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GUIDIVILLE BAND OF POMO INDIANS v. NGV GAMING LTD.

October 19, 2005.

GUIDIVILLE BAND OF POMO INDIANS, Plaintiff,
v.
NGV GAMING LTD., a Florida partnership, Defendant. NGV GAMING, LTD., a Florida partnership, Plaintiff, v. UPSTREAM POINT MOLATE, LLC, a California limited liability company and HARRAH'S OPERATING COMPANY, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL CONTI, Senior District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF GUIDIVILLE BAND OF POMO INDIANS' MOTION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF
AND
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF NGV GAMING, LTD.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
AND
ORDER DISMISSING CASE NO. C 04-3955-SC, NGV GAMING, LTD. v. UPSTREAM POINT MOLATE, LLC and HARRAH'S OPERATING COMPANY
I. INTRODUCTION
Plaintiff NGV Gaming, Ltd. ("NGV") filed this action, Case No. 04-3955, against rival casino development groups Upstream Point Molate, LLC and Harrah's Operating Company, Inc. ("Defendants") alleging that Defendants tortiously interfered with NGV's contract with the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians ("the Tribe").

The Tribe filed Case No. 05-01605 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against NGV on the grounds that the underlying contracts are invalid. The two cases were consolidated.

  The Tribe now moves for declaratory relief. Specifically, the Tribe asks the Court to issue an order declaring the Agreements to be invalid. NGV now moves for summary judgment.*fn1

  For the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby GRANTS the Tribe's motion for declaratory relief and DENIES NGV's motion for summary judgment and DISMISSES Case No. 04-3955.

  II. LEGAL STANDARD

  The burden of proving the requirements for declaratory relief — i.e., the existence of a dispute on a matter within federal court subject matter jurisdiction — rests on the party seeking declaratory relief. State of Texas v. West Publishing Co., 882 F.2d 171, 175 (5th Cir. 1989).

  The burden of proof as to the substantive right involved rests on whichever party holds the coercive claim — the true plaintiff. See Sanchez-Martinez v. I.N.S., 714 F.2d 72 (9th Cir. 1983). III. BACKGROUND

  On July 3, 2002, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians entered into a series of contracts (the "Transaction Agreements" or the "Agreements") with F.E.G.V. Corporation to develop and construct a proposed gaming facility on restored trust land in Northern California. Plaintiff NGV's Memorandum in Support of Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment at 3 ("Pl. NGV's Mem."). NGV is the assignee of these contracts. Id. The Transaction Agreements consist of the Development Agreement and Personal Property Lease ("Lease") and a Cash Management Agreement ("CMA"). Id. NGV was obligated under the Transaction Agreements to assist the Tribe in identifying and purchasing land in order to establish the trust land base on which the gaming facility would eventually be built. Id.

  In January of 2004, Defendants began negotiating to purchase 354 acres of land from an outside entity for the purpose of building a gaming facility. Id. at 4. According to NGV, Defendants were aware of the existing contracts between NGV and the Tribe, yet intended to put these lands into trust for the Tribe and build a gaming facility for the Tribe to operate. Id. at 4-5.

  On August 2, 2004, the Tribe sent a letter to NGV in which it attempted to "rescind" the Transaction Agreements with NGV. Id. at 6. NGV maintains that the reasons given for the rescission were "entirely pretextual" and that the Tribe was induced to terminate its agreements with NGV as a result of Defendants' interference. Id. at 6. After termination of the contract, NGV filed its case, No. 04-3955, against Defendants, alleging tortious interference with a valid contract. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss NGV's complaint on the grounds that NGV failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Court denied this motion and granted the Tribe's motion to participate as an amicus curiae.

  The Tribe filed Case No. 05-1605, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in Case No. 04-3955.

  IV. DISCUSSION

  Under the standard cited above, the Court finds that the Tribe, as the declaratory relief plaintiff, has established the existence of a dispute on a matter within federal court subject matter jurisdiction.

  The Court further finds, under the above-stated standard, that NGV is the true plaintiff because it is trying to establish that the contracts are valid, therefore it possesses the "coercive" claim. ...


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