United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Peter Goldmark, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and State of Washington's ("State Defendants") motions to dismiss (C14-5620, Dkt. 10; C14-5662, Dkt. 9). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the files and hereby grants the motions for the reasons stated herein.
I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On July 7, 2014, State Defendants granted an easement to the United States Navy for portions of state-owned aquatic lands located on the bed of the Hood Canal ("bedlands"). Dkt. 8 at 2. Plaintiff Hood Canal Sand and Gravel, LLC ("Hood Canal") owns property adjacent to the bedlands. Id. The easement blocks Hood Canal's ability to construct a pier. Id. at 9.
On August 4, 2014, Hood Canal filed suit ("original case") against State Defendants, as well as Defendants Michael Brady, Ray Mabus, Department of the Navy, and the United States of America ("Federal Defendants"). Dkt. 1. Hood Canal alleges that State Defendants violated federal and state law by granting the easement to Federal Defendants. See Dkt. 8 at 2. Hood Canal seeks a declaratory judgment that the easement is invalid. Id. at 25. Hood Canal also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting State Defendants from enforcing the easement. Id. at 26.
On August 5, 2014, Hood Canal filed a nearly identical suit in Jefferson County Superior Court against State Defendants and Federal Defendants. C14-5662, Dkt. 1, Ex. A. On August 20, 2014, Federal Defendants removed the action to this Court ("removed case"). C14-5662, Dkt. 1. State Defendants did not consent to removal. C14-5662, Dkt. 9 at 2.
On August 21, 2014, Hood Canal amended its complaint in the original case to add claims against Federal Defendants under the National Environmental Policy Act. Dkt. 8 at 11-12.
On August 27, 2014, State Defendants moved to dismiss Hood Canal's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. 10; C14-5662, Dkt. 9. On September 15, 2014, Hood Canal responded. Dkt. 12; C14-5662, Dkt. 11. On September 19, 2014, State Defendants replied. Dkt. 14; C14-5662, Dkt. 13.
Hood Canal alleges various state and federal claims against State Defendants. See Dkt. 8. State Defendants argue that Hood Canal's claims should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) because State Defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Dkt. 10 at 2.
A. Failure to State a Claim
Motions to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on either the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under such a theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Material allegations are taken as admitted and the complaint is construed in the plaintiff's favor. Keniston v. Roberts, 717 F.2d 1295, 1301 (9th Cir. 1983). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint does not require detailed factual allegations, but must provide the grounds for entitlement to relief and not merely a "formulaic recitation" of the elements of a cause of action. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiffs must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.
B. State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
1. Claims Against State of Washington and Washington Department ...