MANNING et al v. BARR et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION in support of 20 Order granting federal Defendants' 10 Motion to Dismiss, granting in part state Defendants' 9 Motion to Dismiss, and transferring claims against Defendants Jay Inslee, Jane Rushford, and Rick Garza to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 3/31/2021. (lctjk1)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
PETER MANNING et al.,
Civil Action No. 20-664 (TJK)
MERRICK B. GARLAND et al.,1
Plaintiffs Peter Manning and Aaron Barfield, proceeding pro se, sue various employees
and entities of the federal government and the state of Washington, challenging Washington’s
marijuana licensing and regulatory scheme. Before the Court are the federal Defendants’ motion
to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, ECF No. 10, and the
state Defendants’ motion to dismiss due to state sovereign immunity and for lack of personal
jurisdiction, ECF No. 9. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant the federal
Defendants’ motion, grant the state Defendants’ motion in part, and transfer the remaining
claims against the state Defendants to the Western District of Washington.
Plaintiffs challenge Washington’s marijuana licensing and regulatory scheme. They
allege that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“WSLCB”), Washington Governor
Jay Inslee, WSLCB Chair Jane Rushford, and WSLCB Director Rick Garza—the “state
Defendants”—have administered that regime in a way that discriminates against African-
Attorney General Merrick Garland is substituted for William Barr in his official capacity under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d).
Americans and that violates the terms of certain federal grants by flouting federal laws governing
controlled substances. ECF No. 12 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 1.2–1.5. In particular, Plaintiffs allege
that the state Defendants have inconsistently enforced rules and improperly enforced draft rules
to disqualify African-American licensing applicants while “whites with the same qualifications
were approved for licensing.” Id. ¶¶ 4.17–4.18. As a result, “[o]f the approximate 2000
recreational cannabis licenses currently operating under color of law in Washington State’s illicit
regulatory system, less than 1% have African Americans as majority owners.” Id. ¶ 4.23.
Plaintiffs allege that they have been harmed because they are African-American residents of
Washington who have been denied licenses. Id. ¶¶ 3.1–3.2, 4.5. As for Attorney General
Merrick Garland, former Attorney General William Barr, and the Department of Justice—the
“federal Defendants”—Plaintiffs allege they are violating their “duty to ensure that those
receiving grants and funds from the Department of Justice abide by the terms of their
agreements.” Id. ¶ 4.29. Plaintiffs have sued Inslee, Rushford, Garza, and Barr in both their
individual and official capacities, id. ¶¶ 3.3–3.7, and Garland now replaces Barr in his official
capacity, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d).
Plaintiffs assert causes of action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985 and Wash. Rev.
Code § 49.60.030, 49.60.400. Id. at 9. They also assert claims under Bivens v. Six Unknown
Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Id. at 10–11. They seek an unspecified amount of
damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 9–11. Under the Declaratory
Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, they ask the Court to declare that the state Defendants’ policies
violate federal law and discriminate based on race and to declare that the federal Defendants
have breached their duties to ensure grant recipients abide by federal law. Am. Compl. at 9–11.
Finally, Plaintiffs seek an injunction under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1561, enjoining
Defendants’ conduct and any further grant funding. Am. Compl. at 9–11.
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction . . . possess[ing] only that power
authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). Thus, a federal court must ensure it has jurisdiction over a claim before
proceeding to the merits. Moms Against Mercury v. FDA, 483 F.3d 824, 826 (D.C. Cir. 2007);
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). When a defendant moves to dismiss the claims against him for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), “the plaintiff
bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction.” Slack v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 325 F.
Supp. 3d 146, 151 (D.D.C. 2018) (citing Georgiades v. Martin-Trigonda, 729 F.2d 831, 833 n.4
(D.C. Cir. 1984)).
