Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians v. Unite Here International Union

Filing 18

ORDER signed by District Judge Troy L. Nunley on 7/12/2017 GRANTING 9 Motion to Dismiss. (Donati, J)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 SHINGLE SPRINGS BAND OF MIWOK INDIANS, Plaintiff, 13 ORDER v. 14 15 No. 2:16-cv-01057-TLN-EFB UNITE HERE INTERNATIONAL UNION, 16 Defendant. 17 This is a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief regarding the arbitrability of a labor dispute 18 19 and the legality of an agreement between a labor union and an employer. The matter is before the 20 Court on Defendant UNITE HERE International Union’s (“the Union”) Motion to Dismiss. (ECF 21 No. 9.) Plaintiff Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians (“the Tribe”) opposes the motion. 22 (ECF No. 13.) For the reasons set forth below, the Union’s motion is hereby GRANTED. 23 24 I. BACKGROUND The parties and the Court are familiar with the facts. This case is related to another 25 lawsuit before this Court—Unite Here International Union v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok 26 Indians, No. 2:16-cv-00384-TLN-EFB—and the cases present substantially identical issues. 27 The related case was a lawsuit seeking to compel arbitration of a dispute between the 28 parties about whether the Tribe violated a neutrality clause in a memorandum of agreement 1 1 (“MOA”) the parties entered regarding labor organizing at a casino the Tribe owns and operates. 2 (Pet. to Compel Arbitration at 1:21–28, Unite Here Int’l Union v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok 3 Indians, No. 2:16-cv-00384-TLN-EFB (E.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2016), ECF No. 2.) The Tribe 4 opposed arbitration in that case. In a recent order, the Court granted the Union’s motion for 5 judgment on the pleadings and ordered the parties to arbitrate in the first instance whether their 6 underlying dispute is arbitrable. (Order at 4:13–19, 5:9–13, Unite Here Int’l Union v. Shingle 7 Springs Band of Miwok Indians, No. 2:16-cv-00384-TLN-EFB (E.D. Cal. July 12, 2017), ECF 8 No. 25.) The Tribe filed this lawsuit while the related case was pending, in an apparent attempt to 9 gain a procedural advantage in the related case. The Tribe seeks declaratory relief here pursuant 10 11 12 to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201. II. DISCUSSION The Tribe seeks declaratory relief regarding three issues: (1) whether its dispute with the 13 Union is arbitrable under the MOA, (2) whether that arbitration would violate federal law, and (3) 14 whether a remedy the Union may ask the arbitrator to award violates federal law. (Compl. 9:12– 15 19, ECF No. 1.) The Union moves to dismiss this lawsuit for three reasons, one of which the 16 Court addresses here: whether the Court should exercise its discretion to decline jurisdiction over 17 this lawsuit. (ECF No. 9 at 1:2–24.) 18 The Court enjoys “discretion in determining whether and when to entertain an action 19 under the Declaratory Judgment Act.” Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277, 282 (1995). In 20 the exercise of that discretion, the Court weighs “concerns of judicial administration, comity, and 21 fairness to the litigants.” Am. States Ins. Co. v. Kearns, 15 F.3d 142, 144 (9th Cir. 1994) (quoting 22 Chamberlain v. Allstate Ins. Co., 931 F.2d 1361, 1367 (9th Cir. 1991)). And in weighing those 23 concerns, the Court considers a variety of factors including “whether the declaratory action will 24 settle all aspects of the controversy [and] whether the declaratory action will serve a useful 25 purpose in clarifying the legal relations at issue[,]” as well as “the availability and relative 26 convenience of other remedies.” Gov’t Emps. Ins. Co. v. Dizol, 133 F.3d 1220, 1225 n.5 (9th Cir. 27 1998) (en banc). 28 Here, those factors counsel the Court to decline jurisdiction over the Tribe’s lawsuit. This 2 1 lawsuit breaks no new ground on the first issue—whether the parties’ dispute is arbitrable— 2 because the Court recently issued an order in the related case ordering the parties to arbitrate 3 arbitrability. (Order at 4:13–19, 5:9–13, Unite Here Int’l Union v. Shingle Springs Band of 4 Miwok Indians, No. 2:16-cv-00384-TLN-EFB (E.D. Cal. July 12, 2017), ECF No. 25.) Any 5 judicial resolution of the first issue here would be entirely duplicative. The Court also concludes 6 it would be unwise to resolve the second and third issues—whether arbitration or a particular 7 arbitral award would violate federal law—in this context. The second and third issues may never 8 crystallize because their need for judicial resolution presupposes that the arbitrator will conclude 9 the parties must arbitrate their underlying dispute. That outcome is uncertain at this juncture.1 10 Thus, this lawsuit will not “serve a useful purpose in clarifying the legal relations at issue.” 11 Dizol, 133 F.3d at 1225 n.5. At bottom, all the issues presented have been, or can be, better 12 resolved elsewhere. III. 13 CONCLUSION 14 For the foregoing reasons, the Union’s motion (ECF No. 9) is hereby GRANTED. 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 Dated: 7/12/2017 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 Indeed, the Union argues that the second and third issues are non-justiciable because they are unripe. (ECF No. 9 at 9:7–12:20.) The Court finds it unnecessary to resolve that issue because the Court declines jurisdiction in any event. 3

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