Birch v. N.D.O.C. et al
ORDER - Plaintiff's motions (ECF Nos. 33 , 35 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 43 , 47 , 48 , & 52 ) are DENIED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke on 6/12/2017. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - DRM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEVADA
NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS, et al.,
MINUTES OF THE COURT
June 12, 2017
THE HONORABLE VALERIE P. COOKE, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
REPORTER: NONE APPEARING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF(S): NONE APPEARING
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT(S): NONE APPEARING
MINUTE ORDER IN CHAMBERS:
On February 28, 2017, and early mediation conference was held and the parties
successfully negotiated a settlement agreement (ECF No. 26). On March 17, 2017, the court
approved the stipulation for dismissal with prejudice (ECF No. 32). Currently before the court
are nine motions by plaintiff to intervene (ECF Nos. 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 43, 47, 48, & 52).
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction” and possess only the power authorized
by the Constitution and United States statutes. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America,
511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). This power cannot be expanded by judicial order. Id., citing
American Fire & Causualty Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6 (1951). It is well settled that there is a
presumption that a cause of action lies outside the federal court’s limited jurisdiction, and that
the party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of establishing it. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377.
Federal courts must have either an independent (constitutional or statutory) basis for jurisdiction
over a cause of action or jurisdiction pursuant to the court’s inherent powers or ancillary
jurisdiction. Id. at 378.
In Kokkonen, the Supreme Court held that federal courts do not have inherent or ancillary
jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement merely because the subject of the settlement was a
federal lawsuit. Id. at 381. The Court stated that ancillary jurisdiction is general permissible
under two circumstances: “(1) to permit disposition by a single court of claims that are, in
varying respects and degrees, factually interdependent; and (2) to enable a court to function
successfully, that is, to manage its proceedings, vindicate its authority, and effectuate its
decress.” Id. at 379-80 (internal citations omitted). As to the first circumstance, the Court found
that it would not be particularly efficient for a federal court to exercise jurisdiction over what is
essentially a breach of contract claim because the facts underlying the breach of a settlement
agreement “have nothing to do with” the facts of the underlying case. Id. at 380.
As to the second circumstance, the Court held that a federal court has ancillary
jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement “if the parties’ obligation to comply with the terms
of the settlement agreement had been made part of the order of dismissal – either by separate
provision (such as a provision “retaining jurisdiction” over the settlement agreement) or by
incorporating the terms of the settlement agreement into the order.” Id. at 381. Jurisdiction
exists in such a case because a breach of the settlement agreement violates a court order.
Mallard Automotive Group Ltd. v. United States, 343 F.Supp.2d 949, 955 (D. Nev. 2004) citing
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 375. If the federal court has no independent jurisdiction over the
settlement agreement, and absent making the settlement agreement part of the dismissal order,
enforcement of the agreement is for the state courts. Mallard, 343 F.Supp.2d at 955.
“Mere awareness and approval of the terms of the settlement agreement” by the judge are
not enough to make the settlement agreement part of the dismissal order. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at
381. Nor is language in the order of dismissal stating that the dismissal is “based on the
settlement” enough for the federal court to retain jurisdiction. O’Connor v. Colvin, 70 F.3d 530,
532 (9th Cir. 1995). “Indeed, even a district court’s expressed intention to retain jurisdiction is
insufficient to confer jurisdiction if that intention is not expressed in the order of dismissal.” Id.
citing Hagestad v. Trafeseer, 49 F.3d 1430, 1433 (9th Cir. 1995) (finding that although the judge
stated on the record that he would act as “czar” over the settlement, because the order of
dismissal merely stated “Counsel having informed the court that this action has been settled, this
action is dismissed with prejudice,” the court did not retain jurisdiction over enforcement of the
Therefore, plaintiff’s motions (ECF Nos. 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 43, 47, 48, & 52) are
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DEBRA K. KEMPI, CLERK
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