978 F.2d 1334 (4th Cir. 1992), 90-2446, Catawba Indian Tribe of South Carolina v. State of S.C.

Docket Nº:90-2446.
Citation:978 F.2d 1334
Party Name:CATAWBA INDIAN TRIBE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, also known as the Catawba Nation of South America, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, Richard Riley, as Governor of the State of South Carolina; County of Lancaster, and its county council consisting of Francis L. Bell, as Chairman, Fred E. Plyler, Eldridge Emory, Robert L. Mobley, Barry L. Mobl
Case Date:September 22, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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978 F.2d 1334 (4th Cir. 1992)


Catawba Nation of South America, Plaintiff-Appellant,


STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, Richard Riley, as Governor of the

State of South Carolina; County of Lancaster, and its

county council consisting of Francis L. Bell, as Chairman,

Fred E. Plyler, Eldridge Emory, Robert L. Mobley, Barry L.

Mobley, L. Eugene Hudson, Lindsay Pettus, City of Rock Hill,

J. Emmett Jerome, as Mayor, and its City Council consisting

of Melford A. Wilson, Elizabeth D. Rhea, Maxine Gill,

Winston Searles, A. Douglas Echols, Frank W. Berry, Sr.,

Bowater North American Corporation of America, Catawba

Timber Co., Celanese Corporation of America, Citizens and

Southern National Bank of South Carolina, Cresent Land &

Timber Corp., Duke Power Company, Flint Realty and

Construction Company, Herald Publishing Company, Home

Federal Savings and Loan Association, Rock Hill Printing &

Finishing Company, Roddey Estates, Inc., Southern Railway

Company, Springs Mills, Inc., J.P. Stevens & Company, Tega

Cay Associates, Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, Ashe Brick

Company, Church Heritage Village & Missionary Fellowship,

Nisbet Farms, Inc., C.H. Albright, Ned Albright, J.W.

Anderson, Jr., John Marshall Wilkins, II, Jesse G. Anderson,

John Wesley Anderson, David Goode Anderson, W.B. Ardrey,

Jr., Elizabeth Ardrey Grimball, John W. Ardrey, Ardrey

Farms, F.S. Barnes, Jr., W. Watson Barron, Wilson Barron,

Archie B. Carroll, Jr., Hugh William Close, James Bradley,

Francis Lay Springs, Lillian Crandal Close, Francis Allison

Close, Leroy Springs Close, Patricia Close, William Elliot

Close, Hugh William Close, Jr., Robert A. Fewell, W.J.

Harris, Annie F. Harris, T.W. Hutchinson, Hiram Hutchinson,

Jr., J.R. McAlhaney, F.M. Mack, Jr., Arnold F. Marshall,

J.E. Marshall, Jr., C.E. Reid, Jr., Will R. Simpson, John S.

Simpson, Robert F. Simpson, Thomas Brown Snodgrass, Jr.,

John M. Spratt, Marshall E. Walker, Hugh M. White, Jr., John

M. Belk, Jane Nisbet Goode, R.N. Bencher, W.O. Nisbet, III,

Pauline B. Gunter, J. Max Minson, W.A. McCorkle, Mary

McCorkle, William O. Nisbet, Eugenia Nisbet White, Mary

Nisbet Purvis, E.N. Martin, Robert M. Yoder, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 90-2446.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

September 22, 1992

Argued Feb. 4, 1992.

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Jay Bender, Baker, Barwick, Ravenel & Bender, Columbia, S.C., argued (Don B. Miller, Native American Rights Fund, Boulder, Colo., Robert M. Jones, Rock Hill, S.C., Richard Steele, Union, S.C., for plaintiff-appellant.

James Linwood Quarles, III, Hale & Dorr, Boston, Mass., Michael John Giese, Leatherwood, Walker, Todd & Mann, P.C., Greenville, S.C., argued. James D. St. Clair, William F. Lee, Hale & Dorr, Boston, Mass., J.D. Todd, Jr., Leatherwood, Walker, Todd & Mann, P.C., Greenville, S.C., John C. Christie, Jr., J. William Hayton, David M. Novak, Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, Washington, D.C., Dan M. Byrd, Jr., Mitchell K. Byrd, Byrd & Byrd, David A. White, Carolyn W. Rogers, Roddey, Carpenter & White, P.A., Rock Hill, S.C., T. Travis Medlock, Atty. Gen., Kenneth P. Woodington, Asst. Atty. Gen., State of S.C., Columbia, S.C., Joseph W. Grier, Jr., J. Cameron Furr, Jr., Grier & Grier, P.A., Charlotte, N.C., W.C. Spencer, Emil W. Wald, Spencer & Spencer, P.A., Rock Hill, S.C., for defendants-appellees.

