without authority to issue a declaratory judgment with binding collateral effect. Plaintiffs would have the District Court retain jurisdiction up to the point at which a money judgment literally must be entered, only then transferring claims in excess of $10,000 to the Court of Claims for entry of final judgment. The authorities cited for both parties are not particularly helpful. Defendants draw the Court's attention to a number of cases involving the military in which claims for declaratory relief were coupled with claims for back pay in excess of $10,000. In each case, the Court of Appeals found that the money claims were the essence or keystone of the plaintiffs' claims; they held that for the District Court to adjudicate the declaratory aspects of the case would usurp the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims by deciding the principal legal issue in the case. In each, the Courts of Appeals approved or ordered the District Court to defer to the Court of Claims. See e.g., Denton v. Schlesinger, 605 F.2d at 486-88; Cook v. Arentzen, 582 F.2d at 878; Carter v. Seamans, 411 F.2d at 776 (District Court opinion incorporated by reference); see also Larsen v. Hoffman, 444 F. Supp. 245 (D.D.C. 1977).
These cases offer little guidance here, however, for two reasons: first, in those cases it was clear at the outset that money was the essence of the plaintiff's suit. By contrast, the plaintiffs here raised difficult and novel constitutional questions that they hoped to resolve by a declaratory judgment in a court with jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 2201 and thereby become entitled to injunctive relief. The possibility of money damages became central at a late stage of the proceedings only after the Court declined to award injunctive relief and after the principal legal issue had been adjudicated. Second, in the military cases cited by defendant, the Court of Claims had been awarded special statutory authority to award equitable relief, so that by sending the plaintiffs to the Court of Claims, the Courts of Appeal were not forcing them to litigate in two forums. See, e.g., Cook v. Arentzen, 582 F.2d at 877; Carter v. Seamans, 411 F.2d at 773-74.
Plaintiffs rely exclusively on Melvin v. Laird, 365 F. Supp. 511 (E.D.N.Y. 1973). There, the District Court refused to dismiss an action for declaratory relief but not for damages simply becuase the ultimate effect of a declaration of rights might be a damage claim in excess of $10,000. The Court concluded that where substantial rights were involved in addition to a potential money claim, the jurisdiction of the District Court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 or 1361 was not eliminated by a potential and speculative monetary recovery in the Court of Claims under the Tucker Act. 365 F. Supp. at 519; see also Glines v. Wade, 586 F.2d at 681.
In Melvin, the District Court was faced with a decision at the outset of the suit whether to defer to the Court of Claims. It was not faced, as the Court is here, with the problem of how to proceed after the legal issues had been resolved and only a damage claim remained. Indeed, in Melvin the District Court specifically reserved the question of how its jurisdiction might be affected if the plaintiff ultimately sought money damages. 365 F. Supp. at 520.
The problem faced by the District Court in Melvin is far more like that addressed by this Court at the outset of this action. The Court agrees that like the plaintiffs in Melvin, the potential of a monetary recovery did not deprive the court of jurisdiction to consider whether the plaintiffs were entitled to declaratory or injunctive relief pursuant to sections 1331, 1361 or 2201 of Title 28. Having resolved that issue, however, the Court cannot escape the conclusion that whatever else this action might have been, it is now in essence an action for money damages. If the claims exceed $10,000, jurisdiction lies exclusively in the Court of Claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1491. See Larsen v. Hoffman, 444 F. Supp. at 255. As the Court of Appeals notes in Glines v. Wade, "[the] government, of course, could not relitigage in that forum any issues which have been decided against it here." 586 F.2d at 682.
This result, which will occasion either the transfer of all claims to the Court of Claims or a bifurcation of the class and a transfer of some claims, will result in some hardship to the plaintiffs. Nevertheless, it is consistent with the statutory division of responsibility between the District Court and the Court of Claims. The cases are clear that the extension of jurisdiction to the District Court to adjudicate money claims of $10,000 or less was not intended to restrict the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims for amounts over $10,000. Melvin v. Laird, 365 F. Supp. at 517; Carter v. Seamans, 411 F.2d at 771-72. Respect for this principle requires deference to the Court of Claims for actions essentially for money in excess of $10,000 even where jurisdiction over part of the action may lie under another provision. See Carter v. Seamans, 411 F.2d at 775. The division of responsibility between the District Court and the Court of Claims has traditionally entailed separate suits for equitable relief and money damages, see Melvin v. Laird, 365 F. Supp. at 516-18; this division, and its consequent imposition on plaintiffs, has only partially been alleviated by amendment to the Tucker Act. It reflects the fundamental Congressional purpose to employ the expertise of the Court of Claims in all cases in which the damages sought against the United States exceed $10,000. See Glidden v. Zdanok, 370 U.S. 530 (1962).
Plaintiffs' suggestion that they not allege any jurisdictional amount until after the Court has valued all the claims would frustrate the Congressional purpose of limiting the jurisdiction of the District Court. The court has faced a similar suggestion in Larsen v. Hoffman, supra, in which plaintiffs sought to deduct potential setoffs and counterclaims from the amount they were claiming in order to remain within the jurisdictional limits of the District Court. In a careful and substantial opinion, Judge Corcoran held that the traditional rules for pleading of jurisdictional amounts in controversy applied to actions under the Tucker Act. 444 F. Supp. at 254. Larsen is controlling here. Like the situation faced by Judge Corcoran, the plaintiffs' proposal here would require jurisdictional determinations to await the outcome of the trial on the merits. This result is plainly not contemplated by the statute, which refers to the amounts of "claims" against the United States. 28 U.S.C.§ 1346(a)(2).
In order to permit the plaintiffs the widest latitide in deciding how to proceed, the Court will delay entry of any final order transferring any claims for a period of 60 days. During this time, plaintiffs may elect either to have the entire action transferred to the Court of Claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406, or to bifurcate the class, with this Court retaining jurisdiction over only those claims not greater than $10,000. Plaintiffs may, of course, elect to pursue the entire action in this Court by waiving all claims in excess of $10,000. See VanderMolen v. Stetson, 571 F.2d at 619 n.2. If the plaintiffs elect to pursue all or some of their claims in this Court under the foregoing conditions, the Court will grant leave for plaintiffs to file a Second Amended Complaint alleging jurisdiction under the Tucker Act and pleading an amount claimed. See Rule 8(a), Fed. R. Civ. P. Without objection from the government, which has acknowledged that this is an action essentially against the United States, see Dugan v. Rank, 372 U.S. 609 (1963), the Court will also grant leave to add the United States as a party defendant.
An appropriate order accompanies this Memorandum.
The Court has considered plaintiffs' motions to alter or amend the judgment and to amend the complaint, and defendants' opposition thereto; and defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for transfer to the Court of Claims, and plaintiffs' opposition thereto. For the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, it is this 25th day of April, 1980, hereby
ORDERED: That plaintiffs' motion to alter or amend the judgment is DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: That the plaintiffs shall have 60 days from the date of this Order in which the elect whether to proceed in this Court with those claims against the United States not in excess of $10,000 or to transfer all claims to the Court of Claims; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: That plaintiffs shall file no later than 60 days from the date of this Order a notice setting forth the manner in which they elect to proceed; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: That if plaintiffs elect to proceed in this Court leave is GRANTED to amend the Amended Complaint to add the United States as a defendant and to allege jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2), provided that plaintiffs also allege an amount claimed by each individual from the United States. Nothing in this Order shall be construed as limiting the jurisdiction of this Court to effectuate the Declaratory Judgment entered February 15, 1980, or otherwise to protect its jurisdiction; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: That defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer to the Court of Claims is DENIED without prejudice.
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