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Southern Cal. Ass'n of Gov'ts v. Kleppe

Citation: 6 ELR 20485
No. Nos. 75-1942 et al., 413 F. Supp. 563/8 ERC 1922/(D.D.C., 05/11/1976) Venue transferred

The court transfers venue to the Central District of California in this action challenging outer continental shelf oil leasing off California, noting that res judicata, forum non conveniens, and judicial economy arguments tip the balance in favor of transfer. An earlier case involving substantially similar claims and parties, California v. Morton, __ F. Supp. __, 6 ELR 20088 (C.D. Cal. 1975), was dismissed for failure to prove claims that the leasing violated the National Environmental Policy Act. One of the cases filed herein, California v. Kleppe, tracks that earlier case so closely as to invoke the doctrine of res judicata, which bars relitigation of a cause of action between parties. Lawlor v. National Screen Service, 349 U.S. 322 (1955). Whether the parties of the remaining causes filed here are in privity with the parties of California v. Kleppe involves an analysis of California law more appropriately made in California. To the extent that national policy issues requiring hearing at the seat of the federal government are at stake, those legal questions can be decided by interpretation of the relevant statutes. Cf. Stames v. McGuire, 512 F.2d 918 (D.C. Cir. 1974). Furthermore, the interests of successful lessees can be better protected in California, where jurisdiction over such lessees can be easily obtained. Finally, the interests of judicial economy dictate that the olaims not be severed, but rather be transferred in their entirety.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (10 pp. $1.25, ELR Order No. C-1048).

Counsel of Plaintiffs Southern California Ass'n of Governments and American Littoral Society
Bruce J. Terris
1908 Sunderland Place, NW
Washington DC 20036
(202) 785-1992

Counsel for Plaintiff State of California
Edward J. Dubiel, Deputy Attorney General
3580 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90010
(213) 520-3554

Counsel for Plaintiff County of Los Angeles
Lee Barker
648 Hall of Administration
Los Angeles CA 90012
(213) 974-3611

Counsel for Defendant
William M. Cohen
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20540
(202) 739-2775

Robinson, J.

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]