2014 Federal Trial Courts Cases


Walker River Paiute Tribe v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
2014 WL 7072505
No. 3:08-CV-0627-LRH-VPC.
United States District Court, D. Nevada, Signed Dec. 15, 2014.

Legal Topics: Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act; Funding


Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell
2014 WL 7012707
Civil Action No. 13-849 (BJR).
United States District Court, District of Columbia, Signed December 12, 2014.

Legal Topics: Land into Trust


Keepseagle v. Vilsack
2014 WL 5796751
Civil Action No. 99-3119 (EGS)
United States District Court, District of Columbia, Signed November 7, 2014.

Synopsis written by the library: After years of litigation, the parties reached a settlement, which created a Compensation Fund. Once all of the distrubtions were made for attorney fees and individual awards, there was still money left in the Fund. On September 24, 2014, the Class Counsel filed a motion to modify the Settlement Agreement so that the remaining money could be distributed to non-profit organizations "proposed by Class Counsel and approved by the Court" and that met certain criteria. Both the Great Plains Claimants and the Choctaw Movants filed motions to intervene in the matter.

Holding written by the library: All motions to intervene were denied but the request of the Great Plains Claimaints to participate in the settlement modification proceedings as amici curiae was granted.

Maniilaq Association v. Burwell
2014 WL 5558336
Civ. Action No. 13-cv-380 (TFH).
United States District Court, District of Columbia, Signed November 3, 2014.

Synopsis written by the library: Maniilaq, an Alaska Native Regional Non-Profit Corporation, operates a clinic in the Village of Amber, Alaska ("Amber Clinic"). The lease for the Amber Clinic initially belonged to Maniilaq, but Maniilaq took ownership of the clinic in 2003. However, in February of 2012, due to a perceived funding shortfall, Maniilaq requested that IHS enter into a new lease under the mandatory leasing provisions of 25 U.S.C. § 450j(l)(1). In May 2012, IHS responded and agreed. In November 2012, Maniilaq sent IHS a letter describing the parties' communications up to that point including a proposed lease. This case rests on whether the November letter and proposed lease agreement serve as a final offer under 25 U.S.C. § 458aaa-6 or if, as the IHS argued, Maniilaq has to sublet the lease to IHS's Lease Priority System (LPS).

Holding written by the library: The court finds that, under the clear language of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act ("ISDEAA") , the letter and proposed lease agreement serve as a final offer. The court grants summary judgment in favor of plaintiff and denies defendant's cross motion for summary judgement.


California v. Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California
2014 WL 5485940
No. 114-CV-01593-LJO-SAB.
United States District Court, E.D. California, Signed October 29, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe submitted a contract proposal to the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Act for funding to operate an emergency medical services (“EMS”) program that the Indian Health Service (“IHS”), a component of Health and Human Services, had been funding directly since 1993. After receiving the Tribe's proposal, the Secretary discontinued the EMS program, which IHS viewed as financially untenable, and denied the Tribe's request on the ground that the agency would not have funded the program going forward. The Tribe brought suit and has moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Secretary lacked authority to deny the proposal."

* Holding: The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Tribe because the Secretary did not rest her decision on any of the enumerated declination critera available under the The Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act."

In re McDonald
Briefs from Turtle Talk
519 B.R. 324
Case Nos. 14-40520 and 14-40543.
United States Backruptcy Court, District of Kansas, Signed October 27, 2014.

*Synopsis: Chapter 13 trustee objected to exemption claimed by debtors in per capita payments from Indian tribe, and also asserted that such payments had to be considered in applying "best interests of creditors" test for confirmation of plan.

* Holding: The Bankruptcy Court, Janice Miller Karlin, J., held that:
1) per capita payments to which Chapter 13 debtor was automatically entitled, regardless of need, as her share of gaming revenues earned by Indian tribe of which she was member were not excluded from property of estate as beneficial interest in trust;
2) contingent interest that debtor had in receiving these tribal payments was included in property of the estate, and had to be considered in assessing whether proposed Chapter 13 plan satisfied "best interests of creditors" test;
3) even assuming that Tribal Code qualified as "local law," it was not "local law that [wa]s applicable on the [petition date] to the place in which the debtor's domicile [was] located"; and
4) per capita payments made to debtor, without regard to need, as her share of gaming revenues earned by Indian tribe, were not an exempt "local public assistance benefit."

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe v. Burwell
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 5013206
Case No. 1:13-cv-01771 (CRC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia, Signed October 7, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California (“Tribe”) operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino (“Casino”), in Madera County, California pursuant to a class III gaming compact with the State of California (“State”). An intra-tribal dispute exists among various Tribal members, which has led to three or more separate groups claiming leadership rights over the Tribe and rights to control the Casino. On October 9, 2014, this intra-tribal dispute led to an armed conflict on the grounds of the Casino. As a result, on October 10, 2014, the State petitioned for, and this Court issued, a temporary restraining order (“TRO”), restraining and enjoining, among other things, the operation of the Casino, any further attempts to repossess or take control of the Casino, and/or the deployment of armed personnel of any nature (other than State, County, or federal law enforcement) within 1000 yards of the Casino and nearby properties. Doc. 5. The TRO was modified slightly in open Court at an October 15, 2014 hearing to permit certain Casino operations to move forward, including those required to secure cash from the Casino floor. See Docs 16 & 21.."

