The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION REGARDING DEFENDANTS MOTIONS TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT (Docs. 50, 52)
Plaintiffs bring this action against Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior of the United States of America ("the Secretary"), and various private individuals ("Individual Defendants"). Plaintiffs first amended complaint ("FAC") was dismissed on May 3, 2011. (Doc. 41).
Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint ("SAC") on May 5, 2011. (Doc.43). Individual Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the SAC on June 1, 2011. (Doc. 50). The Secretary also filed a motion to dismiss on June 1, 2011. (Doc. 52). Plaintiff filed opposition to the motions to dismiss on July 11, 2011. (Docs. 53, 54). Defendants filed replies on July 25, 2011. (Docs. 55, 57).
In or about 1916, the United States purchased a parcel of land in Fresno County, California and thereafter held the land in trust for the Table Mountain Band of Indians. The land became known as the Table Mountain Rancheria ("Rancheria"). The Rancheria was considered an Indian Reservation and "Indian Country." Rancheria residents were recognized as Indians for the purposes of federal law.
The California Rancheria Termination Act
In 1958, Congress passed the California Rancheria Termination Act ("CTRA"). The CTRA called for the distribution of all rancheria lands and assets to individual tribe members and called for a plan "for distributing to individual Indians the assets of the reservation or Rancheria, including the assigned and the unassigned lands, or for selling such assets and distributing the proceeds of sale, or conveying such assets to a corporation or other legal entity organized or designed by the group, or for conveying such assets to the group, as tenants in common." The CTRA called for the government to give notice to all residents of the Rancheria who were recognized and designated as Indians under the 1916 Act before the land could be distributed. In addition, the government was required to survey the land of the Rancheria. The government was then required to improve or construct all roads serving the Rancheria, to install or rehabilitate irrigation, sanitation, and domestic water systems, and to exchange land held in trust for the Rancheria.
All Indians who received a portion of the assets distributed under the CTRA were ineligible to receive any more federal services rendered to them based on their status as Indians. All Indians who did not receive a portion of the assets were still eligible to receive federal services rendered to them based on their status as Indians.
The SAC alleges that very few of the Indians were given actual, written or constructive notice of CRTA, and that those few who received notice were given land by the government. The few Indians that were given land are the Individual Defendants named in this action: Clarence Jones, Lester Burrough, E.B. Barnes, Lewis Barnes, William Walker, Aaron Jones, Carolyn Walker and Twila Burrough. Any land not conveyed to the named Defendant Indians was to be earmarked and conveyed to a legal entity formed solely to receive the remaining parcels for the benefit of those Indians who did not receive any land under the initial distribution. 1983 Settlement Agreement
On or about March 28, 1983, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California [in an action entitled Table Mountain Rancheria Association et al. v. James Watt et al.
Case No. C-80-4595 MHP] entered a stipulated judgment ("Watt Judgment") which re-instated the plaintiffs who had not participated in the 1958 distribution as Indians under the laws of the United States prior to the 1958 CRTA and who were entitled to the benefits which they enjoyed prior to 1958. The district court ordered the Secretary of the Interior to prepare and provide to Plaintiffs a list of federal services, benefits, and programs and the eligibility criteria which were available to Indians because of their status as Indians between May 2, 1973 and June 25, 1975. The Secretary did not comply.
Plaintiffs contend the Secretary's failure to comply with the Watt Judgment has caused Plaintiffs to expend great sums of their own funds to gain access to services, benefits and programs which the Secretary failed to provide to them. Plaintiffs have been deprived of the federal services, benefits, and programs including but not limited to education, medical care and services, vocational training and services, housing services, repatriation of remains, observation of rituals and income from the land.
The SAC alleges that Rancheria land not transferred in the 1958 CRTA and was to be held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior for the benefit of persons living on the Rancheria. This land is described specifically in the Watt Judgment and during the past twenty-seven years that land has increased in value and has produced great revenues and income. None of the revenues or income have been distributed to the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege that Individual Defendants failed to represent the members as required under the Watt Judgment, and that they have a fiduciary relationship and a ...