United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' APPEAL FROM MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S MAY 26, 2016 ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING
IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR
DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
E. KOBAYASHI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is pro se Plaintiffs Marvin Iseke, Alice Ubando,
and Shirley Ann Lessary's (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) Appeal from Magistrate Judge's
May 26, 2016 Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part
Plaintiffs' Motion to File Amended Complaint for
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (“Appeal”),
filed on June 24, 2016. [Dkt. no. 55.] Defendant the City and
County of Honolulu (“Defendant” or “the
City”) filed its memorandum in opposition on July 11,
2016, and Plaintiffs filed their reply on July 28,
2016. [Dkt. nos. 58, 59.] The Court finds this
matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to
Rule LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United
States District Court for the District of Hawai`i
(“Local Rules”). After careful consideration of
the Appeal, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the
relevant legal authority, Plaintiffs' Appeal is HEREBY
DENIED for the reasons set forth below.
relevant factual and procedural background of this case is
familiar to the parties, and the Court will only discuss the
issues relevant to the Appeal. On April 18, 2016, Plaintiffs
filed their Motion for Leave. The magistrate judge took the
motion non-hearing, and on May 26, 2016, he issued an order
granting in part and denying in part the Motion for Leave
(“5/26/16 Order”). [Dkt. no. 43.] On June 3,
2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration of the
5/26/16 Order (“Reconsideration”), which the
magistrate judge denied on June 13, 2016 (“6/13/16
Order”). [Dkt. nos. 44, 51.] Plaintiffs filed their
Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
(“Amended Complaint”) on June 6, 2016. [Dkt. no.
47.] Plaintiffs bring the instant Appeal pursuant to Local
magistrate judge explained in the 5/26/16 Order, the Motion
for Leave sought
to amend [the] Complaint to add as a defendant Mayor Kirk
Caldwell in his official capacity and to assert seven [new]
claims: (1) [National Environmental Policy Act
(“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et
seq.] violations against all Defendants; (2) [Hawai`i
Environmental Policy Act (“HEPA”), Haw. Rev.
Stat. Chapter 343, ] violations against all Defendants; (3)
misuse of [HUD Community Development Block Grant
(“CDBG”)] funds against Defendant City and Mayor
Caldwell; (4) violations of the Administrative Procedures Act
(“APA”)[, 5 U.S.C. § 500 et seq., ]
and NEPA against Defendant HUD; (5) violations of the Oahu
General Plan and Ko`olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan
against all Defendants; (6) violations of procedural due
process under the United States Constitution against all
Defendants; and (7) violations of procedural due process
under the Hawaii State Constitution against all Defendants.
Order at 3.] The magistrate judge granted the Motion to Leave
insofar as it sought to add claims for: NEPA violations
against the City and HUD; and violations of the APA and NEPA
against HUD. [Id. at 21.] The magistrate judge
denied the Motion for Leave insofar as it sought to add any
other new claims. [Id.]
argue that the 5/26/16 Order should have been in the form of
a findings and recommendation because it is dispositive in
nature, and that the magistrate judge erred in finding that:
(1) there is no private right of action under the Housing and
Community Development Act (“HCDA”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 5304(a); (2) there is no private right of action under
the Ko`olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan and O`ahu
General Plan; and (3) Plaintiffs' due process claims,
under both the United States Constitution and the Hawai`i
State Constitution, are time-barred. [Appeal at 3-4.] The
City argues that the 5/26/16 Order was nondispositive, and
that the magistrate judge's rulings were correct. [Mem.
in Opp. at 2.]
district court has stated:
A magistrate judge's jurisdiction to enter an order,
rather than to issue recommendations to the district court,
is dependent on whether the matter before the magistrate
judge is characterized as dispositive or nondispositive of a
claim or defense of a party. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72. If the matter
is nondispositive, then, under § 636(b)(1)(A) and Rule
72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the magistrate
judge may properly enter an order disposing of the matter. A
magistrate judge's order regarding nondispositive matters
may be reversed by the district court judge only when it is
“clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(A); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).
However, if the dispute is over a dispositive matter, then
the magistrate judge has authority to enter findings and
recommendations. Objections to the magistrate judge's
findings are reviewed de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c);
see Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Nondispositive matters are those “pretrial matter[s]
not dispositive of a party's claim or defense.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). In contrast, a dispositive matter
involves the determination of the merits of the case or is
critical in shaping the nature of the litigation. Kiep v.
Turner, 80 B.R. 521, 523-24 (D. Haw. 1987). The court
must look to the “effect of the motion” to
determine whether it is dispositive or nondispositive of a
claim or defense of a party. United States v.
Rivera-Guerrero, 377 F.3d 1064, 1068 (9th Cir. 2004)
(internal citations omitted).
JJCO, Inc. v. Isuzu Motors Am., Inc., Civ. No.
08-00419 SOM/LEK, 2009 WL 3818247, at *2 (D. Hawai`i Nov. 12,
district court has also articulated a standard for reviewing
a magistrate judge's rulings on nondispositive matters:
The threshold of the “clearly erroneous” test is
high. See Boskoff v. Yano, 217 F.Supp.2d 1077, 1084
(D. Haw. 2001). The magistrate judge's factual findings
must be accepted unless the court is “left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” United States v. Silverman, 861
F.2d 571, 576- (9th Cir. 1988). “The reviewing
court may not simply substitute its judgment for that of the
deciding court.” Grimes v. City & Cnty. of
S.F., 951 F.2d 236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991).
“A decision is ‘contrary to law' if it
applies an incorrect legal standard or fails to consider an
element of the applicable standard.” Na Pali Haweo
Cmty. Ass'n v. Grande, 252 F.R.D. 672, 674 (D. Haw.
2008); see Hunt v. Nat'l Broadcasting Co., 872
F.2d 289, 292 (9th Cir. 1989) (noting that such failures
constitute abuse of discretion).
Himmelfarb v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, Nat'l
Ass'n, CV. No. 10-00058 DAE-KSC, 2011 WL 4498975, at
*2 (D. ...