Sumner Peck Ranch, Inc. v. Bureau of Reclamation, No. CV-F-91-048 OWW.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Citation823 F. Supp. 715
Docket NumberNo. CV-F-91-048 OWW.
Decision Date28 May 1993
PartiesSUMNER PECK RANCH, INC., a California corporation, et al. v. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, et al.

823 F. Supp. 715

SUMNER PECK RANCH, INC., a California corporation, et al.
v.
BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, et al.

No. CV-F-91-048 OWW.

United States District Court, E.D. California, Fresno Division.

May 28, 1993.


823 F. Supp. 716
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823 F. Supp. 717
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
823 F. Supp. 718
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
823 F. Supp. 719
William M. Smiland, Donnelly, Clark, Chase & Smiland, Los Angeles, CA, for plaintiffs

Thomas William Birmingham, Adolphus Moskovitz, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, Sacramento, CA, for defendant Westlands Water Dist.

Daniel Bensing, U.S. Atty's Office, Fresno, CA, for defendant U.S.

Michael Victor Sexton, Minasian, Minasian, Minasian, Spruance, Baber, Meith & Soares, Oroville, CA, for defendant Firebaugh Canal Co. (Firebaugh Canal Co. is a defendant in a separate action which was partially consolidated with regard to this motion to dismiss).

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER RE: WESTLANDS WATER DISTRICT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND FEDERAL DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

WANGER, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court based on motions made by two sets of defendants named in Plaintiffs' "Second Amended Complaint For Equitable and Monetary Relief," filed on February 18, 1992. Westlands Water District ("Westlands") seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs' Second Amended Compliant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). The "Federal Defendants," consisting of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of the Interior and the United States, seek partial summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings.

Hearings on the motions were held on April 16 and 19, 1993. Plaintiffs were represented by William M. Smiland, Esq. and Theodore A. Chester, Jr., Esq. Westlands was represented by Thomas W. Birmingham, Esq. The Federal Defendants were represented by Daniel Bensing, Esq. All arguments made by the parties have been considered.

I.

STANDARDS FOR REVIEWING MOTIONS TO DISMISS; FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS; AND FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) "is viewed with disfavor and is rarely granted." Hall v. City of Santa Barbara, 833 F.2d 1270, 1274 (9th Cir.1986), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 940, 108 S.Ct. 1120, 99 L.Ed.2d 281 (1988) (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure, Civil ? 1357, at 598 (1969)). "A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond a 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, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court "must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to" the plaintiff. NL Industries, Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir.1986). Yet, the court need not accept as true allegations that contradict

823 F. Supp. 720
facts which may be judicially noticed. Mullis v. United States Bank Ct., 828 F.2d 1385, 1388 (9th Cir.1987), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1040, 108 S.Ct. 2031, 100 L.Ed.2d 616 (1988). For example, the court may consider matters of public record including pleadings, orders, and other papers filed with the court or records of administrative bodies. Mack v. South Bay Beer Distributors, Inc., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir.1986). The court need not accept conclusory allegations, nor unreasonable inferences or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir.1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1031, 102 S.Ct. 567, 70 L.Ed.2d 474 (1981). In addition, the court may disregard allegations in the complaint if contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987)

A Rule 12(c) motion challenges the legal sufficiency of the opposing party's pleadings. Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when, even if all material facts in the pleading under attack are true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Hal Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., 883 F.2d 1429, 1436 (9th Cir.1989). The court must assume the truthfulness of the material facts alleged in the complaint. All inferences reasonably drawn from these facts must be construed in favor of the responding party. General Conference Corp. of Seventh-Day Adventists v. Seventh Day Adventist Congregation Church, 887 F.2d 228, 230 (9th Cir.1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1079, 110 S.Ct. 1134, 107 L.Ed.2d 1039 (1990).

Summary judgment is appropriate only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A genuine issue of fact exists when the non-moving party produces evidence on which a reasonable trier of fact could find in its favor viewing the record as a whole in light of the evidentiary burden the law places on that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 252-56, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512-14, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The non-moving party cannot simply rest on its allegation without any significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint. Id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. Evidence submitted in support of or in opposition to a motion for summary judgment must be admissible under rules governing admission of evidence generally. Hal Roach Studios, 883 F.2d at 1437.

The more implausible the claim or defense asserted by the opposing party, the more persuasive its evidence must be to avoid summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Nevertheless, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513. The Court's role on summary judgment, however, is not to weigh the evidence, i.e., issue resolution, but rather it is issue finding. Id.

II.

WESTLANDS' MOTION TO DISMISS

Plaintiffs summarize claims made against Westlands Water District as follows:

The second claim (?? 126-131) seeks declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to fourteen controversies (? 128(a)-(n)) concerning Westlands' duties owed to Plaintiffs, including its alleged duties under the 1963 Service Contract, the 1965 Repayment Contract, the 1965 merger of the former Westplains district into and with the original Westlands district, and the 1986 Stipulated Judgment, and as a fiduciary of Plaintiffs.

The seventh claim (?? 162-177) seeks tort damages and equitable relief for claims sounding in negligence, trespass, nuisance, failure to discharge mandatory duties, and dangerous condition of public property.

The eighth claim (?? 178-184) alleges that Westlands has breached the 1963 Service Contract, the 1965 Repayment Contract, the contracts relating to the merger of the former Westplains and the original Westlands, and the 1986 Stipulated Judgment, and seeks

823 F. Supp. 721
money damages and appropriate equitable relief for such breaches

The ninth claim (?? 185-195) asserts that Westlands has taken, and damaged, Plaintiffs' property for public use, but has failed to pay them just compensation as required by the California and United States Constitutions. The property alleged to have been taken includes flowage or easements upon, and contract and statutory rights appurtenant to, Plaintiffs' lands.

A. Claims for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

The second claim for relief seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as to fourteen alleged controversies between Plaintiffs and Westlands. Westlands seeks dismissal of four of these subclaims.

Westlands contends the claims alleged contained in paragraphs 128(c), 128(c), 128(f), and 128(j) are barred by the doctrine of res judicata because each of these subclaims either was asserted or could have been asserted in the Barcellos litigation which resulted in the 1986 Stipulated Judgment. Paragraph 128(c) alleges that Westlands breached its duties under the 1963 Service Contract in failing to construct drainage works. 128(e) alleges that Westlands violated its duties to, and the rights of, Area I landowners and water users arising from the 1965 merger with Area II. It specifically alleges that funds appropriated for construction of the drain and collector system were diverted by Westlands to build the water delivery distribution system in Area II. Paragraph 128(f) alleges that Westlands has breached a fiduciary duty as created by California law by failing to honor the drainage rights of Area I which are senior to the delivery rights of Area II. Paragraph 128(j) alleges that Area I landowners and water users are entitled to stop paying fees for drainage service and to recover past payments. These payment obligations arise under the 1963 Service Contract, the 1965 Repayment Contract, and the 1986 Stipulated Judgment.

Paragraph 86 of the complaint alleges that paragraphs 14.1, 14.7, and 15 of the Barcellos Judgment expressly provide that the stipulated dismissal did not affect claims regarding drainage. These provisions of the Judgment state, in pertinent part:

14.1. Notwithstanding this Judgment and the parties' voluntary dismissal of all claims for relief pleaded in these present actions, the claims for relief pleaded in these present actions, the claims described in ... Paragraphs 14.1.3 through 14.1.8 below are not affected by this Judgment. 14.1.7 Any claim of any landowner or water user against the District arising out of or relating to the April 3, 1985 Agreement, drainage service, or Drainage Service facilities.
15. Past Contracts, Water Allocation and Pricing. All parties have voluntarily dismissed with prejudice all claims for relief pleaded in these actions
...

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82 practice notes
  • McKenna v. Permanente Med. Grp., Inc., Case No. CV F 12–0849 LJO GSA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 13, 2012
    ...the complaint if contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint.” Sumner Peck Ranch v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715, 720 (E.D.Cal.1993) (citing Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir.1987)). With these standards in mind, this Court tur......
  • Richland-Lexington Airport v. Atlas Properties, Civ. A. No. 3:92-750-21.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 3, 1994
    ...jurisdiction of the Claims Court for money damage claims against the United States. Sumner Peck Ranch, Inc. v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715, 748 (E.D.Cal. 1993). Accordingly, § 1367 does not confer jurisdiction on this court to adjudicate this b. Jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1......
  • DOOMS v. Fed. HOME LOAN MORTGAGE Corp., CASE NO. CV F 11-0352 LJO DLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 31, 2011
    ...the complaint if contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. " Sumner Peck Ranch v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F. Supp. 715, 720 (E. D. Cal. 1993) (citing Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F. 2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987)). Moreover, "judicial notice may be tak......
  • Westlands Water Dist. v. US Dept. of Interior, No. CV-F-93-5327 OWW SSH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 3, 1994
    ...Bedoni v. Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission, 854 F.2d 321, 325 (9th Cir.1988); Sumner Peck Ranch, Inc. v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715 (E.D.Cal.1993). The Tucker Act does not preclude review of agency action for injunctive or declaratory relief, but a "district court is pro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
82 cases
  • McKenna v. Permanente Med. Grp., Inc., Case No. CV F 12–0849 LJO GSA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 13, 2012
    ...the complaint if contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint.” Sumner Peck Ranch v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715, 720 (E.D.Cal.1993) (citing Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir.1987)). With these standards in mind, this Court tur......
  • Richland-Lexington Airport v. Atlas Properties, Civ. A. No. 3:92-750-21.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 3, 1994
    ...jurisdiction of the Claims Court for money damage claims against the United States. Sumner Peck Ranch, Inc. v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715, 748 (E.D.Cal. 1993). Accordingly, § 1367 does not confer jurisdiction on this court to adjudicate this b. Jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1......
  • DOOMS v. Fed. HOME LOAN MORTGAGE Corp., CASE NO. CV F 11-0352 LJO DLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 31, 2011
    ...the complaint if contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. " Sumner Peck Ranch v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F. Supp. 715, 720 (E. D. Cal. 1993) (citing Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F. 2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987)). Moreover, "judicial notice may be tak......
  • Westlands Water Dist. v. US Dept. of Interior, No. CV-F-93-5327 OWW SSH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 3, 1994
    ...Bedoni v. Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission, 854 F.2d 321, 325 (9th Cir.1988); Sumner Peck Ranch, Inc. v. Bureau of Reclamation, 823 F.Supp. 715 (E.D.Cal.1993). The Tucker Act does not preclude review of agency action for injunctive or declaratory relief, but a "district court is pro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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