United States District Court, D. Idaho
SHOSHONE-BANNOCK TRIBES OF THE FORT HALL RESERVATION., Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. NYE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the
Fort Hall Reservation's (“Tribes”) Motion to
Stay Proceedings. Dkt. 53. Having reviewed the record and
briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments
are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of
avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the
decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral
argument, the Court will address the motion without oral
argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1)(B). For the
reasons outlined below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT
the Tribes' Motion to Stay.
Tribes brought this action against the United States and
other Defendants relating to lands in Pocatello, Idaho. The
United States granted easements on these reservation lands
for railroad company use beginning in the late 1800s. The
tribes now want to regain control of this land.
United States filed a Motion to Dismiss the Tribes'
Amended Complaint (Dkt. 41), arguing that the Tribes had
already waived and released their claims against the United
States through a settlement agreement entered in the District
of Columbia as a Joint Stipulation and Order. Dkt. 41-1, at
12. The parties disagree on the scope of the settlement and
whether the Tribes have waived their current claims. To
resolve the issue, the Tribes have filed a motion seeking
clarification on the issue with the D.C. District Court which
retains jurisdiction over the interpretation and enforcement
of the settlement stipulation and order. The Tribes now seek
to stay proceedings in this Court until the D.C. District
Court renders a decision on the interpretation thereof.
Court “has broad discretion to stay proceedings as an
incident to its power to control its own docket.”
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706-707 (1997)
(citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254
(1936)). “A trial court may, with propriety, find it is
efficient for its own docket and the fairest course for the
parties to enter a stay of an action before it, pending
resolution of independent proceedings which bear upon the
case.” Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal.,
Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-64 (9th Cir. 1979). Determining
whether to grant a motion to stay “calls for the
exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests
and maintain an even balance.” Landis, 299
U.S. at 254-55. “When considering a motion to stay, the
district court should consider three factors: (1) the
potential prejudice to the non-moving parties; (2) the
hardship and inequity to the moving party if the action is
not stayed; and (3) the judicial resources that would be
saved.” In re Micron Tech., Inc. Secs. Litig.,
No. CV-06-085-S-BLW, 2009 WL 10678270, at *2 (D. Idaho Dec.
Court is first concerned with the issue of jurisdiction. The
United States argues that this Court has concurrent
jurisdiction over the interpretation of the settlement
agreement because the D.C. District court only retained
exclusive jurisdiction over the enforcement of the agreement,
not its interpretation. However, the plain language of the
joint stipulation and order says the D.C. District Court
would retain jurisdiction “for the limited purpose of
interpreting and enforcing” the settlement.
Dkt. 55-1. The use of the word “and” separating
“interpreting” and “enforcing”
denotes that the D.C. District Court retains exclusive
control over both interpretation and enforcement.
Therefore, according to the plain language of the Joint
Stipulation and Order, the D.C. Court has exclusive
jurisdiction over the question of whether the claims were
both an enforcement action and a request for interpretation
of the Joint Stipulation and Order require the examination
and application of the Joint Stipulation and Order. In other
words, as the Tribes point out, “judicial
interpretation is enforcement.” Dkt. 54, at 3. Thus,
the D.C. District Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the
interpretation-as well as the enforcement-of the settlement
agreement. Furthermore, when a court retains jurisdiction of
a settlement agreement in this way, it is exclusive. See
Flanagan v. Arnaiz, 143 F.3d 540 (9th Cir. 1998)
(“The context of the retention jurisdiction, a
provision for future enforcement of a settlement order,
implies that the retention was meant to be
Defendants cite Larson v. Clark
County, No. 2:11-cv-879-JCM (PAL), 2012 WL 1900946 (May
24, 2012) in which summary judgment was granted because of a
prior waiver and release of claims. But that case came before
the same court in which the settlement had been brought.
Thus, it is easily distinguishable from this case where one
Court-the D.C. District Court-presided over the settlement
agreement, and a second, distinct Court-the undersigned
Court-has been asked to interpret that agreement. Next,
Defendant cites Erlichman v. Stater Bros. Markets,
NO. 10-cv-01803-CJC (PJWx) 2012 WL 12887512 (S.D. Cal. Mar.
29, 2012). That case, however, is likewise unpersuasive as
the settlement agreement at issue was a union's
“voluntary quit” settlement, was written under
union procedure, and jurisdiction was not reserved by any
court. Finally, Defendant cites In re Waste Mgmt., Inc.
Sec. Litig., No. 97 C 7709, 2003 WL 1463585, *2 (N.D.
Ill. Mar. 19, 2003), a case that is not binding authority on
the Court and is otherwise distinguishable. As the Tribes
correctly note, in In re Waste Mgmt, “It was
the court where the settlement agreement and judgment were
entered that rendered a decision on whether the settlement
agreement precluded prosecution of a lawsuit in a separate
district court case. It was not the [other] district court .
. . .” Dkt. 57, at 4. Here, the D.C. District Court has
not decided that question. Thus, the Court finds that the
D.C. District court has exclusive jurisdiction over the
interpretation of the settlement agreement.
United States further argues that the doctrine of comity
ought to persuade the D.C. District Court to defer to this
Court's interpretation of the settlement agreement
because the issue of waiver of claims under the settlement
was brought up by the United States in this Court first (Dkt.
55, at 4 (citing Pacesetter Systems, Inc. v. Medtronic,
Inc., 678 F.2d 93, 94-96 (9th Cir. 1982)). The case the
United States relies upon is, again, distinguishable as the
two courts in that matter had concurrent jurisdiction. Here,
the D.C. Court has exclusive jurisdiction and so the doctrine
of comity does not apply.
Court will briefly discuss various arguments raised by the
parties for, or ...