Silver State Land, LLC v. Schneider, No. 16-5018 (D.C. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Henderson, Nevada executed an agreement with Developer to construct sports venues on 480 acres of federally-owned public land. The city requested the Bureau of Land Management in the Department of Interior to convey the land to Developer. After completion of the project, Developer was to transfer ownership of the land and the sports complex to the city; the city would lease back the venues to Developer. The Bureau agreed to conduct a modified competitive sealed-bid auction, so that Developer had the right to match the highest bid. After the bidding, Developer paid the balance and requested the land patent for recording. Within hours after the funds transferred to the Bureau, Developer terminated its agreement with Henderson. Henderson requested the Bureau to cancel the sale and sued Developer. The parties settled. Developer agreed to give the city $4.25 million after it recorded the patent and not to pursue any development in Henderson. The city agreed to withdraw its objection. The Department determined that the Bureau should not release a patent for the land. Developer alleged violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by canceling the sale more than 30 days after it paid for the land. The district court held that the Secretary had plenary power to terminate the sale because its consummation would have been contrary to law, given that the Bureau had authorized a modified land auction, only because of the anticipated public benefits. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, rejecting a claim that the Secretary’s action was arbitrary. The auction sale was rendered unlawful when Developer terminated the agreement; it did not suffer a due process violation because it never acquired a property interest in the land.