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Ron J. anderson, et al v. Greg Echols


August 31, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiffs, who are proceeding pro se, bring this civil action for, among other things, determination of ownership interests in the "Stringer Mine." Pending before the court is defendants' amended motion to dismiss (Doc. 28). A hearing was held before the undersigned in Redding, California, on June 27, 2012. All parties appeared pro se. On June 28, 2012, the court issued findings and recommendations to the then-assigned District Judge regarding defendants' motion to dismiss. On August 24, 2012 -- before the findings and recommendations were submitted to or reviewed by the then-assigned District Judge -- the matter was re-assigned to the undersigned for all purposes, including entry of final judgment, pursuant to the consent of all parties. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The June 28, 2012, findings and recommendations will, therefore, be vacated. Defendants' motion is addressed below.

This case concerns a dispute over ownership of a mining claim located in Butte County. In their motion, defendants argue: (1) the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction; (2) the plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue; and (3) this court is the improper venue. Defendants' motion should be denied.

The basis of defendants' motion appears to be their belief that this case should not have been filed in federal court and, instead, belongs in the Butte County Superior Court. As to subject matter jurisdiction, they argue that a quiet title action, which they assert this is, can only be filed in state court and that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. They are incorrect. As indicated by statutory references in defendants' own motion, the dispute at the heart of this case is governed by a number of federal mining statutes and regulations because the mining claim at issue is located on federal land. Moreover, this case implicates federal mining laws codified at Title 30 of the United States Code. Specifically, 30 U.S.C. § 30 provides for judicial determination to determine issues concerning possession and ownership of mining claims.

As to venue, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) provides that a civil action may be brought in a judicial district in which any defendant resides, or a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred. Under either provision, this court is the proper venue because the subject of the action (the mining claim) is located in this district, and because the defendants are located in this district. In any event, defendants do not argue that a different federal court would be the appropriate venue. Instead, they argue more generally that the action should not have been brought in federal court at all and that the correct "venue" is the Butte County Superior Court.

Finally, as to capacity to sue, defendants argue that plaintiffs lost any interest in the mining claim as a result of various transfers of ownership interests. As plaintiffs note, this argument goes to the merits of plaintiffs complaint and not to their standing to sue.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The findings and recommendations issued on June 28, 2012, are vacated; and

2. Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 28) is denied.


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