Elk Grove Casino Opponents File Motion For Summary Judgment in Federal Case

October 4, 2017 |  

Plaintiffs in the case challenging the validity of the decision to place land into federal trust of the Wilton Rancheria's proposed Elk Grove, California casino resort have filed a motion for a summary judgment. The motion was filed on Sunday, October. 

The case against the U.S Department of Interior and the Wilton Rancheria was filed by casino watchdog group Stand Up For California (SUFC) on behalf of three named Elk Grove plaintiffs. The lawsuit is challenging the validity of the U.S. Department of Interior's decision to place land into trust for the Wilton Rancheria.

The 35-acre parcel placed into trust for the proposed casino was purchased for the Wilton Rancheria by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming from a portion of the Howard Hughes Company's unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove shopping center. The land was taken into trust in the last hours of the Obama administration on January 19, 2017, just hours before the inauguration of Donald Trump.

In their suit, the plaintiffs claim the person deciding to place the land into trust did so illegally. The argument is based on the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (FVRA). 

That law, the plaintiffs argue, that the "FVRA prohibits inferior [subordinate] officers from performing a function or duty reserved by statute or regulation to an office requiring nomination with advice and consent."

In making their motion, SUFC is asking the judge to essentially speed-up the process and render a ruling on the suit in their favor. Put another way, the petitioner is asking the judge to rule that the opposing party, in this case, the Department of Interior, does not have a sound legal argument to continue their defense of the complaint.

Generally speaking, for a summary judgment to be granted the petitioner must demonstrate that the facts of the case are undisputed. Additionally, it must be shown anyone examining the facts would rule in favor of the petitioner. 

In their filing, attorneys for the plaintiffs make three arguments of their motion. Those pleadings include the assertion that the Department of Interior violated its own rules; the Department of Interior "attempted to justify their actions by arguing that Section 151.12(c) does not mean what it says..."; and a reiteration of their argument that the January 19 decision was a violation of the FVRA. 

The original lawsuit was filed in Washington D.C. Federal Court after the plaintiff's administrative appeals with Department of Interior were exhausted on July 13, 2017. The case has been assigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs from the Washington D.C. and Seattle offices of Perkins Coie are Jennifer A. MacLean, Benjamin S. Sharp, Eric D. Miller, and Julie Wilson-McNerney respectively.

Correction: Motion was filed on October 1, not September 29 as first reported. 

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

I'm willing to bet that the Wilton casino special interest posse are playing both sides of the coin as we speak. First, obviously protest the legal challenge. But probably more sneakily, preparing a dossier on the new head of the Dept. of Interior to sway him towards an approval if the court sends it back to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for reconsideration.

Here's where the dossier would begin:

Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior on March 1, 2017.

A fifth-generation Montanan and former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Ryan Zinke built one of the strongest track records in the 114th Congress on championing sportsmen’s access, conservation, regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development, and smart management of federal lands.

So, let's see. Expect a contingency of vets, rural Wilton farmers and cattlemen, to pay Mr. Zinke a visit? Oh, maybe try throwing Grover in to sweeten the pot! Well, some Montana craft beer would help too!

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