Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pottawatomie County Rural Water District No. 3 v. Fallin

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 24, 2017

POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY RURAL WATER DISTRICT NO. 3, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, Plaintiff,
v.
MARY FALLIN, Governor of the State of Oklahoma, in her official capacity, and J. DAVID BURRAGE, Chairman of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, in his official capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LaGRANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, filed July 17, 2016. On July 20, 2016, plaintiff filed its response, and on August 5, 2016, defendants replied. Based on the parties' submissions, the Court makes its determination.

         I. Introduction[1]

         On June 15, 2016, plaintiff Pottawatomie County Rural Water District No. 3 (the “District”) filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against defendants Mary Fallin (“Gov. Fallin”), Governor of the State of Oklahoma, and J. David Burrage (“Burrage”), Chairman of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, (collectively “Defendants”).

         On February 18, 1997, the District was formed, pursuant to the Rural Water, Sewer, Gas and Solid Waste Management Districts Act (“Rural Water Act”). The District is an agency of the State of Oklahoma, and its principal office and place of business is located in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. On August 10, 2001, pursuant to the Rural Water Act, the District borrowed over $1, 000, 000.00 from the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”).[2] The District alleges that, pursuant to 7 U.S.C. § 1926(b) (“§ 1926(b)”), the District has the federal right to be the exclusive water service provider in all areas for which the District has the legal right to provide water service.[3] Further, the District alleges that “the State of Oklahoma, by empowering the District to borrow money from the USDA, bound the State and all of its subdivisions, to comply with the provisions of § 1926(b).” Compl. ¶ 8.

         The District alleges that Defendants, acting in furtherance of and for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (“ODOT”), have violated § 1926(b) by requiring the District to prove to the satisfaction of ODOT that the District is in fact a rural water district before it will allow the District to have access to state highways and rights-of-way for water line construction purposes. The District further alleges that the requirements imposed by Defendants include complying with Okla. Stat. tit. 69, § 1401, a statute which is facially not applicable to the District.[4] The District alleges that Okla. Stat. tit. 82, § 1324.10(A)(8) grants the District the statutory right to use the State's highways and rights-of-way and mandates that the State and ODOT concur in the location of water lines constructed by the District, and that the State's use of inapplicable statutes is pretext to interfere with the water service provided by the District and directly results in reducing the customer pool of the District, in violation of § 1926(b).

         Defendants now move for this Court to dismiss this matter on the following basis: (1) Defendants contend that Gov. Fallin should be dismissed from this action as she has no connection to the acts and statutes the District alleges were violated and, therefore, pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment, is immune from suit in this matter; (2) the Court should abstain from hearing this matter under the Younger Abstention Doctrine[5]; and (3) this matter should be dismissed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as the District has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Discussion

         A. Eleventh Amendment immunity

         Defendants contend that Gov. Fallin should be dismissed from this matter as she has no connection to the acts and statutes complained of and, therefore, is immune from suit in this matter, pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment. Specifically, Defendants contend that the District relies on Gov. Fallin's general authority, pursuant to the Oklahoma Constitution article VI, section 8, which states:

The Governor shall cause the laws of the State to be faithfully executed, and shall conduct in person or in such manner as may be prescribed by law, all intercourse and business of the State with other states and with the United States, and [s]he shall be a conservator of the peace throughout the State.

Okla. Const. art. VI, § 8, to assert its claim that Gov. Fallin violated § 1926(b). The District contends that the Ex parte Young exception applies in this matter and, therefore, this suit against Gov. Fallin is appropriate.

         The Eleventh Amendment prohibits suits against states, including state officials in their official capacity. See Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Okla. Tax. Com'n, 611 F.3d 1222, 1227 (10th Cir. 2010). The United States Supreme Court recognized an exception barring Eleventh Amendment immunity when a state official is sued in his or her official capacity to enjoin an ongoing violation of federal law. See Id. at 1232 (quoting Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60 (1908)). To determine when the Ex parte Young exception applies “a court need only conduct a straightforward inquiry into whether the complaint alleges an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as prospective.” Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         Having carefully reviewed the parties' submissions, the Court finds that the District has sufficiently alleged facts barring Gov. Fallin from exercising her right to Eleventh Amendment immunity in this matter. The District alleges that Gov. Fallin, along with Burrage, has violated § 1926(b) by imposing new extra-statutory requirements on the District which has resulted in an interference in the operations of the District and reduction of the District's customer pool. Further, the District seeks prospective injunctive and declaratory relief. As the District has alleged that Gov. Fallin has violated § 1926(b), a federal law, and seeks injunctive and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.