United States District Court, E.D. California
NICOLAS VILLA, JR., and the HISTORIC IONE BAND OF MIWOK INDIANS TRIBE, Plaintiffs,
SALLY JEWELL, in her capacity as the Secretary of the DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR, the DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR, the BUREAU of INDIAN AFFAIRS, AMY DUTCHSKE, in her capacity as the Pacific Regional Director of the BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, and JOHN DOE and MARY ROE, unknown BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS employees in their official capacities, Defendants.
matter is before the court on defendants' motion to
dismiss. ECF No. 16. Plaintiffs oppose defendants'
motion. ECF No. 19. The court heard arguments on September
23, 2016; Mark Kallenback appeared on behalf of plaintiffs,
and Victoria Boesch appeared on behalf of defendants. ECF No.
25. For the following reasons, the court GRANTS
Villa, Jr. is the tribal leader of the Historic Ione Band of
Miwok Indians Tribe (the “Tribe”). Second Am.
Compl. (“SAC”) ¶ 3, ECF No. 14. The
Department of the Interior is a Cabinet-level agency that
manages America's natural and cultural resources through
a number of government agencies, including the Bureau of
Indian Affairs (“BIA”). Id. ¶ 5.
The BIA provides services to federally recognized American
Indian Tribes directly and through contracts, grants and
compacts. Id. ¶ 8. The Tribe is a federally
recognized tribe located in Ione, California. Id.
¶¶ 17, 31-32, 37-38.
Tribe maintains a membership roll composed of descendants of
the Tribe based upon historic membership lists. Id.
¶ 46. In the 1990s there was an internal power struggle
within the Tribe concerning the Tribe's leadership and
membership rolls. See generally Id. In 1994, in
accordance with its new constitution and membership
ordinance, plaintiff Villa was the leader of the thirty-two
member Tribe. Id. ¶¶ 47-48. However, some
Tribe members contested Villa's leadership. Id.
¶ 49. Mediation between the Tribe members, including
Villa, failed in 1995. Id. ¶ 51. Thereafter,
the BIA established Enrollment and Election Committees,
id. ¶ 60, and in 1996 held the election of an
Interim Tribal Council. Id. ¶ 62. Many of the
individuals the BIA allowed to vote for the Interim Tribal
Council were not members and had no affiliation with the
Tribe, see Id. ¶ 63, and the majority of the
Tribe's genuine members were excluded from the membership
rolls, id. ¶ 57.
filed their first complaint in this case on March 9, 2016.
ECF No. 1. They filed their first amended complaint on July
1, 2016, ECF No. 12, and their second amended complaint on
August 1, 2016. In their second amended complaint, plaintiffs
plead three claims: (1) Declaratory Judgment; (2) Injunctive
Relief; and (3) Voting Rights. SAC at 25-28. Within these
“claims, ” plaintiffs allege violations of the
Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”), 25 U.S.C.
§ 476(f), (g), and (h). Id.
August 5, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss arguing,
among other reasons, lack of subject-matter jurisdiction,
failure to join a party, and the applicable statute of
limitations bars plaintiffs' claims. Defs.' Mot., ECF
No. 16. Plaintiffs oppose defendants' motion, Pls.'
Opp'n, ECF No. 19, and defendants replied, Defs.'
Reply, ECF No. 23.
Rule 12(b)(1): Subject Matter Jurisdiction
motion relies in part on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1), contending plaintiffs' complaint “fails
to allege facts sufficient to establish subject matter
jurisdiction.” Defs.' Mot. at 4. Plaintiffs respond
by arguing only that their second amended complaint
“sets out in significant detail the factual bases . . .
that implores [sic] the Court to declare that the Historic
Ione Band of Miwok Indians is a federally recognized Indian
Tribe . . . . Defendants' argument that [p]laintiffs'
[complaint] fails to allege facts sufficient to establish
subject matter jurisdiction [ ] must be rejected given the
extensive facts pled.” Pls.' Opp'n at 12.
black-letter law that “[f]ederal courts are courts of
limited subject matter jurisdiction.” Kelly v.
Wengler, 822 F.3d 1085, 1094 (9th Cir. 2016). As the
Supreme Court has explained, “[federal courts] possess
only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which
is not to be expanded by judicial decree. It is to be
presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction,
and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the
party asserting jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
first two claims are for declaratory judgment and injunctive
relief. Pls.' Opp'n at 25-27. However, as defendants
correctly observe, see Defs.' Mot. at 4, claims
for declaratory and injunctive relief are not properly styled
as claims but rather are requests for specific remedies.
See, e.g., Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., v.
Mortgage Guar. Ins. Corp., 642 F.3d 849, 853 (9th Cir.
2011) (observing that Declaratory Judgment Act “in no
way modifies the district court's jurisdiction, which
must properly exist independent of the Declaratory Judgment
Act”); see also Birdman v. Office of the
Governor, 677 F.3d 167, 172 (3d Cir. 2012) (injunction
is remedy, not cause of action); Klay v. United
Healthgroup, Inc., 376 F.3d 1092, 1098 (11th Cir. 2004)
(same). Plaintiffs' first two claims do not confer upon
this court subject matter jurisdiction.
third claim alleges defendants violated the IRA “when
they encouraged, promoted and permitted non-tribal parties to
become members of the Mock Tribe under the guise of a
federally recognized Tribe.” SAC ¶ 105 (citing 25
U.S.C. § 476 (f) (g) and (h)). Defendants argue
violations of the IRA “do not create any private right
of action.” Defs.' Mot. at 5. By way of response,
plaintiffs say they “have not pled 25 U.S.C. § 476
(f), (g), and (h) as a private cause of action.”
Pls.' Opp'n at 13:17. They suggest they instead
simply “ask the Court to order the BIA to be law
abiding and not to violate 25 U.S.C. § 476(f), (g) and
(h).” Id. at 13:18-20. In the Second Amended
Complaint, in the pleadings making up this third claim,
plaintiffs request an order enjoining those who are not legal
members of ...