Quine v. Brown et al

Filing 164

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO INTERVENE by Judge Jon S. Tigar denying 117 MOTION for Writ of Mandate and Declaratory Injunctive Relief; denying 130 MOTION to Intervene. (wsn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/13/2017) (Additional attachment(s) added on 9/13/2017: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (wsn, COURT STAFF).

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 SHILOH HEAVENLY QUINE, 7 Plaintiff, 8 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO INTERVENE v. 9 JEFFREY BEARD, et al., 10 Re: ECF Nos. 117, 130 Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 14-cv-02726-JST 12 Before the Court is a motion to intervene by thirteen inmates (“Movants”) housed1 in 13 14 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) prisons. ECF No. 130. 15 Defendants oppose the motion. ECF No. 151. The Court will deny the motion. The Court previously delayed ruling on a motion for writ of mandate and declaration and 16 17 injunctive relief filed by twenty other inmates, pending resolution of Movants’ motion to 18 intervene. ECF Nos. 117, 120. The Court will now also deny that motion. 19 I. In August 2015, Plaintiff Shiloh Quine reached an agreement with Defendants to settle this 20 21 INTRODUCTION case. ECF No. 100-1 (“Agreement”). CDCR agreed to: 22 [R]eview and revise its policies to allow inmates identified by medical or CDCR personnel as transgender or having symptoms of gender dysphoria access to property items available to CDCR inmates consistent with those inmates’ custody and classification factors, including property items that are designated as available to a specific gender only. Before those policies are final, Plaintiff shall have the opportunity to comment on its specific language, including provisions that limit certain property because of safety and security concerns. In addition, CDCR is reviewing and revising its policies 23 24 25 26 27 1 28 Counsel for Movants notes that three of the movants were “unreachable by the time of filing” and, according to state records, appear to have been released on parole. ECF No. 130 at 4. 1 concerning medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria, including surgery. 2 Agreement Part III.1.G. As relevant to this motion, the Agreement also contains the following 3 limiting provision: 4 There are no other actions required by Defendants or CDCR to comply with this Agreement. Except as described in Paragraph 1.G.2 above, any and all actions taken under this Agreement shall be limited in scope and application to this case and Plaintiff only. 5 6 Agreement Part III.2. The Agreement also sets out the following procedure for the resolution of 7 disputes over its enforcement: 8 The Court shall retain jurisdiction of this litigation while this Agreement’s terms are being executed. Any disputes between the parties concerning this Agreement shall first be presented to Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas for informal dispute resolution without prejudice to a party’s right to seek formal relief from the Court 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 Agreement Part III.1.H. 13 On November 14, 2016, Movants filed a motion for writ of mandate and declaratory and 14 injunctive relief. ECF No. 82. Generally speaking, Movants sought enforcement of the 15 Agreement. Id. Plaintiff Shiloh Quine filed her own motion to enforce the Agreement on 16 March 1, 2017, ECF No. 98, which the Court granted in part and denied in part on April 28, 2017, 17 ECF No. 116. On April 11, 2017, the Court appointed counsel for Movants for the “the limited 18 purpose of representing the litigants in the course of briefing and hearing the Motion for Writ of 19 Mandate.” ECF No. 113 at 1. At the Court’s instruction, id., Movants filed this motion to 20 intervene. ECF No. 130. 21 II. ANALYSIS 22 Only intended beneficiaries have standing to sue to enforce a settlement agreement. Hook 23 v. State of Ariz., Dep’t of Corr., 972 F.2d 1012, 1014-15 (9th Cir. 1992). Incidental beneficiaries 24 do not have that right. Id.; United States v. FMC Corp., 531 F.3d 813, 820 (9th Cir. 2008) (“In 25 short, under Ninth Circuit precedent, incidental third-party beneficiaries may not enforce consent 26 decrees, but intended third-party beneficiaries may.”); GECCMC 2005-C1 Plummer St. Office 27 28 2 This is the provision that requires revision of the property policy. 