Lonatro, et al v. United States, No. 12-30425 (5th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
This case arose when plaintiffs filed a class action suit in state court against the Levee District and Flood Protection Agency. Plaintiffs then initiated a second state court suit against the Levee District and the Agency. Subsequently, plaintiffs filed an amended petition, joining the Corps as a defendant, seeking declaratory judgment that defendants did not possess a servitude over their property. The Corps then removed the case to federal district court, the district court granted in part and denied in part the Corps' motion to dismiss, and the United States petitioned for permission to appeal. At issue on appeal was whether plaintiffs' action against the Corps fell within the scope of the Quiet Title Act (QTA), 28 U.S.C. 2409a, so as to waive the United States' immunity to suit and authorize federal subject matter jurisdiction. Because the title dispute here concerned ownership of the purported servitude - a title dispute between plaintiffs and a third party - and because it was plausible to read the QTA as only authorizing suit when the underlying title dispute was between plaintiff and the United States, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings.