2015 Federal Trial Courts Cases

Last updated: January 8, 2016

December

Fletcher v. U.S.
2015 WL 9581771
No. 02-CV-427-GKF-PJC
United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
December 30, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tribal members brought class action against federal government, seeking an accounting to determine whether the federal government had fulfilled the fiduciary obligations it chose to assume as trustee to oversee the collection of royalty income from oil and gas reserves and its distribution to tribal members. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, 2012 WL 1109090, dismissed the tribal members' claims, and they appealed. The Court of Appeals, Gorsuch, Circuit Judge, 730 F.3d 1206, reversed and remanded.

*Holdings: On remand, the District Court, Gregory K. Frizzell, Chief Judge, held that:
1) tribal members were entitled to accounting of royalty income from oil and gas reserves held in tribal trust fund, not merely accounting of their individual Indian money (IIM) accounts, and
2) tribe did not waive tribal members' rights to an accounting of tribal trust account.

Ordered accordingly.

Related News Stories: District Judge rules in favor of Osage trust (Bartlesville Radio) 12/31/15

State of California v. Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California
2015 WL 9304835
No. 1:14-CV-01593 LJO SAB
United States District Court, E.D. California
December 22, 2015.

Legal Topics: Tribal-State Gaming Compact, Intra-Tribal Dispute

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. United States
2015 WL 9942044
No. 3:14–cv–01963–PK
United States District Court, D. Oregon
Signed December 18, 2015

Legal Topics: Environmental Law - Response and Cleanup; Liability

Penobscot Nation v. Janet T. Mills
2015 WL 9165881
1:12-cv-254-GZS
United States District Court, D. Maine
December 16, 2015.

*Synopsis: American Indian tribe brought action against state of Maine, the state attorney general, Commissioner of the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Colonel of the state Warden Service, in response to opinion of state attorney general regarding regulatory jurisdiction of tribe and state related to hunting and finishing on river, seeking declaratory judgment clarifying boundaries of tribe's reservation and tribal fishing rights on river. United States intervened on its own behalf and as a trustee for tribe. State moved for summary judgment or for dismissal for failure to join indispensable parties, United States moved for summary judgment, and tribe moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, George Z. Singal, J., held that:
1) under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act (MICSA), Penobscot Indian Reservation includes only islands in the main stem of the Penobscot River, which were included in Maine Implementing Act (MIA), but does not include any of the waters of the River, and
2) provision of MICSA regarding sustenance fishing rights of Penobscot Indians permits tribal members to fish in the entirety of the main stem of the Penobscot River, subject only to the limitations of MICSA regarding supervision by the Commissioner of state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Ordered accordingly.

November

Everette v. Mitchem
146 F.Supp.3d 720
Civil No. CCB-15-1261
United States District Court, D. Maryland.
Signed November 20, 2015

*Synopsis: Plaintiff brought putative class action on behalf of consumers who received payday loans against tribal lending companies, alleging violations of various Maryland commercial laws and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and plaintiff moved for discovery.

*Holdings: The District Court, Catherine C. Blake, J., held that:
1) plaintiff was not entitled to jurisdictional discovery, and
2) tribal lending companies were "arms of the tribe" entitled to tribal immunity.

Plaintiff's motion denied and defendants' motion granted.

State of California v. Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California
2015 WL 7353888
CASE NO. 1:14-CV-01593-LJO-SAB
United States District Court, E.D. California
November 19, 2015.

Legal Topics: Intra-Tribal Leadership Dispute, Casino Management

In re: Intramta Switched Access Charges Litigation this Document Relates to Civil Action No. 3:15-CV-0116-D MCI Communications Services, INC v. Arizona Telephone Company
2015 WL 7258454
Civil Action No. 3:14-MD-2587-D | (MDL No. 2587) | Civil Action No. 3:15-CV-0116-D | (MDL No. 2587)
United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
November 17, 2015.

