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Resources for Indian Student Education v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 13, 2015

RESOURCES FOR INDIAN STUDENT EDUCATION, INC (R.I.S.E.), Plaintiff,
v.
CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA OF NORTHERN PAIUTE INDIANS; CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA TRIBAL COURT; PATRICIA R. LENZI, in her capacity as Chief Judge of the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Court, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA OF NORTHERN PAIUTE INDIANS' MOTION TO DISMISS, GRANTING DEFENDANT CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA TRIBAL COURT AND DEFENDANT PATRICIA LENZI'S MOTION TO DISMISS, DENYING DEFENDANT CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA OF NORTHERN PAIUTE INDIANS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS, AND DENYING PLAINTIFF RESOURCES FOR INDIAN STUDENT EDUCATION'S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

JOHN A. MENDEZ, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians' ("Defendant Tribe") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #14) Plaintiff Resources for Indian Student Education, Inc.'s ("Plaintiff" or "RISE") Complaint (Doc. #1). Defendants Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Court and Judge Patricia Lenzi ("Tribal Court Defendants") bring a motion to dismiss (Doc. #17) on similar grounds. Also before the Court is Defendant Tribe's motion for Rule 11 sanctions (Doc. #15) and Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction (Doc. #4). For the following reasons, both Defendant Tribe and Tribal Court Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted without prejudice, Defendant Tribe's motion for sanctions is denied, and Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction is denied for lack of jurisdiction.[1]

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

At some point prior to December 2013, Duanna Knighton resigned from her job with Defendant Tribe. Compl. ¶ 14. At the time that she was employed with Defendant Tribe, Knighton was also employed with Plaintiff RISE. Compl. ¶ 12. At the time of her resignation, Knighton and Defendant Tribe agreed that "she was owed the sum of $29, 925, which represented accrued but unused 665 hours of sick leave." Compl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff alleges that "it was understood that the sum would be paid to RISE to maintain health insurance" for Knighton. Compl. ¶ 14. On December 18, 2013, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendant Tribe demanding reimbursement of the $29, 925 paid to RISE on behalf of Knighton. Compl. ¶ 14.

On October 2, 2014, Defendant Tribe filed a complaint in Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Court ("Tribal Court") against RISE and Knighton. Compl. ¶ 11. The Tribal Court complaint ("Tribal Court Action") alleges multiple causes of action against Knighton, for "poor investments" that she made while employed with Defendant Tribe. Compl. ¶ 12. Defendant Tribe also filed an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order against RISE and Knighton in the Tribal Court Action. Compl. ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges that this application was granted without providing RISE "with prior notice of the [a]pplication or a chance to be heard." Compl. ¶16. Plaintiff further alleges that "the Tribal Court unilaterally ruled that it has subject matter jurisdiction over the action[.]" Compl. ¶ 17. Plaintiff does not allege that it has affirmatively pursued a challenge to the Tribal Court's jurisdiction in the Tribal Court.

On October 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint (Doc. #1) in this Court for declarative and injunctive relief against Defendant Tribe and Tribal Court Defendants. Plaintiff also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on November 19, 2014 (Doc. #4), which was denied for failure to provide notice to Defendants (Doc. #5). On November 26, 2014, Plaintiff re-filed the motion for a temporary restraining order (Doc. #8). The motion was again denied on the grounds that Plaintiff had failed to show the need for an expedited ruling (Doc. #9). Plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order was then converted into a motion for a preliminary injunction.

II. OPINION

A. Judicial Notice

Tribal Court Defendants request that the Court take judicial notice of several documents (Doc. #20). First, they request judicial notice of Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction, the Court's November 26, 2014 Order, and the parties' December 12, 2014 stipulation for an extension of time to file a responsive pleading. These documents are already part of the record in this case, and the request is denied as unnecessary.

Tribal Court Defendants also request that the Court take judicial notice of "the Declaration of Jack Duran, and all attached exhibits submitted in support of [Defendant Tribe's] motion for sanctions." Doc. #20 at 2. Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3, and Exhibit 7 to the Duran Declaration (Doc. #28) are filings from the Tribal Court Matter. As these court filings are matters of public record, they are appropriate for judicial notice. See, e.g., Sherman v. Stryker Corp. , 2009 WL 2241664 at *2 (C.D. Cal. 2009) (citing Lee v. City of Los Angeles , 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001) and Fed.R.Evid. 201). However, the Court merely takes judicial notice of the existence of these filings, not of the facts included therein.

Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit 4 of the Duran Declaration appear to be email communications between Defendant Tribe's counsel and Plaintiff's counsel. These email communications are not appropriate for judicial notice and the request is denied with respect to these three exhibits.

Exhibit 5 is an excerpt of the Federal Register noting that Cedarville Rancheria is an "Indian Tribal Entity... Eligible to Receive Benefits from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs." This fact is a matter of public record and not subject to reasonable dispute, therefore the request for judicial notice is granted.

Exhibit 6 appears to be a slip opinion from a 2012 Ninth Circuit case, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, LLC v. Sa Nyu Wa, Inc., This case is easily accessible on Westlaw and should have simply been referred to in the briefs with ...


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