Before WIDENER, HALL, MURNAGHAN, SPROUSE, NIEMEYER, and LUTTIG, Circuit Judges, sitting in banc.

WIDENER, Circuit Judge:

The Catawba Indian Tribe appeals from an order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of certain defendants as to a number of parcels of real estate on the ground that those defendants had established the adverse possession requirements of South Carolina. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and vacate and remand in part.

This litigation began when the Tribe filed a complaint and motion to certify a defendant class on October 28, 1980. 1 In the complaint, the Tribe seeks to be declared the owner of approximately 144,000 acres of land that was set aside for the Tribe's benefit in the 1760 Treaty of Pine Tree Hill and the 1763 Treaty of Augusta and to recover trespass damages for the period of its dispossession. The complaint names seventy-six individuals, companies and public entities as defendants and as representatives of a putative defendant class of more than 27,000 persons with an interest in any portion of the lands in question.

In 1981, the defendants filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The motion was based on the effect of the 1959 Catawba Division of Assets Act (Catawba Act), 25 U.S.C. §§ 931-938. The district court treated the motion to dismiss as a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment, granted the defendants' motion and dismissed the case. The court held that the Catawba Act terminated the special relationship that the Tribe had had with the federal government and that the termination of the special federal status of the Tribe made state law apply to it and any claim it might have. Therefore, South Carolina's adverse possession statute began to run against the Tribe's claim on July 1, 1962, the date the Tribe's constitution was revoked pursuant to the Catawba Act. Because South Carolina Code § 15-3-340, the applicable South Carolina statute of limitations, requires actions to recover

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title or possession to be brought within ten years, the district court held that the Tribe's claims were filed eighteen years after the statute began to run and the claims were barred. The court, while noting that South Carolina does not allow a party to obtain title by adverse possession by "tacking" his period of possession to a predecessor's period of possession (unless the land passes by inheritance), held that South Carolina's non-tacking rule "is not relevant to the defendants' assertion that the plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations."

First a panel of this court and then the court sitting en banc reversed the district court and held that the state statute of limitations does not apply to the Tribe's claim. Catawba Indian Tribe v. South Carolina, 718 F.2d 1291, 1300 (4th Cir.1983), adopted en banc, Catawba Indian Tribe v. South Carolina, 740 F.2d 305 (4th Cir.1984). Because this court held that the state statute of limitations does not apply, we did not reach the question of whether the district court had correctly applied the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court then reversed this court and held that the South Carolina statute of limitations does apply to the Tribe's claim. South Carolina v. Catawba Indian Tribe, Inc., 476 U.S. 498, 510-11, 106 S.Ct. 2039, 2046-47, 90 L.Ed.2d 490 (1986). The Court then remanded the case to this court for consideration of the district court's application of the South Carolina statute of limitations to the Tribe's claim. On remand from the Supreme Court, this court held that the Tribe is entitled to invoke the presumption of possession set forth in S.C.Code § 15-67-220; that the Tribe's acknowledgement that it did not actually possess the land within the ten year period specified in S.C.Code § 15-3-340 is not a bar to its claim; and that South Carolina's disallowance of tacking means that the Tribe's claim is only barred as to those persons who held or whose predecessors held the property for ten years without tacking except by inheritance. We summarized our portion of the holding pertinent to the present matter as follows:

[S]ections 15-3-340 2 and 15-67-210 3 [of the South Carolina Code] bar the tribe's claim against each person who holds and possesses property that has been held and possessed adversely for 10 years after July 1, 1962, and before October 20, 1980, 4 without tacking except by inheritance, in accordance with South Carolina's tacking doctrine. The statutes of limitations do not bar the tribe's claim against other persons. "Persons" includes joint tenants, tenants in common, partnerships, associations, and corporations.

Catawba Indian Tribe v. South Carolina, 865 F.2d 1444, 1456 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 491 U.S. 906, 109 S.Ct. 3190, 105 L.Ed.2d 699 (1989). Therefore, on remand from this court, the district court was required to determine which claimants met the adverse possession requirements.

Forty-six of the named defendants filed a supplemental brief and affidavits in support of their summary judgment motion. The district court entered summary judgment

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in a series of orders with respect to certain properties for which summary judgment was sought. The court also dismissed twenty-nine defendants from the case as it determined that summary judgment had been granted as to all property in which they had an interest.

Summary Judgment Standard

Our review of summary judgments is de novo. Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 118 (4th Cir.1991). Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In considering a summary judgment motion, the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). However, when the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, summary judgment is appropriate. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. at 1356.

The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue...

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