*Synopsis: Two interexchange carriers (IXC) brought action against local exchange carriers (LEC) that were wholly owned and operated by American Indian tribes, claiming that the LECs have charged and continue to charge IXCs access fees on wireless calls, for which the LECs were liable under federal and state law. LECs moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on tribal immunity.

*Holdings: The District Court, Sidney A. Fitzwater, J., held that:
1) LECs that were wholly owned and operated by American Indian tribes were protected by tribal sovereign immunity;
2) suits for injunctive or declaratory relief may be brought against tribal official without being barred by tribal sovereign immunity, but not against a tribe itself or a tribal agency; and
3) IXCs would be granted leave to file an amended complaint.

Motion granted.

Seneca Nation of Indians v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
144 F.Supp.3d 115
Civil Action No. 14–1493 (JDB)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
Signed November 13, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe which administered its own healthcare system brought action against the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services seeking declaratory judgment that declinations of annual amendments to annual funding agreements (AFAs) were unlawful, to enjoin the Secretary to reverse those unlawful declinations, to award contract damages, and to declare that the Secretary must continue to provide the contested amount until a reduction is authorized by statute. Secretary moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and alternatively sought a stay of the action pending appeal by tribe to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals regarding refusal.

*Holdings: United States District Court for the District Of Columbia, John D. Bates, J., held that temporary stay was warranted pending decision by Board.

Motion for stay granted.

Commonwealth v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (AQUINNAH)
144 F.Supp.3d 152
Civil Action No. 13-13286-FDS
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts.
Signed November 13, 2015.

*Synopsis: Commonwealth of Massachusetts brought action in a Commonwealth court against federally recognized Indian tribe that did not have a state gaming license, alleging that the tribe's efforts to commence commercial gaming operations on tribal land in town violated the Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1987 (Massachusetts Settlement Act), and seeking a declaratory judgment. Tribe removed action to federal court, and the Commonwealth moved to remand, which was denied. Commonwealth, town and community association as intervenors, and tribe all moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Saylor, J., held that:
1) tribe satisfies the "having jurisdiction" prong of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA);
2) tribe failed to show concrete manifestations of its governmental authority over settlement lands; and
3) Massachusetts Settlement Act is a federal law that specifically prohibits gaming on the settlement lands.

Tribe's motion denied and plaintiffs' motion granted.

FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
2015 WL 6958066
Case No. 4:14-CV-489-BLW
United States District Court, D. Idaho
Filed November 9, 2015.

Legal Topics: Hazardous Waste Storage, Tribal Court - Due Process

October

Akina v. Hawaii
2015 WL 6560634
CIVIL NO. 15–00322 JMS–BMK
United States District Court, D. Hawai'i
Signed October 29, 2015.

*Synopsis: Native Hawai'ians and Hawai'i residents of non-Hawai'ian ancestry brought action against State of Hawai'i and non-profit corporation that supported efforts to achieve Native Hawai'ian self-determination, alleging under § 1983 that statutory restrictions on registering for "roll" of qualified Native Hawai'ians violated equal protection, due process, and First Amendment, and seeking preliminary injunction to halt election of Native Hawai'ian delegates to proposed convention of Native Hawai'ians to discuss, and perhaps to organize, Native Hawai'ian governing entity.

*Holdings: The District Court, Michael Seabright, J., held that:
1) plaintiffs had Article III standing;
2) election did not implicate Fifteenth Amendment or Voting Rights Act;
3) election was not "public function" that would render corporation state actor subject to liability under § 1983;
4) election was not "joint action" that would render corporation state actor subject to liability under § 1983; 5) statute did not violate Equal Protection Clause; and
6) plaintiffs failed to establish that they would suffer irreparable harm absent injunction.

Motion denied.

