(Cite as: 185 F.3d 868)
Briefs and Other Related Documents
NOTICE: THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION.(The Court's decision is referenced in a “Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions” appearing in the Federal Reporter. Use FI CTA9 Rule 36-3 for rules regarding the citation of unpublished opinions.)
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Ellen MANNATT; Robert Mannatt; and Bruce Mather, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; Fort Independence Indian Reservation; Daniel Miller, Jr.; Allen Wilder; Willard L. Mather; Jacquetta R. Mather; Lona Burkhart; Eugene C. Burkhart; Louise A Walker; Marie E. Hurlbut; Carl Herman Walters; Nellie E. Lonnoagin; Owens Valley Unified School District; Daniel Miller, Sr., Tribal Chairman; and Daniel Miller, Sr., an individual, Defendants-Appellees.
D.C. No. CV-92-05293-DLB.
Submitted June 16, 1999.FN2
FN2. The panel unanimously finds this case suitable for decision without oral argument. Fed. R.App. P. 34(a)(2).
Decided July 1, 1999.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Dennis L. Beck, Magistrate Judge, Presiding.
Before T.G. NELSON, HAWKINS, and GRABER, Circuit Judges.
FN1. This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Cir. R. 36-3.
*1 Plaintiffs own a parcel of real property in Inyo County; its southern border abuts the Fort Independence Indian Reservation (Reservation). In 1994, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a new survey of the Reservation that relocated the Reservation's northern border to a point farther to the north. That new survey thus relocated the southern boundary of Plaintiffs' property and reduced the size of Plaintiffs' parcel.
This action challenges the BLM's 1994 survey. Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint included four claims. The first alleged that the BLM unlawfully had relocated the northern boundary of the Reservation and requested that the district court determine the “true and correct” location of the shared boundary line. The second and third claims alleged that the United States had taken private property without due process or just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs' final claim sought a writ of mandamus from the district court that would direct the BLM to conduct an “independent” new survey of the disputed land.
The district court dismissed counts one and four on the ground that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Quiet Title Act (QTA), 28 U.S.C. § 2409a(a), to adjudicate a boundary dispute involving Indian trust land. The district court transferred counts two and three to the Court of Federal Claims, citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(a)(2) and 1491. In this timely appeal, Plaintiffs challenge only the district court's dismissal of counts one and four.
This court reviews de novo the district court's dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See H2O Houseboat Vacations, Inc. v. Hernandez, 103 F.3d 914, 916 (9th Cir.1996). The district court's findings of fact on the issue of jurisdiction are subject to review for clear error. See id.
“[W]hen the United States has an interest in ... disputed property, the waiver of sovereign immunity must be found, if at all, within the QTA.” Alaska v. Babbitt, 38 F.3d 1068, 1073 (9th Cir.1994); see also Alaska v. Babbitt, No. 95-36122, slip op. at 6585, 6591 (9th Cir. June 18, 1999). The QTA provides in part:
The United States may be named as a party defendant in a civil action under this section to adjudicate a disputed title to real property in which the United States claims an interest, other than a security interest or water rights. This section does not apply to trust or restricted Indian lands ....”
28 U.S.C. § 2409a(a) (emphasis added). As is plain from the statute, “when the United States claims an interest in real property based on that property's status as trust or restricted Indian lands, the [QTA] does not waive the Government's immunity.” United States v. Mottaz, 476 U.S. 834, 843 (1986) (footnote omitted).
Plaintiffs attempt to avoid the fatal consequence of applying the QTA by arguing that this action, although styled as an action to quiet title, “is one to establish a boundary line between the Reservation” and Plaintiffs' property so that the QTA does not apply. This court rejected that very argument in Metropolitan Water District v. United States, 830 F.2d 139, 143-44 (9th Cir.1987), aff'd sub nom. by an equally divided court, California v. United States, 490 U.S. 920 (1989).
*2 Plaintiffs' reliance on Arizona v. California, 460 U.S. 605 (1983), misses the mark. Although the Supreme Court in that case hinted that a federal district court might be available to settle a boundary dispute involving Indian lands, the Court did not reach the merits of that issue. See id. at 638.
Finally, with respect to Plaintiffs' claim for a writ of mandamus, the district court correctly dismissed that cause of action, because the district court had no independent jurisdictional ground to issue the writ. See Lights of America, Inc. v. United States Dist. Court, 130 F.3d 1369, 1370 (9th Cir.1997) (“[C]ourts must possess an independent source of jurisdiction before entertaining a request for a writ of mandamus.”).