Berrada Props. Mgmt. v. Romanski

Full title: BERRADA PROPERTIES MANAGEMENT INC., Youssef Berrada, Plaintiffs, v. Randy ROMANSKI, Josh Kaul, Defendants.

Court: United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin

Date published: Jun 22, 2022

Facts

Berrada Properties Management, Inc. (BPM) is the exclusive management agent for properties owned by various Wisconsin limited liability companies of which Youssef Berrada is the sole member. (ECF No. 8 ¶14.) BPM currently manages about 6,200 residential rental units in the greater Milwaukee area. (Id. ¶16.) Since July 13, 2018, BPM’s allegedly unfair treatment of tenants has been the subject of several articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (ECF No. 11 at 6.) These articles, along with three anonymous complaints, led the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to open an investigation into BPM and Berrada in April 2020. (Id. at 6-7.) As part of this investigation, the DATCP issued a series of civil investigative demands (CIDs). (ECF No. 8 ¶¶28-60.)

Berrada and BPM timely responded to the CIDs. (Id. ¶47.) But they grew increasingly suspicious when the responses did not placate the government, and the investigation continued to expand in both purpose and breadth. (Id. ¶¶49-50.) After obtaining new legal counsel, Berrada and BPM changed strategy and went on the offensive, bringing this lawsuit against Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Randy Romanski, the Secretary-Designee of the DATCP. (ECF No. 1-2.)

Issue

Decision

Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that will prevent the State of Wisconsin from proving, in its own courts, a violation of state law through the introduction of evidence obtained via administrative subpoenas or CIDs issued by a state agency. Principles of equity, comity, and federalism foreclose access to this kind of relief. The Court must therefore abstain and dismiss the case.

Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, upon its motion, the Court will abstain from hearing this case, and the case is REMANDED to Ozaukee County Circuit Court for further proceedings.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendants’ motion to dismiss, ECF No. 10, be denied as moot.

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