United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING COOK DEFEND
ANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
MATTER comes before the Court a Motion to Dismiss filed on
January 9, 2019 by Defendants Generation Next, LLC, the
estate of Richard Cook and Katharine Cook (collectively,
"the Cook Defendants" or "Defendants" for
purposes of this motion) (Doc. 23). Having reviewed the
parties' pleadings and the applicable law, the Court
finds that Defendants' motion is well-taken and,
therefore, is granted.
lawsuit is about a hunt for buried treasure on Black Mesa, a
hill area located northwest of Espanola, New Mexico where it
is believed that several large caches of gold treasure and
antiquities are hidden, based on centuries-old treasure maps.
Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, claims that he
contractually agreed with Defendants to fund the expedition.
He alleges that other individuals on the expedition conspired
to steal buried gold from Black Mesa land owned by one of the
Cook Defendants and stashed it elsewhere; and that the theft
was part of a scheme to prevent Plaintiff from discovering
hidden reserves of gold in order to deprive him of his share.
Cook Defendants contend that Plaintiffs claims are frivolous
and implausible, and they take the stance that there has
never been any discovery of gold on Black Mesa. Defendants
admit that a Cook-owned company, Defendant Generation Next,
LLC, owns property on Black Mesa and that Richard Cook
allowed a group of individuals-Plaintiff being one of them-to
be part of an exploration team hunting for treasure. For some
reason, the relationship between Plaintiff and other members
of the team degenerated and Plaintiff was eventually barred
from the property. When Plaintiff began sending threatening
e-mails to the Cook family in September 2013, accusing them
of criminal behavior and conspiracy, Defendants responded by
seeking and eventually obtaining a state court restraining
order limiting Plaintiffs communication with the Cooks, based
on their claims that Plaintiff began to act irrationally and
that he ambushed 87 year-old Ri chard Cook at his home in an
attempt to gain entry to Black Mesa..
case is brought to federal court based on diversity
jurisdiction and therefore this court is required to apply
New Mexico law. See Armijo v. Ex Cam, Inc., 843 F.2d
406 (10th Cir. 1988) (In a diversity action, federal courts
are required to apply the law of the forum state).
seek dismissal of all claims because (1) Plaintiff had no
contractual relationship with them and (2) these claims are
untimely under applicable statutes of limitation.
Court provides an introduction to the numerous individuals
and entities to enhance the significance of the facts.
Plaintiff Gale Roberts: resident of Wyoming
who conducted business in New Mexico, Texas and Florida;
alleges that he contractually agreed with Defendants
Melancon, Patterson, Kemler and Talks to fund a gold treasure
exploration mission near Espanola, New Mexico, referred to as
the "Black Mesa Expedition."
Members of the Cook family (movants):
• Richard Cook: New Mexico businessman
and primary principal in charge of the excavation of gold
treasure located in the Spanish Vaults on Black Mesa, working
from treasure maps he acquired prior to 1990. Appears to own
the company Generation Next, LLC ("Gen Next"), a
Defendant in this case. He died in 2016.
• Katherine Cook Fishman: Richard
Cook's daughter and Personal Representative of his
estate; also legal counsel for Richard Cook's company,
Defendant Gen Next.
• Paul Caster: husband of Richard
Cook's granddaughter and general manager of Gen Next at
Entities and Associated Individuals:
• Generation Next, LLC ("Gen
Next"); registered in New Mexico and purportedly owns
property on Black Mesa; the company appears to be owned by
• Antiquity Encounter - Company owned
by John Melancon to conduct his business during relevant
• Expedition Resources, LLC
("Expedition") and Exploration OPES, LLC
("OPES"); managing members: Donald
Patterson, Jerry Kemler, John Melancon and
• Patterson and Kemler claim to have
Special Forces Training and years of experience in treasure
hunting and the use of geophysical equipment for such
• John Melancon is an archeologist
hired by Richard Cook to help lay claim to the gold and
artifacts expected to be found on Black Mesa
• Howard Talks: treasure hunter and
past financier of gold finding expeditions for Defendants
Patterson and Kemler
• William "Bill" Floto:
allegedly located, and illicitly removed gold and artifacts
from private property on Black Mesa in March 2013.
• Non-party Radiant Exploration:
satellite technology company that has the ability to remotely
survey and detect presence of oil, gas and mineral.
