Lundeen v. Talmage, U.S. Dist. Ct., S. D. Ohio, No. 2:11-cv-484.
(1) The federal Younger abstention doctrine is applicable to Ohio Medical Board adjudications. Federal courts should abstain from interfering with these proceedings.
(2) Board members who are sued in their individual capacities for monetary damages are entitled to absolute immunity for matters relating to their quash-judicial function.
Physician whose license had been summarily suspended by the State Medical Board, brought an action against the Board members in their official and individual capacities. The physician sought a preliminary injunction to void the Board’s summary suspension. The Board members filed a motion to dismiss.
The federal district court held that it should abstain from taking jurisdiction of the action pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 410 U.S. 37 (1971), which held that federal courts should not issue injunctions that interfere with an ongoing judicial proceeding. The court held that Younger abstention applies to the Board’s administrative proceeding because the Board’s administrative action is quasi-judicial, serves the important state interest in regulating physicians, and provides and adequate opportunity to raise constitutional challenges.
The court further held that, to the extent the defendants were sued for monetary damages in their individual capacities, the board members were entitled to absolute immunity as quasi-judicial officers. The court held that the board members were entitled to be treated as judicial officers because perform an adjudicatory function, decide cases that are sufficiently controversial that they could be subject to numerous damage action, and that their adjudication provides sufficient constitutional safeguards for the litigant.