Cayuga Indian Nation v. Village of Union Springs, 5:03-CV-1270.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
Citation293 F.Supp.2d 183
Docket NumberNo. 5:03-CV-1270.,5:03-CV-1270.
PartiesCAYUGA INDIAN NATION OF NEW YORK, Plaintiff, v. VILLAGE OF UNION SPRINGS; Town of Springport; and Town of Cayuga New York, Defendants.
Decision Date28 November 2003
293 F.Supp.2d 183
VILLAGE OF UNION SPRINGS; Town of Springport; and Town of Cayuga New York, Defendants.
No. 5:03-CV-1270.
United States District Court, N.D. New York.
November 28, 2003.

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Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthall LLP (Raymond J. Heslin, Esq., Stephen L. Brodsky, Esq., of Counsel), New York City, for Plaintiff.

Hiscock & Barclay, LLP (Alan R. Peterman, Esq., Judith M. Sayles, Esq., of Counsel), Syracuse, NY, for Defendants.


HURD, District Judge.


The plaintiff, the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York ("the Nation") filed suit against defendants seeking declaratory and injunctive relief regarding the nature of use of property plaintiff owns within defendants' municipal boundaries ("the Property"). The Nation contemporaneously sought an order to show cause why defendants should not be preliminarily enjoined from applying or enforcing their zoning and land use laws against the Nation regarding renovations to the Property and a temporary restraining order ("TRO") pending a hearing on same. The Nation's request for an order to show cause and a TRO was granted, and sua sponte a TRO was issued against the Nation, enjoining it from further construction, renovation, or demolition activities on the Property until arguments regarding the preliminary injunction motion. On October 29, 2003, defendants filed an answer with a counterclaim seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against plaintiff, along with a cross motion for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Defendants Town of Springport ("the Town") and County of Cayuga ("the County") also moved for dismissal of the complaint against them for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Defendant Village of Union Springs ("the Village") also moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining plaintiff from further development of the Property. In its memorandum of law opposing defendants' cross motions, the Nation moved for dismissal of defendants'

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counterclaim. The Nation has also requested that sanctions be imposed upon defendants.

Oral argument was heard regarding all of the aforementioned pending motions on November 3, 2003 in Utica, New York. Decision was reserved.


The Property at issue is located within the 64,015 acres that was the subject of land claim litigation, to which the plaintiff and all defendants in this case were also parties. See Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Pataki, et al., 188 F.Supp.2d 223 (N.D.N.Y.2002). In that case, the court held that the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua conferred treaty-recognized title in the subject land to the Nation.1 See Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Cuomo, et al., 758 F.Supp. 107, 115 (N.D.N.Y. 1991). The court in Cayuga held that violations of the Nonintercourse Act occurred, see 25 U.S.C. § 177 (2003), and a jury ultimately awarded damages. See Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Cuomo, et al., 730 F.Supp. 485 (N.D.N.Y. 1990); Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Pataki, et al., 165 F.Supp.2d 266 (N.D.N.Y.2001). At no time, however, was the court ever called upon to decide the issue which is so critical to resolution of the present case, to wit, whether the subject land is "Indian Country" pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1151 (2003).

On April 28, 2003, the Nation reacquired the Property located at 271 Cayuga Street in the Village in fee simple by indenture and began renovations. On October 9, 2003, and October 15, 2003, the Village issued to the Nation Stop Work Orders and Orders to Remedy Violations, citing violations of zoning ordinances and local laws. The Orders to Remedy Violations contained language that directed the Nation to remedy the alleged violations and give written notice to the Village in compliance with the applicable provisions of law before October 20, 2003 and October 25, 2003, respectively, or be subject to punishment in the form of a fine and/or imprisonment.

On October 20, 2003, the present action was commenced. Count I of plaintiff's complaint alleges that defendants have violated the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, the Indian Commerce Clause, the Nonintercourse Act and federal regulation, and that by challenging the Nation's sovereignty, defendants have thereby placed into controversy whether the Property at issue is "Indian Country" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1151. See Compl. ¶¶ 30-34. Count II alleges that defendants' actions have placed the Nation in danger of "imminent, permanent and irreparable harm for which there is no remedy at law." See Compl. ¶¶ 35-38. The Nation seeks a declaration that the Property is Indian Country and an injunction preliminarily and permanently enjoining defendants from applying or enforcing its zoning and land use laws, or any other laws, against it. Thereafter, the pending motions ensued.

