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Leisnoi, Inc. v. United States

ELR Citation: 29 ELR 21056
Nos. 97-36006, 170 F.3d 1188/(9th Cir., 03/19/1999)

The court affirms a district court decision that it lacked initial subject matter jurisdiction over a native village corporation's action to quiet title against the United States in property conveyed to the corporation under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The corporation sought to quiet title because a third party insisted that the United States had a claim to title. The United States, however, claimed no interest in the property other than several easements expressly reserved in the conveyance. The court first holds that the United States claims an interest in the property. It is well-settled that an easement is an interest in real property. The court next holds, however, that at the time the complaint was filed, there was no colorable conflict between an interest of the United States and an interest of the corporation in the property. The district court accordingly did not err in dismissing the case for lack of initial jurisdiction under Quiet Title Act §2409a(a). Although a third party's claim of an interest in the United States can suffice if it clouds the plaintiff's title, the Alaska Superior Court ruled against the third party's claim, which expressly removed any cloud that the third party had placed on the title, and the judgment was still in effect when the district court dismissed the action. And although the Alaska Supreme Court subsequently vacated the superior court's decision, the supreme court's decision came after the district court's dismissal.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Edgar P. Boyko, Robert L. Breckberg
E.P. Boyko & Associates
711 H St., Ste. 510, Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 279-1000

Counsel for Defendant
Sean H. Donahue
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Graber, J., specially concurring and Marshall,1 J.