Townsend Ranch LLC et al v. United States of America, No. 2:2023cv00170 - Document 36 (E.D. Wash. 2024)

Court Description: ORDER GRANTING 26 DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS. Plaintiff's 6 Second Amended Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. File is CLOSED. Signed by Judge Thomas O. Rice. (BM, Case Administrator)

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Townsend Ranch LLC et al v. United States of America Doc. 36 FI LED I N THE U.S. DI STRI CT COURT EASTERN DI STRI CT OF WASHI NGTON 1 Jun 05, 2024 2 SEAN F. MCAVOY, CLERK 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 TOWNSEND RANCH LLC, a Washington limited liability corporation; ESTATE OF DAVID TOWNSEND; EDWARD TOWNSEND; DANIEL TOWNSEND; WILLIAM TOWNSEND; NATHAN TOWNSEND; MALCOM and KELLY TOWNSEND, husband and wife; TOWNSEND BROTHERS LLC, a Washington limited liability corporation; T3 RANCH LLC, a Washington limited liability corporation; and SWEDE W. ALBERT, an individual, 15 16 17 18 19 20 NO. 2:23-CV-0170-TOR ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, acting by and through the DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR and BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, Defendant. ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rules 2 12(b)(1) and 12(h)(3) (ECF No. 26). The matter was submitted for consideration 3 without oral argument. The Court has reviewed the record and files herein and is 4 fully informed. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss 5 (ECF No. 26) is GRANTED. 6 7 8 9 BACKGROUND This motion to dismiss arises out of a fire that destroyed Plaintiffs’ real property in Okanogan County, Washington. ECF No. 6 at 7-8, ¶¶ 4.2-4.4. Plaintiffs’ property is located near the Omak Mill. ECF No. 35-1 at 4. The 10 Colville Tribal Federal Corporation (CTFC) has owned the Mill in fee simple since 11 2013. ECF Nos. 6 at 5, ¶ 2.17; 27-6 at 2. The CTFC is the business arm of the 12 Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Colville Reservation (Confederated Tribes). 13 ECF Nos. 6 at 5, ¶ 2.16; 26 at 2. The CTFC pays property taxes on the Mill, a 14 portion of which goes to Okanogan County Fire District No. 3 (District 3). ECF 15 Nos. 27-7; 27-10 at 2. In July 2018, District 3 and the Bureau of Indian Affairs 16 (BIA) executed a Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement. ECF No. 27-11. The 17 purpose of the Agreement was “to provide for mutual assistance and cooperation in 18 the . . . suppression of wildland fire to lands within the jurisdiction” of BIA or 19 District 3. Id. at 2. However, the Agreement also allocates sole jurisdiction over 20 certain lands to the parties. Id. at 2, ¶ 3. Importantly, District 3 has sole ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 2 1 jurisdiction over “lands within the boundaries of the Fire District [which are] 2 subject to [the] Fire District 3 protection district levy and not subject to Forest Fire 3 Protection Assessment.” Id. at 2, ¶ 3.01. When a fire emergency occurs on 4 property under the exclusive jurisdiction of District 3, BIA Fire Management may 5 “provide immediate control action” and “minimize fire loss,” or “provide 6 supplemental resources . . . or support.” Id. at 3, ¶ 4.01. 7 Plaintiffs claim that on September 7, 2020, a fire from the Mill spread 8 southward and destroyed their property. ECF No. 6 at 9-10, ¶¶ 4.9-4.11; 31 at 5. 9 According to Plaintiffs, the Mill site “contained one or more burn piles of forest 10 and timber scrap (a.k.a ‘slash’)” which had been left smoldering by tribal 11 employees and eventually “flared up, resulting in the wildfire” due to high winds. 12 ECF No. 6 at 2, ¶ 1.1; see id. at 9, ¶ 4.9. Plaintiffs allege that city officials warned 13 CTFC and BIA on multiple occasions that the smoldering slash pile presented a 14 risk of wildfire but “no measure of any type was made to prevent the wildfire that 15 occurred.” Id. at 12, ¶¶ 4.20-4.21. 16 Defendant alleges that the fire that burned Plaintiffs’ property was not due to 17 high winds rekindling the smoldering pile at the mill, but instead due to a different 18 fire, known as the “Cold Springs Fire” or “Pearl Hill Fire”, which was started by 19 an arsonist a day earlier, on September 6, 2020, and eventually spread to the Mill, 20 where it combined with the smoldering slash pile to create a bigger fire that ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 3 1 destroyed Plaintiffs’ property. ECF No. 26 at 6. Plaintiffs dispute this. ECF No. 2 31 at 3. 