Navajo Health Foundation—Sage Memorial Hospital, Inc. v. Burwell
2015 WL 9777785
No. CIV 14–0958 JB/GBW
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
October 26, 2015

Legal Topics: Indian Self–Determination Act Contracts

National Council for Adoption v. Jewell
156 F.Supp.3d 727
Case No. 1:15–cv–00675–GBL
United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
October 15, 2015

*Synopsis: Nonprofit adoption policy organization and nonprofit adoption agency brought action against Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), alleging that issuance of updated guidelines representing Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) interpretation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), relating to adoption of Indian children, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Gerald Bruce Lee, J., held that:
1 plaintiffs lacked standing to bring suit;
2 guidelines were not final agency decision subject to judicial review; and
3 guidelines were non-binding interpretive rules not subject to APA notice-and-comment procedures.

Motion denied.

Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Wisconsin
2015 WL 5944238
No. 74–cv–313–bbc
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
Signed Oct. 13, 2015.

Legal Topics: Night Hunting of Deer, Public Safety- Hunting

Hammond v. Jewell
2015 WL 5915274
CIV. NO. 1:15-00391 WBS SKO
United States District Court, E.D. California
Signed October 7, 2015

*Synopsis: Former member of tribal council brought action against federal officials seeking reinstatement to tribal council. Officials moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, William B. Shubb, J., held that:
1) it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over action;
2) Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) failure to reinstate plaintiff was not subject to judicial review pursuant to Administrative Procedure Act (APA);
3) BIA's failure to reinstate plaintiff to tribal council did not violate Due Process Clause; and
4) it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim that BIA acted arbitrarily or capriciously when it decided to deal with last uncontested tribal council.

Motion granted.

September

No Casino in Plymouth v. Jewell
136 F.Supp.3d 1166
No. 2:12-cv-01748-TLN-CMK
United States District Court, E.D. California.
Signed 09/30/2015

*Synopsis: Citizens advocate groups filed suit against Secretary of Department of Interior and others, challenging Department's approval of Record of Decision (ROD) by Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs concerning acquisition of 40-acre parcel in trust for Ione Band of Miwok Indians, for purposes of construction of gaming resort. Ione Band intervened. Parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Troy L. Nunley, J., held that:
1) attorney who represented member of faction band of tribe was not entitled to pro hac vice status on behalf of intervenor tribe;
2) Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs had authority to acquire property in trust for federally recognized tribe;
3) Ione Band of Miwok Indians was recognized tribe under federal jurisdiction when Indian Reorganization Act was enacted;
4) Ione Band was not collaterally estopped from asserting that it was federally recognized tribe;
5) government defendants' and tribe's admissions in prior suit were not binding on defendants and intervenor tribe in instant case, under doctrine of judicial admissions;
6) Secretary of Department of Interior complied with regulatory requirements for approval of ROD;
7) approval of trust acquisition did not create reservation in violation of Congressional Act from 1864;
8) parcel came within "restored lands" exception to statute providing that lands taken in trust acquired after October 17, 1988 were not gaming eligible; and
9) Department adequately considered environmental and economic impact of proposed use.

Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment denied; Government defendants' motion for summary judgment granted; intervenor tribe's motion for summary judgment granted.

Wyoming v. United States Department of the Interior
136 F.Supp.3d 1317
Case No. 2:15–CV–043–SWS (Lead Case), Case No. 2:15–CV–041–SWS
United States District Court, D. Wyoming.
Signed 09/30/2015

*Synopsis: Two states and oil and gas industry organizations petitioned for judicial review of Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) final rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. Two other states and Indian tribes intervened. Petitioners moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining BLM from applying new rule pending resolution of litigation.

*Holdings: The District Court, Scott W. Skavdahl, J., held that:
1) BLM did not have authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal or Indian lands;
2) BLM's regulation of hydraulic fracturing was not supported by substantial evidence and lacked rational justification;
3) BLM's tribal consultation meetings with Indian tribes held after publication of proposed hydraulic fracturing rule were inconsistent with Department of Interior's (DOI) policies and procedures requiring extensive government-to-government consultation;
4) petitioners would have suffered irreparable harm if BLM was permitted to implement new regulations while litigation over regulations was pending; and
5) threatened injuries to petitioners from implementation of BLM's new rule outweighed any potential injury to BLM from delay in implementing rule.

