Rail Lawsuit Ruling Oct. 31

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Rail Lawsuit Ruling Oct. 31

  1. 1. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 1 of 7 PageID #: 1360 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 DISTRICT OF HAWAII 10 11 HONOLULUTRAFFIC.COM; CLIFF ) Civ. No. 11-00307 AWT SLATER; BENJAMIN CAYETANO; ) 12 WALTER HEEN; HAWAII’S ) ORDER ON MOTION FOR THOUSAND FRIENDS; THE SMALL ) JUDICIAL NOTICE 13 BUSINESS HAWAII ) ENTREPRENEURIAL EDUCATION ) 14 FOUNDATION; RANDALL W. ROTH; ) and DR. MICHAEL UECHI, ) 15 ) Plaintiffs, ) 16 ) vs. ) 17 ) ) 18 FEDERAL TRANSIT ) ADMINISTRATION; LESLIE ) 19 ROGERS, in his official capacity as ) Federal Transit Administration Regional ) 20 Administrator; PETER M. ROGOFF, in ) his official capacity as Federal Transit ) 21 Administration Administrator; UNITED ) STATES DEPARTMENT OF ) 22 TRANSPORTATION; RAY LAHOOD, ) in his official capacity as Secretary of ) 23 Transportation; THE CITY AND ) COUNTY OF HONOLULU; and ) 24 WAYNE YOSHIOKA, in his official ) capacity as Director of the City and ) 25 County of Honolulu Department of ) Transportation, ) 26 ) Defendants. ) 27 ) ) 28
  2. 2. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 2 of 7 PageID #: 1361 1 Pending before the Court is Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice (Doc. 37-2), 2 which was filed in conjunction with and in support of Defendants’ Motion for Partial 3 Judgment on the Pleadings. Because the Court believes that it will be helpful to counsel 4 to have the Court’s ruling on the request for judicial notice before the motion for partial 5 judgment on the pleadings is argued, the Court now rules on the pending request for 6 judicial notice. For the reasons stated below, Defendants’ Request is granted in part and 7 denied in part. 8 I. Background 9 Plaintiffs filed this action on May 12, 2011, alleging that Defendants’ Final 10 Environmental Impact Statement/Section 4(f) Evaluation (“FEIS”) and Record of 11 Decision (“ROD”), both of which concern the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor 12 Project (“Project”), do not comply with the requirements of the National Environmental 13 Policy Act (“NEPA”), Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (“Section 14 4(f)”), the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”), and the regulations 15 implementing those statutes. (Compl., Doc. 1). Defendants filed a Motion for Partial 16 Judgment on the Pleadings, seeking to dismiss particular Section 4(f) claims as waived 17 and to dismiss certain Plaintiffs, who Defendants alleged failed to participate in the 18 notice-and-comment administrative proceeding leading up to the ROD’s release. (Doc. 19 37). In support of their motion, Defendants submitted 23 exhibits, labeled “A” through 20 “W,” and a Request for Judicial Notice of those exhibits and various other “public record 21 facts.” (Docs. 37-2 to 40-10). 22 II. Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice 23 A. Legal Standard 24 As a general rule, a district court may not consider materials outside of the 25 pleadings when ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). 26 However, the district court may consider facts that are contained in materials of which the 27 court may take judicial notice. Heliotrope Gen., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 28 981 n.18 (9th Cir. 1999). Accordingly, the court may consider materials incorporated by -2-
  3. 3. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 3 of 7 PageID #: 1362 1 reference into the complaint or matters of public record appropriate for judicial notice. 2 Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg, 593 F.3d 1031, 1038 (9th Cir. 2010). 3 Documents are considered incorporated by reference when the complaint 4 necessarily relies upon the document or the contents of the document are alleged in the 5 complaint, the document’s authenticity is not in question, and there are no disputed issues 6 as to the document’s relevance. Id.; Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 7 2005). The court can consider the full text of the judicially noticed document, even if the 8 complaint mentions only portions of the document. See In re Stac Elecs. Sec. Litig., 89 9 F.3d 1399, 1405 n.4 (9th Cir. 1996). 10 Moreover, a court can take judicial notice of a fact that is “not subject to 11 reasonable dispute” in that it is either generally known within the court’s territorial 12 jurisdiction or “capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose 13 accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed. R. Evid. 201(b). The latter category 14 includes matters of public record. See Intri-Plex Techs., Inc. v. Crest Grp., Inc., 499 F.3d 15 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2007). 