Washington Law Review


Recently, plaintiffs have relied upon the federal-Indian trust relationship more often to provide a legal basis for holding the federal government liable in money damages for breach of its trust duties. In United States v. Mitchell (Mitchell II) the Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Claims decision holding the United States accountable in money damages for breach of fiduciary duties in its management of forest resources on allotted lands of the Quinault Reservation. Although it had rejected a similar claim by the same plaintiffs based on the General Allotment Act, the Court found that timber management statutes and regulations created governmental duties that implicitly required compensation for breach. This Note will examine the elements of a money damages claim against the government for breach of trust in light of Mitchell II. It will first explore the grounds on which Indian plaintiffs may rely to establish fiduciary duties owed them by the government. It will then evaluate the Court's analogy to the common law of trusts to find that the government is liable in money damages for a breach of these duties.

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