United States District Court, N.D. New York
July 1, 2005.
ONEIDA INDIAN NATION OF NEW YORK, Plaintiff,
MADISON COUNTY, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID HURD, District Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER and PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
On March 30, 2000, plaintiff Oneida Indian Nation of New York
("Nation") filed the complaint in this action asserting the
illegality of a foreclosure action (No. 98-999) brought by
defendant Madison County ("County") in New York State Supreme
Court, Madison County, on December 1, 1999. Pursuant to an
agreement among the parties, the County filed certificates
withdrawing the Nation parcels from subsequent proceedings in the
foreclosure action. The foreclosure action remained pending and
pursuant to a state law the withdrawn parcels could be
reinstated. Moreover, each succeeding year the County filed a new
foreclosure action against parcels of Nation land and then
withdrew those parcels pending a decision in a related case,
Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. City of Sherrill, 00-CV-223
An order was issued in Sherrill on June 4, 2001, the details
of which are not relevant to this motion. Orders were also
entered on June 4, 2001, in this action denying the County's
motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party,
granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Nation, and
enjoining Madison County from imposing property taxes and
proceeding with foreclosure of Nation properties. Judgment was
entered accordingly. The orders in this action and in Sherrill
were timely appealed. In October 2003, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit issued decisions in this action
and in Sherrill. The order in the Sherrill case was affirmed.
In this action a mandate issued vacating the judgment in favor of
the Nation and remanding for further proceedings. The mandate was filed in the Northern District of New York on October 22, 2003.
The judgment was then vacated. The County answered the complaint
as directed, on November 6, 2003.
Also on November 6, 2003, the County moved to stay proceedings
in this action pending resolution of the Land Claim Action, No.
74-CV-187. The Nation opposed. The motion was denied on December
12, 2003, after hearing oral argument. No proceedings have taken
place since that time in this case.
The United State Supreme Court granted certiorari in the
Sherrill case. On March 29, 2005, a decision was issued and
rehearing was denied. That decision is available at
125 S. Ct. 1478 (2005). A mandate has yet to be issued.
Meanwhile, as had been the practice each year during the
pendency of these related cases, the County initiated a
foreclosure action, No. 03-999, on November 14, 2003, against 98
Nation parcels, including the parcels that were initially named
in the 98-999 foreclosure action. This time, however, the County
did not withdraw the Nation parcels from the foreclosure action.
On April 28, 2005, the County moved for summary judgment in the
state court foreclosure actions returnable on June 3, 2005. The
Nation requested an adjournment of the return date and also
requested an order to show cause why a stay should not be entered
due to the litigation of the federal issues in this case. The
state court granted a brief adjournment of the return date to
July 14, 2005, but declined to enter the order to show cause.
The Nation then made motions for a preliminary injunction and
summary judgment returnable July 8, 2005. The County requested an
adjournment of the summary judgment motion. The County noted that
this case and Sherrill "raise issues that are critically
important to the citizens of Central New York and to State and
local Government." (Shraver Letter June 9, 2005.) The County asserted that the summary judgment
motion was premature. Id. It argued that the current briefing
schedule "would not permit the orderly development of the case,
the full development of the record (including both factual and
expert materials), or the fair presentation of the issues for
consideration by the Court." Id. The County further argued that
"there is no urgency in regard to the Motion for Summary
Judgment." Id. Finally, the County urged that it "stand[s]
ready to work with the Court and the plaintiff toward a
reasonable schedule consistent with the complexity, scope and
significance of this case." Id. (emphasis added). Notably,
however, the County vehemently opposed a stay or adjournment of
the state court foreclosure actions.
After conferencing with the parties, the County's request was
granted and the Nation's motion for summary judgment was
adjourned without date. The motion for a preliminary injunction
was rescheduled. Thereafter, the County filed a motion to dismiss
Oral argument on the Nation's preliminary injunction motion was
heard on June 29, 2005, in Utica, New York. Decision was
The Nation seeks a preliminary injunction prohibiting the
County from proceeding in the state court foreclosure actions,
propounding that the parcels it owns are not amenable to
foreclosure. The All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, provides that
"federal courts may `issue all writs necessary or appropriate in
aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages
and principles of law.'" United States v. Int'l Brotherhood of
Teamsters, 266 F.3d 45, 49 (2d Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (quoting
28 U.S.C. § 1651(a)). This "includes the power to `issue such
commands . . . as may be necessary or appropriate to effectuate
and prevent the frustration of orders it has previously issued in its exercise of
jurisdiction otherwise obtained.'" Id. at 49-50 (alteration in
original) (quoting Sheet Metal Contractors Ass'n v. Sheet Metal
Workers' Int's Ass'n, 157 F.3d 78, 82 (2d Cir. 1998)). The power
under the All Writs Act is broad and applies to parties and
nonparties alike. Id. at 50. A court may issue an injunction
"`when needed to preserve the court's ability to reach or enforce
its decision in a case over which it has proper jurisdiction.'"
Id. (quoting In re Baldwin-United Corp., 770 F.2d 328, 338
(2d Cir. 1985)).
Jurisdiction is proper in this action pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1362, & 1367. Thus, a preliminary injunction may issue
under the All Writs Act as necessary to aid in that jurisdiction
and to preserve the ability to reach a decision in this case.
See Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 266 F.3d at 50.*fn1
The issue in this action is the amenability of land owned by
the Nation to foreclosure. As the County points out, this issue
is "critically important." (See Shraver Letter June 9, 2005.)
The County also recognizes the "complexity, scope and
significance of this case." Id. It states that there is no
urgency to the resolution of the case, id., yet forges ahead to
obtain foreclosure in state court at the earliest possible date.
The County admits that if the state court were to order
foreclosure on July 14, 2005, the issue of whether foreclosure
were permissible (to be decided in this case) would be moot.
Thus, permitting the state court foreclosure action to proceed
would deprive this court of its jurisdiction to decide the
complex and significant issues presented in this case. As the
County notes, an appropriate amount of time is needed to develop
the case, fully develop the record, and fairly present the issues for consideration.*fn2 This is even more
necessary now that the County has filed its motion to dismiss.
This case has been pending since March 2000. There is no need to
rush to judgment in a complex case such as this. In order to
preserve the ability to a reach a decision in this case, over
which jurisdiction exists, it is necessary to enjoin the County
from pursuing foreclosure in state court with regard to any
Nation-owned property. See 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a); Int'l
Brotherhood of Teamsters, 266 F.3d at 50. The Nation providing
substantial security will protect the County's interests.
Based upon the foregoing a preliminary injunction will be
issued pursuant to the discretion granted under the All Writs
Act. A scheduling order will be simultaneously filed with regards
to the motions for summary judgment and to dismiss.
Accordingly, it is
1. Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction is GRANTED;
2. Madison County and its officers, agents, servants, and
employees and all persons and entities in active concert or
participation with them are hereby ENJOINED and RESTRAINED from
taking any action to foreclose upon property in the possession of
the Oneida Indian Nation of New York; from interfering with the
Oneida Indian Nation of New York's ownership, possession, or
occupancy of its properties; and from taking any act to evict the Oneida Indian Nation of New York or its officers, agents,
servants, employees, members, guests, customers or invitees from
its properties; and
3. The Oneida Indian Nation of New York shall post with the
Clerk security in the sum of $3,000,000.00 on or before July 12,
2005, or this preliminary injunction will be subject to being
vacated upon motion of the County.
IT IS SO ORDERED.