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Roberts v. Generation Next, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 20, 2019

GALE ROBERTS, Plaintiff,


         THIS 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.


         This 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.

         The 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..

         The 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).

         Defendants 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.

         I. Parties

         The 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 the time.[1]

         • 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 Richard Cook.
Antiquity Encounter - Company owned by John Melancon to conduct his business during relevant time.
Expedition Resources, LLC ("Expedition") and Exploration OPES, LLC ("OPES"); managing members: Donald Patterson, Jerry Kemler, John Melancon and Howard Talks.
Patterson and Kemler claim to have Special Forces Training and years of experience in treasure hunting and the use of geophysical equipment for such purposes.
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

         • Others:

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.

         II. Summary of Facts

         The facts asserted in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 3) stretch for thirty pages. The relevant facts can be summed up as follows:[2]

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.

         Plaintiff asserts that all of the named Defendants caused, participated in and tried to cover up the events that gave rise to the complaint.

         III. Claims ...

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