United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. CAUTHRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt.
Nos. 13, 15.) Plaintiff filed a response (Dkt. No. 16),
and Defendants did not file a reply. The motion is now at
is currently involved in a lawsuit in Oklahoma state court.
Specifically, Plaintiff was sued in Garvin County over
allegedly unpaid mortgage payments. See Embrace
Home Loans v. Hatton, No. CJ-2017-97 (Garvin County,
Okla.). After summary judgment was entered against him, he
appealed his case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. See
Embrace Home Loans v. Hatton, No. S.D. 117581 (Okla.
2018.) That court then designated his case as an accelerated
appeal under Oklahoma Supreme Court Rule 1.36-which governs
the appellate procedure for summary judgments and certain
other specified dismissals. See Id.; See
also 12 Okla. Stat. Rule 1.36. This rule involves many
provisions, but the most relevant for this case is Rule
1.36(g), which prevents parties from filing appellate briefs
“[u]nless otherwise ordered by the appellate court,
” and requires a party to file a motion for leave to
submit an appellate brief. 12 Okla. Stat. Rule 1.36.
state court appeal is ongoing, and is currently stayed until
the resolution of this case. See Hatton, No. S.D.
117581 (Order Dated January 30, 2019.) To date, Plaintiff has
not attempted to move the Oklahoma Supreme Court to grant him
leave to submit an appellate brief. See generally
Hatton, No. S.D. 117581. Nonetheless, he brought this
action against the justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court as
well as the judges of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals-all
in their official capacities-seeking (1) a declaration that
Rule 1.36 is unconstitutional, and (2) an injunction barring
Defendants from enforcing the rule against him. (Pl.'s
Compl., Dkt. No. 1, p. 1, 69-73.) Defendants have moved to
dismiss his claims, maintaining that Plaintiff is not
entitled to the injunctive or declaratory relief he seeks.
See (Dkt. No. 15.)
standard for consideration of motions to dismiss brought
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is set forth in the Supreme
Court's decision in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544 (2007), and the subsequent decision in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). In those
cases, the Supreme Court made clear that to survive a motion
to dismiss, a pleading must contain enough allegations of
fact which, taken as true, “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570. Plaintiffs must “nudge their claims
across the line from conceivable to plausible” to
survive a motion to dismiss. Id. Thus, the starting
point in resolving the Motion is to examine the factual
allegations supporting each claim that Defendant wishes the
Court to dismiss. The Court will accept all well-pleaded
factual allegations in the Complaint as true and construe
them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Peterson v. Grisham, 594 F.3d 723, 727 (10th Cir.
2010). However, conclusory allegations need not be accepted
as true. Kansas Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656
F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th Cir. 2011).
first seeks injunctive relief against Defendants. But his
claims may be invalid under the Anti-Injunction Act (the
“Act”), which provides that:
A court of the United States may not grant an injunction to
stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly
authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of
its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments.
28 U.S.C. § 2283.
was conceived out of “respect for state courts.”
Smith v. Bayer Corp., 564 U.S. 299 (2011). Thus, the
Act broadly requires that state courts “shall remain
free from interference by federal courts.” Atlantic
Coast Line R. Co. v. Locomotive Engineers, 398 U.S. 281,
282, (1970). As laid out above, however, that principle is
subject to “three specifically defined
exceptions.” Id. at 286. But those exceptions
are narrow-they are “not [to] be enlarged by loose
statutory construction.” Chick Kam Choo v. Exxon
Corp., 486 U.S. 140, 146 (1988) (alteration in
original). Therefore, “[a]ny doubts as to the propriety
of a federal injunction against state court proceedings
should be resolved in favor of permitting the state courts to
proceed.” Atlantic Coast Line, 398 U.S. at
Plaintiff has not identified any applicable exceptions to the
rule that a federal court may not enjoin state court
proceedings. Regardless, however, the Court finds that none
of these exceptions apply in this case. Accordingly, the