* Holding: (not yet available)

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Jewell
2014 WL 4960786
No. 1:13-CV-01232-LJO-GSA.
E.D. California, Signed Oct. 1, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "This case concerns the U.S. Bureau of Reclamati on's ("Reclamation" or "the Bureau") decision to make certain "Flow Augmentation" releases ("FARs") of water beginning on August 13, 2013 from Lewiston Dam, a feature of the Trinity River Division ("TRD") of the Central Valley Project ("CVP"). The stated purpose of the releases was to "reduce the likelihood, and potentially reduce the severity, of any Ich epizootic event that could lead to associated fish die off in 2013" in the lower Klamath River. Administrative Record ("AR") at 00016-17. Plaintiffs, the San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority ("Authority") and Westlands Water District ("Westlands"), allege that by approving and implementing the 2013 FARs, Reclamation and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior ("Interior") (collectively, "Federal Defendants"), violated various provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act ("CVPIA"), Pub.L. No. 102-575, 106 Stat. 4700 (1992), and the Reclamation Act of 1902, 43 U.S.C. § 383. Doc. 95, First Amended Complaint ("FAC") at pp 77-91. In addition, Plaintiffs allege Federal Defendants acted unlawfully by approving and implementing the 2013 FARs without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., or engaging in consultation pursuant to the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531 et seq. FAC pp 92-104."

* Holding: (not yet available)



Estate of Gonzales v. Brown
2014 WL 4748604
No. 12-CV-495-JED-PJC.
United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma, Signed Sept. 23, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "As noted above, officers of the City of Pawnee Police Department, Pawnee County Sheriff's Office, and the Pawnee Nation Police Department, were involved in the events leading to the shooting. In addition to suing the involved officers, plaintiff has also sued Herb Adson, the City of Pawnee Police Chief, Mike Waters, the Pawnee County Sheriff, and David Kanuho, the Pawnee Nation Police Chief. Plaintiff alleges that each of these Police Chiefs and Sheriff had a custom and policy of failing to properly train and supervise their underling officers who were involved in the shooting. The alleged failures included a failure to train and supervise the officers as to the legal jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement, the use of excessive force, required pre-shooting duty of care, and how to appropriately respond when dealing with an emotionally upset, inebriated, and fearful young man. ... Dolly Gonzales, who is James Dylan Gonzales's mother and the Personal Representative of his Estate, asserts claims on her own behalf and on behalf of his Estate. Her Second Amended Complaint contains two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983: one for alleged violations of the younger Gonzales's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; and the second for alleged violations of his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Bettor Racing, Inc. v. National Indian Gaming Commission
2014 WL 4699651
No. CIV. 13-4051-KES.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division, Signed Sept. 19, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiffs, Bettor Racing, Inc., and J. Randy Gallo, brought this suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-06, and the United States Constitution, against defendant, National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). Plaintiffs ask this court to set aside the NIGC's final decision and order in its entirety or, alternatively, to set aside the portion of the final decision and order that assessed a civil fine against plaintiffs."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Cowart v. Allen
2014 WL 4678306
No. 2:11-CV-382-WKW.
United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division, Signed Sept. 18, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "This case is before the court on a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint filed by John Douglas Cowart ["Cowart"], an indigent state inmate currently incarcerated at the Easterling Correctional Facility ["Easterling"]. Cowart alleges that he follows the Native American religion, and he makes the following claims:
(1) defendants allow anyone on the "approved list" to be on the Native American sacred grounds, knowing that some White gang members on the list desecrate the sacred grounds, and defendants refuse to take corrective action;
(2) defendants break the ceremonial circle on Native American grounds to accommodate officers moving segregation inmates;
(3) defendants refuse to allow tobacco for ceremonial purposes or transfer Native American inmates to institutions that allow tobacco;
(4) defendants limit access to firewood and limit fires to three days a week while other institutions have fires daily;
(5) defendants refuse to allow Native American inmates to use tobacco in the ceremonial pipe;
(6) defendants prevent Native Americans from using the sweat lodge because it is 100 yards from the ceremonial grounds, the area is too small, tobacco is prohibited, and Cowart is not allowed to transfer to an institution with a functioning sweat lodge and tobacco use; and
(7) defendant Chaplain Askew desecrated Cowart's ceremonial items by touching them and, when questioned, said, "I can do this I'm a holy man," then laughed derisively".

