Vistamar, Inc. v. Vazquez, Civ. No. 76-69.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
Writing for the CourtJorge Martínez, San Juan, P. R., for the Government
Citation337 F. Supp. 375
Docket NumberCiv. No. 76-69.
Decision Date28 December 1971
PartiesVISTAMAR, INC., Plaintiff, v. Antonio Santiago VAZQUEZ et al., Defendants.

337 F. Supp. 375

VISTAMAR, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
Antonio Santiago VAZQUEZ et al., Defendants.

Civ. No. 76-69.

United States District Court, D. Puerto Rico.

December 28, 1971.


337 F. Supp. 376

Rafael Vizcarrondo, of Fiddler, González & Rodríquez, San Juan, P. R., for plaintiff.

Jorge Martínez, San Juan, P. R., for the Government.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CANCIO, Chief Judge.

This is an action filed by Vistamar, Inc. against the Planning Board of Puerto Rico, its Chairman, the Public Works Department of Puerto Rico and the Secretary of Public Works of Puerto Rico. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants have deprived it of its property without due process of law; that since 1962 the defendants have refused to either approve for development or expropriate certain parcels of land which are the property of the plaintiff; that its property has been "frozen" thereby rendering it useless, all without any compensation; that plaintiff has had to pay taxes on the property without being able to use it; and that these actions of defendants have caused plaintiff damages. It requests money damages and injunctive relief in the form of an order to defendants to either expropriate or release the land for development.

The action is based on the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1983-1985, alleging that the actions of defendants are unreasonable, oppressive and discriminatory, and have resulted in the deprivation of its property under color of state law. Jurisdiction is invoked under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1343 and the matter in controversy is said to exceed $10,000.

After several motions, the complaint was amended on May 28, 1967, so as to allege that plaintiff is a Puerto Rico corporation and substitute the present chairman of the Planning Board for his predecessor. Finally, on August 28, 1970, the complaint was dismissed as to the two agencies involved herein with the individual defendants remaining in the case.

The case is now before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by the remaining defendants on March 2, 1971, and a cross-motion for summary judgment and reply, filed by plaintiff on March 30, 1971.

It is defendants' contention that plaintiff has failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to it; that the cases decided by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico in Heftler International, Inc. v. Junta de Planificación, 142 Colegio de Abogados, 1970, decided on December 15, 1970, P.R.R., and Ana Margarida Vda. de Iturrequi v. Junta de Planificación, 143 CA, 1970, decided on December 16, 1970, P.R.R., are dispositive of the issues herein; and that this Court should refrain from ruling to the contrary in deference to the Commonwealth courts.

Plaintiff alleges in turn that it does not have to exhaust the administrative remedies; that the Margarida and Heftler

337 F. Supp. 377
cases are not applicable herein; and that because of certain correspondence with employees of the agencies originally in the case, which the corporation has filed herein, further administrative proceedings would be fruitless. Plaintiff further submits that on the merits of unopposed affidavits submitted, judgment should be entered in its favor

To put the issues into proper perspective, we wish to point out at the outset that in actions under the Civil Rights Act, it is the federal law which determines whether the exhaustion of state administrative remedies is required. This is a matter of federal law and policy since it goes to the access to be given to litigants to come into the federal courts under a federal statute. The decisions by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico serve only to illustrate the remedies that may be available to litigants; these decisions may determine whether the exhaustion of those remedies should be required only under the laws of Puerto Rico and not when the remedy sought is federal in nature.

Another factor which has caused confusion to the parties herein is the paragraph in this Court's decision in Inmobiliaria Borinquen, Inc. v. García Santiago, 295 F.Supp. 203 (1969), at page 206, which reads:

Another argument advanced in the motions to dismiss is that the Plaintiff has not exhausted administrative remedies allegedly available in the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. In view of the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States in Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1961), McNeese v. Board of Education et al., 373 U.S. 668, 83 S.Ct. 1433, 10 L.Ed. 2d 622 (1963), and Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1116, 14 L.Ed.2d 22 (1965), it seems clear that exhaustion of remedies in the state or Commonwealth jurisdiction is not a prerequisite to the invocation of the proper Federal jurisdiction in civil rights cases.

The time has come to inquire further into the problem of whether the exhaustion of state administrative remedies is required or not in civil rights cases. This is a complex issue and at this time cannot be summarized in one short paragraph.