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) tests whether the Court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over the defendant. The plaintiff bears “the burden of establishing a factual basis for
the exercise of personal jurisdiction.” Crane v. New York Zoological Soc., 894 F.2d 454, 456
(D.C. Cir. 1990). The D.C. Circuit has held that absent jurisdictional discovery or an evidentiary
hearing on jurisdiction, a plaintiff can carry her burden by making “a prima facie showing”
of personal jurisdiction. Mwani v. bin Laden, 417 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).
To do so, a plaintiff need not “adduce evidence that meets the standards of admissibility reserved
for summary judgment and trial.” Urban Inst. v. FINCON Servs., 681 F. Supp. 2d 41, 44
(D.D.C. 2010). Instead, “she may rest her arguments on the pleadings,” bolstered by affidavits
and other written materials. Id. That said, she “cannot rest on bare allegations or conclusory
statements.” GTE New Media Servs., Inc. v. Ameritech Corp., 21 F. Supp. 2d 27, 36 (D.D.C.
1998). Rather, she “must allege specific facts connecting each defendant with the forum.” Id.
Claims Against the Federal Defendants
All claims against the federal Defendants will be dismissed for one or more of the
following reasons: sovereign immunity, failure to state a claim, failure to effectuate service, lack
of standing, and lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Counts II, III, and IV (Violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and
Plaintiffs’ claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985 will be dismissed against the
Department of Justice and Attorney General Garland because of sovereign immunity. Sovereign
immunity bars suits against the United States, its agencies, and its employees sued in their
official capacities under these statutes, absent a waiver. FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475
(1994). And the United States has not waived sovereign immunity from suit under these statutes.
See Prince v. Rice, 453 F. Supp. 2d 14, 26 (D.D.C. 2006) (section 1981); Settles v. U.S. Parole
Comm’n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1104 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (section 1983); Roum v. Bush, 461 F. Supp. 2d
40, 46 (D.D.C. 2006) (section 1985).2
Plaintiffs’ claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985 will also be dismissed against
Barr because Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim. First, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 do not
apply because Plaintiffs do not allege that Barr was acting under color of state law as those
statutes require. See Prince, 453 F. Supp. 2d at 25–26 (section 1981); Settles, 429 F.3d at 1104
(section 1983). Rather, they assert that he was acting under color of federal law, see, e.g., Am.
Courts in this District have also noted that 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 apply only to “persons”
acting under color of state law and thus not to federal agencies; as such, a party fails to state a
claim when it asserts violations of these statutes by agencies. See DynaLantic Corp. v. Dep’t of
Defense, 885 F. Supp. 2d 237, 291 (D.D.C. 2012); Prince, 453 F. Supp. 2d at 26. Section 1985
likewise applies only to “persons” and thus excludes federal agencies. Stich v. U.S. Dep’t of
Justice, No. 86-2523, 1987 WL 9237, at *2 (D.D.C. Mar. 27, 1987).
Compl. ¶¶ 4.29–4.30, and the proper vehicle for a claim against a federal official in his
individual capacity acting under color of federal law is a Bivens claim, which the Court addresses
below. As for 42 U.S.C. § 1985, that statute prohibits conspiring to deprive a person of civil
rights, but Plaintiffs do not allege any facts to suggest that he was involved in such a conspiracy.
See Roum, 461 F. Supp. 2d at 46.
Finally, these claims against Barr must also be dismissed for insufficient service of
process. As the federal Defendants point out, “it does not appear from the docket that [Barr] has
been served in his individual capacity.” ECF No. 10 at 1 n.1. “On a motion to dismiss for
insufficient service, “the plaintiff [must] establish that  he has properly effected service’ as is
required under Rule 4.” Cornish v. United States, 885 F. Supp. 2d 198, 204 (D.D.C. 2012)
(quotation omitted). Here, Plaintiffs have not met their burden to demonstrate proper service on
Barr in his individual capacity; indeed, they have not filed proof of any service. Nor have they,
over 300 days past the 90-day deadline to effectuate service, sought to extend the time to do so.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4.