3 The parties appear to agree that slash pile was smoldering in the first 4 instance due to a fire that began several months earlier, on July 18, 2020, known as 5 the “Rodeo Trail Fire.” ECF Nos. 26 at 4; 32 at 4, ¶ 10. The Rodeo Trail Fire was 6 started by a group of squatters and necessitated a multi-jurisdictional response by 7 District 3, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and the Colville 8 Agency Mount Tolman Fire Center (Mount Tolman), which is managed by the 9 BIA. ECF Nos. 26 at 5-6; 31 at 12. Pursuant to the Cooperative Fire Protection 10 Agreement, District 3 responded to the Rodeo Trail Fire and later requested mutual 11 aid. ECF No. 32 at 2, ¶ 4. Mount Tolman assisted with mopping up the fire at 12 District 3’s request. ECF Nos. 27-1 at 2; 32 at 3, ¶¶ 5-6. 13 Plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint (SAC) with this Court on 14 August 11, 2023, bringing claims against the BIA for negligence, trespass, 15 nuisance, and inverse condemnation. ECF No. 6 at 13-15. Plaintiffs seek 16 recompense in the amount of $47 million dollars. Id. at 19. 17 The SAC asserts that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this 18 action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1), 19 and the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), Pub. 20 L. No. 93-638. Under the ISDEAA, tribes “receiving a particular service from the ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 4 1 BIA may submit a contract proposal to the BIA to take over the program and 2 operate it as a contractor and receive the money that the BIA would have otherwise 3 spent on the program.” Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla & Cupeno Indians v. Jewell, 4 729 F.3d 1025, 1033 (9th Cir. 2013). “These contracts are known as 638 contracts, 5 after the Public Law that created them.” Id. 6 Plaintiffs allege that Defendant was acting pursuant to two different 638 7 contracts at the time of their property loss: contract A20AV00089, or the 8 “Cooperative Forest Management Program” contract; and contract A20AV00075, 9 or the “Fire Protection Services Program” contract. ECF Nos. 27-8; 27-9. 10 Plaintiffs argue that these agreements make Defendant liable for the alleged 11 negligence of tribal employees in failing to suppress the smoldering fire at the Mill 12 before it grew into a wildfire. ECF No. 6 at 6, ¶ 2.19 (citing 25 U.S.C. § 5321). 13 Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims, alleging the actions in issue were 14 not performed under either of the 638 contracts. ECF No. 26 at 2. 15 16 DISCUSSION I. Motion to Dismiss Standard 17 A jurisdictional challenge brought under Rule 12(b)(1) may present as 18 either a facial or factual attack. White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 19 2000). “In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations contained in a 20 complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction. By contrast, ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 5 1 in a factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by 2 themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.” Safe Air for Everyone 3 v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). 4 Defendant raises a factual challenge to the Court’s jurisdiction, arguing that 5 the 638 contracts do not cover the conduct in issue. ECF No. 26 at 11. Defendant 6 brings copies of the 638 contracts as well as the tax and sales history of the Mill 7 parcel as evidence. In resolving a factual attack, a court “need not presume the 8 truthfulness of the plaintiffs’ allegations” and “may look beyond the complaint to 9 matters of public record without having to convert the motion into one for 10 summary judgment.” White, 227 F.3d at 1242. Thus, “the court can actually 11 weigh evidence to confirm the existence of the factual predicates for subject-matter 12 jurisdiction.” Anderson v. United States, 606 F. Supp. 3d 1040, 1050 (E.D. Wash. 13 2022) (quoting Global Tech., Inc. v. Yubei (XinXiang) Power Steering Sys. Co. 14 Ltd., 807 F.3d 806, 810 (6th Cir. 2015)). However, “a jurisdictional finding of 15 genuinely disputed facts is inappropriate when ‘the jurisdictional issue and 16 substantive issues are so intertwined that the question of jurisdiction is dependent 17 on the resolution of factual issues going to the merits’ of an action.” Safe Air, 373 18 F.3d at 1039 (quoting Sun Valley Gas., Inc. v. Ernst Enters., 711 F.2d 138, 139 19 (9th Cir. 1983)) (brackets omitted). “The question of jurisdiction and the merits of 20 an action are intertwined ‘where a statute provides the basis for both the subject ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 6 1 matter jurisdiction of the federal court and the plaintiff’s substantive claim for 2 relief.’” Id. (quoting Sun Valley, 738 F.2d at 139)). 3 “‘Once the moving party has converted the motion to dismiss into a factual 4 motion by presenting affidavits or other evidence properly brought before the 5 court, the party opposing the motion must furnish affidavits or other evidence 6 necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction.’” Id. 7 (quoting Savage v. Glendale Union High Sch., 343 F.3d 1036, 1039 n.2 (9th Cir. 8 2003)); see also Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 9 (1994) (“It is . . . presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and 10 the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting 11 jurisdiction[.]”) (internal citations omitted). The action must be dismissed if a 12 court finds it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). 