As far back as 1939 the Supreme Court of the United States in Lane v. Wilson, 307 U.S. 268, 59 S.Ct. 872, 83 L.Ed. 1281 (1939) expressed that the judicial remedies of the states, vis a vis the administrative remedies, need not be exhausted before recourse is had to the federal courts. In Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1961), mentioned in the paragraph quoted from Inmobiliaria the court's manifestations as to the exhaustion of state remedies were directed to an allegation by defendants that a simple remedy was available to plaintiffs in the courts of the state. The Supreme Court stated that recourse to the state's remedies need not be had; that the purpose of the Act was not to require recourse to a theoretically adequate remedy which is not available in practice, and that the reason for the passage of the Civil Rights Act was that because of prejudice and bias, state laws might not be enforced. Monroe was concerned with judicial and not administrative remedies.

In McNeese v. Board of Education, 373 U.S. 668, 83 S.Ct. 1433, 10 L. Ed.2d 622, cited in the paragraph from Inmobiliaria, the Supreme Court makes it clear that the assertion of a federal claim under the Civil Rights Act does not have to await an attempt to vindicate the claim in the state courts. Exhaustion of administrative remedies...

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8 practice notes
  • Martinez v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 191-71.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • 6 April 1972
    ...et al., D.C., 312 F.Supp. 899. Order and Opinion of May 5, 1970 (J. Fernández Badillo); Vistamar, Inc. v. Santiago Vazquez et al., D.C., 337 F.Supp. 375, Order of August 28, 1970, (J. Cancio); Salkin v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1 Cir. 1969), 408 F.2d 682; and Cortés v. Commonwealth of P......
  • Marin v. University of Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 137-72.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • 30 January 1974
    ...(D.C.P.R.1972), 346 F.Supp. 106; Santiago v. Torres-Massa (D.C.P.R.1972), 342 F.Supp. 1152; Vistamar, Inc. v. Vazquez (D.C.P.R.1971), 337 F.Supp. 375; Glenwal Development v. Schmidt (D.C.P.R.1972), 336 F.Supp....
  • Cabrera v. Municipality of Bayamon, Civ. No. 126-72.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • 30 January 1974
    ...present action under the Civil Rights Act. The Court analyzed this issue exhaustively in the case of Vistamar Marina v. Vázquez, D.C., 337 F.Supp. 375, ratifying its previous decision in Inmobiliaria Borinquen v. Santiago, 295 F.Supp. 203. We do not deem proper in this case to modify the ab......
  • Marin v. University of Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 137-72.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • 24 May 1972
    ...1970), Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2 Cir. 1971); Hobbs v. Thompson, 448 F.2d 456 (5 Cir. 1971), and Vistamar, Inc. v. Vazquez, 337 F.Supp. 375 In King v. Smith, supra, Alabama's stepfather rule, which denied AFDC payments to children if their mother cohabited with an able-bodied man, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Martinez v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 191-71.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • 6 April 1972
    ...et al., D.C., 312 F.Supp. 899. Order and Opinion of May 5, 1970 (J. Fernández Badillo); Vistamar, Inc. v. Santiago Vazquez et al., D.C., 337 F.Supp. 375, Order of August 28, 1970, (J. Cancio); Salkin v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1 Cir. 1969), 408 F.2d 682; and Cortés v. Commonwealth of P......
  • Marin v. University of Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 137-72.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • 30 January 1974
    ...(D.C.P.R.1972), 346 F.Supp. 106; Santiago v. Torres-Massa (D.C.P.R.1972), 342 F.Supp. 1152; Vistamar, Inc. v. Vazquez (D.C.P.R.1971), 337 F.Supp. 375; Glenwal Development v. Schmidt (D.C.P.R.1972), 336 F.Supp....
  • Cabrera v. Municipality of Bayamon, Civ. No. 126-72.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • 30 January 1974
    ...present action under the Civil Rights Act. The Court analyzed this issue exhaustively in the case of Vistamar Marina v. Vázquez, D.C., 337 F.Supp. 375, ratifying its previous decision in Inmobiliaria Borinquen v. Santiago, 295 F.Supp. 203. We do not deem proper in this case to modify the ab......
  • Marin v. University of Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 137-72.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • 24 May 1972
    ...1970), Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2 Cir. 1971); Hobbs v. Thompson, 448 F.2d 456 (5 Cir. 1971), and Vistamar, Inc. v. Vazquez, 337 F.Supp. 375 In King v. Smith, supra, Alabama's stepfather rule, which denied AFDC payments to children if their mother cohabited with an able-bodied man, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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