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United States v. Hatahley

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
257 F.2d 920 (10th Cir. 1958)


Hatahley, et al. (plaintiffs), members of the Navajo tribe, brought suit against the United States (defendant) because federal agents wrongfully seized the plaintiffs’ horses and donkeys and had them sold to a horsemeat plant and glue factory. The plaintiffs did not prove the replacement cost of the animals, but claimed that they were specially trained and thus irreplaceable. The trial court therefore did not take into account replacement cost and rejected evidence of possible replacements in the area. Rather, relying on testimony, the trial court came up with an estimated value of the animals based on their trade value and awarded the plaintiffs $395 per taken animal. The trial court also awarded plaintiffs one-half of the decreased value of their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle as a result of the horses and donkeys being lost. This amount encompassed the plaintiffs’ losses from the time of seizure up to the last hearing in this case. Finally, the trial court awarded $3,500 to each plaintiff for pain and suffering. The United States appealed.

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