Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 18, 2009

RLUIPA Defense to Zoning Enforcement Action Not Enough to Remove Case to Federal Court

The Sahag-Mesrob Armenian Christian School failed to secure a required conditional use permit prior to opening the school.  After City enforcement actions against the school were unsuccessful, the commenced the present legal action in state court for nuisance abatement to enjoin the unlawful operation of the school.  Following the City’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the Sahag-Mesrob School filed a notice to remove the matter to the federal district court, asserting among other things, that the City imposed the zoning violations without abiding by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).


In denying the motion for removal, the District Court concluded that the City’s complaint only raises an issue of state law, specifically zoning violations. Although the defendant alleges a RLUIPA violation as a defense, for purposes of meeting the test of an action “arising under” a federal law,  jurisdiction does not attach to a defense.



County of Los Angeles v. Sahag-Mesrob Armenian Christian School, 2009 WL 737061 (C.D.CA.3/18/2009)


Thanks to Dwight Merriam, Esq. of Robinson & Cole in Hartford, CT  for sending along this case.  Read his summary on the IMLA blog here

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