* Holding: (not yet available)

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation v. Corps of Engineers
2014 WL 4678052
No. CIV 11-3026-RAL.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division, Signed Sept. 18, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) " Plaintiffs Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation (the Tribe) and Robert Shepherd (Shepherd), the Tribe's chairman, filed a Complaint and Amended Complaint seeking declaratory, injunctive, and other relief. Doc. 1; Doc. 16. Plaintiffs named as Defendants the United States Corps of Engineers (the Corps), Steven E. Naylor (Naylor), in his official capacity as Regulatory Program Manager, and Robert J. Ruch, in his official capacity as District Commander. Plaintiffs' Complaint challenges the Corps' granting of certain § 404 exemptions and Nationwide Permits to Merlyn Drake (Drake) and how it has dealt generally with Drake's requests and conduct on land adjacent to Enemy Swim Lake, which is within the exterior boundaries of the Tribe's reservation. The Defendants filed a Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, Doc. 26, which this Court addressed through a prior Opinion and Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion for Dismissal. Doc. 32.."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Idaho v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe
2014 WL 4389839
No. 2:14-cv-000170-BLW.
United States District Court, D. Idaho, Signed Sept. 5, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) " In early May 2014, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe began conducting Texas Hold 'em tournaments at the Coeur d'Alene Casino. Texas Hold 'em is a poker game. Idaho has expressly prohibited all forms of gambling other than: (1) a state lottery; (2) pari-mutuel betting on horse, dog, and mule races; and (3) certain bingo and raffle games. Shortly after the Tribe began conducting the tournaments, the State sued the Tribe in this Court, seeking to enjoin the tournaments. The State contends that poker is a prohibited form of gambling in Idaho and, further, that the Tribe is violating the parties' Class III Gaming Compact by conducting the poker tournaments. The Tribe, however, says that (1) Texas Hold 'em does not fit Idaho's definition of "gambling," (2) the parties' Compact does not address Texas Hold 'em; and (3) this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this dispute."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida Dep't of Revenue
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 4388143
Civil Action No. 12-62140-Civ.
United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Signed Sept. 5, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "The Seminole Tribe of Florida filed this lawsuit challenging the imposition of two Florida taxes: the Rental Tax and the Utility Tax. After considering the extensive briefing by the parties, as well as hearing oral argument from each side, the Court finds that Federal law prohibits both taxes from being imposed."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Chamblin v. Greene
2014 WL 4352346
No. C14-5491 BHS.
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Tacoma, Signed Sept. 2, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiff Dotti Chamblin is a member of the Makah Tribe ("Tribe"), as well as a patient at the Tribe's Health Clinic ("Clinic"). Dkt. 5, Declaration of Rebecca JCH Jackson ("Jackson Dec."), Ex. 4; Dkt. 6 at 1. On January 3, 2014, the Clinic's Health Director, Elizabeth Buckingham ("Buckingham"), filed a petition for an order of protection against Plaintiff. Jackson Dec., Ex. 2. In the petition, Buckingham alleged that Plaintiff made threats against a Clinic staff member. Id. at 18. That same day, the Makah Tribal Court ("Tribal Court") granted a temporary order of protection. Jackson Dec., Ex. 3."

* Holding: (not yet available)



Burley v. Onewest Bank
2014 WL 4244026
CIV. Nos. 2:14-1349 WBS EFB, 2:14-1567 WBS EFB.
United States District Court, E.D. California, Signed Aug. 25, 2014. Filed Aug. 26, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Silvia Burley is the chairperson of the California Valley Miwok Tribe ("the Tribe"), which is a federally-recognized Indian tribe. In 2002, the Tribe purchased a parcel of land in Stockton, California. Shortly after doing so, the Tribe issued a resolution authorizing Burley to obtain a loan for the property and to take title to the property on behalf of the Tribe. Burley refinanced the property on behalf of the Tribe in 2006 and 2007, and quitclaimed the property to the Tribe in 2008. Burley and the Tribe allege that they are waiting for funds owed to them by the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund and that the California Gambling Control Commission is holding $10 million in escrow on behalf of the Tribe. In the meantime, however, Burley and the Tribe failed to make payments on the property. As a result, OneWest Bank, FSB recorded a Notice of Default on February 19, 2010 and initiated foreclosure proceedings. A Trustee's Deed Upon Sale recorded in San Joaquin County on November 6, 2013 reflects that Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank") purchased the property at a foreclosure sale."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Maniilaq Association v. Burwell
2014 WL 4178267
Civ. No. 13-380(TFH).
United States District Court, District of Columbia. Signed August 22, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiff is seeking a declaration that a lease with the Indian Health Service ("IHS" or "defendant") for one of the clinics Maniilaq operates under its self-determination contract is incorporated into Maniilaq's 2013 funding agreement as a matter of law."

* Holding: (not yet available) "

United States v. Nichols
2014 WL 4185360
No. CR 140-30038-MAM.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division. Signed Aug. 20, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Steven Nichols, a non-Indian, was excluded from the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. While his exclusion was in effect, he was seen driving on a public road within the reservation. Tribal officers stopped and detained him until an FBI agent arrived. The agent then arrested him for criminal trespass. Nichols claims that the tribe did not have the authority to ban him from using the road and that his federal trespass charge built upon a tribal writ and order of exclusion should be dismissed."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Cherokee Nation v. Nash
990 F.Supp.2d 1148
Case No. 11-CV-648-TCK-TLW.
United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma, Signed Aug. 19, 2013

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against descendents of former slaves that had been owned by tribe seeking a declaration that the descendents did not enjoy citizenship rights within the tribe. Descendents moved for transfer to the District Court for the District of Columbia. The District Court, 2013 WL 4537094, Terence C. Kern, J., denied the request for a transfer.

* Holding: On reconsideration, the District Court, Terence Kern, J., held that:
(1) the first-to-file rule applied to subsequently filed action, and
(2) the District Court would refrain from deciding whether special, equitable circumstances existed that would prevent application of the first-to-file rule.
So ordered.

United States v. Janis
40 F.Supp.3d 1133
No. CR. 14-50013-JLV.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division, Signed Aug. 14, 2014.

*Synopsis: Defendant, who allegedly assaulted tribal officer on Indian reservation, was indicted for assaulting federal officer. Defendant moved to dismiss indictment.

* Holding: The District Court, Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief Judge, held that tribal officer was federal officer at time of alleged assault.
Motion denied.

In re Greektown Holdings, LLC
516 B.R. 462
Bankruptcy No. 08-53104. Adversary No. 10-05712.
United States Bankruptcy Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division-Detroit., Signed August 12, 2014.

*Synopsis Litigation trustee brought strong-arm proceeding to avoid allegedly fraudulent transfers, and an Indian tribe named as defendant moved to dismiss on sovereign immunity grounds.

* Holding: The Bankruptcy Court, Walter Shapero, J., held that Indian tribes are "domestic governments," whose sovereign immunity is abrogated in fraudulent transfer avoidance proceedings by bankruptcy statute expressly abrogating the sovereign immunity of "governmental units," which are defined to include "other foreign or domestic governments." Motion denied.

No Casino in Plymouth v. Jewell
2014 WL 3939585
No. 2:12-cv-01748-TLN-CMK.
United States District Court, E.D. California, Signed Aug. 8, 2014. Filed Aug. 11, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "This matter arises out of Plaintiffs' allegations that Federal Defendants did not have the authority to take land into trust for the Intervenor Defendant, because the Ione Band of Miwok Indians was not a "recognized tribe now under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 when the Indian Reorganization Act ("IRA") was enacted."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Grand Canyon Trust v. Williams
38 F.Supp.3d 1073
No. CV-13-08045-PCT-DGC.
United States District Court, D. Arizona
August 7, 2014

*Synopsis: Environmental group and Indian tribe brought action against United States Forest Service (USFS) and forest supervisor, alleging that defendants violated environmental and historical preservation laws by allowing mine to resume operations on national forest land. Defendants filed partial motion to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, David G. Campbell, J., held that:
(1) USFS's determination that valid existing mineral rights (VERs) existed at mine was agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA);
(2) the determination was a consummation of USFS's decisionmaking process, rather than a preliminary step;
(3) the determination affected legal rights of mine operator;
(4) plaintiffs stated a claim under the APA to compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed;
(5) plaintiffs' claim that defendants violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was not barred by res judicata; and
(6) claim that defendants violated the NHPA accrued when USFS made its VERs determination.
Motion denied.

Caddo Nation of Oklahoma v. Court of Indian Offenses for the Anadarko Agency
2014 WL 3880464
No. CIV-14-281-D.
United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma, Signed Aug. 7, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "It is well-established that "as a matter of comity, a federal court should not exercise jurisdiction over cases arising under its federal question or diversity jurisdiction, if those cases are also subject to tribal jurisdiction, until the parties have exhausted their tribal remedies." Tillett, 931 F.2d at 640 (citation omitted). Plaintiffs contend the tribal exhaustion requirement should not apply here because the CFR Court is not a tribal court and further, because the CRF Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to consider the dispute."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Jamul Action Committee v. Stevens
2014 WL 3853148
No. 2:13-cv-01920-KJM-KJN.
United States District Court, E.D. California, Signed Aug. 4, 2014. Filed Aug. 5, 2014.

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiffs allege the Indian Lands Determination "is a final agency action of the NIGC" embedded in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, "to permit the NIGC to approve the Management Contract" for the operation of a casino on a parcel of land that is "not a reservation," and the Jamul Indian Village has not "exercised government control over the Parcel." Id. p 3. Plaintiffs allege the parcel of land "does not qualify as Indian lands eligible for gambling under IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2703." Id. Plaintiffs allege "[t]he Defendants lack the authority under ... [IRA] to take the Parcel in trust for the [Jamul Indian Village] or to treat it like a reservation" for the Jamul Indian Village."

* Holding: (not yet available)


Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head
36 F.Supp.3d 229
Civil No. 13-13286-FDS.
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts, July 1, 2014

*Synopsis:Commonwealth of Massachusetts brought action in a Commonwealth court against federally recognized Indian tribe, alleging that tribe's efforts to commence commercial gaming operations on tribal land violated previous settlement agreement. Tribe removed action, and Commonwealth moved to remand.

* Holding: The District Court, Saylor, J., held that resolution of Commonwealth's lawsuit presented substantial question of federal law.
Motion denied.


Akiachak Native Community v. Jewell
2014 WL 2885910
No. 06-0969 (RC).
United States District Court, D. Columbia, June 26, 2014

*Synopsis: Alaska Native tribes brought action to challenge regulation promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior that deleted Alaska exception to regulations governing procedures for government to take land into trust for individual Indians and tribes. State of Alaska intervened as defendant. After the District Court, Rudolph Contreras, J., 935 F.Supp.2d 195, granted tribes' motion for summary judgment, but ordered supplemental briefing regarding Alaska exception, Alaska appealed, and further moved for stay and injunction pending that appeal.

