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Theissen v. United States

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20045
Nos. 20-364 GJF/GBW and 20-727 GJF/GBW, (D.N.M., 03/22/2021) (Fouratt, J.)

A magistrate judge dismissed a lawsuit concerning ownership of a grazing allotment in the Apache National Forest. Ranchers argued the allotment was privately owned and thus relieved them of any obligation to obtain a cattle grazing permit from the Forest Service or to comply with the permit's requirements. The U.S. government moved to dismiss, arguing the allotment was the property of the federal government, and that the Quiet Title Act's statute of limitations barred the ranchers' claim because they "knew or should have known" that the government claimed a conflicting interest in the allotment over 12 years ago. The court found that the record evidence made clear beyond dispute that a suit to quiet title in the allotment accrued at least decades, if not more than a century, before the ranchers brought this suit, and thus rejected the ranchers' contention that neither they nor their predecessors could or should have known that the government was doing anything more than merely regulating the manner in which they could exercise their preexisting private property rights to graze livestock. It therefore dismissed the suit with prejudice.