2 1 Ltd. P’ship v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, 671 F.3d 1027, 1033 (9th Cir. 2012) (“The fact 2 that a third party may incidentally benefit under the contract does not confer on him the right to 3 sue; instead, the parties must have intended to benefit the third party.”). In other words, Movants 4 may only intervene to enforce the Agreement if they were intended beneficiaries of the 5 Agreement. “To sue as a third-party beneficiary of a contract, the third party must show that the 6 7 contract reflects the express or implied intention of the parties to the contract to benefit the third 8 party.” Klamath Water Users Protective Ass’n v. Patterson, 204 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir. 1999). 9 This task is more onerous where the government is a party to the contract. Pursuant to Ninth Circuit authority, “[p]arties that benefit from a government contract are generally assumed to be 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 incidental beneficiaries, and may not enforce the contract absent a clear intent to the contrary.” Id. 12 at 1211. “This ‘clear intent’ hurdle is a high one. It is not satisfied by a contract’s recitation of 13 interested constituencies.” GECCMC 2005-C1 Plummer St. Office Ltd. P’ship, 671 F.3d 1027 at 14 1033. 15 Here, the Court concludes that Movants have not met their burden to show “clear intent” in 16 the Agreement to make them intended, rather than incidental, beneficiaries. Movants’ motion 17 rests principally on the provision of the Agreement that requires CDCR to “review and revise its 18 policies to allow inmates identified by medical or CDCR personnel as transgender or having 19 symptoms of gender dysphoria access to property items available to CDCR inmates consistent 20 with those inmates’ custody and classification factors, including property items that are designated 21 as available to a specific gender only.” Agreement Part III.1.G (emphasis added). Because this 22 provision refers to Movants and because any revisions to the property policy impact Movants, they 23 argue that the Agreement demonstrates a “clear intent” to benefit them. 24 Other courts, however, have rejected similar claims based on stronger facts. For example, 25 in United States v. FMC Corporation, several Native American tribes (“Tribes”) sought to enforce 26 a consent decree between a mining company and the United States. 531 F.3d 813. The Tribes 27 explained that they “were involved in the negotiations concerning the Consent Decree; that the 28 Consent Decree refers to them many times; [and] that the Consent Decree gives the Tribes certain 3 1 ‘rights,’ such as notification rights and rights of access to FMC’s property for specified purposes.” 2 Id. at 820-21. Nonetheless, the Ninth Circuit was “not persuaded” that the Tribes were intended 3 beneficiaries. Id. at 821; see also GECCMC 2005-C1 Plummer St. Office Ltd. P’ship, 671 F.3d at 4 1034 (describing three cases where the Ninth Circuit held third parties were not intended 5 beneficiaries even though, for example, they were “explicitly referred to in and benefitted by the 6 7 8 9 10 contract and were clearly ‘in [the] mind’ of the contracting parties”). Here, Movants had no part in the negotiations that culminated in the Agreement; the Agreement mentions them only once; and, although Movants will benefit from any changes to the property policy prompted by Part III.1.G of the Agreement, it does not otherwise explicitly confer on them any rights. If the Tribes were not intended beneficiaries, neither are Movants. FMC is also analogous to the present case for another reason. In FMC, the Consent United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Decree required the parties to “proceed through a number of steps” before they could invoke the 12 district court’s enforcement jurisdiction. 531 F.3d at 823. But those requirements applied only to 13 14 15 16 named parties. The Ninth Circuit was therefore concerned that “[i]f the Tribes could enforce the Consent Decree directly, the Tribes could hale the parties into federal court without invoking any of the prescribed dispute resolution mechanisms.” Id. The Ninth Circuit doubted that “the Consent Decree could have intended to grant a broader range of dispute-resolving rights to the 17 Tribes than to the parties themselves.” Id. (citing Williston on Contracts § 37.23, pp. 147–49 (4th 18 ed. 2000) (“It is clear that a third party beneficiary’s right to enforce a contract cannot rise higher 19 than the rights of the contracting party through whom he claims.”). Similarly here, the Agreement 20 obligates the parties to present their disputes to Magistrate Judge Vadas before they can seek 21 “formal relief” from the Court. As in FMC, it is unlikely that those parties intended to give 22 Movants greater dispute resolution rights than the parties gave themselves. 