Motion granted.

Alto v. Jewell
2015 WL 5734093
No. 11–cv–2276–BAS (BLM)
United States District Court, S.D. California
Signed Sept. 30, 2015.

Legal Topics: Tribal Enrollment, Ancestral Lineage

County of Amador, California v. The United States Department of the Interior
2015 WL 5813980
Case No. 2:12-cv-01710-TLN-CKD
United States District Court, E.D. California
Filed 09/30/2015.

*Synopsis: County brought action against United States Department of Interior, challenging its determination to take property in trust for Ione Band of Miwok Indians as well as its determinations that Ione Band was recognized Indian tribe under federal jurisdiction and that trust acquisition constituted restoration of lands for Indian tribe that was restored to Federal recognition, such that the property was gaming-eligible. Ione Band intervened as defendant. Parties moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Troy L. Nunley, J., held that:
1) county's complaint timely questioned validity of "grandfathering" regulation on which Department determination relied;
2) Department's two-part analysis to determine whether Indian tribe was one that was "under federal jurisdiction" in June 1934 for which Secretary of Interior could take land to be held in trust was reasonable interpretation of ambiguous term for which judicial deference was warranted;
3) determination that Ione Band was "recognized Indian tribe" in June 1934 for which Department could take gaming-eligible property in trust under Indian Reorganization Act was not arbitrary and capricious;
4) "grandfathering" regulation permitting Department's prior written opinion to meet "restored land" exception to Indian Gaming Regulatory Act's (IGRA) prohibition against gaming on land acquired in trust for Indian tribe was reasonable interpretation of ambiguous statute;
5) Department did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in determining that land acquired in trust for Ione Band met "restored land" exception to IGRA's prohibition against gaming based on "grandfathering" of Department's prior written opinion; and
6) Department did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in determining that Ione Band of Miwok Indians was "restored tribe" and thus was eligible for "restored lands" exception to IGRA's prohibition against gaming.

Defendants' motions granted, plaintiff's denied.

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation v. Jewell
2015 WL 5474487
Civil Action No. 13–00601 (TFH)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
Signed September 17, 2015.

*Synopsis: Ten federally recognized tribes filed suit against Secretary for Department of Interior and Secretary for Department of Treasury, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, arising out of defendants' alleged breaches of fiduciary duties to tribes in management of tribe trust accounts. Defendants filed motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

*Holdings: The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Thomas F. Hogan, Senior Judge, held that:
1) tribes' suit was "civil action arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States" over which district court had subject matter jurisdiction;
2) defendants waived sovereign immunity from suit; and
3) whether suit was barred by six-year limitations period governing suits against United States could not be determined at pleading stage.

Motion denied.

Tohono O'odham Nation v. Ducey
2015 WL 5475290
No. CV-15-01135-PHX-DGC
United States District Court, D. Arizona
09/17/2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against Arizona Governor, Attorney General, and director of Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit the State and its officials from refusing to certify vendors and employees to work at tribe's casino, which was in the process of being constructed, and from regulating bingo and card style gaming pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Defendants moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, David G. Campbell, J., held that:
1) letters sent by Governor and Attorney General, advising director to deny gaming certifications requested by tribe, were insufficient to establish connection to enforcement of statute, granting director authority to issue or deny gaming certifications, and thus Ex parte Young exception to sovereign immunity did not apply to allow tribe to pursue action against Governor and Attorney General;
2) IGRA did not provide comprehensive enforcement mechanism for violations of provision regulating casino-style gaming, and thus tribe could pursue action, under Ex parte Young exception to sovereign immunity, against director;
3) tribe's declaratory judgment action, seeking to prevent ADG from regulating bingo and card style gaming, was not ripe for adjudication;
4) IGRA did not reveal intent by Congress to exclude equitable actions, and thus action could proceed in equity;
5) tribe failed to show that it was likely to succeed on its claim, as required for court to issue preliminary injunction; and
6) tribe would not suffer irreparable harm, as required for court to issue preliminary injunction.

Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Century Indem. Co. v. Marine Group, LLC
131 F.Supp.3d 1018
Case No. 3:08–CV–1375–AC
United States District Court, D. Oregon
Signed Sept. 11, 2015.

*Synopsis: Federal Government brought action against insureds, which were current and former owners of property within Portland Harbor Superfund Site, to recover for assessment, removal, and remediation of hazardous materials released at the site under Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Third-party comprehensive general liability, and excess liability, insurers sought declarations that they did not have duty to defend against Government claims resulting from property owners' alleged actions. Insurers moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Acosta, United States Magistrate Judge, held that:
(1) "hazardous substance remedial action" exclusion for claims by governmental authorities applied to claim by council of which Indian Tribe was a member;
(2) indemnification provision did not create duty to defend;
(3) self-insured retention provision did not make insureds a primary insurer;
(4) lack of duty to defend provision did not render insureds uninsured pursuant to Oregon law;
(5) general liability insurer's insolvency did not trigger coverage under excess liability policy; and
(6) indemnification provision in general liability policy for release of hazardous materials from a vessel did not impose duty to defend.

Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Great Elk Dancer for his Elk Nation v. City of Logan
129 F.Supp.3d 546
Case No. 2:13–cv–565
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.
September 9, 2015

*Synopsis: Business owner brought § 1983 action against city officials, alleging that interference with his business violated his substantive and procedural due process and equal protection rights. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Abel, United States Magistrate Judge, entered report and recommendations in city officials' favor. Business owner objected. City officials moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Michael H. Watson, United States Magistrate Judge, held that:
(1) district court was not authorized to provide funds to appoint legal counsel;
(2) business owner was not entitled to tribal immunity;
(3) city officials' requirement that business owner obtain license to operate arcade did not violate business owner's right to substantive due process;
(4) city officials did not deprive business owner of property interest in license to operate mechanical amusements;
(5) city officials did not violate business owner's rights to equal protection; (6) stop work order did not violate business owner's due process rights; and
(7) business owner's claim accrued on date that patron leaving his place of business was allegedly harassed.

Motion granted.

United States v. Olney
2015 WL 5226273
No. 13–CR–2094–TOR–19
United States District Court, E.D. Washington
Signed Sept. 8, 2015.

*Synopsis: Defendant, who was an enrolled member of Indian tribe, moved to dismiss, for lack of jurisdiction, indictment charging him with conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act, and unlawful animal fighting venture, or, in the alternative, for the District Court to decline jurisdiction and defer to the tribal court.

*Holdings: The District Court, Thomas O. Rice, J., held that:
(1) statute under which defendant was charged with conspiracy to violate Animal Welfare Act applied to Indians in Indian country;
(2) statute under which defendant was charged with conducting illegal gambling business was nationally applicable federal criminal statute;
(3) statute under which defendant was charged with unlawful animal fighting venture applied to defendant;
(4) Wheeler–Howard Act did not preclude district court's jurisdiction over defendant; and
(5) Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) did not protect defendant from federal prosecution for conducting an illegal gambling business in Indian country.

Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove v. Jewell
128 F.Supp.3d 1176
No. 3:14-cv-0110-HRH
United States District Court, D. Alaska.
Signed Sept. 8, 2015.