Count IX (Bivens Claim)
Plaintiffs’ Bivens claim against Barr will also be dismissed for insufficient service of
process. “In a Bivens action, the defendants must be personally served as individuals in order for
a court to have jurisdiction over them . . . . The failure to effect individual service is fatal to
a Bivens claim.” Cornish, 885 F. Supp. 2d at 205 (quotation omitted). And to repeat, Plaintiffs
have not met their burden to show proper service on Barr in his individual capacity or filed proof
of any service. That failure is “fatal,” id., and Plaintiffs’ Bivens claim will therefore be
dismissed for insufficient service.3
Count VI (Unconstitutional Grants and State Statutes)
The Court will dismiss this count against the federal Defendants for lack of standing. To
satisfy the “‘irreducible constitutional minimum’ of standing” under Article III, a plaintiff must
show: “(1) an ‘injury in fact’ that is ‘concrete and particularized’ as well as ‘actual or imminent’;
(2) a ‘causal connection’ between the injury and the challenged conduct; and (3) a likelihood, as
opposed to mere speculation, ‘that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.’” Ark
Initiative v. Tidwell, 749 F.3d 1071, 1075 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560–61 (1992)). Plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing these
elements. See Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. at 561.
The Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to allege an injury in fact related to this claim.
Plaintiffs’ alleged harm arises from the state Defendants’ administration of Washington’s
marijuana regulatory regime and specifically their denial of Plaintiffs’ license applications—not
from the “continuing awards of grant money.” See Am. Compl. at 10. Plaintiffs identify no
concrete and particularized harm caused by the federal Defendants’ awarding these grants, which
Plaintiffs do not even allege support or otherwise have any connection to Washington’s scheme
under which they have purportedly been denied licenses.
In any event, Plaintiffs also fail to state a Bivens claim. “To state a claim under Bivens, ‘a
plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.’” Morris v. U.S. Sentencing Comm’n, 62 F.
Supp. 3d 67, 74–75 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)).
“Consequently, high-level officials, such as Attorney General [Barr], typically are not subject to
Bivens liability since they do not routinely participate personally in decisions about a particular
individual at a particular location.” Id. at 75 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676–77). Plaintiffs do not
plead any specific actions by Barr.
Counts I and VII (Declaratory Judgments Act)
These counts will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. “A request for declaratory
judgment constitutes a form of relief, not a cause of action.” Robinson v. Howard Univ., Inc.,
335 F. Supp. 3d 13, 32 (D.D.C. 2018) (quoting Fitts v. Fed. Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n, 44 F. Supp. 2d
317, 330 (D.D.C. 1999)). Thus, “the availability of declaratory relief presupposes the existence
of a judicially remedial right.” Ali v. Rumsfeld, 649 F.3d 762, 778 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (cleaned up).
Because the Court will dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims against the federal Defendants under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981, 1983, Bivens, and for unconstitutional grants, they have stated no claim upon which
relief—here, a declaratory judgment—could be granted. Id.
Count VIII (All Writs Act)
The count invoking the All Writs Act will be dismissed for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. Under the All Writs Act, federal courts “may issue all writs necessary or
appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of
law.” 28 U.S.C. § 1651. “The Act does not grant or expand the jurisdiction of district courts; it
only permits the issuance of writs as necessary to protect the jurisdiction of the court.” Lakner v.
U.S. Dep’t of Defense, 755 F. Supp. 2d 132, 137 (D.D.C. 2010). Thus, “there must be an
independent statute that grants [the court] jurisdiction”—in other words, an underlying cause of
action—before a plaintiff can receive relief under the All Writs Act. Sai v. Trump, 325 F. Supp.
3d 68, 71 (D.D.C. 2018) (quoting In re al-Nashiri, 791 F.3d 71, 76 (D.C. Cir. 2015)).
Because the Court will dismiss all of Plaintiffs’ other claims against the federal
Defendants—brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, Bivens, and for unconstitutional
grants—no other statute supports the issuance of a writ, depriving the court of jurisdiction. 4
Plaintiffs also point to a hodge-podge of statutes—including the Controlled Substances Act,
various treaties, and criminal statutes governing banking and prohibiting money laundering, Am.
