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BEDROC LIMITED, LLC, et al. v. UNITED STATES et al., 541 U.S. 176

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BEDROC LIMITED, LLC, et al. v. UNITED STATES
et al.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

No. 02-1593. Argued January 20, 2004--Decided March 31, 2004

The Pittman Underground Water Act of 1919 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to designate certain "nonmineral" Nevada lands on which settlers could obtain permits to drill for water. Under §8 of the Pittman Act, each land grant, or patent, reserved to the United States all coal and other "valuable minerals" in the lands, and the right to remove the same. When one of petitioners' predecessors-in-interest began extracting sand and gravel from land patented under the Pittman Act, the Bureau of Land Management ruled that he had trespassed against the Government's reserved interest in the property's "valuable minerals," and the Interior Board of Land Appeals affirmed. Petitioner BedRoc Limited, LLC, which subsequently acquired the property and continued to remove the sand and gravel under an interim agreement with the Department of the Interior, and petitioner Western Elite, Inc., filed a quiet title action in Federal District Court. The court granted the Government summary judgment, holding that the contested sand and gravel are "valuable minerals" reserved to the United States by the Pittman Act. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.


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