United States District Court, D. Hawaii
DE MONT R.D. CONNER; RACHEL L. KAILIANU, Plaintiffs,
WILLIAM AILA, ET AL., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING VERIFIED MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION, ECF NO. 11
MICHAEL SEABRIGHT CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
6, 2019, pro se Plaintiffs De Mont R.D. Conner
(“Conner”) and Rachel L. Kailianu
“Plaintiffs”) initiated this action against
Defendants State of Hawaii Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
(“DHHL”); DHHL officials; commissioners of the
Hawaiian Homes Commission (“HHC”) (collectively
the “State Defendants”); and the United States
(collectively “Defendants”). On June 3, 2019,
Plaintiffs filed nearly identical Verified Motions for
Temporary Restraining Order (“Motion for TRO”)
and for Preliminary Injunction (“Motion for PI”).
ECF Nos. 10, 11. The Motion for TRO was denied on June 10,
2019 (“TRO Order”). ECF No. 15. The instant
Motion for PI seeks the same relief as that sought by the
Motion for TRO-an order “enjoining [the] State
Defendants . . . from Ejecting or Evicting the Plaintiffs . .
. from their Home on Hawaiian Homes Lease Land . . . .”
ECF No. 11 at PageID #86-87.
reasons set forth below, the Motion for PI is DENIED.
background of this action is set forth in detail in the TRO
Order. See ECF No. 15 at PageID #135-37. Because the
parties and the court are familiar with this background, the
court sets forth an abbreviated background sufficient to
provide context for this order.
allege that they are “native Hawaiians” and
“beneficiaries of a ‘public trust' created by
the Hawaii Admission Act, ” that Kailianu holds a
homestead lease for land pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes
Commission Act, and that Conner is a successor to
Kailianu's homestead lease. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 4-5,
ECF No. 1 at PageID #3. In September 2018, DHHL filed a
Complaint for Ejectment in Hawaii state court, seeking to
eject Plaintiffs from Kailianu's residential lease (No.
4692) for lot no. 337 in Nanakuli, Hawaii. ECF No. 11 ¶
1 at PageID #87. The state-court action remains pending, with
a status conference currently set for September 10, 2019. ECF
No. 25-3 at PageID #215.
on May 6, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the instant action in
federal court “challenging the homestead lease program,
” and claiming that by the state-court ejectment
action, Defendants have breached the public trust created by
the Admission Act and violated Plaintiffs' rights
protected by the due process clause of the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments and the takings clause of the Fifth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. ECF No. 1 at
PageID #2. Plaintiffs further allege that by the ejectment
action, Defendants “decided to ‘Take'”
Plaintiffs' home. Id. at PageID #9. On May 10,
2019, this court granted Plaintiffs' applications to
proceed in forma pauperis and directed service of the
Complaint. ECF No. 5.
3, 2019, Plaintiffs filed Motions for TRO and PI seeking to
enjoin the Defendants from ejecting them from their home. ECF
Nos. 10, 11. On June 10, 2019, the court denied the Motion
for TRO. ECF No. 15. On July 29, 2019, the State Defendants
filed a Response to the Motion for PI. ECF No. 25. Plaintiff
did not file a Reply. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), the
court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a
STANDARD OF REVIEW
preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary and drastic
remedy” never awarded as of right. Munaf v.
Geren, 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008) (citations omitted).
“To warrant a preliminary injunction, [Plaintiffs] must
demonstrate that [they] meet all four of the elements of
the preliminary injunction test established in [Winter v.
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7
(2008)].” DISH Network Corp. v. F.C.C., 653
F.3d 771, 776 (9th Cir. 2011). To meet the Winter
elements, Plaintiffs “must establish (1) that [they
are] likely to succeed on the merits, (2) that [they are]
likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief, (3) that the balance of equities tips in
[their] favor, and (4) that an injunction is in the public
interest.” BOKF, NA v. Estes, 923 F.3d 558,
561-62 (9th Cir. 2019) (citation and quotation marks
omitted). “[I]f a plaintiff can only show that there
are ‘serious questions going to the merits'-a
lesser showing than likelihood of success on the merits-then
a preliminary injunction may still issue if the
‘balance of hardships tips sharply in the
plaintiff's favor,' and the other two Winter
factors are satisfied.” Shell Offshore, Inc. v.
Greenpeace, Inc., 709 F.3d 1281, 1291 (9th Cir. 2013)
(quoting All. for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632
F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011)).
Motion for PI is denied for the same reason their Motion for
TRO was denied-they fail to establish the requisite
Winter elements to obtain the relief they seek. The
Motion for PI does not show (1) serious questions going to
the merits, let alone that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed
on the merits, (2) why they will likely suffer irreparable
harm in the absence of an injunction, (3) why the balance of
equities tips in their favor, or (4) why an injunction is in
the public interest.
Likelihood of ...