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John R. Sand & Gravel Co. v. United States

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20008
Nos. No. 06-1174, (U.S., 01/07/2008) Aff'd

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations governing the U.S. Court of Federal Claims requires sua sponte consideration of the timeliness of a lawsuit filed in that court, despite the government's waiver of the issue. The case involved a company's claims that various federal activities on land for which it held a mining lease amounted to an unconstitutional taking of its leasehold rights. The U.S. government initially asserted that the claims were untimely, but later effectively conceded that issue and won on the merits. On appeal, the Federal Circuit addressed the timeliness issue sua sponte, finding the action untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed. The Court has long interpreted the court of claims' statute of limitations as setting out a more absolute, “jurisdictional” limitations period. And the company failed to convince the Court that it should overturn its earlier precedent. Breyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at36 ELR 20160.]