Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
Hage v. United States
In 1978, Hages acquired a ranch in Nevada occupying approximately 7,000 acres of private land and approximately 752,000 acres of federal lands under grazing permits. Their predecessors had acquired water rights now located on federal lands, 43 U.S.C. 661. Hages had disputes with the government concerning release of non-indigenous elk onto federal land for which Hages had grazing permits, unauthorized grazing by Hages’ cattle, and fence and ditch maintenance. After a series of incidents, in 1991, Hages filed suit alleging takings under 43 U.S.C. 1752(g), and breach of contract. After almost 20 years, the Claims Court awarded compensation for regulatory taking of water rights; physical taking of water rights; and range improvements. The court awarded pre-judgment interest for the takings, but not for the range improvements. The Federal Circuit vacated in part. The regulatory takings claim and 43 U.S.C. 1752 claim are not ripe. To the extent the claim for physical taking relies on fences constructed 1981-1982, it is untimely. To the extent the physical takings claim relies on fences constructed 1988-1990, there is no evidence that water was taken that Hages could have put to beneficial use. Hages are not entitled to pre-judgment interest for range improvements because Hages failed to identify a cognizable property interest. View "Hage v. United States" on Justia Law
Hearts Bluff Game Ranch v. United States
Plaintiff purchased approximately 4,000 acres of land in Titus County, Texas, for use as a mitigation bank to offset the environmental impact of more destructive land use. 33 U.S.C. 1344. Before the purchase, the Army Corps of Engineers communicated that it then saw no impediments to creating the mitigation bank. After the Texas Water Development Board announced that the Reservoir would become less viable (if not infeasible) if the mitigation bank were approved, the Corps denied the application because the mitigation bank overlapped with the proposed Reservoir and it concluded that plaintiff's land might not exist in perpetuity. The district court dismissed a claim for just compensation. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiff did not have a cognizable property interest in obtaining a mitigation banking instrument. The claim was essentially that plaintiff detrimentally relied on representations made by the Corps. View "Hearts Bluff Game Ranch v. United States" on Justia Law
Abbott Point of Care, Inc. v. Epocal, Inc.
Plaintiff alleged infringement of patents covering systems and devices for testing blood samples against a competitor in the diagnostic field. The patents at issue name defendant as the assignee. Plaintiff claimed ownership based on confidentiality and non-competition clauses in employment and consulting contracts between its predecessor and an employee, the inventor. The district court dismissed, finding that plaintiff lacked standing because the 1999 Consulting Agreement did not continue the 1984 Agreement’s Disclosure and Assignment Covenant. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the company lacked standing with respect to rights assigned long after the inventor resigned from the company. View "Abbott Point of Care, Inc. v. Epocal, Inc." on Justia Law
San Carlos Apache Tribe v. United States
A 1935 settlement gives the tribe specific irrigation rights in the Gila River. The government filed another water rights claim on behalf of the tribe in 1979, resulting in a 2006 Arizona Supreme Court decree that the 1935 decree resolved all of the tribe's rights under all theories and that federal court was the proper forum for interpretation and enforcement of that decree. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed a claim against the United States for failure to secure and protect the tribe's water rights. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding the claim barred by the six-year limitations period in 28 U.S.C. 2501. Rejecting an argument that the tribe was not on notice of its harm until the 2006 decision, the court stated that the plain terms of the 1935 decree indicated that the tribe would have no further rights and that the government was representing multiple parties.