This morning, the Federal Circuit released one precedential opinion. The opinion comes in a case brought under the Indian Tucker Act and involving several claims related to water rights and water-related infrastructure, including breach of trust, breach of contract, and takings claims. The panel affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part a judgment of the Court of Federal Claims, which had held in favor of the United States on all of the plaintiff-appellant’s claims. Notably, Judge Reyna concurred in part and dissented in part. Here is the introduction to the majority opinion and Judge Reyna’s opinion.

Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Indian Reservation v. United States (Prededential)

Plaintiff Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation (“Tribe”) brought suit against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims (“Claims Court”) asserting various claims concerning water rights and water-related infrastructure. The First Amended Complaint (“Complaint”) alleged that the United States breached duties of trust by mismanaging water rights and mismanaging water infrastructure held by the United States and operated for the Tribe, breached contracts with the Tribe, and effected unconstitutional takings of the Tribe’s property. The Claims Court held that the Tribe had not identified a trust-creating source of law and dismissed all the breach of trust claims, held that one breach of contract claim was barred by a 2012 settlement agreement, and found the remaining breach of contract and takings claims time barred.

We hold that the Winters doctrine and the 1899 Act do not sufficiently establish trust duties to support Indian Tucker Act jurisdiction with respect to the Tribe’s claims that the United States has a duty to construct new infrastructure and secure new water for the Tribe, but that the 1906 Act imposes trust duties on the United States sufficient to support a claim at least with respect to management of existing water infrastructure. Thus, as to the trust claims, we affirm in part and vacate and remand in part. With respect to one breach of contract claim, we affirm in part and vacate and remand in part. With respect to the takings claims and the other breach of contract claim, we affirm the dismissal.

REYNA, Circuit Judge, concurring-in-part and dissenting-in-part.

I am pleased to join my colleagues for most of the majority opinion. But I depart that union in part because I believe the 1899 Act is a duty-imposing source of law sufficient to support Indian Tucker Act jurisdiction over the Tribe’s breach of trust claims.