Legal Memorandum: Damages for Unauthorized Acts

Issue: Does a bond given to and approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs establish the limit of damages available to a landowner suing for unauthorized drilling on Indian land?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts, Native Populations & Tribal Law
Keywords: Damages; Bond; Unauthorized drilling on Indian land
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 25 C.F.R. § 211.55(a); 25 C.F.R. § 211.24(a)
Date: 04/01/2013

Two authorities provide some guidance, but are far from conclusive:

Navajo Tribe of Indians v. U.S., 9 Cl. Ct. 336 (Cl. Ct. 1986) (damages for breach of a timber contract secured by a $50,000 bond and approved by the Department of the Interior were not limited to the amount of the bond.  This conclusion, however, was based on the language of the contract, not federal law).

25 C.F.R. § 211.55(a) (providing for an additional bond in the event of noncompliance with lease provisions “in an amount deemed adequate to indemnify the lessor from loss or damage.”  By implication, the original bond amount under 25 C.F.R. § 211.24(a) is acknowledged to be insufficient to fully cover all future losses that may arise under the approved lease.).


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