr); and (3) Friendship Pavilion Acquisition Company, LLC, the Arsenal Real Estate Fund II-IDF, L.P., Gary Picone, Thomas Ling, and Michael Weinstein (collectively, the Friendship defendants).1

Liberally construing his briefs, Sundy first asserts on appeal (a) that the district court erred in dismissing his claims against Carr and the clerk defendants based on the abstention doctrine set out in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), because, he says, his due process and equal protection claims were not presented to the state court and are "independent" of the state-court proceedings, 2 and (b) that the district court erred in not allowing him to amend his complaint. Second, he argues that the district court erred (a) by dismissing the claim against Friendship as nonjusticiable because his requested declaratory relief would not redress his alleged injuries, and (b) by granting Friendship's motion to set aside entry of default even though it did not "present[] a meritorious defense." Finally, he argues that the removal of documents from the district court's docket, a delay in fixing clerical mistakes, and a "secret" ex parte hearing by the court to find the missing documents violated his right to due process to be fully heard upon a complete record, "depriv[ed] [him] of his right to avoid cross-examine," and "nullif[ied] the confrontation clause of the 6th Amendment."3 We will address each contention in turn.

I

Sundy first argues (a) that the district court erred in dismissing his claims against Carr and the clerk defendants based on the Younger abstention doctrine and (b) that the district court erred in not allowing him to amend his complaint.4

A

In Younger, the Supreme Court held that a federal district court may not enjoin a pending criminal state-court proceeding except under extraordinary circumstances. Green v. Jefferson Cty. Comm'n, 563 F.3d 1243, 1250 (11th Cir. 2009); see also Younger, 401 U.S. 37. The Supreme Court has since expanded the Younger doctrine to include, as relevant here, civil proceedings that "implicate state courts important interests in administering certain aspects of their judicial systems." Green, 563 F.3d at 1250-51 (quotation omitted). Especially as applied to civil cases, the Younger abstention doctrine is "an extraordinary and narrow exception to the duty of a district court to adjudicate a controversy properly before it." Id. at 1251 (quotation omitted). As such, the doctrine "only applies where the state proceeding at issue involves orders that are uniquely in furtherance of the state courts' ability to perform their judicial functions." Id. (quotation omitted).

For Younger abstention to apply, certain factors must be met-(1) the state judicial proceedings must be ongoing, (2) the proceedings must "implicate important state interests," and (3) the federal plaintiff must have had "an adequate opportunity" to raise constitutional challenges in the state proceedings. See 31...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP