U.S. v. Webb

Decision Date08 September 1981
Docket NumberNo. 79-3484,79-3484
Citation655 F.2d 977
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Hiram WEBB, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Hale C. Tognoni, Phoenix, Ariz., for defendant-appellant.

Jacques B. Gelin, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

Before ANDERSON and NORRIS, Circuit Judges, and TAKASUGI, District Judge. *

NORRIS, Circuit Judge:

This appeal involves a dispute over appellant Webb's right to occupy certain federal lands within the city limits of Phoenix, Arizona. Webb's claim for occupancy arises under federal mining laws. He appeals the district court's denial of leave to amend his pleadings, and its grant of summary judgment for the Government in its action for ejectment.


In 1956, Webb received quitclaim deeds to a series of lode claims on federal public lands open to prospecting and mineral development. Seven of those claims comprise the 140 acres here in dispute.

Shortly after Webb obtained the quitclaim deeds, the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reclassified the federal land encompassing Webb's claims as suitable for lease and sale for residential purposes. Existing valid mining claims were excepted from the reclassification. After Webb submitted a verified statement of his claims, as required by the reclassification order, the BLM initiated contest proceedings against the claims. In 1957, the BLM complaint against the seven lode claims which encompass the land here in issue was dismissed by the BLM Hearing Examiner. No judgment of validity or invalidity was rendered as to those seven claims.

In 1963, Webb filed applications for mineral patents for the seven lode claims. The BLM contested the patent applications, and again challenged the validity of the claims, charging that Webb had failed to find valuable materials sufficient to constitute "discovery" under federal mining laws. In 1967, a BLM Hearing Examiner rejected Webb's patent applications and, in addition, declared his lode claims null and void. Webb appealed this decision to the BLM's Branch of Mineral Appeals and then to the Department of Interior's Board of Land Appeals (BLA). Each body affirmed the Hearing Examiner's decision against Webb's claims. Webb did not seek judicial review of the administrative decision when it became final in 1970. In 1973, following a proposal by the City of Phoenix to purchase, for use as park land, certain federal land encompassing the land in issue, the BLM closed the area to further mineral entry, again subject to existing valid claims. The land was then reclassified as available for disposal under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, 43 U.S.C. § 869. The Government brought this action in ejectment, seeking recovery of possession of the land, and a judicial declaration that Webb is without right, title or interest in the property.

In 1979, after the Government filed a motion for summary judgment twelve months after the original pleadings, Webb sought leave to amend his pleadings to allege valid placer claims (as contrasted with lode claims) and to request judicial review of the 1970 administrative decision that his lode claims were null and void. The district court denied Webb's motion for leave to amend his pleadings and granted full summary judgment for the Government.


There is no statute of limitations for judicial review of an administrative decision by the BLA. Thus, a BLA decision is ordinarily reviewable in a subsequent action for ejectment regardless of how much time has elapsed. See Coleman v. United States, 363 F.2d 190 (9th Cir. 1966), rev'd on other grounds, 390 U.S. 599, 88 S.Ct. 1327, 20 L.Ed.2d 170 (1968). The broad rule that judicial review of BLA decisions is available without regard to passage of time is subject, however, to the rules of pleading which the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure impose upon all parties, and to the general principles of estoppel.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 places leave to amend, after a brief period in which a party may amend as of right, within the sound discretion of the trial court. See PSG Co. v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 417 F.2d 659, 664 (9th Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 918, 90 S.Ct. 924, 25 L.Ed.2d 99 (1970). In exercising this discretion, a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47-48, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102- 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Accordingly, Rule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
904 cases
  • Fikre v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • November 4, 2015
    ...or will cause undue prejudice to the opposing party." Jones v. Bates , 127 F.3d 839, 847 n. 8 (9th Cir.1997) (citing United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 980 (9th Cir.1981) ). See also Quantum Tech. Partners II, L.P. v. Altman Browning and Co. , No. 08–CV–376–BR, 2009 WL 1795574, at *19 (D.......
  • Loehr v. Ventura County Community College Dist.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • September 26, 1984
    ...83 S.Ct. 227, 230, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962); Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir.1984); United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 980 (9th Cir.1981). Here, however, the reasons for denial are readily Several factors govern the propriety of a motion under rule 15: (1) ......
  • Klamath-Lake Pharmaceutical Ass'n v. Klamath Medical Service Bureau
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • April 1, 1983
    ...371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 230, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962); McCartin v. Norton, 674 F.2d 1317, 1320 (9th Cir.1982); United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir.1981); Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir.1973). We are required to review the exercise of the trial court'......
  • Scott v. Henrich
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Montana
    • November 17, 1988
    ...judgment has been filed by the opposition is an insufficient basis, in and of itself, to deny leave to amend. See, United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir.1981); Sherman v. Hallbauer, 455 F.2d 1236 (5th Cir.1972). As a general rule, where the amendment sought alleges a different o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • FNREL - Special Institute Challenging and Defending Federal Natural Resource Agency Decisions (FNREL)
    • Invalid date
    ...Pennaco Energy, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 377 F.3d 1147, 1155 (10th Cir. 2004)). [132] Pennaco Energy, 377 F.3d at 1155. [133] 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981). [134] 28 U.S.C. § 2401. Where administrative review to the Board is mandatory to exhaust remedies, the IBLA appeal proc......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT