Friday, August 14, 2020

Interior Dept.BIA Dodges Bullet in San Pasqual Lawsuit in ALEGRE v U.S.


A California federal judge has tossed part of a suit alleging the U.S. Department of the Interior unconstitutionally failed to enroll dozens of individuals in the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, ruling that the agency never waived its sovereign immunity to such a claim. Amy Dutschke saved, again

Jose Juan Descendants
Real San Pasqual Indians Abused by BIA
San Pasqual Membership Dispute

At best, Plaintiffs’ claim is that the government officials acted wrongfully or erroneously by rejecting Plaintiffs’ enrollment request, and by failing to provide notice to Plaintiffs. The allegations at issue here are not claims that any of the Individual Defendants acted or failed to act in excess of their statutory authority. Dalton v. Specter, 511 U.S. 462, 472 (1994) (executive actions in excess of statutory authority are not ipso facto unconstitutional). Indeed, the allegations do not suggest that Individual Defendants acted outside the scope of their duties. Secondly, in any event, the doctrine of ultra vires does not apply to situations in which claimants seek monetary relief against the government officials. See E.V. v. Robinson, 906 F.3d 1082, 1090–91 (9th Cir. 2018) (holding that the ultra vires doctrine “does not apply in suits for damages.”). That is the case here and as such, the ultra vires doctrine does not help waive sovereign immunity


In past orders, the Court has explicitly instructed Plaintiffs to identify the basis for the alleged waiver of sovereign immunity as to each claim. (See, e.g., Doc. No. 59 (warning Plaintiffs to “state the basis for the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction and Defendants’ waiver of sovereign immunity as to each cause of action. Failure to comply with Rule 8(a) may result in dismissal with prejudice under Rule 41(b).”) Plaintiffs have once again failed to do so. Thus, for the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS Federal Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ third cause of action. Plaintiffs’ third cause of action is DISMISSED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND. Additionally, Plaintiffs oral motion to bifurcate is additionally DENIED. 
Read the full judgement here

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