United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT ESTATE OF EDWARD COMENOUT'S MOTION TO AMEND
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Quinault Indian Nation's ("Nation") motion to voluntarily dismiss its complaint and motion to dismiss counterclaims (Dkt. 59) and Defendant Estate of Edward Comenout's ("Estate") motion to amend its counterclaims (Dkt. 63). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the Nation's motions and denies the Estate's motion as moot for the reasons stated herein.
I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
This lawsuit is one of many ongoing disputes involving Edward Comenout, the Indian Country Store, and the payment (or lack thereof) of cigarette taxes. See, e.g., Comenout v. Washington, 722 F.2d 574 (9th Cir. 1983); Matheson v. Kinnear, 393 F.Supp. 1025 (W.D. Wash. 1974); State v. Comenout, 173 Wn.2d 235 (2011).
Edward Comenout was an enrolled member of the Nation, a federally recognized Indian tribe. Dkt. 1, Complaint ("Comp.") ¶¶ 1.1, 2.1. In 1971, Edward Comenout began operating the Indian Country Store. Id. ¶¶ 2.1, 2.3. The store is located in Puyallup, Washington on land held in trust by the United States. Id. ¶ 2.1. The store sells cigarettes and tobacco products to both tribal and non-tribal members. Id. ¶ 2.3.
In 2005, the Nation and the State of Washington ("State") entered into a cigarette tax compact. Id. ¶ 1.7. Pursuant to the compact, the Nation retains one hundred percent of the state excise taxes assessed on cigarettes. Id. ¶ 1.8. In 2006, the Nation enacted a Cigarette Sales and Tax Code, which implemented the compact and assessed a cigarette tax on both tribal and non-tribal members. Id. ¶ 1.11.
On May 14, 2010, the Nation brought suit against various defendants, including Edward Comenout (collectively "Defendants"). Comp. The Nation alleges that Defendants violated the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") by defrauding the Nation of cigarette taxes. Id. ¶¶ 5.1-8.6. The Nation seeks a total of ninety million dollars in unpaid tax revenue. Id. The Nation also asserts a breach of contract claim against Edward Comenout, and seeks thirty million dollars in damages. Id. ¶ 9.1-9.6.
On June 4, 2010, Edward Comenout passed away. Dkt. 20 at 2. On December 8, 2010, the Estate was substituted as a defendant. Dkt. 27.
On December 30, 2010, the Estate asserted counterclaims against the Nation. Dkt. 28. The Estate alleges that the Nation wrongfully denied Edward Comenout of "a right to have an interest" in land that he leased from a fellow tribal member. Id. at 11-12. The Estate seeks a declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus, and lost profits. Id. at 13. The Estate also alleges that the Nation "agreed with the State of Washington to fix the wholesale and retail price of cigarettes to customers in the relevant market area [and] therefore has participated in an illegal conspiratorial enterprise with the State." Id. at 15. The Estate seeks treble damages for lost income. Id. at 16.
On February 2, 2015, the Nation moved to dismiss its suit without prejudice. Dkt. 59. The Nation also moved to dismiss the Estate's counterclaims. Id. On February 11, 2015, the Estate responded. Dkt. 62. On February 27, 2015, the Nation replied. Dkt. 67.
On February 26, 2015, the Estate moved to amend its answer and counterclaim. Dkt. 63. On March 16, 2015, the Nation responded. Dkt. 70. The Estate did not file a reply.
A. Nation's Motions to Dismiss
The Nation moves to voluntarily dismiss its complaint without prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2). Dkt. 59 at 6-8. The Estate objects to dismissal, arguing that its counterclaims are valid and should be decided. Dkt. 62 at 2, 23. The Nation contends that the Court should dismiss the Estate's ...