16 B. Exhibits A-C 17 Exhibits A, B, and C consist of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement 18 (“DEIS”), the FEIS, and the ROD of the Project. The contents of portions of all three of 19 these documents are alleged in the Complaint. (See, e.g., Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 29-31, 66, 70, 73, 20 89-93). The authenticity of these documents has been attested to by Faith Miyamoto, the 21 Chief Planner for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. (Doc. 40-11). 22 Exhibits A and B, the DEIS and FEIS, include appendices recording a number of public 23 comments made at various stages of the notice-and-comment process; Exhibit C, the 24 ROD, includes a summary, by subject matter, of comments submitted on the FEIS. As a 25 result, although these exhibits do not comprise the entire administrative or public record 26 in this case, they are clearly relevant to Defendants’ assertions that Plaintiffs’ did not 27 comment on particular subjects or at particular times. 28 Because the contents of Exhibits A, B, and C are alleged in the Complaint, their -3-
  4. 4. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 4 of 7 PageID #: 1363 1 authenticity is not in question, and they are clearly relevant to resolution of Defendants’ 2 Motion, this Court can consider these documents in full as incorporated by reference in 3 the Complaint. Coto Settlement, 593 F.3d at 1038; In re Stac Elecs. Sec. Litig., 89 F.3d at 4 1405 n.4. Thus, Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice of Exhibits A, B, and C is 5 granted. 6 C. Exhibits E-K and M-W 7 Exhibits E, F, G, H, I, J, K, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, and W consist of two 8 pieces of legislation, a certificate of voting results, five notices published in the Federal 9 Register or elsewhere, and ten comments made by various Plaintiffs during the notice- 10 and-comment process leading up to publication of the ROD. The court may judicially 11 notice the existence of these documents because they are matters of public record, capable 12 of accurate and ready determination, and not subject to reasonable dispute. Fed. R. Evid. 13 201(b). 14 While Plaintiffs do not object to judicial notice of the existence of these 15 documents, they do object to any judicial notice of Defendants’ descriptions of the 16 exhibits included in their Request for Judicial Notice. (Doc. 42). Judicial notice is not 17 appropriate for matters open to interpretation, speculation, or other reasonable dispute. 18 See J.W. v. Fresno Unified Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 431, 440 (9th Cir. 2010) (an interpretation 19 of statements contained in a document is not judicially noticeable if subject to reasonable 20 dispute); Lawrence v. CFTC, 759 F.2d 767, 776 n.17 (9th Cir. 1985) (speculative facts are 21 not a proper matter for judicial notice). As a result, the Court grants Defendants’ Request 22 for Judicial Notice as to the existence of the documents in Exhibits E through K and M 23 through W, but declines to judicially notice any of Defendants’ accompanying 24 interpretations of the content or impact of those documents. 25 D. Exhibit D 26 Exhibit D is a document entitled O’ahu Regional Transportation Plan 2030; in 27 their Request, Defendants ask for notice of this document, as well as a description of the 28 O’ahu Metropolitan Planning Organization (“MPO”) and its responsibilities. (Doc. 37-2 -4-
  5. 5. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 5 of 7 PageID #: 1364 1 at ¶ 4). While the Court grants Defendants’ Request to take notice of the existence of the 2 document labeled Exhibit D, for the reasons outlined above concerning matters of public 3 record, the Court declines to take notice of Defendants’ description of the creation of the 4 MPO, its duties, and its role in the approval of the O’ahu Regional Transportation Plan 5 2030. Defendants have not supplied the necessary information for the Court to verify the 6 truth of those facts, Fed. R. Civ. P. 201(d), and thus those facts remain subject to 7 reasonable dispute and inappropriate for judicial notice. 8 E. Exhibit L 9 Exhibit L is a comment letter written by Plaintiff HonoluluTraffic. Plaintiffs argue 10 that this exhibit is not appropriate for judicial notice because it is an individual comment 11 containing personal opinions and so is subject to reasonable dispute. (Doc. 42). 