13 II. 14 FTCA & ISDEAA Standard The United States and its agencies are generally immune from suits seeking 15 money damages; however, Congress may choose to waive that immunity. Dep’t of 16 Agric. Rural Dev. Rural Housing Serv. v. Kirtz, 601 U.S. 42, 48 (2024). Under the 17 Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), Congress has waived the federal government’s 18 sovereign immunity from suit for tort claims “caused by the negligent or wrongful 19 act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope 20 of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 7 1 private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the 2 place where the act or omission occurred.” 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1). In 1990, 3 Congress extended the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity to claims “‘resulting 4 from the performance of functions . . . under a contract . . . authorized by the 5 ISDEAA.’” Shirk v. U.S. ex rel. Dep’t of Interior, 773 F.3d 999, 1003 (9th Cir. 6 2014) (quoting 25 U.S.C. § 450 (note)). However, that waiver is necessarily 7 circumscribed. To establish governmental liability for the acts of a tribal 8 employee, the plaintiff must establish that (1) “the language of the federal contract 9 ‘encompass[es] the activity that the plaintiff ascribes to the employee’” and (2) 10 “the employee’s activity [fell] ‘within the scope of employment.’” Wilson v. 11 Horton’s Towing, 906 F.3d 773, 781 (9th Cir. 2018) (quoting Shirk, 773 F.3d at 12 1006-7). “The Supreme Court has characterized [tribal] immunity as a necessary 13 corollary to Indian sovereignty and self-governance, and [the courts] employ a 14 strong presumption against its waiver.” Bodi v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok 15 Indians, 832 F.3d 1011, 1016 (9th Cir. 2016). 16 III. Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss 17 A. 18 Plaintiffs submit that the question of subject matter jurisdiction is so Intertwinement 19 intertwined with the merits of the case that dismissal would be inappropriate at this 20 stage. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that “it would be inappropriate for this Court ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 8 1 to determine whether the source of the damage to Plaintiffs’ property was the fire 2 that originated at the old Omak Mill site, as alleged in the [SAC]” or if the source 3 was instead “the Rodeo Trail Fire and/or the Cold Springs Fire described in . . . 4 Defendant’s motion to dismiss.” ECF No. 31 at 3. In support of this contention, 5 Plaintiffs point to Munger v. United States Soc. Sec. Admin., C19-5571TSZ, 2020 6 WL 6874792 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 23, 2020). 7 Although the decisions of another federal district court may carry some 8 persuasive value, this Court is not bound by such authority. Even if it were, 9 however, Munger is distinguishable. In Munger, the plaintiff was paralyzed after 10 tripping over a door mat in the vestibule outside the Social Security 11 Administration’s (SSA’s) office. 2020 WL 6874792 at *1. The SSA maintained 12 that it was not responsible for the mat, which had been placed there by the property 13 owner and which, under the lease agreement, the property company was allegedly 14 responsible for maintaining. Id. Plaintiff disputed this, contending that “the 15 United States owned, or . . . its employee placed or otherwise factually controlled 16 the allegedly defective mat.” Id. at *4. The court agreed that it could not resolve 17 this factual issue in the context of a Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional challenge because 18 the dispute went “to the substantive merits of [Plaintiff’s] FTCA claim.” Id. 19 20 Here, by contrast, the Court can resolve the jurisdictional issue—whether the 638 contracts imposed a duty on tribal employees to “safely inspect, maintain, and ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 9 1 monitor the smoldering slash pile” at the Mill, as alleged in the SAC, see ECF No. 2 6 at 8, ¶ 4.7—without reaching the substantive question on the merits of whether 3 the smoldering slash pile spontaneously combusted due to high winds or the 4 embers of the pile were kindled by the Cold Springs Fire on September 6, see ECF 5 No. 26 at 2-3. Therefore, the Court declines to reserve ruling on Defendant’s 6 jurisdictional challenge. 7 B. 8 As a threshold matter, Plaintiffs’ claims are deficient because they have not 9 shown that CTFC, which owns the Mill in fee simple, ever contracted with BIA to 10 administer any sort of program through a 638 contract on BIA’s behalf. However, 11 even if the Court were to proceed to step one of the Shirk analysis, Plaintiffs’ 12 claims would likewise fail because the contracts do not require tribal employees to 13 protect property at the Mill against wildfires. 14 638 Contracts Defendant has submitted copies of the Forest Management Program contract 15 and Fire Protection Services contract. See ECF Nos. 27-8; 27-9. The only parties 16 to those agreements are the BIA and Confederated Tribes. CTFC was not 17 mentioned in either document. A tribally chartered entity like CTFC may enter 18 into a 638 contract, and the parties appear to agree that CTFC, as the business arm 19 of the Confederated Tribes, is entitled to sovereign immunity. See Demontiney v. 20 United States ex rel. Dep’t of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affs., 255 F.3d 801, 807-8 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 10 1 (9th Cir. 2001); Allen v. Gold Country Casino, 464 F.3d 1044, 1046 (9th Cir. 2 2006) (“[Sovereign] immunity extends to business activities of the tribe, not 3 merely to governmental activities.”). Given CTFC’s status as owner of the Mill 4 property, the Court would expect to see CTFC mentioned in either the 638 5 contracts or some related subcontract between the Confederated Tribes and CTFC. 6 Second, and more fundamentally, Plaintiffs have not shown that the Mill 7 land was ever held in trust by BIA for the Confederated Tribes. As it stands, 8 CTFC owns the land in fee simple. See ECF Nos. 27-6; 27-7. CTFC’s 9 predecessor entity, the Colville Tribal Enterprises Corporation, purchased the 10 property from the bankruptcy estate of a private business in 2001, then transferred 11 the property to the Confederated Tribes in 2012, which in turn transferred the 12 property back to CTFC in 2013. ECF No. 27-6 at 2. Likewise, tax records 13 confirm that the property is under the jurisdiction of Okanogan County Fire 14 District 3. ECF No. 27-12 at 2-3. In other words, BIA has never held the land in 15 trust to administer a program on behalf of the Confederated Tribes. As such, 16 Plaintiffs cannot show that the Tribes or CTFC assumed any responsibility from 17 the BIA in managing the land or operations at the Mill. See Los Coyotes, 729 F.3d 18 at 1033 (confirming the ISDEAA “created a system by which tribes could take 19 over the administration of programs operated by the BIA”). 20 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 11 1 Even if the Court could theoretically overlook these barriers to jurisdiction, 2 Plaintiffs have not met their burden under step one of the Shirk analysis to show 3 that language in either 638 contract is tethered to the maintenance and protection of 4 the Mill. 5 Both 638 contracts include an appendix titled “Scope of Work,” which lays 6 out the responsibilities of the tribal contractor. ECF No. 27-8 at 9 (“The 7 Contractor agrees to administer the program . . . in conformity with the following 8 standards[ ] [i]dentified in the Scope of Work.”). The Court begins by examining 9 the Forest Management contract’s Scope of Work section. In broad terms, the 10 program envisions that the contractor will serve as a policymaker and advisor to 11 the Colville Reservation regarding the appraisal/sale of timber, forest resource 12 management, and forest health and protection. See id. at 31-33. 13 Plaintiffs urge the Court to find that the objectives of the Forest 14 Management program are broader than mere “oversight of forested land,” ECF No. 15 31 at 9, and in particular that the contractor’s responsibility to “provide corrective 16 action to forest stands impacted by wildfire”, ECF No. 27-8 at 32, implicated a 17 duty on behalf of the Confederated Tribes to suppress the smoldering of the slash 18 pile at the Mill. Plaintiffs concede that the Mill was not being used to process 19 timber or manufacture wood products at the time of the fire. ECF Nos. 31 at 5-7. 20 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 12 1 Plaintiffs’ arguments are unavailing. The fact that the Forest Management 2 contract includes a general mandate to the Confederated Tribes to maintain and 3 protect forestland does not necessarily implicate a specific duty to protect the 4 privately held and developed Mill property. Further, the Cooperative Fire 5 Protection Agreement between District 3 and the BIA confirms that District 3 was 6 responsible for suppressing the remaining smoldering fire at the Mill’s slash piles. 