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Defenders of Wildlife v. Andrus

Citation: 8 ELR 20235
No. No. 77-0212, 77 F.R.D. 448/11 ERC 1232/(D.D.C., 01/10/1978) Motion to dismiss denied

The court denies defendants' motion to dismiss this action to halt the killing of wolves by Alaska officials on federal lands. Defendants argued that the State of Alaska should have been joined as an indispensable party under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19 and that the action was barred by res judicata pursuant to the decision in Alaska v. Andrus, 7 ELR 20505. Although Alaska clearly has an interest in the litigation, the court "in equity and good conscience" concludes that the litigation could proceed without joining the state. Dismissal would hamper plaintiffs' efforts to pursue this action, and defendants did not object to the burden of multiple litigation when the Alaska suit began subsequent to commencement of this action. Moreover, defendants will not be subject to conflicting injunctions because the Alaska court did not order the Secretary of the Interior to desist from preventing the wolf kill. Alaska's position in this litigation is similar to that of defendants and Alaska could have intervened in this action but chose not to do so. Secondly, collateral estoppel rather than res judicata is the proper preclusive doctrine for application in this case because different causes of action are involved. Although the elements sufficient to invoke collateral estoppel are satisfied, the court declines to exercise its discretionary power to invoke the doctrine because the result would inequitably penalize plaintiffs while rewarding Alaska for filing a later suit in another jurisdiction rather than intervening in the present action.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Karin P. Sheldon
Sheldon, Harmon & Roisman
1025 15th St. NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005
(202) 833-9070

Thomas B. Stoel, Suedeen M. Gibbons
Natural Resources Defense Council
917 15th St. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 737-5000

Counsel for Defendants
John E. Lindskold
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2654