Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Geo Group Inc

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 26, 2018

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GEO GROUP INC., Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT THE GEO GROUP INC.'S MOTION FOR ORDER OF DISMISSAL BASED ON PLAINTIFF'S FAILURE TO JOIN REQUIRED GOVERNMENT PARTIES, OR, ALTERNATIVELY, TO ADD REQUIRED GOVERNMENT PARTIES

          ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant The GEO Group Inc.'s Motion for Order of Dismissal Based on Plaintiff's Failure to Join Required Government Parties, Or, Alternatively, to Add Required Government Parties. Dkt. 51. The Court has reviewed the motion, all documents filed in support and opposition, and the remainder of the file herein, and considered oral argument on April 24, 2018.

         GEO seeks dismissal for Plaintiff State of Washington's failure to join the Department of Homeland Security and an agency thereof, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (collectively, “ICE”). See Dkt. 51 at ¶ 1. As discussed below, dismissal should be denied because ICE is neither a necessary nor an indispensable party. The case can proceed in equity and good conscience. Furthermore, the public rights exception applies, suspending traditional joinder under Fed.R.Civ.P. 19.

         I. BACKGROUND

         GEO moves to dismiss for failure to join under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7) following the initial pleadings, but before the completion of discovery. Failure to join may be raised at any stage. McCowen v. Jamieson, 724 F.2d 1421, 1424 (9th Cir. 1984); CP Nat. Corp. v. Bonneville Power Admin., 928 F.2d 905, 911-12 (9th Cir. 1991). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(2). Facts recited are derived either from the Complaint or from a contract incorporated by the Complaint and relied upon by the parties. Dkts. 1-1, 16-2, 19.

         GEO is a private corporation that has owned and operated the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), a 1, 575 bed detention facility, since 2005. Dkt. 1-1 at ¶¶3.8, 3.9. GEO operates the NWDC based on a contract with ICE (“the GEO-ICE Contract”). Dkts. 16-2, 19. GEO takes care of immigration detainees awaiting resolution of immigration matters and relies on detainees for a wide range of services under the Voluntary Work Program (VWP) required by the contract. Id. at ¶¶3.10, 4.2. GEO compensates detainees at $1 per day. Id. at ¶1.4.

         The State initiated this action under the theory that the GEO-ICE Contract at least allows for, if not requires, GEO to compensate detainees working in the VWP commensurate with the State Minimum Wage Act (MWA). Dkt. 1-1 at ¶¶3.3, 3.4, 5.1-6.6. The State alleges that GEO has been unjustly enriched by compensating detainees below that required by the Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA). In support of its theory, the State primarily relies on three terms of the GEO-Ice Contract: (1) GEO must compensate detainees participating in the VWP “at least $1 per day” under the “ICE/DHS Performance Base [sic] [National] Detention Standards” (PBNDS), expressly incorporated by the contract; (2) GEO must operate according to the “most current . . . constraints, ” including “applicable federal, state and local labor laws and codes”; and (3) where the contract conflicts with “all applicable federal state and local laws and standards . . . the most stringent shall apply.” Dkt. 16-2 at 8; Dkt. 19 at 46-48, 56.

         GEO rejects the State's theory and maintains that the GEO-ICE Contract prohibits GEO from acting as an ‘employer' to detainees working in the VWP. In support of its theory, GEO relies on the history, custom, and practice of the VWP and on an itemized “services/supplies” description for the “Detainee Volunteer Wages for the Volunteer Program” found in the GEO-ICE Contract. Dkt. 19 at 9. The description specifies that “[r]eimbursement for this line item will be at the actual cost of $1.00 per day per detainee” and that the “Contractor [GEO] shall not exceed the amount shown without prior approval” by ICE. Id. GEO also relies on provisions of the contract describing background and clearance procedures and practices for hiring “employees, ” such as use of E-Verify and the prohibition of employing “illegal or undocumented aliens.” Id. at 72-75. GEO argues that paying MWA rates to detainees working in the VWP would violate the GEO-ICE Contract.

         Acknowledged by both parties are GEO-ICE Contract terms allowing GEO to request contract pricing modifications and obliging GEO to indemnify ICE against all claims arising out of GEO's operation of the NWDC. Dkt. 19 at 56, 105, 106, 367.

         The State brings this case to defend its “quasi-sovereign interest, ” alleging that GEO has been unjustly enriched by compensating detainees $1 per day and violating the MWA. Dkt. 1-1 at ¶¶3.3, 3.4, 5.1-6.6. The State seeks (1) an order requiring GEO to disgorge its unjust enrichment from compensating detainees below the State minimum wage; (2) declaratory relief, for GEO to be declared an “employer” subject to the MWA when managing detainee “employees”; and (3) injunctive relief, for GEO to be enjoined from paying detainees less than the State minimum wage. Id. at ¶¶7.1-7. The Complaint names GEO as the sole defendant. Id. at 4, 5.

         In the instant motion, GEO seeks dismissal for the State's failure to join ICE. GEO requests in the alternative that the State be required to add ICE as a defendant.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Organization of Discussion.

         The Discussion addresses the following, in sequence: whether ICE must be joined as a necessary and indispensable party under Rule 19, §§II(B)(1)-(3); whether the public rights exception applies, §II(C); and whether GEO's alternative request for relief should be granted, §II(D).

         B. Joinder under Rule 19.

         Joinder is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 19, a rule that imposes a three-step inquiry:

1. Is the absent party “necessary” under Rule 19(a)?
2. If so, is it feasible to order joinder of the absent party?
3. If joinder is not feasible, is the party “indispensable” under Rule 19(b) such that in “equity and good conscience” the suit can proceed short of dismissal?

Salt River Project Agr. Imp. and Power Dist. v. Lee, 672 F.3d 1176, 1179 (9th Cir. 2012). Rule 19 analysis is “a practical, fact-specific one, designed to avoid the harsh results of rigid application.” Dawavendewa v. Salt River Project Agr. Imp. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.