United States v. Louisiana
446 U.S. 253 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Louisiana, 446 U.S. 253 (1980)

United States v. Louisiana

No. 9, Orig.

Argued March 18, 1980

Decided April 28, 1980

446 U.S. 253

Syllabus

Held:

1. As the Special Master recommended, the United States is not obligated to account for and pay Louisiana either the value of the use of Louisiana's share of impounded funds that have been awarded and paid to the State under mineral leases on lands off its Gulf Coast, or interest upon that portion of those funds. The Interim Agreement that the parties entered into in response to this Court's ruling enjoining them from leasing wells in the disputed tidelands area except by agreement provided only that the payments made to the United States on each lease within the disputed area were to be impounded "in a separate fund in the Treasury of the United States" and, upon determination of the ownership of the lands, were to be taken from that fund and paid to the party entitled to them. The agreement contains no provision for the payment of interest or for the use of the funds or for investment, and there is nothing in the agreement's use of the word "impound," or in Louisiana's characterization of the arrangement as an escrow, to imply an obligation on the United States' part to pay interest or to pay for the use of the money. The impoundment of the funds having served its intended purpose, and all payments due Louisiana from the impounded funds having been made, the United States has fulfilled the obligations imposed upon it by the agreement. Pp. 446 U. S. 261-266.

2. Contrary to the Special Master's recommendations, Louisiana is obligated to account to the United States for revenues derived by the State from mineral leases on areas within the zone contiguous to the coastline (Zone 1) adjudicated to the United States. The provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act authorizing the United States to make an agreement with a State as to existing mineral leases and the issuance of new leases "pending the settlement or adjudication" of a controversy as to ultimate ownership, and stating that payments made pursuant to such an agreement shall be considered as compliance with certain lease validation requirements of the Act, does not govern payments made by Louisiana's lessees in Zone 1 so as to foreclose any federal claim with respect to those payments. The provision means no more than that a lessee is not in default so long as the agreement remains in effect and he makes the required payments, and there is no

Page 446 U. S. 254

basis for reading into the provision a waiver by the United States of Louisiana's independent duty to account, or a waiver of any claim for money due the United States. The State's obligation does not derive from the Act, but was imposed by this Court's 1950 decree specifying that the United States was entitled to an accounting from Louisiana of all sums received by the State from lands adjudicated to the United States, was not waived by the Interim Agreement, and is not excused by the above provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Pp. 446 U. S. 266-272.

3. The Court accepts, upon acquiescence of the parties, the Special Master's recommendations that Louisiana has no obligation to account for and pay to the United States money collected by the State as severance taxes on minerals removed from areas adjudicated to the United States. P. 446 U. S. 272.

Exceptions to Special Master's supplemental report overruled in part and sustained in part, and case remanded.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, WHITE, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which STEWART and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 446 U. S. 273. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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