Here's the latest in a case we've been following, a takings claim against the federal government which was dismissed by the Federal Circuit under 28 U.S.C. § 1500, the statute which deprives the Court of Federal Claims of jurisdiction over a case if a related case is pending in another court at the time the CFC complaint is filed.
The core issue is one we've dealt with extensively before, and which the Supreme Court dodged in in United States v. Tohono O'odham Nation, 131 S. Ct. 1723 (2011), namely, whether § 1500's jurisdictional bar operates in takings claims, which are required to be split between the CFC and the district courts (aka the "Tucker Act Shuffle"). We filed an amicus brief in that case, arguing that the statute cannot be read to deprive takings plaintiffs of their right to secure just compensation, when they may be required to file their district court actions first.
This latest case involves a Nevada property owner who asserted the feds' diversion of a stream that ran through its property deprived it of water which it was entitled to and would have otherwise enjoyed. It filed a complaint in the district court seeking to stop the diversion, and two days later a complaint in the CFC seeking just compensation for a taking under the Tucker Act. The CFC dismissed without prejudice under § 1500 and Tohono, and the Federal Circuit affirmed.
Here's the cert petition, which raises two Questions Presented:
The serious constitutional concerns expressed by both the concurring and dissenting justices in Tohono now unsurprisingly resurface as Ministerio Roca Solida, Inc. (Solid Rock Ministry, hereinafter “Roca Solida”) is quite predictably put “between itself and a hard place” by 28 U.S.C. § 1500 as recently transformed by the Tohono majority. It must now forgo one constitutional right to vindicate another.Summarizing, as did the Federal Circuit, “[t]he combination of three statutes – (1) § 1500 as construed in Tohono; (2) the Tucker Act’s six-year statute of limitations, 28 U.S.C. § 2501, which is jurisdictional and not subject to general equitable tolling; and (3) the Little Tucker Act’s $10,000 cap on just compensation claims in district courts, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2) – threatens to deprive Roca Solida for what (we must assume on the motion to dismiss) might be a taking of its property” and presents “a substantial constitutional question.” Appendix (“App.”) at 15-16.
As such, the questions presented are:
1. Whether Congress may, through jurisdictional statutes, limit an aggrieved party seeking non-overlapping relief for multiple explicit constitutional rights violations to seek vindication in but one federal court even though no such court may make the aggrieved party whole and no single court has jurisdiction over all claims brought and/or all relief sought.
2. Whether, even if arguendo Tohono were somehow correctly decided in holding that § 1500’s language “in respect to a claim” means “associated with in any way,” the Tohono holding is nevertheless unconstitutional as applied to Petitioner below.
Follow along on the Court's docket, or stay tuned, as always.