Compl. ¶ 4.4—that the federal Defendants are supposedly violating and could be ordered to
enforce through the All Writs Act, but they do not identify any private right of action that would
enable Plaintiffs to sue to enforce them. As a result, the Court lacks jurisdiction. See Syngenta
Crop Prot., Inc. v. Drexel Chemical Co., 655 F. Supp. 2d 54, 62 (D.D.C. 2009).5
Claims Against the State Defendants
The claims against WSLCB will be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction
because the WSLCB has immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, and although the Court
lacks personal jurisdiction over Inslee, Rushford, and Garza, it will transfer the claims against
them to the Western District of Washington.
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
The Eleventh Amendment generally prohibits a federal court from exercising jurisdiction
over claims against a state, unless the state voluntarily waives its immunity by “unequivocally
Courts in this District have generally treated the All Writs Act analysis as an issue of
jurisdiction, see, e.g., Syngenta, 655 F. Supp. 2d at 62; Lakner, 755 F. Supp. 2d at 137, and the
Declaratory Judgments Act analysis as a question of whether the plaintiff has stated a claim, see,
e.g., Robinson, 335 F. Supp. 3d at 32. But however conceptualized, dismissal against the federal
Defendants is warranted.
The federal Defendants interpret Plaintiffs’ amended complaint as also asserting a claim for
mandamus. For related reasons, the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over a such a claim.
Plaintiffs have not identified a “clear duty to act,” Council of & for the Blind of Del. Cty. Valley,
Inc. v. Regan, 709 F.2d 1521, 1533 (D.C. Cir. 1983), and without such a duty, the Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, Lovitky v. Trump, 949 F.3d 753, 758, 760, 763 (D.C. Cir. 2020). In
the alternative, the Court agrees with the federal Defendants that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction because Plaintiffs lack standing. See Nyambal v. Mnuchin, 245 F. Supp. 3d 217,
223–24 (D.D.C. 2017) (plaintiff lacked standing because requested writ of mandamus would not
redress the alleged injury).
express[ing]” consent to “suit against it in federal court,” or Congress “abrogate[s] the Eleventh
Amendment immunity” with “an unequivocal expression of congressional intent.” Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 99–100 (1984); see also Watters v. Wash. Metro.
Area Transit Auth., 295 F.3d 36, 40 (D.C. Cir. 2002). Immunity extends to a state’s “agencies or
departments  named as the defendant.” Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 100; see also City of Oakland
ex rel. Bd. of Port Comm’rs v. Fed. Mar. Comm’n., 724 F.3d 224, 227 (D.C. Cir. 2013).
Because the WSLCB is an “agency or department” of the state of Washington, the
Eleventh Amendment applies and bars suit, unless Washington has waived immunity or
Congress has abrogated it. But Plaintiffs point to no language waiving immunity in any of the
state statutes under which they have sued or any language suggesting that Washington consents
to suit in federal court regarding federal grants. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 673
(1974) (participating in federal grant program insufficient to waive immunity). As for the
federal statutes Plaintiffs reference, courts have not found “an unequivocal expression of
congressional intent,” Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 99, to abrogate the Eleventh Amendment under 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, or 1985.6 See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979); Thompson v.
Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., No. 01-7026, 2001 WL 1154420, at *1 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 9,
2001). Thus, these claims will be dismissed based on sovereign immunity. And with these
claims dismissed against the federal Defendants, as already discussed, neither the All Writs Act
nor the Declaratory Judgments Act provides a remedy without an underlying “judicially
remediable right.” Ali, 649 F.3d at 778.
In addition, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985 apply only to “persons” and thus not to states
or its agencies. See Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70–71 (1989).
