City of Oakland v Lynch

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-20-2015
  • Case #: 13-15391
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Justice Murphy For The Court; Circuit Judges Tallman and Rawlinson
  • Full Text Opinion

Judicial Review under the Administrative Procedure Act is precluded when the government’s decision to file a forfeiture action is committed to agency discretion by law, and when allowing the suit to proceed would impermissibly disrupt the existing forfeiture framework.

The United States filed an in rem forfeiture act against several pieces of real property, including the medical marijuana dispensary that the City of Oakland (“Oakland”) had control over. As a result, Oakland brought suit against the government. The District Court dismissed Oakland's collateral attack under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) against the government. Oakland appealed. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed Oakland’s the dismissal, holding that under the APA, judicial review was precluded because the government's decision to file the forfeiture action had been committed to agency discretion by law, and the suit would impermissibly disrupt the current forfeiture framework if allowed to go forward. The panel explained that Oakland met the first hurdle in standing. As one of its three injuries, Oakland cited expected loss of tax revenue from the forfeiture, which the panel found to be sufficient for the purposes of Article III standing. Despite loss of tax revenue relying on a forfeiture being order, the panel did not find that to be speculative to undermine the claim. However, when the panel looked to see if judicial review was possible under the APA, that because the forfeiture action is committed to agency discretion, and because the suit is forbidden under the forfeiture statute, judicial review is therefore precluded. Also, the panel noted that granting Oakland a legal remedy under the APA would lead to a duplicate review. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's ruling. AFFIRMED.

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