Summary of Facts
facts asserted in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 3) stretch for
thirty pages. The relevant facts can be summed up as
July 22, 2010: Gen Next, owner of the Black Mesa
property, entered into a one-year exclusive Recovery
Agreement allowing Defendant Expedition Resources the right
to access the property for exploration. Doc. 3 at 45. The
agreement expired on July 22, 2011 without Expedition
Resources ever having entered the property due to a lack of
funding. Am. Compl., ¶41.
November 2012: Plaintiff ("Plaintiff or
"Roberts") alleges that Defendants enlisted him to
finance and participate in an expedition to search for and
recover gold and artifacts from Black Mesa. He entered into a
Joint Venture Agreement with Defendant Expedition and its
members providing him with a 50/50 split and with Plaintiff
Roberts paying all costs. The agreement was brokered by
Defendant Melancon allegedly with Richard Cook's
approval. Doc. 3, ¶46.
February 2013: Def Gen Next entered into an
exclusive one-year recovery agreement with Defendant
Melancon's company, Antiquity Encounter
("Antiquity") to search for and recover gold and
artifacts from Black Mesa. See Doc. 3 at 57
("Black Mesa Recovery Agreement," referred by
Plaintiff as the "New Agreement"). Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Melancon secured this agreement with
Defendant Gen Next "on behalf of and in accordance with
the Joint Venture Agreement that Plaintiff Roberts had with
Defendant Expedition. Doc. 3, ¶25.
March 2013: Using testing equipment Roberts had
purchased specifically for the expedition, two gold targets
were located. As the targets were located, tension grew
between him and Defendants Patterson and Kemler. Although
unknown to Plaintiff at the time, Defendants Patterson and
Kemler located two other gold targets with the help of
Defendant William "Bill" Floto, who was flown up
from Florida, using Floto's "proprietary
science." Doc. 3, ¶62.
March 6, 2013: in Plaintiffs absence, the Melancon
team members-Defendants Patterson, Kemler and Floto-dug up
the gold in one of these two targets and secreted it away.
They then "unloaded an ATV from the back of the pickup
and spun it around in circles over the excavation area on top
of the mesa as a means to cover up the hole where they
extracted the gold." Doc. 3, ¶¶ 62; 64. These
men then hid the Bill Floto's test results and
manufactured false results in their place in order to deceive
him about these other two locations where gold was hidden.
End of March 2013: Defendants Patterson and Kemler
began transporting the gold and artifacts they had secretly
removed and took them to Florida. Plaintiff informed the Cook
family defendants (Gen Next, Caster and Fishman) by e-mail
about the false test results furnished by Defendants
Patterson, Kemler and Floto, but then when they did not
respond to his e-mails, he realized that these the Cook
defendants were also part of the conspiracy to exclude him
from a share in the gold that was stolen at the Black Mesa
property by Defendants Patterson, Kemler and Floto. Doc. 3,
¶91 (". . . Richard Cook and Defendants Melancon,
Caster and Fishman chose to join in a growing conspiracy and
remained silent. . . .").
Sept 13, 2013, Plaintiff telephoned Richard Cook and
entered into a verbal agreement to allow Plaintiff to finish
the excavation of the gold from the Spanish Vaults on Black
Mesa. However, Defendants Caster and Fishman would not allow
Roberts to return to the Black Mesa property. The Cook family
obtained a restraining order limiting communication with
Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Fishman, Caster
and Gen Next failed to facilitate an in-person meeting with
Richard Cook as he requested. At this time, Plaintiff also
discovered names of individuals who may have helped Defendant
Patterson launder the gold and artifacts taken from Black
Mesa on March 6, 2013. In response to Plaintiffs inquiries on
this subject, Defendant Patterson allegedly left death
threats on Plaintiffs phone message machine.
February 2014: agreement with Plaintiff expires, at
which point, Defendant Expedition (that is, Defendants
Melancon and Patterson) negotiated a secret agreement with
Richard Cook and Defendant Caster to use satellite-based
technology from Radiant Exploration to further evaluate Black
Mesa, excluding Plaintiff from these negotiations. On inquiry
by Plaintiff, Defendant Patterson confirmed to him that was
no longer wanted on the expedition because he had generated a
"tremendous amount of unwanted attention about Black
Mesa." Doc. 3, ¶ 126.
February 2018: Plaintiff confirmed by use of a
Radiant Exploration's satellite technology that 11 of the
12 Spanish Vaults are still undisturbed, but all the gold and
artifacts from Chamber 1 have been removed.
asserts that all of the named Defendants caused, participated
in and tried to cover up the events that gave rise to the