United States District Court, D. Hawaii
JOHN B. HOPKINS, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM AILA, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA'S MOTION TO DISMISS
Otake United States District Judge.
John B. Hopkins alleges that various entities and individuals
violated his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
when they cancelled his long-term residential ground lease on
Hawaiian Home Lands property and ordered him to vacate that
property. Defendant United States of America (“United
States”) moves to dismiss the Complaint under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because Plaintiff failed to
show the Court has jurisdiction over the United States in
this action. ECF No. 37. Alternatively, the United States
moves to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) because Plaintiff failed to allege facts
that state a claim against the United States. Id.
For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss is
is a native Hawaiian as defined in the Hawaiian Homes
Commission Act (“HHCA”) and thus, a beneficiary
of the public land trust created under the Hawai'i
Statehood Admission Act (“Admission
Act”). Compl. [ECF No. 1] ¶ 2. Defendant
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (“DHHL”),
together with its Executive Board, Defendant Hawaiian Homes
Commission (“HHC”) (collectively,
“DHHL/HHC”), are state entities that administer
Hawaiian Home Lands in that public land trust for the benefit
of native Hawaiians. Id. ¶¶ 2, 8, 16, p.
Plaintiff was the beneficiary of a long-term residential
ground lease (“lease”) on Hawaiian Home Lands and
resided in a home on that property and made certain
improvements to that property. Id. ¶¶ 2,
4, pp. 7-8.
the terms of the contract for his lease, DHHL/HHC could
cancel Plaintiff's lease if he failed to meet the
mortgage payments on his home on the Hawaiian Home Lands.
Id. at p. 8. On April 8, 2019, DHHL/HHC notified
Plaintiff that it had cancelled his lease, ordered him to
vacate the property, and awarded the lease to another native
Hawaiian on DHHL's waiting list. Id. at pp. 7,
10. Plaintiff alleges DHHL/HHC never provided him with notice
about the procedures used to cancel his lease, nor a fair
hearing with counsel to contest this process, nor information
about his right to appeal the lease cancellation and order to
vacate. Id. at pp. 7-8, 10-12. While DHHL/HHC did
hold a “Contested Case” hearing, Plaintiff was
not present due to a medical condition. Id. at p.
10. Plaintiff also complains DHHL/HHC denied him the option
to leverage the equity in his improvements on the Hawaiian
Home Lands property, e.g., to obtain a loan that
would have enabled him to make his mortgage payments.
Id. at pp. 7-8.
brought this lawsuit against the State of Hawai'i, DHHL,
HHC, and ten individuals in their official capacities who
work for DHHL or HHC (collectively, “State
Defendants”). Id. ¶¶ 5-17. Plaintiff
also named the United States as a defendant, alleging the
United States is a “vital” and
“indispensable” party to this action.
Id. ¶ 18, p. 2.
brings two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id.
¶ 1. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges the process used to
cancel his lease was inadequate and so constitutes an
improper taking without just compensation in violation of the
Fifth Amendment. Id. at pp. 9-10. In Count II,
Plaintiff alleges the process used to cancel his lease
violated his due process rights under the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at pp. 11-12. Plaintiff
thus seeks a declaration that the process by which he was
ordered to vacate from Hawaiian Home Lands property violates
due process and constitutes a breach of the State
Defendants' duties under the public land trust.
Id. at pp. 9, 12-13. Plaintiff also asks the Court
to enjoin the State Defendants from ejecting him from his
long-term residential ground lease and, further, to enjoin
them from ejecting anyone residing on Hawaiian Home Lands
property until adequate policies are enacted. Id. at
pp. 9, 13.
State Defendants filed their Answer, raising certain
defenses. ECF No. 29. The only defendant that did not file an
Answer - the United States - filed the present Motion to
Dismiss. ECF No. 37. The United States argues Plaintiff's
factual allegations are insufficient to establish subject
matter jurisdiction over it or state a claim against it.
Plaintiff, who represents himself, did not oppose the motion.
The State Defendants filed a notice indicating they do not
oppose the motion. ECF No. 39. The Court held a hearing on
the motion on October 11, 2019 and only the United States
12(b)(1) motions challenge the court's subject matter
jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Federal courts are
presumed to lack subject matter jurisdiction, and the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction
is proper. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Dismissal under Rule
12(b)(1) is warranted when the plaintiff fails to meet this
burden. See Chandler v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 598 F.3d 1115, 1122-23 (9th Cir. 2010). A motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) can amount to a facial or factual
challenge. See Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373
F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). In a facial challenge, which
the United States appears to mount here, the movant asserts
that the allegations of the complaint “are insufficient
on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction.”
Leite v. Crane Co., 749 F.3d 1117, 1121 (9th Cir.
2014) (quoting Safe Air, 373 F.3d at 1039). As in a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts the
plaintiff's allegations as true, draws all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and determines
whether the allegations sufficiently invoke the court's
jurisdiction. See Id. (citing Pride v.
Correa, 719 F.3d 1130, 1133 (9th Cir. 2013)).