Federal Court Orders Tribal Exhaustion in Challenge to Lummi Seizure

Here are the materials in Wilson v. Doe (W.D. Wash.):

57 Horton’s Towing Motion for Summary J

61 Wilson Opposition to 57

62 Horton’s Towing Reply

64 Horton’s Towing Response to 60 & 61

65 US Brief

66 Wilson Reply

67 DCT Order

An excerpt:

On October 22, 2014, Plaintiff Curtiss Wilson was stopped by a Lummi Tribe police officer while driving on the Lummi Reservation after drinking at the Lummi Casino. (Dkt. No. 4-1 at 2.) Lummi Tribal Police Officer Grant Austick stopped Plaintiff, searched his 1999 Dodge Ram Pickup, and developed probable cause that Plaintiff was committing a DUI. (Dkt. No. 4-1 at 2.) Officer Austick then called the Washington State Patrol and Plaintiff was arrested. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff’s truck was towed by Defendant Horton’s Towing and impounded at the direction of the Washington State Trooper. (Id.)

The following day, Lummi Tribal Police Officer Brandon Gates presented a “Notice of Seizure and Intent to Institute Forfeiture” (“Notice of Seizure”) from the Lummi Tribal Court of the Lummi Tribe to Horton’s Towing. (Dkt. No. 4-1 at 3-4, 9.) The seizure and intent to institute forfeiture of Plaintiff’s vehicle was based on violations of the Lummi Nation Code [3]  of Laws (“LNCL”) 5.09A.110(d)(2) (National Indian Law Library 2016) (Possession of Marijuana over 1 ounce), and authorized by LNCL 5.09B.040(5)(A) (National Indian Law Library 2016) (Civil forfeiture section addressing Property Subject to Forfeiture, specifically motor vehicles used, or intended for use, to facilitate the possession of illegal substances.) (Dkt. No. 4-1 at 9.) Horton’s Towing released the truck to the Lummi Tribe. (Id. at 3-4).

Plaintiff brought suit in Whatcom County Superior Court and the case was removed. (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff originally brought claims for outrage, conversion, and relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988. (Dkt. No. 4-1 at 7-8.) All of Plaintiff’s claims, save conversion, have been previously dismissed either voluntarily or by Court order. (See Dkt. Nos. 25, 35, and 53.) Plaintiff’s conversion claim against both Horton’s and the United States is based on Horton’s release of the vehicle to the Lummi Tribe pursuant to the order served by Gates. (Dkt. No. 4-1 at 6.)

Defendant Horton’s moves for summary judgment, claiming the release of the vehicle was pursuant to the Notice of Seizure, and [4]  therefore with lawful justification. (Dkt. No. 57.) Plaintiff argues in response that the Notice of Seizure is invalid or not enforceable off the reservation. (Dkt. No. 61.) The United States moves for summary judgment based on, inter alia, Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. (Dkt. No. 65.) In response, Plaintiff regurgitates failed arguments from previous briefing, relying on an overturned, out-of-Circuit case and “maintaining” a line of reasoning with respect to Brandon Gates and the scope of employment that this Court has already ruled against. (Dkt. No. 66.)

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, tribal courts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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