United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER (DEFS.' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION - ECF
MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' motion for reconsideration
(“Motion”) (ECF No. 205) of the Court's
discovery order dated March 10, 2017 (ECF No. 191). The Court
has reviewed the United States' response (ECF No. 212).
The Court also heard argument on the Motion on November 6,
2017. (ECF No. 267.) For the reasons discussed below, the
Motion is denied.
United States filed a Complaint and Declaration of Taking on
September 10, 2015, to acquire 400 acres of property located
within the Nevada Test and Training Range
(“NTTR”), a military test and training facility
at Nellis Air Force Base, consisting of a group of patented
and unpatented mining claims known as the Groom Mine
(“the Property”). (ECF No. 129; see also
ECF No. 1 (Complaint); ECF No. 2 (Declaration of Taking).)
The United States deposited the estimated compensation to the
Court in the amount of $1, 200, 000 (ECF No. 10 at 1), and
the funds were released to Landowners on March 9, 2016 (ECF
No. 85 at 1-2). On September 16, 2015, the Court granted the
United States immediate possession of the Property. (ECF No.
14 at 1.) Landowners filed their Answer on November 6, 2015.
(ECF No. 53.) On October 5, 2016, the Court determined that
the “taking is for a congressionally authorized public
use identified in the United States' Complaint [ECF No.
1-3], and is legally valid.” (ECF No. 111 at 1.) As a
result, the amount of just compensation for the United
States' condemnation is the sole remaining issue.
Property is in the Groom Lake Valley about seven miles from
Area 51. (ECF No. 132 at 5.) The Property is the only
privately owned property that has an unobstructed view of
Area 51. (Id. at 16.) Landowners' family has
owned the Property since about 1885, long before the United
States began to use the nearby property. (Id. at
moved to compel entry onto the Property to conduct testing
and drilling of mineral deposits (ECF No. 131), and the
United States filed a response (ECF No. 151). Landowners then
filed a reply (ECF No. 169), and the United States filed a
sur-reply with leave of the Court (ECF No. 186). The
Magistrate Judge issued an order denying the Landowners'
motion to compel. (ECF No. 191.) Landowners filed an
Objection (ECF No. 205) to the Magistrate Judge's order,
which this Court now considers as a motion for
reconsideration. The United States filed a response to the
Landowners' motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 212), and
the Landowners filed a reply (ECF No. 215). The Court struck
Defendants' reply during the hearing on November 6, 2017.
(ECF No. 267.)
judges are authorized to resolve pretrial matters subject to
district court review under a “clearly erroneous or
contrary to law” standard. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); LR IB
3-1(a) (“A district judge may reconsider any pretrial
matter referred to a magistrate judge in a civil or criminal
case under LR IB 1-3, when it has been shown that the
magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary
standard of review is significantly deferential to the
initial ruling. “A finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing [body] on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” Concrete Pipe & Prods. of Cal.,
Inc. v. Constr. Laborers Pension Tr. for S. Cal., 508
U.S. 602, 622 (1993) (alteration in original) (quoting
United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395
(1948)). The reviewing court “may not simply substitute
its judgment for that of the deciding court.”
Grimes v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 951 F.2d
236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991) (citation omitted).
first argue that the Magistrate Judge erred by concluding
that Landowners failed to meaningfully address one of the
United States' arguments that drilling results would not
be relevant. (ECF No. 205 at 8-9.) Before the Magistrate
Judge, the United States argued that there is no market for
the mineral deposits, no matter their extent, because their
quality is too low to justify the expense of extraction. (ECF
No. 151 at 21-22.) Drilling results verifying the amount of
mineral deposits would therefore be irrelevant. Landowners
responded that the quality of the mineral deposits could be
“much higher” than even their own expert
concluded, though they did not expressly state that findings
of higher quality would attract market interest. (ECF No. 169
at 15 (emphasis omitted).)
Court does not find that the Magistrate Judge clearly erred.
Landowners suppose that the quality of the mineral deposits
is much higher than even their own expert predicted on the
basis of tenuous evidence-historical smelter receipts. These
receipts ostensibly “show that the ounces of silver per
ton historically produced from the Mine were much higher than
what [both sides' experts] have estimated.” (ECF
No. 169 at 15 n.6.) There are a number of reasons why the
historical smelter receipts do not necessarily reflect the
overall quality of the deposits, however. First, smelter
receipts reflect information about samples that are
essentially cherry-picked for their high quality, as
explained by the United States at the hearing. (ECF No. 267.)
Landowners did not contest this characterization.
(Id.) Second, the United States' expert
considered the historical smelter receipts and concluded,
given all the information available to him, that the quality
of the deposits is low relative to the quality shown on the
smelter receipts. (ECF No. 180-1 at 17; see ECF No.
169 at 15.) The Landowners' expert reached almost the
same conclusion, actually determining that the quality was
lower (0.69 troy ounces of silver per ...