*Synopsis: Agdaagux Indian tribe, city, village, borough, and other related American and Alaska Native citizens brought action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) against the Secretary of the Department of Interior, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish Wildlife and Parks, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Regional Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife, and the Manager of the National Wildlife Refuge, challenging the decision by the Secretary to adopt a no action plan regarding construction of a road connecting city to another community 18 miles away and home to the only all-weather airport in vicinity. State of Alaska's motion to intervene as plaintiff was granted. Intervenor defendants were Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Defenders of Wildlife, Wilderness Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, The Wilderness Society, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and the Sierra Club. Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, and defendants cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, H. Russel Holland, J., held that:
(1) plaintiffs had standing to challenge Secretary's decision;
(2) introduction of landing craft alternative during NEPA process by Alaskan borough did not require preparation of supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS);
(3) Secretary did not impermissibly predetermine outcome of NEPA proceedings;
(4) record of decision (ROD) published by Secretary stating that offered lands were not likely to be developed was not change in policy;
(5) in final environmental impact statement (FEIS), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) took required hard look at State and Native lands offered in exchange for construction of road on wildlife refuge land in NEPA proceeding; and
(6) report by Assistant Secretary of Interior for Indian Affairs (AS-IA), which did not make recommendation regarding need for construction of road through Izembek Wildlife Refuge for medical evacuation purposes, did not violate NEPA.

Plaintiff's motion denied, and defendant's motion granted.

Kizer v. PTP, INC.
2015 WL 5165871
No. 3:15–cv–00120–RCJ
United States District Court, D. Nevada
Signed Sept. 3, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe member brought action against commercial developer, homeowners association for community developed by developer, and individual sub-lessees of developed lots, seeking declaratory judgment that lease, under which member leased allotted Indian-trust land to developer, was void as violating federal law governing trust lands. Defendants moved to dismiss and to join the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as additional party defendant.

*Holdings: The District Court, Robert C. Jones, J., held that:
(1) tribe member would not be equitably estopped from raising his claim against lease, alleging that the lease term violated federal law;
(2) purchase-option provision in lease was not contrary to federal law;
(3) BIA was a necessary party to action; and
(4) joinder of BIA was feasible.

August

Pearson v. United Debt Holdings, LLC
123 F.Supp.3d 1070
14 C 10070
United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.
Signed August 19, 2015.

*Synopsis: Borrower brought suit to recover under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for debt collector's misconduct in attempting to collect allegedly usurious and unenforceable loan. Debt collector moved to compel arbitration or to dismiss under "tribal exhaustion" rule.

*Holdings: The District Court, Virginia M. Kendall, J., held that:
(1) unsigned loan agreement that debt collector attached to its motion to compel arbitration, with no affirmation that agreement was found either in debt collector's or in lender's records, or that agreement was presented to borrower when he took out his loan, was not sufficiently authenticated and was insufficient to show that borrower ever agreed to be bound by arbitration clause included in loan agreement, and
(2) "tribal exhaustion" rule did not apply to require district court to abstain from hearing cause of action.
Motion denied.

Flathead Irrigation District v. Jewell
2015 WL 4936063
No. CV 14–88–M–DLC
United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
Signed Aug. 19, 2015.

*Synopsis: Irrigation district and central control agency brought action alleging that Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) reassumption of control of irrigation and power project on Indian reservation violated statute requiring that management and operation of irrigation project pass to owners of lands irrigated thereby once payments required by statute had been made, and that cooperative management entity (CME) created by agreement with agency and Indian tribes lacked proportional representation as required under state law. United States moved to dismiss, and plaintiffs moved for leave to file second amended complaint.

*Holdings: The District Court, Dana L. Christensen, J., held that:
(1) claim that BIA's reassumption of control of project violated statute did not fall within scope of Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) waiver of sovereign immunity;
(2) BIA's reassumption of control did not violate statute requiring that management and operation of project pass to owners of lands irrigated thereby once payments required by statute had been made;
(3) claim that United States improperly transferred land owned in fee within project area into trust status did not fall within scope of APA's waiver of sovereign immunity;
(4) plaintiffs lacked standing to seek injunction barring United States from transferring land;
(5) claim that operation of power division violated statutes did not fall within scope of APA's waiver of sovereign immunity; and
(6) district's challenge to state's ratification of water compact was not ripe.