Defendants' counterclaim alleges that the Nation has violated local ordinances

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and laws requiring permits for all building, restructuring and changes in use on property within Village boundaries. See Answer and Countercl. ¶¶ 78-82. Defendants seek a declaration that, among other things, the Property is not Indian Country, and an injunction enjoining the Nation from any construction on the Property without first obtaining the proper permits.


A. 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss

In opposing the Nation's motion for a preliminary injunction, defendants move for dismissal of the entire action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Because this motion is dispositive of the entire action, it will be addressed first as a threshold question.

A case may be properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) when the court lacks statutory or constitutional authority to adjudicate it. See Luckett v. Bure, 290 F.3d 493, 496 (2d Cir.2002), citing Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). When deciding whether to grant a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the court "accepts as true all the factual allegations in the complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." See Lunney v. United States, 319 F.3d 550, 554 (2d Cir.2003), citing Hamilton Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi, Inc. v. Hamilton Coll., 128 F.3d 59, 63 (2d Cir.1997). The court may also refer to evidence outside the pleadings and the plaintiff carries the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Luckett, 290 F.3d at 496-497.

The Nation contends that there is federal subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question), 1337 (commerce and antitrust regulations), 1343(3) (civil rights), 1362 (Indian tribes), 2201 and 2202 (declaratory judgments). See Compl. ¶¶ 6-7. The Nation fails to plead facts necessary to invoke federal jurisdiction pursuant to §§ 1337 or 1343(3). Sections §§ 2201 and 2202 will likewise not be considered because those statutes do not confer jurisdiction on a federal court, but instead establish declaratory judgment as an available remedy. See Fleet Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Burke, 160 F.3d 883, 886 (2d Cir.1998), citing Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U.S. 667, 671, 70 S.Ct. 876, 94 L.Ed. 1194 (1950).

Pursuant to § 1331, "[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (2003) (emphasis added). Section 1362 gives federal courts "original jurisdiction of all civil actions, brought by any Indian tribe ... wherein the matter in controversy arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." See 28 U.S.C. § 1362 (2003) (emphasis added). Although courts have disagreed as to the substantive differences, § 1362 is virtually procedurally identical to § 1331. See Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, 464 F.2d 916, 920 n. 4 (2d Cir.1972), rev'd on other grounds, 414 U.S. 661, 94 S.Ct. 772, 39 L.Ed.2d 73 (1974) (finding that the sole purpose of § 1362 was to eliminate the matter in controversy requirement, which is no longer in place, under § 1331). See also Quinault Tribe v. Gallagher, 368 F.2d 648, 656 (9th Cir.1966), cert. denied, 387 U.S. 907, 87 S.Ct. 1684, 18 L.Ed.2d 626 (1967); Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Henningson, Durham & Richardson, 626 F.2d 708, 714 (9th Cir.1980), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 911, 101 S.Ct. 1983, 68 L.Ed.2d 301 (1981); Penobscot Nation v. Georgia-Pac. Corp., 106 F.Supp.2d 81, 86 (D.Me.2000), aff'd on other

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grounds, 254 F.3d 317 (1st Cir.2001). But see Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775, 111 S.Ct. 2578, 115 L.Ed.2d 686 (1991) (finding that the purpose of § 1362 was to give tribes, at least in some respects, access to federal courts that is at least as broad as that of the United States when suing as a tribe's trustee). In any event, for the purpose of deciding the present motion, because §§ 1331 and 1362 each contain the relevant "arising under" language, an analysis of jurisdiction pursuant to § 1331 will be dispositive of jurisdiction pursuant to § 1362.2

Whether or not a case is one "arising under" federal law in accordance with § 1331 is governed by the "well-pleaded complaint" rule, which states that a federal claim must appear on the face of the complaint, "unaided by anything alleged in anticipation of avoidance of defenses which it is thought the defendant may interpose." See Oklahoma Tax Comm'n v. Graham, 489 U.S. 838, 842, 109 S.Ct. 1519, 1521, 103 L.Ed.2d 924 (1989), quoting Taylor v. Anderson, 234 U.S. 74, 75-76, 34 S.Ct. 724, 725, 58 L.Ed. 1218 (1914); Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 29 S.Ct. 42, 53 L.Ed. 126 (1908). Moreover, federal question jurisdiction exists where "a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal law creates the...

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