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Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 27, 2017

GLENN-COLUSA IRRIGATION DISTRICT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS; ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR WORKS JO-ELLEN DARCY, in her official capacity; LIEUTENANT GENERAL TODD SEMONITE, in his official capacity; and COLONEL DAVID RAY, in his official capacity; Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR PARTIAL DISMISSAL

          WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District brought this action against defendants the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”), Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, and Colonel David Ray, alleging that the USACE[1] breached a construction contract it and the USACE had entered into by failing to construct an irrigation facility according to the contract's specifications. (Compl. (Docket No. 1).) Before the court is defendants' Motion to dismiss three of the five claims alleged in this action as untimely under the limitations period set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a). (Defs.' Mot. (Docket No. 13).)

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff is a state government entity that oversees farming irrigation in Glenn and Colusa counties in California. (See Compl. ¶ 14.) The USACE is a subdivision of the United States Army that builds and maintains infrastructure in the United States. (See Id. ¶ 17; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, http://www.usace.army.mil/About (last visited June 19, 2017).) The individual defendants are Army personnel who are involved in overseeing USACE operations. (See Compl. ¶¶ 18-20.)

         In 1999, plaintiff and the USACE entered into a Project Cooperation Agreement (“PCA”) whereby the two parties agreed to co-fund the construction of an irrigation gradient facility (“gradient facility”) designed to improve the performance of a fish screen plaintiff had implemented at its irrigation pump plant. (See Id. ¶¶ 39, 50.) The PCA provides that the USACE would be responsible for constructing the gradient facility and, upon completion of the facility, issue a written notice of construction completion to plaintiff, at which time plaintiff would become responsible for “maintain[ing], repair[ing], replac[ing], and rehabilitat[ing]” the facility. (Id. ¶ 55; Id. Ex. A, Project Cooperation Agreement (“PCA”) at 5.)

         Plaintiff alleges that the USACE “began construction of the Gradient Facility in May 2000 and completed construction in November 2000.” (Compl. ¶ 68.)

         “Almost immediately after construction was completed, ” plaintiff alleges, “significant defects associated with the Gradient Facility were observed.” (Id. ¶ 69.) Such defects allegedly resulted from the USACE's failure to build certain parts of the gradient facility according to the PCA's specifications. (See Id. ¶¶ 127, 129, 133.) Plaintiff reported the defects to the USACE in December 2000. (Id. ¶ 71.)

         From 2001 to 2003, the USACE took “limited action[s]” to remedy the gradient facility's defects. (See Id. ¶¶ 72-78.) From 2004 to 2007, no work was done on the defects. (See Id. ¶¶ 78, 83, 89-90.)

         “[I]n August 2008, the USACE convened a team of experts to review the Gradient Facility.” (Id. ¶¶ 93-94.) The experts allegedly “identified significant areas of concern[]” with the facility stemming from the defects plaintiff had complained about beginning in December 2000. (See Id. ¶¶ 71, 96.) Over the next four and a half years, plaintiff and the USACE engaged in a number of unsuccessful efforts to “develop solutions to the Gradient Facility's myriad of issues.” (See Id. ¶¶ 97-104.)

         In March 2013, the USACE issued notice of construction completion for the gradient facility to plaintiff, notifying plaintiff that it considered the facility complete for purposes of the PCA and plaintiff would be responsible for maintaining, repairing, replacing, and rehabilitating the facility going forward. (See Id. ¶ 105-106.)

         Plaintiff thereafter brought an action against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims, alleging that the United States breached the PCA by failing to construct the gradient facility according to the PCA's specifications. See Glenn-Colusa Irrigation Dist. v. United States, 129 Fed.Cl. 593, 595 (2016). The Court of Federal Claims dismissed that action for lack of jurisdiction. Id. at 599.

         In January 2017, plaintiff filed this action.[2](Compl.) Citing the same allegations it cited in its Court of Federal Claims action, plaintiff brings causes of action against defendants for: (1) breach of contract, (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (3) breach of implied warranty, (4) declaratory judgment, and (5) violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. (Id. at 20-26.) Defendants now move, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss plaintiff's breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of implied warranty claims as untimely under the limitations period set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a). (Defs.' Mot.)

         II. Legal Standard

         On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the inquiry before the court is whether, accepting the allegations in the complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, the plaintiff has stated a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 67. “A claim may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) on the ground ...


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