7 See ECF No. 27-11 at 2 (providing that District 3 has sole jurisdiction over lands 8 within the boundaries of the fire district, whereas BIA has sole jurisdiction over 9 trust land). As mentioned, the Mill is subject to a District 3 fire protection tax and 10 11 has not historically been held in trust for the Confederated Tribes. Plaintiff Edward Townsend declared that Mount Tolman, a BIA-managed 12 fire center, assumed responsibility for responding to the Rodeo Trail Fire “and 13 subsequent rekindles of the fire” after an initial response by District 3 and 14 conference between District 3 and Mount Tolman. ECF No. 32 at 3-4. This does 15 not prove that the Mill was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the BIA. Indeed, 16 Mr. Townsend’s declaration admits that “subsequent rekindles of fire” were 17 initially tackled by fire districts and only then handed over to Mount Tolman “for 18 mop up and extended monitoring.” Id. at 4, ¶ 9. The fact that the Mill was under 19 District 3’s sole jurisdiction did not prevent Mount Tolman from assisting with 20 mop ups. The Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement specifically contemplates ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 13 1 that District 3 will respond to a fire emergency in a sole District 3 jurisdiction, but 2 that BIA fire management may respond as well to “provide immediate control 3 action, minimize fire loss, and thereby indirectly protect its own jurisdiction area.” 4 Id. at 3, ¶ 4.02; see also id. at ¶ 5.02 (noting District 3 may request the support and 5 assistance of BIA). Therefore, the fact the Mount Tolman offered its fire 6 protection services to District 3 in responding to the Rodeo Springs Fire did not 7 bring CTFC’s maintenance of the Mill within the scope of the 638 contract for 8 forest management services. 9 Respecting the Fire Protection contract, Plaintiffs’ claims likewise fail. The 10 Fire Protection agreement specifies that the Confederated Tribes will “provid[e] 11 essential firefighting and fire protection services within the respective 12 jurisdictional boundaries of each party – the Tribal Emergency Management 13 Services and the city of Nespelem.” ECF No. 27-9 at 30. The Court takes judicial 14 notice that the city of Omak, where the Mill is located, is outside the town of 15 Nespelem. Fed. R. Evid. 201(b). Accordingly, neither 638 contract supports the 16 Court’s exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over this action. 17 C. 18 Plaintiffs ask the Court for permission to engage in further jurisdictional Extra-Judicial Discovery 19 discovery before dismissing the action. ECF No. 31 at 4. Specifically, Plaintiffs 20 aver that “recent news reports suggest that at least part of the Old Omak Mill site is ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 14 1 dedicated to a new health care facility to be operated as a joint venture between the 2 Confederated Tribes and Defendant” and that “[t]his sounds very much like a 638 3 contract . . . which was contemplated even at the time of the fire, begging the 4 question whether the site was trust land owned by the Confederated Tribes.” Id. at 5 7-8. 6 The Court will not allow Plaintiffs to engage in further jurisdictional 7 discovery. If there was such a 638 contract between the tribes and BIA providing 8 for health services on Mill land existing at the time of the fire, the Court anticipates 9 the parties would have produced it by now. And unlike the Fire Protection 10 contract, which could conceivably implicate some nexus between the alleged tribal 11 employees’ activity—i.e., monitoring of the slash pile for potential rekindling— 12 and the scope of the contract—i.e., protecting against wildfires—it is unclear how 13 a contract for operating a health services facility would superimpose a duty on 14 tribal employees to monitor piles of timber byproducts. 15 Additionally, the evidence which Plaintiffs produce does not establish 16 beyond mere conjecture that a 638 contract for health services even might have 17 existed at the time of the fire. The newspaper articles which Plaintiffs submit as 18 evidence that BIA was contracting with the Confederated Tribes to build a 19 healthcare facility were published on October 19, 2023—over three years after the 20 fire of September 7, 2020, that destroyed their property. See ECF Nos. 33-5; 33-6 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 15 1 at 3 (noting “[t]he project is nine years in the making”). These documents only 2 confirm that a 638 contract was not in place for the Mill at the relevant times. 3 Accordingly, the Court declines to permit further jurisdictional discovery. 4 ACCORDINGLY, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: 5 Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 26) is GRANTED. Plaintiff’s 6 Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. 7 The District Court Executive is directed to enter this Order, and Judgment 8 accordingly, furnish copies to counsel, and CLOSE the file. 9 DATED June 5, 2024. 10 11 THOMAS O. RICE United States District Judge 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS ~ 16

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