Jachetta v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-01-2011
  • Case #: 10-35175
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bybee for the Court; Circuit Judges Alarcón and Graber
  • Full Text Opinion

Although 25 U.S.C. § 345 waives sovereign immunity of the federal government in condemnation proceedings, it does not do so for inverse-condemnation actions; 25 U.S.C. § 345 does not extend waiver of immunity against states.

Jachetta applied for a two-parcel Native allotment in 1971. In 1986, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved one of the parcels and, by their own error, omitted approving the other until 2004. Jachetta filed suit in Federal Court against the BLM, the State of Alaska (Alaska), and a private company for extracting gravel between the time he applied for the parcel and the time he was granted ownership. Jachetta listed a number of theories including inverse condemnation, injunctive relief, and nuisance. The district court dismissed the BLM from the action citing sovereign immunity. That court also dismissed Alaska on the theory that the Eleventh Amendment prevented such action. On review, the Ninth Circuit held that the United States, through BLM, could be sued under the Federal Tort Claim Act (FTCA) for any claims that are considered actionable torts under Alaska law. The Court did not find that 25 U.S.C. § 345 (waiver of immunity when seeking issuance of an allotment) waived immunity in the case at bar because Jachetta had been issued the allotment. The Court also did not find that a violation of 42 USC 1983 or 1985 waived immunity for federal agencies. Turning to Alaska’s sovereign immunity defense, the Court considered whether the Fourteenth Amendment waived immunity, or alternatively, if Alaska had done so expressly. Jachetta argued a number of theories, including 25 U.S.C. § 357 overrides the Eleventh Amendment. The Court was not persuaded and found that 25 U.S.C. § 345 applied only to condemnation proceedings, while Jachetta claimed only inverse-condemnation. The Court affirmed Alaska’s dismissal and reversed in part BLM’s dismissal, citing that Jachetta may bring some claims under FTCA. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

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