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Woodfeathers, Inc. v. Washington County, Or.

Citation: 29 ELR 21233
No. Nos. 97-35557, -35598, 180 F.3d 1017/(9th Cir., 05/20/1999)

The court holds that a district court erred in failing to abstain under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), in a case challenging the constitutionality of an Oregon county's solid waste ordinance. A company charged with violating the ordinance sought declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of the ordinance in federal court while state court proceedings were pending. A district court refused to abstain and enjoined enforcement of the ordinance. The court first holds that the district court correctly found that state judicial proceedings were pending. The court next holds, however, that the district court erred in finding that the state appellate proceedings did not provide an adequate opportunity to raise federal questions. State courts are presumed adequate to raise federal questions in the absence of unambiguous authority to the contrary. Indeed, in both the state trial and appellate courts, the company argued that the ordinance was preempted by federal law. In addition, the court holds that the county's enforcement of its solid waste ordinance implicates important state interests. Last, the court holds that federal preemption of the county's ordinance is not so readily apparent as to defeat Younger abstention

Counsel for Plaintiff
Russell M. Allen
Allen, Fellows, Livingston, Sheridan, Ryan, Odman & Ford
800 American Bank Bldg.
621 SW Morrison St., Portland OR 97205
(503) 224-4840

Counsel for Defendant
R. Daniel Lindahl
Bullivant, Houser, Bailey, Pendergrass & Hoffman
300 Pioneer Tower
888 SW 5th Ave., Portland OR 97204
(503) 228-6351

Before Kleinfeld and Hawkins, JJ.