Oral argument: Nov. 1, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Mar. 16, 2009)
28 U.S.C. § 1500, INDIAN LAND TRUST, INDIAN TUCKER ACT, SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY
Tohono O’odham Nation, an Indian Tribe from Southern Arizona, filed suit against the United States in the District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the United States had breached its fiduciary duties to the Tribe by poorly managing the Tribe’s trust assets. The Tribe asked for an accounting and other equitable relief. The Tribe subsequently filed suit in the Court of Federal Claims seeking monetary damages for the earnings shortfall in the Tribe’s trust accounts. The United States argued that 28 U.S.C. § 1500 barred the Court of Federal Claims from hearing the case because the same claim was already before the District Court for the District of Columbia. The Court of Federal Claims agreed with the United States and dismissed the Tribe’s second suit. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, however, held that separate claims for equitable and monetary relief would not be barred by 28 U.S.C. § 1500. The Supreme Court’s decision will determine the extent to which parallel claims must be related before 28 U.S.C. § 1500 bars jurisdiction in the Court of Federal Claims, and in so doing, will establish what separation exists between claims for monetary and equitable relief against the United States.