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District 22 United Mine Workers of Am. v. Utah

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20168
Nos. Nos. 98-4092, -4100, 229 F.3d 982/(10th Cir., 11/06/2000)

The court affirms in part and reverses in part a mining union's claim that the state of Utah breached a trust created for the establishment of a hospital for disabled miners by using the trust to construct a rehabilitation center for the general public. The court first holds that the Utah Enabling Act did not create a trust. The Enabling Act provides that the lands granted shall be held, appropriated, and disposed of exclusively for the purposes mentioned, and then expressly gives the Utah Legislature discretion to dispose of the lands in such manner as the legislature may provide. Therefore, the Enabling Act does not create a trust because it does not sufficiently direct and restrict the legislature as to the manner in which it may dispose of the lands and proceeds therefrom. The court next holds, however, that a trust was created in the Utah Constitution. The Utah Constitution explicitly states that the lands passed to Utah by the Enabling Act are held in trust for the people to be disposed of in the respective manner in which they were granted. The court further holds that there are unresolved factual and legal questions concerning whether Utah's actions constituted a breach of its trust obligations to the miners under the Utah Constitution, and, if so, when the miners knew or should have known of the breach. The court, therefore, remands the case to determine whether the miners' claim is barred by the statute of limitations.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (24 pp., ELR Order No. L-285).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert B. Sykes
Robert B. Sykes & Associates
311 S. State St., Ste. 240, Salt Lake City UT 84111
(801) 533-0222

Counsel for Defendants
Debra J. Moore, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
236 State Capitol, Salt Lake City UT 84114
(801) 538-1130