United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
KRIS K. AGRAWAL, Plaintiff,
COURTS OF OKLAHOMA and RICHARD V. OGDEN, Defendants.
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Agrawal, proceeding pro se,  filed the present suit alleging
violations of his civil rights related to a wage claim and
collection action in the District Court of Oklahoma County,
Oklahoma, which is currently presided over by Defendant,
Judge Richard Ogden. Before the Court is Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 7], to which Plaintiff has filed
his response in opposition [Doc. No. 10]. The matter is fully
briefed and at issue.
underlying facts of this case are not foreign to the Court.
On two prior occasions (Agrawal v. Oklahoma Dep't of
Labor, No. CIV-16-3-D and Agrawal v. Ogden, et
al., CIV-17-1364-D), the Court has had an opportunity to
review the factual and procedural history leading to the
present dispute. Stated briefly, Christopher Holland filed a
wage claim in the Oklahoma Department of Labor (ODOL) against
Plaintiff seeking payment of unpaid wages. The administrative
law judge (ALJ) assigned to the case found for Holland and
entered judgment in his favor. The ALJ's decision was
subsequently reviewed and affirmed by the Oklahoma Supreme
Court. See Agrawal v. Oklahoma Dep't of Labor,
2015 OK 67, 364 P.3d 618. In both federal cases, the Court
dismissed each action on the basis that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevented review of
Plaintiff's claims, since both actions unquestionably
sought federal review and rejection of the Oklahoma Supreme
Court's decision affirming the Department of Labor's
award of unpaid wages to Holland. See Agrawal v.
Ogden, No. CIV-17-1364-D, 2018 WL 1370616, at *2 (W.D.
Okla. Mar. 16, 2018); Agrawal v. Oklahoma Dep't of
Labor, No. CIV-16-3-D, 2016 WL 7324089, at *2 (W.D.
Okla. Dec. 15, 2016).
Agrawal's current action alleges that Judge Ogden
violated his due process rights by presiding over a state
court action (Agrawal, et al. v. Oklahoma Dep't of
Labor, et al., No. CJ-2010-5857) in
“violation” of an automatic stay and refusing to
disqualify himself upon request. In his prayer for relief,
Plaintiff asks that “[if] this Court [finds] Judge
Ogden violated [Plaintiff's] due process rights …
he should have been disqualified.” Compl. ¶ 13.
Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and (6), Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, Judge Ogden moves to dismiss Plaintiff's
action on the basis that (1) he enjoys absolute immunity from
suit; (2) Plaintiff has not set forth the requisite showing
for an injunction; and (3) declaratory relief is unavailable.
12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction takes one of two forms: a facial attack or a
factual attack. Pueblo of Jemez v. United States,
790 F.3d 1143, 1148 n. 4 (10th Cir. 2015). A facial attack
questions the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations.
Id. In reviewing a facial attack, a district court
must accept the allegations in the complaint as true.
Id. In a factual attack, the moving party may go
beyond allegations contained in the complaint and challenge
the facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends.
Id. When reviewing a factual attack on subject
matter jurisdiction, a district court may not presume the
truthfulness of the complaint's factual allegations.
Id. Instead, the court has wide discretion to allow
affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary
hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts.
Id. Here, Judge Ogden's allegations constitute a
factual attack because they challenge the facts upon which
Agrawal bases subject matter jurisdiction.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain enough allegations of fact, taken as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007);
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); see also
Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1190 (10th
Cir. 2012). Under this standard, “the mere metaphysical
possibility that some plaintiff could prove
some set of facts in support of the pleaded claims
is insufficient; the complaint must give the court reason to
believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable
likelihood of mustering factual support for these
claims.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242,
1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C.
v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 10th Cir. 2007)
(emphasis in original)).
assuming the veracity of Plaintiff's allegations, judges
have absolute judicial immunity for acts taken in their
judicial capacity. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349,
360 (1978). This doctrine has only two exceptions.
“First, a judge is not immune from liability for ...
actions not taken in the judge's judicial
capacity.” Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11
(1991). “Second, a judge is not immune for actions,
though judicial in nature, taken in complete absence of all
jurisdiction.” Id. at 12. To this end,
“[a] judge will not be deprived of immunity because the
action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in
excess of his authority.” Stump, 435 U.S. at
356-57. “[T]he scope of the judge's jurisdiction
must be construed broadly where the issue is the immunity of
the judge.” Id. at 356.
Agrawal has not set forth any facts suggesting Judge Ogden
did not act in his judicial capacity. He asserts in his
complaint Judge Ogden “disregarded the Bankruptcy Law,
like all other Judges in the State of Oklahoma.” Compl.
¶ 3. Agrawal also alleges bias and unconstitutional
deprivation of his rights to due process; but given the
standard of proof required to negate a judicial immunity
defense, the Court cannot say Plaintiff has pled sufficient
facts to show Judge Ogden took action “in complete
absence of all jurisdiction.” Having found dismissal
appropriate on this basis, the Court declines to consider
Defendant's remaining arguments.
upon reviewing the Complaint, the Court finds sua
sponte Agrawal has not shown any basis for proceeding
against the “Courts of Oklahoma” since (1) the
Oklahoma courts are not suable entities, (2) Oklahoma courts
constitute “arms of the state” and are shielded
by Eleventh Amendment immunity, and/or (3) Oklahoma district
courts are sub-entities of their respective counties, and
Plaintiff has not shown that the execution of the policies or
customs of any county deprived him of any rights under the
Constitution or laws of the United States. See Hines v.
Oklahoma, No. CIV-07-197-R, 2007 WL 3046458, at *18
(W.D. Okla. Oct. 17, 2007) (dismissing suit against,
inter alia, the Oklahoma Seventh Judicial District
Court and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for
aforementioned reasons); compare Jones v. 7th Judical
Dist Court, No. 6:06cv214, 2006 WL 2385287, at *3 (E.D.
Tex. Aug. 17, 2006) (“The ‘court system' as a
whole, like the individual courts, is not a suable entity in
its own name”) (citation omitted); Emmerick v.
Wisconsin, No. 11-cv-860, 2012 WL 1135930, at *2 (W.D.
Wisc. Apr. 4, 2012) (finding no authority holding a county
court may be sued as a separate entity); J.B. v.
Washington County, 127 F.3d 919, 923 (10th Cir. 1997)
(party seeking to impose civil rights liability on county
must identify a policy or custom that caused the plaintiffs
injury). Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Complaint in
this regard as well.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED
as set forth herein. A ...