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Staten v. Motel 6 Operating LP

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

May 18, 2018

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
MOTEL 6 OPERATING LP, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND

          Marsha J. Pechman United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the State of Washington's Motion to Remand. (Dkt. No. 8.) Having reviewed the Motion, the Response (Dkt. No. 12), the Reply (Dkt. No. 14) and all related papers, the Court GRANTS the Motion and REMANDS this case to King County Superior Court. The Court declines to hear oral argument on the matter.

         Background

         The State of Washington filed this action against Motel 6 Operating L.P. and G6 Hospitality LLC (collectively, “Motel 6”) in King County Superior Court on January 3, 2018. (See Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 2.)

         Washington alleges that since at least 2015, Motel 6 has employed a corporate policy or practice of voluntarily providing guest registry information to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“DHS/ICE”), which DHS/ICE then used to determine whether its guests were wanted in connection with civil immigration matters. (Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 3 at ¶¶ 4.2-4.4.) Washington alleges that Motel 6 turned over this information on an almost daily basis “without the ICE agents having provided any documentation or evidence of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a search warrant for the requested guest registry information.” (Id. at ¶ 1.1.) Instead, DHS/ICE's usual practice was “to come to Motel 6's reception desk and request the guest list from the receptionist. The receptionist would print out the guest list and give it to the ICE agent, ” who would then “review the guest list and identify individuals of interest to ICE.” (Id. at ¶ 4.3.) “Motel 6 staff observed ICE identify guests of interest to ICE, including by circling guests with Latino-sounding names.” (Id.)

         Washington contends that this practice violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86, et seq. (“CPA”) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination, RCW 49.60 et seq. (“WLAD”). (Id. at ¶ 2.1.)

         On March 5, 2018, Motel 6 removed the case to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a). (See Dkt. No. 1.) Washington now moves to remand.

         Discussion

         I. Legal Standard

         The purpose of the federal officer removal statute (“Section 1442”) is “to ensure a federal forum in any case where a federal official is entitled to raise a defense arising out of his official duties.” Arizona v. Manypenny, 451 U.S. 232, 241 (1981). A party seeking removal under Section 1442 bears the burden of showing, by a preponderance of evidence, “that (a) it is a ‘person' within the meaning of the statute; (b) there is a causal nexus between its actions, taken pursuant to a federal officer's directions, and plaintiff's claims; and (c) it can assert a ‘colorable federal defense.'” Goncalves v. Rady Children's Hosp. San Diego, 865 F.3d 1237, 1244 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). The Court is to “interpret Section 1442 broadly in favor of removal.” Id. (citation omitted).

         II. Federal Officer Removal

         Washington contends that Motel 6 cannot satisfy the requirements for removal under Section 1442 because (1) it was not acting under or pursuant to a federal officer's directions and (2) it cannot assert a colorable federal defense. (Dkt. No. 8 at 7.)

         A. “Acting Under” a Federal Officer

         “For a private entity to be ‘acting under' a federal officer, the private entity must be involved in ‘an effort to assist, or to help carry out, the duties or tasks of the federal superior.” Goncalves, 865 F.3d at 1245 (quoting Watson v. Philip Morris Cos., Inc., 551 U.S. 142, 152 (2007)) (emphasis in original). “The ‘relationship typically involves subjection, guidance, or control . . .'” Id. (quoting Watson, 551 U.S. at 151-53). Acts occurring under the “general auspices of federal direction” are insufficient. Cabalce v. Thomas E. Blanchard & Assocs., Inc., 797 F.3d 720, ...


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