The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:
We deal here with the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987.
As involved here, that Act has been interpreted by both the
Eighth and Ninth Circuits, but not our Seventh Circuit. Thus
we will address this case in this manner.
Plaintiffs Donald and Barbara Walker, appearing pro se, filed
a "civil rights complaint" against the Defendant in conjunction
with a motion to preliminarily enjoin a state court proceeding
between the parties. The facts giving rise to the suit are not
in dispute, although the legal effect of those facts is
The Walkers borrowed some $103,600 from the Federal Land
Bank of St. Louis, now known as the Farm Credit Bank of St.
Louis (hereinafter referred to FCB) in December of 1978. The
note signed by the Walkers included, at the bottom, the
For value received, the undersigned hereby
guarantees the payment of the within note,
according to the terms thereof, both as to
principal and as to interest.
This short paragraph was signed by the manager of the Federal
Land Bank Association of Hillsboro (hereinafter FLBH).
Apparently all did not go well with the Walkers'
agricultural endeavors, because the FCB, on May 5, 1988,
forwarded to the Walkers a copy of FCB's distressed loan
restructuring policy and an application to restructure their
loan. The Walkers were to complete these forms and return them
by June 22, 1988. Instead, though, the Walkers returned to the
FCB the forms which were in most respects wholly incomplete;
the distressed loan restructuring application information
requests were responded to with the question "Does this comply
with H.R. 3030?" This question refers to the House Resolution
which was later crafted into the Agricultural Credit Act of
1987, Part C of which is entitled "Rights of Borrowers; Loan
Restructuring" — in other words, the Walkers were obliquely
questioning whether the restructuring application complied with
their rights under the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987
(hereinafter 1987 Act). Also forwarded with this incomplete
restructuring application were some ten pages of requests for
information from the FCB.
On June 24, 1988, in response to the Walkers' submissions,
FCB sent a second letter apprising the Walkers of their right
to apply to have their distressed loan restructured, and noted
the FCB's receipt of the incomplete application. This second
letter detailed the information necessary to be supplied in
order for consideration of the restructuring application, and
allowed the Walkers until July 5, 1988, to comply prior to the
commencement of foreclosure proceedings on the loan.
The Walkers never responded, though, and so on July 6, 1988,
FCB informed the Walkers that their distressed loan
restructuring application was denied for being incomplete, and
that commencement of foreclosure proceedings was imminent.
This prompted the Walkers to send a letter to FCB requesting
a credit review committee reconsideration of the denial of the
restructuring application and for the names of three approved
appraisers; this letter was dated July 12, 1988. On July 21,
1988, FCB responded by letter that a credit review committee
hearing was only available when a completed application was
submitted. Additionally, FCB responded to the Walkers' request
for the names of three approved appraisers by noting that such
appraisers are only to be made available by the FCB in the
event restructuring is denied on the merits, whereas the
application was denied because it was not completed.
Following the above actions, FCB commenced foreclosure
proceedings in the Illinois state courts. This prompted the
Walkers to file the instant suit, and also to seek preliminary
injunctive relief to stay the state court proceedings pending
resolution of their federal cause of action. The original
complaint filed by the Walkers, dubbed a "civil rights
complaint," raised four different grounds why the Walkers
believed the FCB had infringed upon their federal
constitutional rights in bringing the foreclosure action.
After oral argument, this Court denied the Walkers' request
for preliminary injunctive relief in part on the ground that
the complaint had little likelihood of succeeding on the
merits. Specifically, we found that the complaint, framed in
terms of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, would likely fail for want of any
As we further noted, neither the mere institution of a
foreclosure proceeding nor the use of a state's tribunals
establish state action; by the same token, the FCB is, itself,
not a state actor, and thus is not a "person" for purposes of
§ 1983. We also denied injunctive relief on the grounds that no
private remedy exists under the 1987 Act, and also that any
preliminary injunctive relief was likely barred by virtue of
the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283.
Following their unsuccessful bid to enjoin the state court
proceeding in our Court, the Walkers filed a bankruptcy
petition and thus automatically stayed the foreclosure
proceeding. That petition, though, was dismissed, and the FCB
immediately filed a motion for summary judgment. The Walkers
responded to this motion by moving to dismiss without
prejudice, but we denied that motion on authority of Rule
41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Walkers
then responded to the motion for summary judgment and asked
for leave to file an amended complaint. The proposed amended
complaint raises essentially the same factual basis as their
original complaint, but this time the pleading is framed in
terms of a declaratory judgment action, and is premised upon
the Walkers' view that ...