Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Production Co., 94-1579

Decision Date16 July 1997
Docket NumberNo. 94-1579,94-1579
Citation119 F.3d 816
Parties137 Oil & Gas Rep. 248, 27 Envtl. L. Rep. 21,370, 97 CJ C.A.R. 1135 SOUTHERN UTE INDIAN TRIBE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. AMOCO PRODUCTION COMPANY; Shirley K.Adams; Henry Ashworth; Carla M. Aspaas; Eric K. Aspaas; Helen Ruth Aspaas; Laurabelle Aspaas; Leta M. Adkins; Rita M.Adkins; Maxwell C. Anderson; Earl A. Barker; Maurice C. Breen, named as: Heirs of Maurice C. Breen, deceased; Horace F. Buchanan, named as: the Heirs of Horace Buchanan, deceased; George A. Bugg; Carbone Investment Company; Jack Carmack; Rowland Carmack; Joseph C. Ciancio; William Kemp Clark; Colorado National Bank, George Veto Trust; Colorado National Bank of Longmont, conservator Gladys N. Frazzini; Dorothy A. Corgin; Kelly Cox, named as: the Heirs of Kelly Cox, deceased; A.B. Crosby; Barbara Crosby; David Crosby; John Crow, Jr.; Margaret Crow; Manuel Cruz; Louis M. Cummins; Frederick E. Dickerson; J.M. Eakes; Robert Mcferran Eakes; Margaret Ellison; Sally M. Etterbeck; Minnie Flaks; Tillie Flaks; Cassio Fraz-Zini; Adele Frost; Robert Galbasin; Abels. Gallegos; Montey Garnand; Ruby Gibbsgoggans; Christine Hamilton; Hardin Simmons University; H.A. Harmon, named as: the Heirs of H.A. Harmon, deceased; Hondo Oil & Gas Company, named as: the shareholders of Hondo Oil & Gas Company (dissolved); Hyde Oil And Gas Corporation; Charles Kettering; Fidellucero; Richard C. Malcomb; Suzanneheath Manges; Catherine B. Mcelvain; Mabel Mcelvain; Thornton H. Mcelvain,Jr.; Dorothy N. Mckelvey; Edwin L. Mckelvey; R. Franklin Mckelvey; W.R. Mcmahon; cmurry Oil Company; W. Clay Meredith Charitable Trust; W.A. Moncrief, named as: the Heirs of W.A. Moncrief, deceased; Roy E. Montgomery, personal representative for the Estate of W. Clay Meredith, deceased; Forrest D. Miller, named as: the Heirs of Forrest D. Miller, deceased; Helen L. Miller, named as: the Heirs of Helen L. Miller, deceased; Thomas S. Morrissey; Thomas J. Morrissey; Emil Mosbacher; Emil Mosbacher, Iii; John David Mos-Bacher; R. Bruce Mosbacher; Myra There
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit

Thomas H. Shipps, of Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel, Durango, CO (Scott B. McElroy and Alice E. Walker, of Greene, Meyer & McElroy, P.C., Boulder, CO, and Michael T. McConnell, of Long & Jaudon, Denver, CO, with him on the briefs), for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Jacques B. Gelin, Department of Justice, Washington, DC (Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General, Washington, DC, Henry J. Solano, United States Attorney, Denver, CO, William G. Pharo, Assistant United States Attorney, Denver, CO, John A. Bryson and Thornton Withers Field, Attorneys, Department of Justice, Washington, DC, and John R. Kunz, Of Counsel, Department of the Interior, Denver, CO, with him on the brief), for Defendants-Appellees.

Charles L. Kaiser, of Davis, Graham & Stubbs, L.L.C., Denver, CO (Anthony J. Shaheen and Thomas S. Nichols, of Davis, Graham & Stubbs, L.L.C., Denver, CO, and David E. Brody, Amoco Production Company, Denver, CO, with him on the brief), for Amoco Production Company, Defendant-Appellee.

Before SEYMOUR, Chief Judge, COFFIN * and McKAY, Senior Circuit Judges.

SEYMOUR, Chief Judge.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe (the Tribe) appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants Amoco Production Company and others on the Tribe's claim to ownership of coal bed methane (CBM) contained in coal acquired by the Tribe as successor in interest to a statutory reservation of coal to the United States. The Tribe also appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Secretary of the Interior, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Interior's subordinate agencies (the federal defendants) on the Tribe's claim of breach of fiduciary duty. We reverse the district court on the issue of CBM ownership and remand for further proceedings consistent with this decision. 1

I.

