United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
Eric C. Deters, Plaintiff,
Scott Drexel,  et al., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
MICHAEL R. BARRETT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon the Motion to Dismiss filed
by Defendants Ohio Disciplinary Counsel Scott Drexel, Chief
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Joseph M. Caligiuri, and
Members of the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law
(“UPL Board”), Richard L. Creighton, Jr., Kent C.
Kiffner, Jamar T. King, Paul T. Kirner, David Kutik, Amy
Lewis, Edward T. Mohler, Jan A. Saurman, Wednesday G. Shipp,
James S. Simon, David Tom, David E. Tschantz, and Alfred P.
Vargas. (Doc. 10). Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition
(Doc. 18) and Defendants filed Reply (Doc. 19).
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.
(Doc. 20). On December 20, 2019, the Court held an informal
hearing regarding Plaintiff's Motion pursuant to S.D.
Ohio Civ. R. 65.1. During the hearing, the parties agreed
that the Court should rule on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss before addressing Plaintiff's Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order.
Eric C. Deters brings constitutional claims pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is a former attorney associated
with the Deters Law Firm. The Deters Law Firm represents a
large number of plaintiffs in claims brought against Abubakar
Atiq Durrani, M.D., his former medical practice group and
several hospitals (“Durrani litigation”).
Plaintiff believes that Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice
Maureen O'Connor is seeking to deny justice to the
plaintiffs in the Durrani litigation. As a result, the Deters
Law Firm has filed four federal lawsuits against Chief
Justice O'Connor and other members of the state
judiciary. Plaintiff claims that Defendants have commenced
unauthorized-practice-of-law proceedings against him in
retaliation for filing these lawsuits. Plaintiff seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief in order to enjoin the
prosecution of unauthorized-practice-of-law proceedings.
move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims based upon failure to
state a claim. Defendants maintain that this Court should
abstain from reviewing this case pursuant to the doctrine of
abstention set forth in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S.
37, 44, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971).
Standard of Review
reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this
Court must “construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true
and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate
Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Directv, Inc. v Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476
(6th Cir. 2007)). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides
that all pleadings must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although particular
detail is not generally necessary, the factual allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level” such that the claim “is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556-57 (2007). “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Younger abstention doctrine
Sixth Circuit has explained: “Younger
abstention derives from a desire to prevent federal courts
from interfering with the functions of state criminal
prosecutions and to preserve equity and comity.”
Doe v. Univ. of Kentucky, 860 F.3d 365, 368 (6th
Cir. 2017) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37,
44, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971)). The Supreme Court
has extended the doctrine to ongoing administrative
proceedings such as attorney disciplinary proceedings.
Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar
Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 434-35, 102 S.Ct. 2515, 73
L.Ed.2d 116 (1982). Therefore, this case falls into one of
the three “exceptional” categories identified by
the Supreme Court in New Orleans Public Service, Inc. v.
Council of New Orleans (“NOPSI”), 491 U.S.
350, 109 S.Ct. 2506, 105 L.Ed.2d 298 (1989) in which
abstention under Younger may be required. See
Sprint Commc'ns, Inc. v. Jacobs, 571 U.S. 69, 78,
134 S.Ct. 584, 591, 187 L.Ed.2d 505 (2013).
Sixth Circuit has instructed that once a court determines
that a case falls into a NOPSI category, the court
should then determine whether Younger abstention is
proper using the following three-factor test: If “(1)
state proceedings are currently pending; (2) the proceedings
involve an important state interest; and (3) the state
proceedings will provide the federal plaintiff with an
adequate opportunity to raise his constitutional claims,
” a court may abstain from hearing the federal claim.
Aaron v. O'Connor, 914 F.3d 1010, 1018 (6th Cir.
2019) (quoting Doe, 860 F.3d at 369).
argues that the third factor has not been met. Under this
factor, Plaintiff bears the burden of showing ‘that the
state procedural law barred presentation of its
claims.'” Id. (quoting Pennzoil Co. v.
Texaco Inc., 481 U.S. 1, 14, 107 S.Ct. 1519, 95 L.Ed.2d
1 (1987)). Plaintiff has not met that burden here. Plaintiff
argues that he cannot be given fair and impartial hearings
due to the lack of neutral decision makers. However, the
question is whether Plaintiff will have an adequate
opportunity to raise his constitutional claims. See
Chamber of Commerce of U.S. v. Ohio Elections
Comm'n, 135 F.Supp.2d 857, 865 (S.D. Ohio 2001). As
the Sixth Circuit has noted:
The final report of the UPL Board is subject to review by the
Ohio Supreme Court. See Gov. Bar. R. VII, §
19(a). Nothing in Gov. Bar R. VII prohibits a party from
raising constitutional claims during the Ohio Supreme
Court's review of the UPL Board's final report.
Absent evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to
presume that the Ohio Supreme Court would not entertain ...