Plum Creek Timber Co., Inc. v. Trout Unlimited, No. CV02-365-C-EJL.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Idaho
Writing for the CourtLodge
Citation255 F.Supp.2d 1159
PartiesPLUM CREEK TIMBER COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff, v. TROUT UNLIMITED, et al, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. CV02-365-C-EJL.
Decision Date31 March 2003
255 F.Supp.2d 1159
PLUM CREEK TIMBER COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
TROUT UNLIMITED, et al, Defendants.
No. CV02-365-C-EJL.
United States District Court, D. Idaho.
March 31, 2003.

Page 1160

Richard C. Boardman, Robert A. Maynard, Perkins Coie, Boise, ID, for plaintiffs.

ORDER

LODGE, District Judge.


On August 8, 2002, Plaintiff Plum Creek Timber Company, Incorporated initiated this action by filing a complaint seeking declaratory judgment as to the validity of their fish habitat conservation plan. In response, Defendant Trout Unlimited and Pacific Rivers Council filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), (6). The parties have filed responsive briefing and the motion is now ripe for the Court's consideration.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Plum Creek Timber Company, Incorporated ("Plum Creek") owns and manages approximately 1.6 million acres of land in Idaho, Montana, and Eastern

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Washington. Approximately five years ago Plum Creek began developing a land management plan called the Native Fish Habitat Conservation Plan ("NFHCP"), which established habitat conservation on the lands owned by Plum Creek. In November of 2000, NFHCP was approved by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("FWS") and the National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS"). Federal approval of NFHCP included a thirty-year promise that Plum Creek's actions would comply with the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et. seq.1 The plan called for the issuance of an incidental "take" permit which would insure that Plum Creek's actions under the NFHCP complied with the ESA.2

In response, on June 12, 2002, the Defendants Trout Unlimited and Pacific Rivers Council ("Pacific Rivers") sent a notice of intent to file suit against the FWS and the NMFS challenging their approval of NFHCP. Plum Creek then filed this action seeking declaratory relief as to the legality of the NFHCP. Specifically, Plum Creek asserts it is entitled to a determination that the NFHCP was properly approved in light of the large amounts of money expended in implementing the plan and in order to eliminate the risk and uncertainty raised by Defendants' notice of intent to sue. Plum Creek's complaint names Trout Unlimited and Pacific Rivers as Defendants because they signed of the notice of intent to sue. Plum Creek also named FWS and NMFS as Defendants because they are responsible for the administration of different aspects of the ESA.3 In response. Trout Unlimited and Pacific Rivers filed the instant motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), contesting whether this Court has proper jurisdiction to consider Plum Creek's claims.

STANDARD OF LAW

1) 12(b)(1):

A Defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) in one of two ways. See Thornhill Publ'g Co., Inc. v. General Tel. & Elec. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir.1979). The attack may be a "facial" one where the defendant attacks the sufficiency of the allegations supporting subject matter jurisdiction. Id. On the other hand, the defendant may launch a "factual" attack, "attacking the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact." Id. When considering a "facial" attack made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), a court must consider the allegations of the complaint to be true and construe them in the light

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most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir.1989). A "factual" attack made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) may be accompanied by extrinsic evidence. St. Clair v. City of Chico, 880 F.2d 199, 201 (9th Cir.1989); Trentacosta v. Frontier Pac. Aircraft Indus., 813 F.2d 1553, 1558 (9th Cir.1987). When considering a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction, "the district court is ordinarily free to bear evidence regarding jurisdiction and to rule on that issue prior to trial, resolving factual disputes where necessary." Augustine v. United States, 704 F.2d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir.1983) (citing Thornhill, 594 F.2d at 733). "[N]o presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiffs allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." Thornhill, 594 F.2d at 733 (quoting Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)).

However, "[t]he relatively expansive standards of a 12(b)(1) motion are not appropriate for determining jurisdiction ... where issues of jurisdiction and substance are intertwined. A court may not resolve genuinely disputed facts where `the question of jurisdiction is dependent on the resolution of factual issues going to the merits.'" Roberts v. Corrothers, 812 F.2d 1173, 1177 (9th Cir.1987) (quoting Augustine, 704 F.2d at 1077). In such a case, "the jurisdictional determination should await a determination of the relevant facts on either a motion going to the merits or at trial." Augustine, 704 F.2d at 1077 (citing Thornhill, 594 F.2d at 733-35). This case does not require the Court to resolve substantive issues in determining whether jurisdiction is proper.

2) 12(b)(6):

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), "all well-pleaded allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broadcasting Sys., Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir.1998) (citation omitted). However, the court does not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations in plaintiffs complaint. See Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir.1994). There is a strong presumption against dismissing an action for failure to state a claim. See Gilligan v. Jamco Dev. Corp., 108 F.3d 246, 249 (9th Cir.1997) (citation omitted). "`The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether [he] is entitled to offer evidence in support of the claims.'" Id. (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 807, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982)). Consequently, the court should not grant a motion to dismiss "for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, (1957); see also Hicks v. Small, 69 F.3d 967, 969 (9th Cir. 1995). A claim is sufficient if it shows that the plaintiff is entitled to any relief which the court can grant, even if the complaint asserts the wrong legal theory or asks for improper relief. See United States v. Howell, 318 F.2d 162,166 (9th Cir.1963).