In 1991, the Tribe brought suit against Amoco Production Company, other oil companies, and individual oil and gas lessees and lessors (the Amoco defendants) who asserted ownership interests in CBM contained in coal owned by the Tribe. In its First Amended Complaint, the Tribe claimed ownership of CBM and asserted that various Amoco defendants, by exploring for and extracting CBM under oil and gas leases, had among other things: 1) trespassed on Tribal lands; 2) trespassed on Tribal coal; 3) converted Tribal coal; 4) failed to pay severance tax to the Tribe; and 5) in collusion with State of Colorado officials, deprived the Tribe of federally guaranteed rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Tribe sought a variety of remedies including: 1) a declaratory judgment vesting in the Tribe ownership of CBM and other substances contained in Tribal coal; 2) a declaratory judgment that Tribal consent is required for CBM extraction; 3) an order quieting title to CBM in the Tribe; 4) injunctive relief to prevent continued exploration and production of CBM without Tribal consent; 5) damages for present and future injuries to coal, for extraction of CBM, for conversion of coal, for civil rights violations, and for failure to pay severance taxes; 6) title to all exploration and production facilities on Tribal lands which, if removed, would interrupt production of CBM; and 7) costs and attorney's fees.

The Tribe also sued the federal defendants in their capacities as trustees for the Tribe. The Tribe claimed that the federal defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the Tribe by allowing exploration and extraction of CBM under oil and gas leases. The Tribe sought a declaratory judgment on the breach of fiduciary duty issue, and sought injunctive relief to prevent the federal defendants from issuing permits to explore for and extract CBM under oil and gas leases or from otherwise acquiescing in the derogation of the Tribe's alleged ownership interest in CBM.

Two issues were identified as fundamental to the resolution of all claims against the Amoco defendants: 1) the determination of CBM ownership, and 2) the existence of and applicability of defenses based on acts or omissions of the Tribe. Since resolution of either issue in favor of the Amoco defendants would settle all claims, the district court granted a joint...

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16 cases
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Production Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • July 20, 1998
    ...court on the issue of CBM ownership and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its decision. See Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Prod. Co., 119 F.3d 816 (10th Cir.1997). Amoco requested rehearing en banc which we granted in part as set out In 1991, the Tribe brought suit agains......
  • Public Lands Council v. Babbitt, 96-8083
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • February 8, 1999
    ...can bear." MCI Telecomm. Corp. v. AT & T, 512 U.S. 218, 229, 114 S.Ct. 2223, 129 L.Ed.2d 182 (1994); see Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Prod. Co., 119 F.3d 816, 835 (10th Cir.1997) ("Even under the deference mandated by Chevron, 'legislative regulations are [not] given controlling weigh......
  • Mission Group Kansas, Inc. v. Riley
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • June 1, 1998
    ...would not actually follow from an exercise of the agency's delegated policymaking authority. 7 Cf. Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Prod. Co., 119 F.3d 816, 833 (10th Cir.1997) (holding that Chevron deference does not apply to administrative actions "not promulgated with procedural protec......
  • Public Lands Council v. Babbitt
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • September 1, 1998
    ...can bear." MCI Telecomm. Corp. v. AT & T, 512 U.S. 218, 229, 114 S.Ct. 2223, 129 L.Ed.2d 182 (1994); see Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Prod. Co., 119 F.3d 816, 835 (10th Cir.1997) ("Even under the deference mandated by Chevron, 'legislative regulations are [not] given controlling weigh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • CHAPTER 3 TITLE ISSUES: BEYOND AMOCO v. SOUTHERN UTE
    • United States
    • FNREL - Special Institute Regulation and Development of Coalbed Methane (FNREL)
    • Invalid date
    ...14,1992), rev'd sub nom. Carbon County v. Union Reserve Coal Co., 898 P.2d 680 (Mont. 1995). [69] S. Ute Indian Tribe v. Amoco Prod. Co., 119 F. 3d 816, 828, n. 17 (10th Cir. 1997), rev'd Amoco Prod. Co. v. S. Ute Indian Tribe, 526 U.S. 865 (1999). [70] 631 So. 2d 212 (ALA. 1993). [71] Clay......
  • Amoco Production Company v. Southern Ute Indian Tribe: a Final Resolution to the Battle Over Ownership of Coalbed Methane Gas?
    • United States
    • Georgia State University College of Law Georgia State Law Reviews No. 17-3, March 2001
    • Invalid date
    ...the same. Id. [29]. See Amoco, 526 U.S. at 870. [30]. See Katina L. Francis, Case Note, Southern Ute Tribe v. Amoco Production Company, 119 F.3d 816 (10th Cir. 1997), 33 Land & Water L. Rev. 469, 469 (1998). [31]. See id. [32]. See id. at 469-70. Congress insisted that the Utes cede this la......
  • CHAPTER 2 JOINT PARTICIPATION AGREEMENTS FOR COALBED METHANE
    • United States
    • FNREL - Special Institute Regulation and Development of Coalbed Methane (FNREL)
    • Invalid date
    ...drain the CBM from the spacing unit without drilling in the spacing unit. [28] See Southern Ute Indians v. Amoco Production Co., 119 F.3d 816 (10th Cir. 1997)(ruling that the issue must be decided in favor of the sovereign, thus the coalbed methane was reserved to the United States); Carbon......

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