Shinnecock Indian Nation v. United States, No. 14-5015 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
In 2005, the Shinnecock Indian Nation filed suit to vindicate its rights to land in the Town of Southampton, claiming that 1859 New York legislation allowed thousands of acres of the Nation’s land to be wrongfully conveyed to the town. The district court dismissed, holding that laches barred the claims. An appeal to the Second Circuit remains pending. In 2012, the Nation filed suit in the Court of Federal Claims, seeking $1,105,000,000, alleging that the United States, “acting through the federal court system . . . denied any and all judicial means of effective redress for the unlawful taking of lands” in violation of trust obligations arising under the Non-Intercourse Act, 25 U.S.C. 177, and the “federal common law.” The Claims Court dismissed on alternative grounds: that the claims were not ripe because they were predicated upon the district court’s judgment in the prior suit, which was on appeal, or that, even if the claims were ripe, it had no jurisdiction because they did not fall within the Indian Tucker Act’s waiver of sovereign immunity. The court refused to allow amendment to allege a judicial takings claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the breach of trust claims are not ripe for review, vacated the jurisdiction ruling, and remanded with instructions to dismiss the breach of trust claims without prejudice.