Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Supreme Court

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Respondent filed suit in Federal District Court against federal officials who managed tribal assets held in trust by the Federal Government alleging violations of fiduciary duty and requesting equitable relief. The next day after filing the suit, respondent filed this action against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims ("CFC") alleging almost identical violations and requesting money damages. At issue was whether a common factual basis like the one apparent in respondent's suits sufficed to bar jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1500. The Court held that two suits were for or in respect to the same claim, precluding CFC jurisdiction, if they are based on substantially the same operative facts, regardless of the relief sought in each suit. The Court also held that the substantial overlap in operative facts between respondent's District Court and CFC suits precluded jurisdiction in the CFC where both actions alleged that the United States held the same assets in trust for respondent's benefit and they describe almost identical breaches of fiduciary duties.