U.S. v. Tohono O'odham Nation

Jurisdiction over Parallel Action

Term: 2010 Term
Oral Argument Date: Nov 1, 2010
Vote: 7-1
Opinion: Kennedy
Questions Presented: 

Whether 28 U.S.C. 1500 deprives the Court of Federal Claims of jurisdiction over a claim seeking monetary relief for the government's alleged violation of fiduciary obligations if the plaintiff has another suit pending in federal district court based on substantially the same operative facts, especially when the plaintiff seeks monetary relief or other overlapping relief in the two suits.

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

NCLC urged the Supreme Court to hold that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction over a parallel claim when a different remedy is sought in another court. The Tohono O'odham Nation filed two lawsuits alleging the U.S. breached its fiduciary duties in its management of the Tohono O'odham Nation's assets. The Federal Circuit upheld the lawsuit filed in the Court of Federal Claims because the remedy sought by plaintiffs was unique from the remedy sought in the district court. NCLC warned that adopting the government's position - that parallel claims are forbidden even when different relief is sought and no single court can provide both forms of relief - would produce unjust results for a broad spectrum of claimants.

Outcome Content: 

Two suits are for or in respect to the same claim, precluding CFC jurisdiction, if they are based on substantially the same operative facts, regardless of the relief sought in each suit. 

Justices in Minority: 
Procedural History: 

Amicus brief filed 9/3/10. Moot court held 10/25/10. Oral argument held 11/1/10. Decided 4/26/11.