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Washington Supreme Court Rules Fuel Compact Challenge May Proceed To Trial

August 30, 2012 | Posted by Masse, Chris and Jordan, James | Print this page

Today a divided Washington Supreme Court issued its awaited ruling in AUTOMOTIVE UNITED TRADES ORGANIZATION v. STATE, finding that the challenge to payments made under tribal fuel compacts may proceed to trial. The majority overturned the lower court decision to dismiss the case for failure to join tribes as indispensable parties. Rejecting the State's arguments, the Supreme Court held "the tribes are not indispensable parties under CR 19(b). Although the tribes are necessary parties under CR 19(a) whose joinder is not feasible due to tribal sovereign immunity, equitable considerations allow this action to proceed in their absence.” The court concluded: “While the tribes are necessary parties whose joinder is not feasible due to sovereign immunity, in the circumstances of this case they are not indispensable. We reverse the trial court's order of dismissal and hold that this action can proceed without the tribes "in equity and good conscience" under CR 19(b).”

The case will now go back to the Gray’s Harbor County Court to proceed on the merits.

The dissent is available here.

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