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Rio Grande Silvery Minnow v. Bureau of Reclamation, No. 05-2293

By FindLaw Staff on March 26, 2010 4:47 PM

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow v. Bureau of Reclamation, No. 05-2293, involved a quiet title action regarding certain dam areas.  The Tenth Circuit remanded the action, on the ground that plaintiff's action was time-barred, because the district court did not clearly err in finding that plaintiff knew as far back as the early 1950s that the U.S. claimed title to the properties, and thus the district court did not have jurisdiction to decide the merits of the action.

As the court wrote:  "The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District ("MRGCD") challenges a final judgment entered on its cross-claims brought pursuant to the Federal Quiet Title Act of 1972 (the "QTA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, in favor of the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Bureau of Reclamation ("BOR"), BOR officials, the United States Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps"), and Corps officials (collectively the "federal appellees"). Specifically, following a bench trial, the district court held that MRGCD's claims were time-barred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2409a(g). The court ruled in the alternative that, even if its claims were not time-barred, MRGCD was judicially estopped from claiming that it owned the properties in question, and, furthermore, the federal appellees were entitled to judgment on the merits. As to the limitations issue, we agree with the district court: MRGCD's quiet-title action is time-barred. It follows, however, that the district court did not have jurisdiction to decide the merits of that action. Therefore, we remand to the district court with instructions to vacate the portion of its judgment that resolves the merits of MRGCD's quiet-title action and to enter judgment on its jurisdictional dismissal of the claim."

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