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ORTIZ v. CALIFORNIA NA 2006 2006 (2019)

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United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

James ORTIZ; Yolanda Y. Ortiz, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. State of CALIFORNIA; Citibank, NA, as Trustee for American Home Mortgage Assets Trust 2006-3, Mortgage Backed Pass Through Certificates Series 2006-3, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 18-56097

Decided: November 25, 2019

Before: FERNANDEZ, M. SMITH, and MILLER, Circuit Judges. Ronald Henry Freshman, Esquire, Attorney, Ronald H. Freshman, Fallbrook, CA, for Plaintiffs - Appellants Kristina Pelletier, Jonathan D. Fink, Attorney, Wright, Finlay & Zak, LLP, Newport Beach, CA, for Defendant - Appellee


James Ortiz and Yolanda Ortiz (hereafter collectively “the Ortizes”) appeal the district court’s dismissal of their action against the State of California 1 and Citibank, N.A., as Trustee (hereafter “Citibank”). We affirm.

The Ortizes sought to enjoin proceedings in an unlawful detainer action previously filed against them by Citibank and proceeding in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. However, as the district court held, due to the provisions of the Anti-Injunction Act, it could “not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in [the] State court.” 28 U.S.C. § 2283; see also California v. Randtron, 284 F.3d 969, 974 (9th Cir. 2002). We are aware of the exceptions set forth in that Act. See 28 U.S.C. § 2283. However, nothing in the record suggests that the Ortizes’ claims fell within one of those “narrow”2 exceptions, and if there were some doubt, we would have to resolve the doubt in favor of the Anti-Injunction Act’s prohibition.3

Moreover, because it is apparent that any amendment by the Ortizes would fail to overcome the strictures of the Anti-Injunction Act, and would, therefore, be futile, the district court did not err when it denied leave to amend. See Missouri ex rel. Koster v. Harris, 847 F.3d 646, 655–56 (9th Cir. 2017).4



1.   On appeal, the Ortizes have waived their claims against the State of California by stating that the State should not have been named as a defendant and its dismissal was appropriate.

2.   See Smith v. Bayer Corp., 564 U.S. 299, 306, 131 S. Ct. 2368, 2375, 180 L. Ed. 2d 341 (2011).

3.   See Atl. Coast Line R.R. Co. v. Bhd. of Locomotive Eng’rs, 398 U.S. 281, 297, 90 S. Ct. 1739, 1748, 26 L. Ed. 2d 234 (1970). We do not overlook the Ortizes’ suggestion that their claims could possibly fall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 242–43, 92 S. Ct. 2151, 2162, 32 L. Ed. 2d 705 (1972). However, they did not plead that, and could not pursue an action against the State of California under § 1983. Moreover, there is no indication that Citibank was or is a state actor or an entity acting in concert with a state actor. See Price v. Hawaii, 939 F.2d 702, 708 (9th Cir. 1991); Howerton v. Gabica, 708 F.2d 380, 382–83 (9th Cir. 1983); see also West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S. Ct. 2250, 2255, 101 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1988).

4.   In light of our decision regarding the Anti-Injunction Act, we need not, and do not, take up the other issues raised by the parties on appeal.

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