DISCUSSION

Trout Unlimited and Pacific Crest assert several grounds exist upon which to dismiss this action: 1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction, 2) no actual case or controversy, and 3) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In the event jurisdiction is deemed to exist, Trout

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Unlimited and Pacific Crest argue the Court should exercise its discretion and dismiss the complaint. Plum Creek maintains this Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706 (Administrative Procedure Act), 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question), and 28 U.S.C. § 2201 (declaratory judgment).

3. Federal Jurisdiction:

In general, before a court can consider the merits of a case the court must determine whether it has proper jurisdiction over the parties and claims and whether the parties have standing to pursue the claims. Federal courts are "courts of limited jurisdiction that have not been vested with unlimited open-ended lawmaking powers." Scott v. Pasadena Unified School Dist, 306 F.3d 646, 654 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Trans., Workers, 451 U.S. 77, 95, 101 S.Ct. 1571, 67 L.Ed.2d 750 (1981)). Rather, our jurisdiction is circumscribed by the "case or controversy" requirement of Article III standing and by prudential considerations, such as ripeness and mootness, that arise as we navigate constitutional limitations on our judicial power. Id. (citing U.S. Const, art. Ill; Abbott Labs. v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148, 87 S.Ct. 1507, 18 L.Ed.2d 681 (1967); Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Comm'n, 220 F.3d 1134, 1138-42 (9th Cir.2000) (en banc)).

Thus, Article III, § 2 of the Constitution allows federal courts to adjudicating only those cases where the party bringing the claim has the requisite standing such that it can be said that there exists an actual case and controversy. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992). In order to establish standing, a plaintiff must first show that they have suffered an "`injury in fact'—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." Id at 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Second, the injury must be "fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Third, "it must be `likely,' as opposed to merely `speculative,' that the injury is remediable by appropriate court action". Id. The burden of establishing Article III standing remains at all times with the party invoking federal jurisdiction. Id. at 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130; see also Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 518, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975) ("It is the responsibility of the complainant clearly to allege facts demonstrating that he is a proper party to invoke judicial resolution of the dispute and the exercise of the court's remedial powers.").

The requirement of Article III standing is a...

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5 practice notes
  • Knapp v. Depuy Synthes Sales Inc., No. 13–cv–01153 TLN–DAD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 18, 2013
    ...an early adjudication without having to wait until he is sued by his adversary.’ ” Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. v. Trout Unlimited, 255 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1164 (D.Idaho 2003) (quoting Levin Metals Corp. v. Parr–Richmond Terminal Co., 799 F.2d 1312, 1315 (9th Cir.1986).) A lawsuit seeking federal......
  • Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Burman, CV 20-22-GF-KLD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Montana)
    • October 30, 2020
    ...presents issues of ripeness and is not the narrow relief sought in the Complaint. Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. v. Trout Unlimited , 255 F. Supp. 2d 1159, 1164-65 (D. Idaho 2003) (jurisdiction to provide declaratory relief exists where a claim is ripe for adjudication, meaning the parties......
  • In re Jones, Bankruptcy No. 07-01203-JDP.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Idaho
    • February 10, 2009
    ...jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) in one of two ways. Plum Creek Timber Co., Inc. v. Trout Unlimited, 255 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1161-62 (D.Idaho 2003) (citing Thornhill Publ'g Co., Inc. v. General Tel. & Elec. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir.1979)). First, the de......
  • Jordan v. Presidio Trust, Case No. 16-cv-02122-KAW
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • January 30, 2017
    ...of Article III . . . [and] must also fulfill statutory jurisdictional prerequisites"); Plum Creek Timber Co. v. Trout Unlimited, 255 F. Supp. 2d 1159, 1164 (D. Idaho 2003) ("The Declaratory Judgment Act, however, does not provide an independent basis for of [sic] federal subject matter juri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Knapp v. Depuy Synthes Sales Inc., No. 13–cv–01153 TLN–DAD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 18, 2013
    ...an early adjudication without having to wait until he is sued by his adversary.’ ” Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. v. Trout Unlimited, 255 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1164 (D.Idaho 2003) (quoting Levin Metals Corp. v. Parr–Richmond Terminal Co., 799 F.2d 1312, 1315 (9th Cir.1986).) A lawsuit seeking federal......
  • Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Burman, CV 20-22-GF-KLD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Montana)
    • October 30, 2020
    ...presents issues of ripeness and is not the narrow relief sought in the Complaint. Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. v. Trout Unlimited , 255 F. Supp. 2d 1159, 1164-65 (D. Idaho 2003) (jurisdiction to provide declaratory relief exists where a claim is ripe for adjudication, meaning the parties......
  • In re Jones, Bankruptcy No. 07-01203-JDP.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Idaho
    • February 10, 2009
    ...jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) in one of two ways. Plum Creek Timber Co., Inc. v. Trout Unlimited, 255 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1161-62 (D.Idaho 2003) (citing Thornhill Publ'g Co., Inc. v. General Tel. & Elec. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir.1979)). First, the de......
  • Jordan v. Presidio Trust, Case No. 16-cv-02122-KAW
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • January 30, 2017
    ...of Article III . . . [and] must also fulfill statutory jurisdictional prerequisites"); Plum Creek Timber Co. v. Trout Unlimited, 255 F. Supp. 2d 1159, 1164 (D. Idaho 2003) ("The Declaratory Judgment Act, however, does not provide an independent basis for of [sic] federal subject matter juri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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