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Shoshone Indian Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming v. United States

United States Court of Federal Claims
56 Fed. Cl. 639 (2003)


Facts

The Shoshone Indian Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming (Tribe) (plaintiff) received royalties for minerals extracted from its land. Department of the Interior regulations set a comprehensive framework for the government’s valuation of minerals on tribal lands for royalty purposes. The Minerals Management Service (MMS), a federal government agency, managed the leases, valuated the minerals pursuant to these regulations, and made royalty payments. The Tribe brought suit against the federal government, claiming that MMS breached its fiduciary duty to the Tribe by (1) not maximizing the Tribe’s royalties and (2) not collecting royalties based on the correct value of production. The Tribe conceded at oral argument that it could not maintain the maximization claim. In a separate claim the Tribe also claimed that it was improperly not paid royalties based on a lessee’s take-or-pay obligations. Specifically, the Tribe claimed that it was due royalties based on the payments the lessee was required to make for minerals that were not produced under the take-or-pay obligations. The federal government filed a motion to dismiss the maximization claim and valuation claim, and filed a motion for summary judgment on the take-or-pay claim.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hewitt, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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