* Holding: The District Court, Contreras, J., held that:
(1) Alaska's low likelihood of success on merits of appeal was not fatal to its motion;
(2) Alaska did not sleep on its rights by waiting eight months to move for stay or injunction pending appeal;
(3) Secretary's proposed rule and its rulemaking process did not cause Alaska irreparable harm;
(4) process by which Secretary accepted and reviewed applications to take land into trust did not cause Alaska irreparable harm; but
(5) once Secretary took land into trust, harm to Alaska became irreparable;
(6) potential harm suffered by other parties weighed heavily in favor of granting Alaska's motion; and
(7) public interest favored granting Alaska's motion.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation
2014 WL 2615422
No. 13-cv-334-bbc.
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin, June 12, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) The state of Wisconsin has brought this case to enjoin defendant Ho-Chunk Nation from offering electronic poker at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison (formerly DeJope), the Ho-Chunk Nation's gaming facility in Madison, Wisconsin. The question raised in the parties' cross motions for summary judgment is whether Ho-Chunk Nation's poker game violates a compact with the state. The answer to that question turns on whether electronic poker qualifies as a "class II" or "class III" game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Class III games are prohibited by the compact except under certain conditions not present in this case, but class II games are permitted. Because I conclude that Ho-Chunk Nation's electronic poker game is a class III game, I am granting the state's motion for summary judgment and denying Ho-Chunk Nation's motion.

*Holding: (not yet available)


United States v. Kirkaldie
21 F.Supp.3d 1100
No. CR 14-12-GF-BMM.
United States District Court, D. Montana, Signed May 22, 2014.

*Synopsis: Defendant who was indicted for domestic abuse by a habitual offender moved to dismiss the indictment.

*Holding: The District Court, Brian M. Morris, J., held that defendant's uncounseled convictions in tribal court for domestic violence could not be admitted to establish element of offense under habitual offender statute.
Motion granted.

Bodi v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians
19 F.Supp.3d 978
No. S-13-1044 LKK/CKD.
United States District Court, E.D. California, May 14, 2014

*Synopsis: Tribe member brought California state court action against tribe and tribal health program and board, alleging, inter alia, that tribe member was wrongfully terminated due to her illness in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Following removal, tribe moved to dismiss.

*Holding: The District Court, Lawrence K. Karlton, Senior District Judge, held that tribe waived sovereign immunity by removing action to federal court.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service
19 F.Supp.3d 1114
No. 1:14-CV-3052-TOR.
United States District Court, E.D. Washington, Signed May 5, 2014.

*Synopsis: In Tribes' action seeking judicial review of decision of the United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) that guided wildflower tours of site would have no adverse effect on site designated as Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Tribes moved for temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting two remaining scheduled bus tours for the year.

* Holding: The District Court, Thomas O. Rice, J., held that:
(1) Tribes failed to establish likelihood of success on merits of claim that USFWS did not engage in required consultation;
(2) Tribes failed to establish a basis for finding that irreparable harm would likely occur absent TRO; and
(3) balance of the equities did not tip strongly in favor of issuance of TRO. Motion denied.


Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation v. United States
39 F.Supp.3d 66
Civil Action No.: 13-639 (RC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
April 25, 2014

*Synopsis: Tribal health care providers brought action under Contract Disputes Act (CDA), alleging underpayments relating to contracts with Indian Health Service (IHS) for provision of health care services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Government filed motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction

*Holding: The District Court, Rudolph Contreras, J., held that providers' certified claims were constructively denied by contracting officer when deadlines passed, thereby providing district court with subject matter jurisdiction.
Motion denied.

McVay v. Allied World Assurance Company, Inc.
16 F.Supp.3d 1202
No. 3:13-cv-00359-HDM-WGC.
United States District Court, D. Nevada, April 18, 2014

*Synopsis: Pedestrian who allegedly slipped and fell in a gas station convenience store owned by tribal development corporation, which was an entity of Indian tribe, brought action against, inter alia, insurer for the Indian tribe and insurer's administrator, seeking to recover damages for injuries she sustained as a result of the slip-and-fall. Defendants filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

*Holding: The District Court, Howard D. McKibben, J., held that:
(1) pedestrian lacked standing to enforce the Indian tribe's contract with insurer under Nevada law, and
(2) pedestrian lacked standing to assert claim against insurer for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing under Nevada law.
Motions granted.

Alabama v. PCI Gaming Authority
2014 WL 1400232
No. 2:13-CV-178-WKW.
United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division, April 10, 2014

*Synopsis: State of Alabama brought state court equity action, under state nuisance law and Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), against gaming authority, a commercial entity through which Native American tribe operated three casinos, and members of authority and tribal council in their official capacities, to prevent allegedly unlawful gaming at casinos. Action was removed. Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

* Holding: The District Court, W. Keith Watkins, Chief Judge, held that:
(1) Alabama's state-law nuisance claim was completely preempted by IGRA;
(2) gaming authority was entitled to tribal sovereign immunity from state's claims;
(3) Ex parte Young exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity provided basis for jurisdiction for claims against officials;
(4) Alabama failed to state state-law nuisance claims; and
(5) in matter of first impression, IGRA's penal provision did not provide federal right of action.
Motion granted.

