Hoefler v. Babbitt
Citation: 28 ELR 21054
No. 96-36286, 139 F.3d 726/(9th Cir., 03/20/1998)
The court holds that the Quiet Title Act does not require the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) to refer the determination of chain of title mining claims to the federal district court. Appellants claimed that the IBLA's failure to refer the claims violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it constituted agency action in excess of statutory jurisdiction. The court first notes that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is entrusted with the function of making the initial determination as to the validity of claims against mineral lands. Neither the Quiet Title Act nor any other statute or regulation provides a procedure for the IBLA to refer a claim determination to the district court. Appellants have failed to provide authority to support their contention that exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of unpatented mining claims is vested in the district court pursuant to the Quiet Title Act. The court next holds that the district court correctly held that this action was properly considered under the APA and not under the Quiet Title Act. The APA is the sole means for challenging the legality of federal agency action unless a party challenges an agency action as violating a federal law that confers a private right-of-action, or where a regulatory scheme contains a specialized provision for obtaining judicial review of agency actions.
Counsel for Plaintiffs
Philip F. Schuster II
Dierking & Schuster
1500 NE Irving St., Portland OR 97232
Counsel for Defendants
Robert L. Klarquist
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
Before Fernandez and Rymer, JJ.