Unpublished Disposition, 921 F.2d 280 (9th Cir. 1990)Annotate this Case
Vern LEMRICK, Plaintiff-Appellant,v.OREGON COURT SYSTEM, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted Dec. 18, 1990.* Decided Dec. 21, 1990.
Before GOODWIN, Chief Judge, and SCHROEDER and BRUNETTI, Circuit Judges.
Vern Lemrick appeals pro se the district court's dismissal of his action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review the dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction de novo, McIntyre v. McIntyre, 771 F.2d 1316, 1317 (9th Cir. 1985), and we affirm.
Lemrick filed this action in the federal district court against the Oregon Court System, Chief Judge Edwin Peterson, court administrator William Linden, several other Oregon state court officials, and his ex-wife Mari Frances Lemrick. Lemrick alleged that the defendants, in granting his wife a no-fault divorce, "conspired, both publicly, and privately to defraud [him] by breaching the fifteen (15) year old contract." Lemrick sought declaratory relief prohibiting the Oregon Court System from "impairing contracts" under Art.I, Sec. 10 of the U.S. Constitution, and $1,000,000 in damages. The district court, adopting the findings of the magistrate, dismissed Lemrick's action because it fell within the domestic relations exception.
The domestic relations exception to the federal court's jurisdiction has been given a narrow construction. McIntyre v. McIntyre, 771 F.2d 1316, 1317 (9th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). If the status of husband and wife is the primary issue in a case, a federal court must decline jurisdiction. Id. (citing Buechold v. Ortiz, 401 F.2d 371, 372 (9th Cir. 1968)) .
Although Lemrick alleges several federal statutory and constitutional violations by defendants, he primarily attacks the validity of the state court divorce decree. Lemrick would have this court set aside his divorce decree as well as the state court's award of custody of their child to his ex-wife. Under these circumstances, the district court did not err in determining that Lemrick's action fell within the domestic relations exception to federal jurisdiction. See McIntyre, 771 F.2d at 1317-18.