Wyandot Nation of Kansas v. United States
115 Fed.Cl. 595
No. 06-919L
United States Court of Federal Claims, April 8, 2014

*Synopsis: Native-American tribe brought action against federal government, seeking money damages to compensate it for various breaches of fiduciary duty that it claimed government committed as trustee of trust holding assets for its benefit. Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

*Holding: The Court of Federal Claims, Wolski, J., held that tribe's claims were barred under statute precluding court's jurisdiction if plaintiff had suit in respect to same claim pending in another court.
Motion granted.


Heldt v. Payday Financial, LLC
12 F.Supp.3d 1170
No. 13-3023-RAL.
United States District Court, District of South Dakota, Signed March 31, 2014

*Synopsis: Borrowers brought putative class action against Indian tribe member, member's South Dakota limited liability company (LLC) lending companies, loan processor, and provider of loan support services, asserting claims for civil conspiracy and usury in violation of state laws. Defendants moved to stay proceedings and compel arbitration, borrowers moved to stay defendants' motion to compel arbitration and to take discovery on arbitration issues, and defendants moved to dismiss the complaint.

*Holding: The District Court, Roberto A. Lange, J., held that:
(1) dismissal was not warranted on basis of improper venue;
(2) stay was warranted for tribal court exhaustion of issue whether tribal court jurisdiction existed over non-Indian borrowers; and
(3) stay was warranted for tribal court exhaustion of issue regarding enforceability of arbitration provisions in borrowers' loan agreements.
Ordered accordingly.

Kelsey v. Pope
2014 WL 1338170
No. 1:09-CV-1015.
United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division, March 31, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "The issue in this case is whether a tribal court has jurisdiction over a misdemeanor crime between an accused Indian perpetrator, the Petitioner Norbert J. Kelsey, that allegedly occurred during a tribal meeting in a building owned by the tribe but located off the tribe's reservation and wherein the alleged victim was also a tribal member. The Magistrate Judge opined in a Report and Recommendation (R & R) that tribal courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes outside of Indian country, and also found that Kelsey's due process rights were violated when the tribal court expanded its jurisdiction in the criminal ordinance."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Great Elk Dancer for his Elk Nation v. Miller
Material from Turtle Talk
Case No. 2:13-cv-565
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division, March 28, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this civil rights action under 43 U.S.C. § 1983. In a nutshell, Plaintiff asserts Defendants arbitrarily and capriciously interfered with his business operations and targeted him for harassment because he is a Native American, thereby violating his federal constitutional rights. On August 19, 2013, the Magistrate Judge issued a Second Initial Screening Report and Recommendation ("R & R") in which he recommended that the Court allow this lawsuit to proceed against Defendants Mayor J. Martin Irvine, Fire Chief Brian Robertson, Officer Josh Mowery, and City Services Director Steve Shaw (collectively, "City Defendants"). R & R 11, ECF No. 17. He also recommended that the Court dismiss the remaining Defendants. Id. In addition, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court deny Defendants' motions to strike Plaintiffs first amended complaint. Id. at 11 (denying ECF Nos. 9 & 13). The City Defendants filed timely objections to the R & R. ECF No. 19. The Court now considers those objections."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Ramos v. Bureau of Indian Affairs
2014 WL 1334172
Civil Action No. 13-10065-DJC.
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts, March 28, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "The Plaintiffs, enrolled members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe ("Tribe"), have sued the Defendants, the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA"); Michael Black, Director of the BIA; Mike Smith, Deputy Director; Franklin Keel, Regional Director; and Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary (collectively, the "Defendants") seeking an injunction requiring the Defendants to conduct an investigation into the Tribe's 2009 election and to take action to ensure that the Tribe's elections are properly conducted."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Las Vegas Tribe of Paiute Indians v. Phebus
2014 WL 1199593
No. 2:13-CV-02000-RCJ-CWH.
United States District Court, D. Nevada, March 24, 2014

*Synopsis: After Tribal Court of Appeals ruled that Indian Tribe lacked criminal jurisdiction over defendant, who had been a member of the Tribe before being disenrolled, Tribe brought action seeking declaratory judgment that it could assert criminal jurisdiction over any person satisfying the definition of "Indian" under the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), including defendant. Defendant failed to appear, and Tribe moved for summary judgment.

