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Underwood Livestock, Inc. v. United States

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20235
Nos. No. 05-0162L, (Fed. Cl., 10/07/2009)

The Court of Federal Claims held that a livestock operator was collaterally estopped from litigating the issue of ownership to a right-of-way, thereby defeating its takings claim against the BLM for dismantling a water diversion structure on federal land and preventing the operator's access to the site. The Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) previously concluded that there was no right-of-way authorizing the construction or maintenance of the diversion structure and that the builders of the structure—the operator's predecessors-in-interest—had trespassed. A district court affirmed the IBLA decision. Because the IBLA decision remains in full force and effect, the operator cannot relitigate the issue of ownership of the alleged right-of-way. And because the operator has not established a property interest in the right-of-way, its takings claim must fail.