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Walter Hidalgo and Michelle Hidalgo v. State of New York

November 21, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:


Presently pending before the Court are Plaintiffs Walter and Michelle Hidalgo's ("Plaintiffs") objections to Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' objections are SUSTAINED, and the Court ADOPTS WITH MODIFICATION Judge Lindsay's R&R.


The Court assumes familiarity with the factual background of this case as detailed in Judge Lindsay's R&R. Briefly, Plaintiffs commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on October 18, 2011, to challenge the constitutionality of New York Social Services Law § 101 and New York Family Court Act § 415, which state that stepparents are liable for the support of their spouse's children who are receiving or have received public assistance or welfare. Plaintiffs, in their Complaint, seek (i) a declaratory judgment that these statutes are unconstitutional as violating the Equal Protection Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause; (ii) an injunction enjoining Defendants from conducting such support proceedings against stepparents; and (iii) attorneys' fees and costs.

With the Complaint, Plaintiffs filed an application for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") and a preliminary injunction enjoining the State and Defendant Suffolk County Department of Social Services from enforcing § 415 of the Family Court Act and § 101 of the Social Services Law against stepparents such as Plaintiff Walter Hidalgo. Such a support proceeding against Mr. Hidalgo has been scheduled for November 22, 2011. On October 18, 2011, the Court denied Plaintiffs' application for a TRO and referred the motion for a preliminary injunction to Judge Lindsay for an R&R.

Judge Lindsay issued the R&R on November 17, 2011 denying the preliminary injunction as barred by the Anti-Injunction Act (the "Act"), 28 U.S.C. § 2283. On November 18, 2011, Plaintiffs filed their objections to the R&R, arguing that the Anti-Injunction Act is inapplicable to § 1983 claims. The Court agrees with Plaintiffs, but nonetheless denies Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction (i) as barred by the Younger abstention doctrine and (ii) for failing to establish irreparable harm.


I. Standard of Review

"When evaluating the report and recommendation of a magistrate judge, the district court may adopt those portions of the report to which no objections have been made and which are not facially erroneous." Walker v. Vaughan, 216 F. Supp. 2d 290, 291 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (citation omitted). A party may serve and file specific, written objections to a magistrate's report and recommendation within fourteen days of receiving the recommended disposition. *fn1 See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(2). Upon receiving any timely objections to the magistrate's recommendation, the district "court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b). A party that objects to a report and recommendation must point out the specific portions of the report and recommendation to which they object. See Barratt v. Joie, No. 96--CV--0324, 2002 WL 335014, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 4, 2002) (citations omitted).

When a party raises an objection to a magistrate judge's report, the Court must conduct a de novo review of any contested sections of the report. See Pizarro v. Bartlett, 776 F. Supp. 815, 817 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). But if a party "makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, the Court reviews the Report and Recommendation only for clear error." Pall Corp. v. Entegris, Inc., 249 F.R.D. 48, 51 (E.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting Barratt, 2002 WL 335014, at *1). Furthermore, even in a de novo review of a party's specific objections, the Court ordinarily will not consider "arguments, case law and/or evidentiary material which could have been, but [were] not, presented to the magistrate judge in the first instance." Kennedy v. Adamo, No. 02--CV--1776, 2006 WL 3704784, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 1, 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

II. Plaintiffs' Objections and the Anti-Injunction Act Plaintiffs assert that Judge Lindsay incorrectly concluded that the Act bars the Court from issuing an injunction in this case. The Court thus reviews Judge Lindsay's application of the Act de novo.

The Act provides as follows:

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 the aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments.

28 U.S.C. ยง 2283. Therefore, as Judge Lindsay correctly concluded, this Court may not stay the Family Court proceeding unless one of the three ...

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