* Holding: The District Court, Robert C. Jones, J., held that:
(1) Indian Tribe had authority to assert criminal jurisdiction over any person qualifying as an Indian under the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), so long as it proved the defendant's Indian status beyond a reasonable doubt, but
(2) Tribal Court erred in declaring defendant to be an Indian for purposes of tribal criminal jurisdiction without submitting the question to a jury for a finding beyond a reasonable doubt.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Stymiest v. Rosebud Sioux Tribe
2014 WL 1165925
No. CIV. 14-3001.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division, March 21, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Stymiest has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1303, the enforcement provision of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 ("ICRA"), Pub.L. 90-284, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1301 et seq. He challenges the three tribal court convictions on the basis that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe did not have jurisdiction to prosecute him because he was not an Indian. He also seeks a ruling that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe does not have jurisdiction to prosecute him in the future for the conduct comprising his federal assault conviction even though his federal crime took place on the Rosebud Indian Reservation."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Tavares v. Whitehouse
2014 WL 1155798
No. 2:13-cv-02101-TLN-CKD.
United States District Court, E.D. California, March 21, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "This matter is before the Court on Respondents' Motion to Dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. (ECF No. 12.) Petitioners are members of the Auburn Indian Community. Through this action, Petitioners challenge their punishment imposed by the Tribal Council of the United Auburn Indian Community. Respondents, members of the Tribal Council, seek dismissal, arguing essentially this case concerns internal tribal matters, and therefore this Court lacks jurisdiction. Petitioners oppose dismissal arguing their petition is within the Court's jurisdiction under the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 ("ICRA"), 25 U.S.C. § 1303, because their exclusion from tribal lands and suspension of per capita gaming benefits-although temporary-constitute "detention" within the meaning of the statute."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Cobell v. Jewell
29 F.Supp.3d 18
Civil Action No. 96-01285 (TFH)
United States District Court, District of Columbia. Signed March 20, 2014

*Synopsis: Class representatives petitioned for incentive award and recovery of expenses, following congressionally-approved $3.4 billion settlement in class suit asserted by beneficiaries of individual Indian money (IIM) trust accounts against Secretary of the Interior and other trustees, alleging breach of trust and interference with duties of Special Trustee under Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act. Court granted that petition, and class moved for reconsideration.

* Holding: The District Court, Thomas F. Hogan, Senior District Judge, held that:
(1) class raised argument regarding representatives' personal liability for expenses for first time on motion, precluding reconsideration, and
(2) argument that settlement agreement provided for payment of costs and expenses independent of class counsel's expenses was not proper subject of motion.
Motion denied.

Eaglesun Systems Products, Inc. v. Association of Village Council Presidents
2014 WL 1119726
No. 13-CV-0438-CVE-PJC.
United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma, March 20, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Defendant Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) argues that it has sovereign immunity from suit because all of its members are federally-recognized Indian tribes and AVCP was created to provide governmental services for its members. Plaintiff Eaglesun Systems Products, Inc. responds that AVCP is a non-profit corporation organized under state law, and it is not entitled to sovereign immunity as an Indian tribe or as a tribal organization."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Skokomish Indian Tribe v. United States
115 Fed.Cl. 116
No. 11-658L.
United States Court of Federal Claims, March 11, 2014

*Synopsis: Native-American tribe and its individual members brought putative class action against federal government, alleging that government failed to protect their interests with respect to licensing and operation of hydroelectric project upstream from tribe's reservation, as well as taking under Fifth Amendment. Government moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

* Holding: The Court of Federal Claims, Allegra, J., held that:
(1) plaintiffs' claims decided in district court and those transferred here were, as matter of law, pending with respect to each other;
(2) claims in district court and those before court here were largely same;
(3) hypothetical adverse merits decision on claims in district court would have res judicata on claims here;
(4) there was no temporal or categorical distinction between claims in district court and those before court here; and
(5) there were various nexuses between claims in district court and those before court here.
Motion granted.

Jones v. Norton
3 F.Supp.3d 1170
No. 2:09-CV-730-TC..
D. Utah, Signed March 7, 2014.

*Synopsis: After member of Indian tribe allegedly shot himself while fleeing from law enforcement officers, his parents and estate brought action against county, city, and individual officers under §§ 1983 and 1985, alleging, inter alia, illegal seizure, excessive force, and failure to intervene, as well as claims under Utah law for assault/battery and wrongful death. Defendants moved for summary judgment and plaintiffs cross-moved for partial summary judgment.

* Holding: The District Court, Tena Campbell, J., held that:
(1) state trooper's command to tribe member to stop did not constitute an illegal seizure;
(2) detective's acts did not constitute an illegal seizure;
(3) deputy sheriff's act of handcuffing tribe member on reservation constituted an illegal seizure; but
(4) deputy was entitled to qualified immunity;
(5) deputy sheriff's act of handcuffing tribe member did not constitute a use of excessive force;
(6) officers did not violate tribe member's substantive due process rights;
(7) summary judgment evidence was insufficient to raise material issue of fact as to whether officers had racial animus toward Native Americans; and
(8) evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that county failed to train and supervise deputy sheriff.
Defendants' motion granted and plaintiffs' motion denied.