Personal jurisdiction is “an essential element of the jurisdiction of a district court, without
which the court is powerless to proceed to an adjudication.” Jankovic v. Int’l Crisis Grp., 494
F.3d 1080, 1086 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (cleaned up). There are two types of personal jurisdiction:
general and specific. General jurisdiction allows the Court to hear any claim against the
defendant, no matter where it arises. See Livnat v. Palestinian Auth., 82 F. Supp. 3d 19, 25
(D.D.C. 2015). Specific jurisdiction, by contrast, allows the Court to hear only those claims that
“arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts with the forum.” Geier v. Conway, Homer
& Chin-Caplan, P.C., 983 F. Supp. 2d 22, 31 (D.D.C. 2013). In either case, District of
Columbia law must provide a statutory basis for personal jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
4(k)(1)(A); see also Bradley v. DeWine, 55 F. Supp. 3d 31, 39 (D.D.C. 2014). Plaintiffs have not
shown either type of personal jurisdiction over Inslee, Rushford, and Garza. 7
General personal jurisdiction
District of Columbia law confers general personal jurisdiction when the defendant is
“domiciled in . . . or maintaining his or its principal place of business in, the District of
Columbia.” D.C. Code § 13-422. Plaintiffs do not assert that Inslee, Rushford, or Garza are
domiciled in the District of Columbia, nor do they argue that they maintain a principal place of
Plaintiffs sued Inslee, Rushford, and Garza in both their official and individual capacities. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 3.5–3.7. Although Eleventh Amendment immunity extends to state officials acting in
their official capacity, Will, 491 U.S. at 70–71, the Supreme Court carved out an exception in Ex
Parte Young for suits seeking prospective, injunctive relief. 209 U.S. 123 (1908); see also Idaho
v. Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S. 261, 269 (1997). The individual state Defendants do
not dispute that Ex Parte Young applies here and instead argue that the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over them regardless. ECF No. 9 at 10–11; see West v. Holder, 60 F. Supp. 3d 190,
194–96 (D.D.C. 2014) (declining to analyze whether Ex Parte Young applied because court
lacked personal jurisdiction over defendant).
business here. Rather, Plaintiffs argue that “the State of Washington has repeatedly and
systematically availed itself of the jurisdiction of this Court” through its involvement in past
cases in this District. ECF No. 13 at 2–3. But the state’s selection of this District as a forum for
litigation in the past does not establish domicile or a principal place of business in the District of
Columbia. Thus, Plaintiffs have not met their burden to make out a prima facie showing of
general personal jurisdiction.8
Specific personal jurisdiction
Specific jurisdiction is a “two-step inquiry.” West, 60 F. Supp. 3d at 193. A plaintiff
must show that jurisdiction is proper under both the District of Columbia’s long-arm statute, id;
see also D.C. Code § 13-4239, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution, D'Onofrio v.
SFX Sports Grp., Inc., 534 F. Supp. 2d 86, 90 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing United States v. Ferrara, 54
F.3d 825, 828 (D.C. Cir. 1995)).
Inslee acknowledges that he maintains a “small liaison office” in Washington. ECF No. 9 at 6
n.1. But the existence of this liaison office also does not establish general personal jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs have made no allegations suggesting that this office is his principal place of business.
The long-arm statute provides, in relevant part:
A District of Columbia court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person,
who acts directly or by an agent, as to a claim for relief arising from the
(1) Transacting any business in the District of Columbia;
(2) Contracting to supply services in the District of Columbia;
(3) Causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the
District of Columbia; [and]
(4) Causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission
outside the District of Columbia if he regularly does or solicits business . . . in the
District of Columbia[.]
D.C. Code § 13-423(a).
Plaintiffs appear to argue that personal jurisdiction is supported by the state Defendants’
activity contracting with the federal government to receive federal grant funds. ECF No. 12
¶¶ 4.27-4.30; ECF No. 13 at 2. But the Court lacks “personal jurisdiction over non-residents
whose only contact with this jurisdiction involves uniquely governmental activities.” Morgan v.
