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John H. Mckown, Iv v. United States of America

March 28, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge




On December 5, 2012, Defendants United States of America, et al. ("Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss, seeking dismissal of the remaining claims in this case with prejudice. (Doc. 69.) On February 25, 2013, Plaintiff John H. McKown, IV ("Plaintiff") filed a Request for Dismissal, seeking dismissal without prejudice. (Doc. 73.) On March 13, 2013, Defendants filed a reply supporting their assertion that the case should be dismissed with prejudice.

The Court has reviewed the parties' briefs and supporting documents and determined that this matter is suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to the Local Rules of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Rule 230(g). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED and the case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


On May 7, 2009, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint against the United States, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and a number of employees of the United States Forest Service ("Forest Service") in their official capacities. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff alleged that his family held title to the quartz mining claims known as White Cap Nos. 1-3 (the "mining claims")*fn1 , located in Kern County, California, since 1969, and that it was believed that his predecessors had a patent on the mining claims since 1928. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 16-17.) Plaintiff's complaint alleged claims for (1) declaratory and injunctive relief, requesting that the Forest Service be precluded from regulating his use of three mining claims, designated as the White Cap Nos. 1-3, under the California Desert Protection Act of 1994; (2) quiet title, requesting that the Court identify him as the owner of the White Cap Nos. 1-3; (3) civil rights violations under Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics ("Bivens"), 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging that Forest Service officials deprived him of constitutional rights; and (4) illegal restraint of interstate commerce due to actions by officials with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM"). (Doc. 1.)

On May 18, 2009, Plaintiff also filed an action in the United States Court of Federal Claims ("CFC"), alleging claims related to the facts in this action. See McKown v. United States, Case No. 09-371 L (Fed. Cl.).

On October 19, 2009, Defendants filed a motion to stay proceedings pending the resolution of the administrative dispute before the United States Department of Interior's Office of Hearing and Appeals ("OHA") regarding the determination of Plaintiff's three mining claims. (Doc. 24.) Defendants contended that the administrative agency's determination whether Plaintiff has a valid property interest in the White Cap Nos. 1-3 would likely resolve the remaining issues in this litigation. On December 14, 2009, the Court granted Defendants' motion and the action was stayed pending the OHA's ruling on Plaintiff's White Cap Nos. 1-3 mining claims. (Doc. 30.) Plaintiff's CFC case was also stayed to allow the parties to complete the administrative proceedings. (See Doc. 24, p. 3, n.2.)

On May 25, 2010, the OHA ruled against Plaintiff, finding that his mining claims as to the White Cap Nos. 1-3 were null and void. (Doc. 33-1.) Plaintiff appealed the decision with the Interior Board of Lands Appeal ("IBLA"). (Doc. 33-3.) On June 30, 2011, the IBLA affirmed the OHA decision that Plaintiff's mining claims were null and void. (Doc. 35-1.)

On October 6, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the Court's order staying this action as Plaintiff exhausted all his administrative remedies. Plaintiff also filed a motion to amend the complaint, requesting leave to file a first amended complaint ("FAC") to add causes of action under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") so as to seek judicial review of the IBLA decision. (Docs. 38-40.) On November 18, 2011, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to amend, and held that the non-APA claims were to remain stayed pending the resolution of the APA claims. (Doc. 47.) On November 21, 2011, Plaintiff filed the FAC, adding the APA claims to the previously alleged claims. (Doc. 48.)

The parties briefed Plaintiff's APA appeal of the IBLA decision. (Docs. 59, 62-64.) On November 5, 2012, the Court issued an order denying Plaintiff's APA appeal and affirming the IBLA's decision that Plaintiff's mining claim was invalid. (Doc. 68.) As Plaintiff's APA claims were fully resolved by the Court's decision, the stay was lifted as to the remaining non-APA claims and Defendants were ordered to file a responsive pleading. (Doc. 68.)

On December 5, 2012, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, asserting that the Court's order denying the APA claims and affirming the invalidity of Plaintiff's mining claims also resolved Plaintiff's non-APA claims. (Doc. 69, 6:10-7:15.) On January 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed an ex parte application for an extension of time to continue the motion to dismiss, indicating that he needed additional time to decide whether to oppose the motion. (Doc. 71.) The Court granted Plaintiff's ex parte application and ordered that Plaintiff's opposition brief or notice of non-opposition be filed on or before February 27, 2013. (Doc. 72.)

On February 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Request for Dismissal (docketed as a Motion to Dismiss), requesting that the remaining causes of action be dismissed without prejudice. (Doc. 73.) On February 27, 2013, the Court issued an Order re Briefing on Parties' Motions to Dismiss, ordering Defendants to file a reply brief to their Motion to Dismiss to inform the Court whether they agree to dismiss Plaintiff's action without prejudice or state why the case should be dismissed with prejudice. (Doc. 74.) On ...

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