Wyoming tribes lose decision in trust mismanagement case
Two Wyoming tribes waited too long to sue the federal government for trust mismanagement, the chief judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled on May 27.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe are involved in long-running litigation over oil and gas mismanagement on the Wind River Reservation. At issue in this part of the case are leases that the tribes signed pursuant to an act of Congress in 1916 but which were changed in the 1940s and 1950s under a different law.

The tribes contend the Interior Department misled them into accepting the lease modifications. They say they lost out on millions of dollars in royalties because the new terms were less favorable.

But Chief Judge Emily C. Hewitt said the tribes were aware of the effect on their rights as early as 1959. The litigation didn't begin until 1979, long after the six-year statute of limitations.

"Under trust law, there is a special relationship created between beneficiary and trustee," Hewitt wrote. "However, once the trust beneficiary learns of a suspected breach by the trustee, the beneficiary must take action within the period specified in the statute of limitations."

Get the Story:
Wyoming Tribes Too Late on Lease Challenge (Courthouse News Service 6/14)

US Court of Claims Decision:
Shoshone v. US (May 27, 2010)

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