Loa v. Lynch et al
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL RECONSIDERATION, ECF NO. 28 - Signed by CHIEF JUDGE J. MICHAEL SEABRIGHT on 12/22/2016. (emt, )CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). Maui Loa served by first class mail at the address of record on December 22, 2016.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
MAUI LOA, individually and in his
capacity as Chief of the Hou 1778
Hawaiians, a native Hawaiian tribal
Civ. No. 16-00446 JMS-KSC
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’
MOTION FOR PARTIAL
RECONSIDERATION, ECF NO. 28
LORETTA LYNCH, in her official
capacity as ATTORNEY GENERAL of
the United States of America; SALLY
JEWELL, in her official capacity as the
Secretary of the Department of the
Interior of the United States of America,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PARTIAL
RECONSIDERATION, ECF NO. 28
Defendants Loretta Lynch and Sally Jewell in their official capacities
as Attorney General of the United States and Secretary of the Department of the
Interior of the United States, respectively, move for reconsideration in part of this
court’s December 7, 2016 Order which granted Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
ECF No. 28. In granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the December 7 Order
discussed certain aspects of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (“HHCA”), 42
Stat. 108 (1921). Loa v. Lynch, 2016 WL 7155733, at *4 (D. Haw. Dec. 7, 2016).
Defendants do not seek to alter the ultimate holding of the December 7 Order but
do request that the court change some of the language in the discussion of the
HHCA. Based on the following, the court DENIES the Motion for
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
“Reconsideration is appropriate if the district court (1) is presented
with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision
was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law.
There may also be other, highly unusual, circumstances warranting
reconsideration.” Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., Or. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d
1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted); see also Local Rule 60.1. “Clear
error exists when . . . [a] court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been made.” In re Adamson Apparel, Inc., 785 F.3d 1285, 1291 (9th
Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Reconsideration is “an
extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and
conservation of judicial resources.” Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229
F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
A motion for reconsideration must accomplish two goals. “First, a
motion for reconsideration must demonstrate reasons why the court should
reconsider its prior decision. Second, a motion for reconsideration must set forth
facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior
decision.” Donaldson v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 947 F. Supp. 429, 430 (D. Haw.
1996). Mere disagreement with a previous order is an insufficient basis for
reconsideration, and reconsideration may not be based on evidence and legal
arguments that could have been presented at the time of the challenged decision.
See Haw. Stevedores, Inc. v. HT & T Co., 363 F. Supp. 2d 1253, 1269 (D. Haw.
2005). “Whether or not to grant reconsideration is committed to the sound
discretion of the court.” White v. Sabatino, 424 F. Supp. 2d 1271, 1274 (D. Haw.
2006) (quoting Navajo Nation v. Confederated Tribes & Bands of the Yakima
Indian Nation, 331 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003)).
Defendants’ Proposed Changes
The court’s December 7 Order dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against
Defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants request the court to
reconsider two parts of the December 7 Order.
To begin, Defendants request the court to delete the following
paragraph in the December 7 Order:
Second, the court does not have federal subject matter
jurisdiction over the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act
(“HHCA”), 42 Stat. 108 (1921), claim because it does not
“arise under” the laws of the United States. Keaukaha3
Panaewa Cmty. Ass’n v. Hawaiian Homes Comm’n, 588 F.2d
1216, 1227 (9th Cir. 1978) (“We therefore conclude that the
Commission Act claims do not arise under federal law.”).
Although the HHCA began as federal law, it became state law
when the Hawaii Admission Act (“Admission Act”), Pub. L.
No. 86-3, 73 Stat. 5 (1959), adopted it into the Hawaii state
constitution and Congress subsequently deleted it from the
United States Code. Id. § 4; see also Han v. U.S. Dep’t of
Justice, 45 F.3d 333, 339 (9th Cir. 1995); Keaukaha-Panaewa
Cmty. Ass’n, 588 F.2d at 1219, 1226-27. Because claims under
the HHCA arise solely under state law, this claim doesn’t “arise
under” federal law.
