Gilmore, et al v. Weatherford, et al

Plaintiffs in this case are owners of "chat" restricted by virtue of plaintiffs' membership in the Quapaw Tribe. They alleged that Bingham Sand and Gravel Company, Inc., owner of unrestricted chat, had been removing tailings from one of two piles of co-mingled chat without compensating the restricted owners. Under plaintiffs’ theory of the case, federal law prohibits the sale or removal of any chat from commingled piles without the approval of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”). Despite numerous informal requests that the BIA halt chat removal by Bingham and the Estate of Joseph Mountford (another owner of unrestricted chat), the agency has not done so. Seeking to stop chat removal and obtain an accounting for the chat that has already been removed, plaintiffs sued the Secretary of the Interior and several BIA officials. The district court dismissed these claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Although it assumed that plaintiffs could plead a common law accounting claim outside the ambit of the APA, the court nonetheless required exhaustion as a matter of judicial discretion. As to the private defendants, plaintiffs asserted claims for conversion and an accounting. Following dismissal of the federal defendants, the district court concluded it lacked jurisdiction over these claims. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies; the Court reversed the district court's conclusion that it lacked jurisdiction over the conversion and accounting claims. View "Gilmore, et al v. Weatherford, et al" on Justia Law