23 Cooper v. California, from this district, provides an even closer analogy. There, the 24 original plaintiff, an inmate at a California prison, sued the State for failing to provide him with 25 kosher meals. No. C 02-03712 JSW, 2007 WL 1703829, at *1 (N.D. Cal. June 12, 2007). The 26 parties reached a settlement agreement that required CDCR to implement a kosher diet program at 27 the plaintiff’s prison (Solano), make a “good faith” effort to provide kosher meals at its other 28 prisons, and gave Solano inmates who participated in the kosher diet program the right to seek 4 1 judicial enforcement of the terms of the Settlement Agreement, among other things. Id. Three 2 inmates subsequently filed motions to enforce the settlement agreement, one of whom was not 3 housed at Solano. Id. at *2. The district court concluded that the inmate lacked standing to bring 4 the motion, explaining that although the agreement explicitly gave Solano inmates the right to 5 enforce, it did not do so for inmates at other prisons. Id. Therefore, the court explained, there was 6 7 8 9 10 “no clear expression of intent” with respect to those inmates. Id. Because the government was a party to the settlement agreement, the absence of clear intent was fatal to the prisoner’s motion. The court determined that the moving inmate was an incidental beneficiary who lacked standing to enforce the settlement agreement. Id. As in Cooper, Movants stand to benefit from the Agreement, but the Agreement does not expressly contemplate that they can bring suit to enforce it. In fact, the one provision that relates to enforcement, Part III.1.H, provides that the Court United States District Court Northern District of California 11 retains jurisdiction over “disputes between the parties.” Movants are not parties to this case. To 12 be sure, in Cooper, the incidental beneficiary status of non-Solano inmates was made clearer by 13 14 15 16 the fact that Solano inmates expressly had the right to enforce the agreement. In this case, no nonparty is expressly given that right. Nevertheless, the Court cannot conclude that the Agreement expresses a “clear intent” to make Movants intended beneficiaries and thereby “rebut[s] the presumption that [they] are merely incidental beneficiaries.” GECCMC 2005-C1 Plummer St. 17 Office Ltd. P'ship, 671 F.3d at 1033. Movants have cited no case with similar facts where a third 18 party was found to have standing as an intended beneficiary. 19 At the hearing on this motion, movants placed great weight on Hook. In that case, a group 20 of Arizona state prison inmates filed suit to enjoin the enforcement of prison mail regulations that 21 conflicted with an earlier consent decree. 972 F.2d at 1013. The State opposed the request on the 22 ground that, inter alia, even though the inmates were intended beneficiaries of the consent decree, 23 they had no standing to enforce it because they were not parties to the original case. The Ninth 24 Circuit disagreed, and held that the inmates did have standing. Id. at 1017. Hook does not assist 25 Movants. In that case, defendant Department of Corrections conceded that inmates as a group, 26 who were expressly identified as beneficiaries of the consent decree, were intended beneficiaries 27 of that decree. 972 at 1015. That distinction by itself is dispositive. 28 Because Movants are mere incidental beneficiaries, they lack standing to intervene to 5 1 enforce the Agreement. The Court therefore does not address separately the elements of 2 intervention under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 24 (a) and (b). 3 CONCLUSION 4 The motion to intervene, ECF No. 130, is denied. Non-party prisoners do not have 5 6 7 8 9 10 standing to enforce the Agreement. For the same reason, the separately filed motion for writ of mandate and declaration and injunctive relief, ECF No. 117, is also denied. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: September 13, 2017 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?