The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona has decided an arcane
legal principal in Domina Law Group's client’s favor.
When an Arizona crop farmer rented under developed land from the Colorado
River Indian Tribes (CRIT) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), he
embarked expensive improvements designed to make the property first rate,
first class crop land.
But a year or two into his project, the U.S. BIA abruptly removed a critical
bridge providing ingress and egress across a large irrigational canal.
This was the farmer’s only way into his fields and out with his crops.
With no bridge, the farmer was out of business. He had no choice but to
seek bankruptcy relief. The only way out of bankruptcy for the farmer
was to seek redress for removal of the bridge. Domina Law Group was hired
to sue the federal government. Papers were filed claiming the government
had wrongly condemned the bridge, and farm. This touched off a jurisdictional
dispute with little guiding precedent to help the Court decide it.
Domina Law Group and its client want the case tried in Arizona. The government
prefers a trial in the District of Columbia. Government attorneys tried
to move the case to Washington. They claimed only the U.S. Federal Claims
Court – a special Court for disputes with the government- could
hear the farmer’s inverse condemnation suit.
Domina Law Group argued otherwise. Domina Law Group contends jurisdiction
is properly in Arizona because the farmer was forced into U.S. Bankruptcy
Court there. This, DLGpc argued, entitles the farmer to have his case
decided at home in Arizona, and by a jury.
The farmer prevailed in the Bankruptcy Court. Now, the U.S. District Judge
has agreed, holding that bankruptcy jurisdiction trumps court of claims
jurisdiction despite the fact that both courts have statutory provisions
declaring that their jurisdiction over certain disputes is “original
For the farmer, this means trial at home, and a playing field he perceives
as more level, and fairer, than he would have confronted in Washington, D.C.