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Long v. South Dakota Department of Transportation

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

December 27, 2018

MARK LONG, MARILYNN LONG, ARNIE VAN VOORST, SHIRLEY VAN VOORST, TIM DOYLE, SARA DOYLE, JANE GRIFFITH, MICHAEL TAYLOR, KAREN TAYLOR, Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, A PROGRAM OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING MOTION FOR HEARING

          KAREN E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs, Mark Long, Marilynn Long, Arnie Van Voorst, Shirley Van Voorst, Tim Doyle, Sara Doyle, Jane Griffith, Michael Taylor, and Karen Taylor, filed a complaint alleging a claim for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and a claim for injunctive relief against defendant, the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT). Docket 1. The DOT moves to dismiss both counts of the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1), arguing that res judicata bars this lawsuit and plaintiffs lack standing to pursue the injunctive relief they seek. Docket 7. Plaintiffs oppose the motion. Docket 10. Plaintiffs also move for a hearing on the DOT's motion to dismiss. Docket 11. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the DOT's motion to dismiss and denies plaintiffs' motion for a hearing.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts alleged in the complaint, [1] accepted as true, are as follows: Mark and Marilynn Long, Arnie and Shirley Van Voorst, Tim and Sara Doyle, Jane Griffith, and Michael and Karen Taylor are residents of South Dakota and own property in Lincoln County. The DOT is a federally assisted program that receives approximately 63% of its budget from federal grants.

         Plaintiffs suffered flooding damage to their properties, which are located near Highway 11 and 85th Street in Lincoln County, South Dakota. The DOT maintains sole control of Highway 11. Plaintiffs brought an inverse condemnation claim against the DOT in South Dakota Circuit Court, Second Judicial Circuit. Plaintiffs prevailed and were awarded individualized damages. Plaintiffs then moved under SDCL § 5-2-18 and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (URA), codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 4601-4655, for reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineering fees, and other related costs. The Circuit Court denied plaintiffs' motion based on South Dakota case law. Plaintiffs appealed, and the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. See Long, 904 N.W.2d 358');">904 N.W.2d 358.

         Plaintiffs then initiated this action in federal court under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, arguing that the Supremacy Clause requires the DOT to apply and enforce the URA. Plaintiffs contend that the URA requires states that receive federal funds to pay inverse condemnation expenses under the Fifth Amendment's just compensation doctrine. Plaintiffs also request this court to permanently enjoin the State of South Dakota from continuing to avoid payment of these expenses in violation of the Supremacy Clause.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A court may dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.

         The court determines plausibility by considering the materials in the pleadings and exhibits attached to the complaint, by drawing on experience and common sense, and by viewing the plaintiff's claim as a whole. Whitney v. Guys, Inc., 700 F.3d 1118, 1128 (8th Cir. 2012). Inferences are construed in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 1129 (citing Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 595 (8th Cir. 2009)). The court may also “consider ‘those materials that are necessarily embraced by the pleadings.' ” Hughes v. City of Cedar Rapids, 840 F.3d 987, 998 (8th Cir. 2016) (quoting Schriener v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014)). “Those materials include ‘documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleadings.' ” Id. (quoting Kushner v. Beverly Enters., Inc., 317 F.3d 820, 831 (8th Cir. 2003)).

         DISCUSSION

         Count 1 of plaintiffs' complaint alleges a claim for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Count 2 is a request for injunctive relief. Docket 1. The DOT contends that both counts must be dismissed, arguing that res judicata bars plaintiffs' claim for fees and costs and plaintiffs lack standing for injunctive relief. Docket 8.

         I. Count 1

         In Count 1, plaintiffs seek damages for attorney fees and costs under the URA, arguing that the Fifth Amendment requires the State of South Dakota to pay them just compensation. The DOT argues that res judicata bars plaintiffs' claim because plaintiffs are attempting to relitigate an issue that was actually litigated in Long, 904 N.W.2d 358');">904 N.W.2d 358. In response, plaintiffs argue that the issue raised here was not previously litigated and, discussing federal preemption, “rulings of a state court on matters of federal law are not binding on federal courts.” Docket 10 at 5.

         A. ...


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