Davis v. Pierce
2014 WL 798033
Civil Action No. 2:12-CV-166.
S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division, Feb. 27, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) " In this prisoner civil rights action, Plaintiffs Teddy Norris Davis and Robbie Dow Goodman allege that Defendants have violated, and continue to violate, their right to practice their Native American religion, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUPIA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, and the First Amendment. Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Criminal Institutions Division (TDCJ CID), by and through the TDCJ CID Director William Stephens, sued in his official capacity only, to: (1) allow Plaintiffs to smoke a communal pipe and/or a personal pipe during Native American ceremonies; (2) provide a minimum of two pipe ceremonies per month and/or otherwise increase the number of Native American services at the McConnell Unit; (3) allow Plaintiffs to grow their hair and/or grow a kouplock; and (4) allow Plaintiffs to wear their medicine bags at all times. (D.E.1, 16, 88). Plaintiffs have also sued Clint Morris, the TDCJ Program Analyst for Designated Units, claiming that he personally violated their First Amendment free exercise rights because he failed to advocate for the rights of Native American prisoners, including Plaintiffs, and as such, is liable in his individual capacity for monetary damages. (See Case No. 2:12-cv-166, Minutes Entry for 02/22/13, and D.E. 143 at pp. 1-2, Plaintiffs' SJM response)."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Picayune Rancharia of the Chukchansi Indians v. Tan
2014 WL 763170
No. 1:14-cv-0220-AWI-SAB.
United States District Court, E.D. California, Feb. 24, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiffs purport to be acting on behalf of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, a federally recognized tribe, and the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority (“CEDA”), an entity owned by the Tribe. CEDA is owner of the Chukchansi Casino (“Casino”). Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the Managerial Staff of the Casino from making any disbursements of Casino revenue to any person or entity other than the Tribal Council recognized by the February 11, 2014, Decision by the Regional Director of the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Smith v. Parker
Material from Turtle Talk
2014 WL 558965
No. 4:07CV3101.
United States District Court, D. Nebraska, Feb. 13, 2014

*Synopsis: Owners of businesses and clubs that sold alcoholic beverages brought action against Omaha Tribal Council members in their official capacities for prospective injunctive and declaratory relief from tribe's attempt to enforce its liquor-license and tax scheme on owners. State of Nebraska and United States intervened. Parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

* Holding: The District Court, Richard G. Kopf, Senior District Judge, held that Omaha Reservation was not diminished by 1882 Act ratifying agreement for sale of tribal lands to non-Indian settlers.
Plaintiffs' motion denied; defendants' motion granted.


Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik
Order Granting Class Certification, 2014 WL 317693
Orders and Briefs from Turtle Talk
993 F.Supp.2d 1017
Civ. 13-5020-JLV.
United States District Court, District of South Dakota, Western Division, Jan. 28, 2014

*Synopsis: Native American tribes and several tribe members brought § 1983 action against state officials, alleging policies, practices, and procedures relating to the removal of Native American children from their homes during 48-hour hearings violated the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Defendants moved to dismiss.

* Holding: The District Court, Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief Judge, held that:
(1)Younger abstention did not apply;
(2)Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine did not deprive district court of subject matter jurisdiction;
(3) tribes had parens patriae standing;
(4) allegations were sufficient to plead judge and officials were policymakers;
(5) ICWA provision provided substantive rights;
(6) allegations were sufficient to state a claim for ICWA violations; and
(7) allegations were sufficient to plead denial of their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.
Motions denied.

Related News Stories: "Indian Country Braces for Battle With Adoption Industry Over ICWA Guidelines" (Indian Country Today Media Network Online) 3/30/15

Wilson v. Bull
2014 WL 183777
No. CIV. 12-5078-JLV.
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division, Jan. 16, 2013

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "Plaintiff Diane M. Wilson, appearing pro se, filed an amended complaint alleging she was wrongfully terminated from her employment as a Teacher Assistant for the Wanblee Head Start program operated by the Oglala Lakota College ("OLC"). (Docket 6). Defendants Thomas Shortbull and Michelle Yankton filed a motion to dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction. (Docket 12). The court referred defendants' motion to United States Magistrate Veronica L. Duffy for a report and recommendation. (Docket 17)."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Goldmark
2014 WL 119022
No. C13-5071JLR.
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Seattle, Jan. 13, 2013

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against government officials, seeking to protect the privilege of hunting and gathering roots and berries on open and unclaimed lands, guaranteed by Treaty. Defendants moved to dismiss.

* Holding: Holdings: The District Court, James L. Robart, J., held that:
(1) Indian tribe established a cognizable injury for purposes of Article III standing;
(2) Eleventh Amendment did not bar Indian tribe's claims against county prosecutors;
(3) Eleventh Amendment did not bar Indian tribe's claims against Director of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Chief of WDFW Enforcement;
(4) Eleventh Amendment did not bar Indian tribe's claims against Washington State Attorney General;
(5) Eleventh Amendment barred Indian tribe's claims against the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands and Administrator for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Supervisor for DNR;
(6) other signatory Indian tribes to Treaty were necessary parties; and
(7) prejudice to other signatory Indian tribes to Treaty, who were necessary parties and who could not be joined due to their sovereign immunity, warranted dismissal.
Motion granted.

KG Urban Enterprises, LLC v. Patrick
2014 WL 108307
Civil Action No. 11-12070-NMG.
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts, Jan. 9, 2014

*Synopsis: (from the opinion) "In November, 2011, casino developer KG Urban Enterprises, LLC ("KG Urban") brought suit against Governor Deval Patrick ("Governor Patrick") and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ("the Commission"), challenging the Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth ("the Gaming Act") as unconstitutional. After this Court denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the case, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, directing this Court to provide defendants with a "limited grace period" for a federally recognized Indian tribe to meet the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"). . . . With ancillary matters resolved and the case substantially narrowed to its core equal protection issue, now pending before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment from both parties."

* Holding: (not yet available)

Related News Stories: New Bedford casino contender KG Urban looses lawsuit (Cape Cod Online) 1/10/14


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