United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
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
J. BRYAN United States District Judge
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
Organization of Discussion.
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,
Joinder under Rule 19.
is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 19, a rule that imposes a
1. Is the absent party “necessary” under Rule
2. If so, is it feasible to order joinder of the absent
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. ...