Loa, 2016 WL 7155733, at *4; Defs.’ Mot at 3. In its place, Defendants seek the
Second, the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (“HHCA”), 42
Stat. 108 (1921), provides no waiver of the United States’
sovereign immunity. See Moke v. United States, Civ. No. 0400680 ACK-LEK, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24928 at *1-3 (D.
Haw. Feb. 1, 2006).
Defs.’ Mot. at 7.
Next, Defendants seek the deletion of the following part of a
paragraph in the December 7 Order:
As discussed above, “the entire [HHCA] program was turned
over to the State of Hawaii” after Hawaii became a state
through the Admission Act. Keaukaha-Panaewa Cmty. Ass’n,
588 F.2d at 1226. The HHCA, as state law, cannot impose a
non-discretionary duty on the federal government.
Loa, 2016 WL 7155733, at *4; Defs.’ Mot. at 3.
Analysis of Proposed Changes
Defendants’ claim that there is “substantial contrary authority” to the
court’s discussion of the nature of the HHCA. Defs.’ Mot. at 3. This “substantial
contrary authority,” evidently, is a Department of the Interior (“DOI”) response to
a comment on a rule issued by the DOI:
3. Is the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act still Federal Law?
Issue: Commenters questioned whether the HHCA remains a
Federal law, presuming that the passage of the Admission Act
Response: Yes, the HHCA remains a Federal law. As
explained in more detail above under “Background,”, [sic] in
compliance with the Admission Act, and as a compact between
the State and the United States relating to the management and
disposition of the Hawaiian home lands, the State adopted the
HHCA, as amended, as a law of the State through Article XII of
its Constitution as a condition of its admission in 1959. The
HHCA is a cooperative federalism statute, a compound of
interdependent Federal and State law that establishes a Federal
law framework but also provides for implementation through
Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures to Amend the Hawaiian Homes
Commission Act, 81 Fed. Reg. 29776, 29779 (May 13, 2016).
The court understands Defendants’ argument that Keaukaha does not
explicitly hold that the HHCA is not federal law. But, there is significant language
in that case to that effect. Keaukaha, 588 F.2d at 1226 (“The Commission Act
itself was deleted from the United States Code and, at Congress’ insistence, was
adopted as a permanent fixture of the state’s constitution. Thus, it is undisputable
that the Commission Act program together with its rights and duties are, for all
practical purposes, elements of Hawaiian law.”). Further supporting this reading
of Keaukaha is the subsequent Ninth Circuit decision in Han, which -- citing
Keaukaha -- held: “Claims under the Commission Act, which has been expressly
incorporated in the Hawaii Constitution, arise exclusively under state law.” 1 Han
v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 45 F.3d 333, 339 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing Keaukaha, 588
F.2d at 1227) (emphasis added).
To grant Defendants’ Motion, the court must be left with a definite
and firm view that a mistake was made. Given that the Defendants’ contrary
reading of Keaukaha is supported solely by a Department of Interior response to a
comment on a rule, and given the significant Ninth Circuit precedent consistent
with the court’s December 7 Order, the court remains unconvinced that the
relevant language in the December 7 Order amounts to clear error. Although
Defendants are certainly not precluded from arguing this point in a future case,
they simply do not meet their burden on a motion to reconsider.
And, in fact, the Hawaii Supreme Court agrees with the court’s reading. See Kepo’o v.
Watson, 87 Haw. 91, 98, 952 P.2d 379, 386 (1998) (“The HHCA is, therefore, a matter of state
constitutional law and does not constitute federal law. Consequently, federal preemption
principles do not apply to this case because there is no relevant ‘federal law’ at issue.”).
Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 28, is
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: Honolulu, Hawaii, December 22, 2016.
/s/ J. Michael Seabright
J. Michael Seabright
Chief United States District Judge
Loa v. Lynch, Civ. No. 16-00446 JMS-KSC, Order Denying Defendants’ Motion for
Reconsideration, ECF No. 28.
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