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Eno v. Salazar

Legal Question:

Whether a miner who prevails against the U.S. Forest Service in its attempt to seize his mining claim is entitled to be paid attorneys' fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA)?

Plaintiff:

Donald E. Eno

Defendant:

Kenneth L. Salazar, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. Department of the Interior; Interior Board of Land Appeals; U.S. Forest Service

Court:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
None

 

In 1996, Donald Eno located the "Hound Dog" placer mining claim, for gold and travertine, in the Plumas National Forest on lands withdrawn in 1927 for a power site. The Mining Claims Rights Restoration Act of 1955 requires a determination, shortly after the staking of such claims, of whether the mining claim "substantially interferes" with other uses of the land. At the same time, the FLPMA requires the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether existing withdrawals should be continued. In September 1996, Mr. Eno was notified by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the required hearing would be held, which was later captioned, United States v. Burton, et al. Meanwhile, in 1997, the Forest Service withdrew the lands subject to Eno's claim from operation of the mining law. The federal government asserts that Mr. Eno's claim would substantially interfere with cultural or archeological artifacts claimed by the Maidu Indian Tribe, even though there is no evidence of any such artifacts or of any link between them and the Tribe. On December 7, 2000, Mr. Eno was notified that the Sacramento office would conduct the hearing. Subsequently, a hearing schedule was established. MSLF filed its entry of appearance on August 2, 2001. A hearing took place on June 3-7, 2002, in Sacramento, California. On November 25, 2002, Mr. Eno filed his post-hearing brief in response to the brief filed by the United States to which the United States replied. Mr. Eno filed his reply brief. On December 4, 2003, an administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of Donald Eno, rejecting all arguments made by the federal government.

The United States appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) and requested that the ALJ's ruling be stayed, to which Mr. Eno objected (No. IBLA 2004-92). The IBLA refused to grant the stay. Moreover, the IBLA, on May 7, 2004, granted Mr. Eno permission to engage in placer mining pending the IBLA ruling. On February 27, 2004, the United States filed its brief to which Mr. Eno responded on April 21, 2004.

On February 13, 2007, the IBLA affirmed in part and reversed in part the ALJ decision and granted Mr. Eno permission to engage in placer mining. On March 14, 2007, Mr. Eno filed his application for attorney fees and expenses. On April 20, 2007, the Forest Service filed its response, and on May 7, 2007, Mr. Eno filed his reply in support of his application for fees and expenses.

On September 21, 2009, the ALJ denied Mr. Eno's application for fees and expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). On October 19, 2009, Mr. Eno filed a notice of appeal to the IBLA.

On December 18, 2009, Mr. Eno filed his opening brief with the IBLA. On February 1, 2010, the United States filed its answer. On February 9, 2010, Mr. Eno filed a motion for leave to file a sur-reply. On June 4, 2010, the IBLA upheld the ALJ's denial of Mr. Eno's application for attorneys' fees and expenses under the Equal Access to Judgment Act (EAJA).

On July 1, 2010, Mr. Eno filed an appeal of the IBLA's decision with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. On September 7, 2010, the federal defendants filed their answer.

On December 3, 2010, Mr. Eno filed a motion for summary judgment. On January 7, 2011, the federal defendants filed an opposition and a cross-motion for summary judgment. On February 4, 2011, the Mr. Eno filed a response/reply and on March 4, 2011, the federal defendants filed their reply.  On March 10, 2011, the federal district court vacated a previously scheduled hearing and took the cross-motions under advisement.

On December 19, 2012, the federal district court affirmed the IBLA's decision.  On February 1, 2013, Mr. Eno filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and on May 29, 2013, filed his opening brief.  On September 6, 2013, the federal defendants filed their answer brief.  On November 22, 2013, Mr. Eno filed his reply brief.  On March 13, 2015, the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments.  On August 27, 2015, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, and later denied a motion for rehearing and rehearing en banc.

  • Californian Denied Rehearing on Denial of Attorneys’ Fees

    Nov 12, 2015
    A California miner who won the right to placer mine on his claim in the mountains of northern California after a 2007 ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) today was denied en banc review of the decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit not to overturn the ruling of a California federal district court that he may not be reimbursed by the United States for his legal expenses for his victory.
  • Californian Seeks Review of Appeals Court Attorneys’ Fees Denial

    Oct 13, 2015
    A California miner who won the right to placer mine on his claim in the mountains of northern California after a 2007 ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) today sought en banc review of the decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit not to overturn the ruling of a California federal district court that he may not be reimbursed by the United States for his legal expenses for his victory.
  • Californian’s Appeals of the Denial of Attorneys’ Fees Rejected

    Aug 27, 2015
    A California miner who won the right to placer mine on his claim in the mountains of northern California after a 2007 ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) today learned his appeal of the ruling of a California federal district court that he may not be reimbursed by the United States for his legal expenses for his victory was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Californian’s Appeals of Denial of Attorneys’ Fees Argued

    Mar 13, 2015
    A California miner who won the right to placer mine on his claim in the mountains of northern California after a 2007 ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) today heard his appeal of the ruling of a California federal district court that he may not be reimbursed by the United States for his legal expenses for his victory argued at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Californian Responds In Denial Of Attorneys’ Fees Appeal

    Nov 22, 2013
    DENVER, CO. A California miner who won the right to engage in placer mining on his claim in northern California after a February 2007 ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) today replied to the federal government’s arguments in his appeal of the ruling of a California federal district court that he may not be reimbursed by the United States for all legal expenses leading to his victory.
  • California Miner Seeks Award Of Attorneys’ Fees

    May 30, 2013
    A California miner who won the right to engage in placer mining on his claim in the mountains of northern California after a February 2007 ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) today filed his opening brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in his appeal of the ruling by a California federal district court that he may not be reimbursed by the United States for all legal expenses leading to his major victory.


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