Richmond Sch. of Health & Tech., Inc., 857 F. Supp. 2d 104, 108 (D.D.C. 2012) (quoting Siam
Kraft Paper Co. v. Parsons & Whittemore, Inc., 400 F. Supp. 810, 812 (D.D.C. 1975)) (citing
Naartex Consulting Corp. v. Watt, 722 F.2d 779, 786-89 (D.C. Cir. 1983)). As a result, “certain
contacts with the federal government—such as meeting with federal officials in Washington,
D.C., or receiving federal funding—are insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction.” Id.
(quotation omitted). Otherwise, “[t]o permit our local courts to assert personal jurisdiction over
nonresidents whose sole contact with the District consists of dealing with a federal
instrumentality not only would pose a threat to free public participation in government, but also
would threaten to convert the District of Columbia into a national judicial forum.” Id. (quoting
Envtl. Research Int’l Inc. v. Lockwood Greene Eng’rs, Inc., 355 A.2d 808, 813 (D.C. 1976)).
The grant contracts therefore do not establish specific personal jurisdiction. 10
Partial Transfer of Claims
Having determined that Plaintiffs’ claims against the state Defendants fail for the reasons
stated above, the Court considers Plaintiffs’ request that these claims be transferred to the
Western District of Washington, rather than dismissed. ECF No. 13 at 3. As discussed below,
For the same reason, Inslee’s liaison office and any contact with federal officials coordinated
through that office also does not support specific jurisdiction. See West, 60 F. Supp. 3d at 194–
95 (concluding that Inslee’s liaison office did not satisfy any provisions of long-arm statute).
the Court will transfer Plaintiffs’ claims against Inslee, Rushford, and Garza, but dismiss
Plaintiffs’ claims against the WSLCB.
A court may transfer a case to another district “if it be in the interest of justice.” 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a).11 The decision whether to transfer “rests within the sound discretion of the
district court.” Naartex Consulting Corp. v. Watt, 722 F.2d 779, 789 (D.C. Cir. 1983). Courts
favor “the transfer of cases when procedural obstacles ‘impede an expeditious and orderly
adjudication . . . on the merits.’” Sinclair v. Kleindienst, 711 F.2d 291, 293–94 (D.C. Cir. 1983)
(quoting Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 466–67 (1962)). Examples of procedural
obstacles “include the lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue and statute of limitations
bars.” Id. at 294.
The Court finds that it is in the interest of justice to transfer Plaintiffs’ claims against
Inslee, Rushford, and Garza, over whom it does not have personal jurisdiction. Transferring
these claims would help ensure that they are ultimately resolved on the merits. In addition,
Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, transfer appears to be the most efficient way forward, and
Defendants did not object to the transfer request or claim they would be prejudiced by it. See
Roland v. Branch Banking & Trust Corp., 149 F. Supp. 3d 61, 68-69 (D.D.C. 2015). As for the
claims against the WSLCB, though, no federal court would have subject-matter jurisdiction over
them because of the WSLCB’s immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, so the Court will
In addition, “transfer would be permissible only if the district court could determine that the
[transferee district] likely would have personal jurisdiction. . . .” Erwin-Simpson v. AirAsia
Berhad, 985 F.3d 883, 892 (D.C. Cir. 2021) (citing Sharp Elecs. Corp. v. Hayman Cash Reg.
Co., 655 F.2d 1228, 1230 (D.C. Cir. 1981) and Sinclair, 711 F.2d at 294). The Court finds it is
likely that the Western District of Washington would have personal jurisdiction over Inslee,
Rushford, and Garza.
dismiss them. See, e.g., Naartex Consulting Corp., 722 F.2d at 789 (when a plaintiff “fail[s] to
show that its claims . . . could properly be heard in any federal court,” dismissal is proper).
For all the above reasons, the federal Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 10, will
be granted, the state Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 9, will be granted in part, and the
remaining claims against the state Defendants will be transferred to the Western District of
Washington. A separate order will issue.
/s/ Timothy J. Kelly
TIMOTHY J. KELLY
United States District Judge
Date: March 31, 2021
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?