12 However, Plaintiffs did not object to judicial notice of the existence of any of the other 13 comments for which Defendants requested judicial notice and do not cite to any case law 14 or clearly explain why a letter should be treated differently than the other written and oral 15 comments in Defendants’ Request. The existence of the comment letter is a matter of 16 public record not subject to reasonable dispute. See S.F. Baykeeper v. W. Bay Sanitary 17 Dist., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54883, at *133 n.13 (N.D. Cal. 2011). As such, the court 18 grants Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice as to the existence of Exhibit L. 19 F. “Public record facts” in ¶ 18 20 Defendants have withdrawn their request that the Court take judicial notice of the 21 fact that the Federal Transit Administration and the City of Honolulu conducted an 22 “extensive outreach program.” (Doc. 37-2 at ¶ 18; Doc. 48). Consequently, the Court 23 denies judicial notice of the remainder of that paragraph of Defendants’ Request, because 24 it merely makes reference to portions of the FEIS, Exhibit B, which has already been 25 noticed, as set forth above. 26 G. “Public record facts” in ¶ 28 27 Defendants request judicial notice that the “public record is devoid of any 28 comments” by certain plaintiffs regarding the FEIS, citing Exhibit C as establishing such -5-
  6. 6. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 6 of 7 PageID #: 1365 1 an absence of fact. (Doc. 37-2, ¶ 28). The court denies this request. Exhibit C contains 2 only a summary of the public comments made on the FEIS and does not include a list of 3 the names of the people who commented on the FEIS. Because the Court has not been 4 furnished with a list of the individuals who commented on the FEIS, it is impossible for 5 the Court to conclude, at this stage, that certain Plaintiffs were not among the 6 commenters. Thus, this paragraph does not represent a matter capable of accurate and 7 ready determination. Fed. R. Civ. P. 201(b). 8 H. “Public record facts” in ¶¶ 11, 15, and 23 9 Defendants request judicial notice that the “public record is devoid” of comments 10 from certain Plaintiffs regarding the alternative scoping process, during two notice-and- 11 comment periods, and on the DEIS. (Doc. 37-2 at ¶¶ 11, 15, 23). This request is denied 12 for two reasons. First, the Court does not have the full “public record” before it; the 13 DEIS and FEIS, which do not represent the entire administrative record, provide the only 14 evidence before the Court that certain Plaintiffs did not comment during the periods 15 alleged by Defendants. Thus, the Court does not have sufficient information to conclude 16 that the public record as a whole is “devoid” of such comments and these paragraphs 17 represent matters subject to reasonable dispute. Fed. R. Civ. P. 201(b). 18 Second, while the Court has concluded above that it can consider the DEIS and 19 FEIS at this stage, it is not appropriate for the Court to take judicial notice of the “absence 20 of fact” based on analysis of those public records. The out-of-circuit district court cases 21 Defendants cite in their Request do not, in fact, support Defendants’ argument in favor of 22 judicial notice of a failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Those cases instead 23 suggest that a district court may take judicial notice of administrative publications and 24 then use those documents to make its own independent determination as to whether the 25 record is devoid of required comment or action by a plaintiff in the process of deciding 26 the underlying motion. See Marcelus v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 540 F. Supp. 2d 231, 235 n.5 27 (D.D.C. 2008) (taking judicial notice of an administrative complaint and then concluding 28 independently that the complaint showed a failure to exhaust administrative remedies); -6-
  7. 7. Case 1:11-cv-00307-AWT Document 50 Filed 10/31/11 Page 7 of 7 PageID #: 1366 1 Cordero v. AT&T, 73 F. Supp. 2d 177, 185-90 (D.P.R. 1999) (taking judicial notice of 2 EEOC filing and then using that filing as evidence of a failure to exhaust administrative 3 remedies); cf. Feistel v. U.S. Postal Serv., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121259, at *4 (E.D. 4 Wis. May 12, 2008) (directly taking judicial notice of “failure to exhaust” when the issue 5 was not contested). Thus, the Request for Judicial Notice of the “facts” presented in ¶¶ 6 11, 15, and 23 is denied. 7 III. Conclusion 8 For the reasons set forth above, Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice is 9 granted in part and denied in part. 10 Accordingly, 11 IT IS ORDERED: 12 (1) Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice is granted as to Exhibits A-C. 13 (2) Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice is granted as to Exhibits D-W, but 14 such notice is limited only to the existence of those documents. 15 (2) Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice is denied as to the “public record 16 facts” in ¶¶ 11, 15, 18, 23, and 28. 17 DATED this 31st day of October, 2011. 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -7-

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