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of Lake Traverse Reservation v. United States Corps of Engineers
124 F.Supp.3d 958
No. 3:11–CV–03026–RAL
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division
Signed Aug. 18, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and its chairman brought action seeking declaratory, injunctive, and other relief from actions of Corps of Engineers related to permits allowing adjacent landowner's construction of culverted farm road across wetland adjacent to lake to provide access for livestock and equipment. Tribe moved compel production of whole administrative record, to supplement administrative record, and to reconsider equitable tolling.

*Holdings: The District Court, Roberto A. Lange, J., held that:
(1) tribe could not compel Corps to investigate allegations of Clean Water Act (CWA) violations through judicial proceedings;
(2) tribe failed to demonstrate with clear evidence that Corps improperly designated administrative record;
(3) supplementation of administrative record was not warranted;
(4) holding that statute of limitations was not subject to equitable tolling was not manifest error of law that justified reconsideration; and
(5) tribe was not entitled to equitably toll statute of limitations.

Motions granted in part and denied in part.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Development LLC v. Cieslak
2015 WL 4773585
Nos. 2:15–cv–01189–JAD–GWF, 2:13–cv–00596–JAD–GWF
United States District Court, D. Nevada
Signed Aug. 13, 2015.

Legal Topics: Breach of Contract - Public Relations

Sprint Communications Company L.P. v. Wynne
2015 WL 4644983
No. 4:15–CV–04051–KES
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
Signed Aug. 4, 2015.

*Synopsis: Interstate telecommunications services provider and its parent company brought action against commissioners of tribal utilities commission and Chief Judge of tribal court, seeking a declaratory judgment that neither provider nor its parent company was subject to regulation by the tribal commission and an order permanently enjoining the commission from proceeding against it for violating regulations imposed by the commission. Provider moved for preliminary injunction.

*Holdings: The District Court, Karen E. Schreier, J., held that:
(1) location of activities and conduct by provider did not conclusively reveal a lack of tribal jurisdiction over it in action brought by commission, and thus the doctrine of tribal exhaustion required provider to challenge tribal jurisdiction in tribal court before seeking relief in federal court, and
(2) Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) broad jurisdiction over interstate telecommunications did not make plain that tribe's jurisdiction would be frivolous or obviously invalid, and thus provider was required to challenge tribal jurisdiction in tribal court.

July

Jones v. United States
2015 WL 4598343
No. 13–227L
United States Court of Federal Claims
July 30, 2015.

*Synopsis: While their appeal from grant of summary judgment to county, city, and law enforcement officers in separate action was pending, estate and parents of decedent, who was member of Ute Tribe, brought action against United States, alleging, inter alia, that United States violated 1868 Ute Treaty when it engaged in coverup of events surrounding decedent's death on Ute Tribe's Reservation following shootout with officers. United States moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state claim.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Horn, J., held that:
(1) any requirement forcing estate to exhaust administrative remedies with Department of Interior (DOI) would be excused;
(2) issues identified by estate were identical to those decided in estate's prior action;
(3) prior action was finally adjudicated on merits;
(4) estate had full and fair opportunity to litigate issues of how decedent died and whether there was coverup in its prior action;
(5) provision of 1863 Ute Treaty did not impose fiduciary duty on United States to guard against assertion of state criminal jurisdiction; and
(6) provision of 1868 Ute Treaty did not make United States liable for alleged trespass of state authorities.

Goodeagle v. U.S.
2015 WL 4536613
No. 12–431L
United States Court of Federal Claims.
Filed: July 28, 2015.

*Synopsis: Members of Indian tribe brought action against federal government, seeking to recover money damages arising from government's alleged breach of fiduciary and trust obligations owed to tribe and its members. Parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Wheeler, J., held that:
(1) tribal members could seek lost profits for government's mismanagement of individual Indian money (IIM) funds that occurred prior to enactment of 1994 Reform Act, and
(2) government's fiduciary duty to prudently invest IIM funds began on date government began investing such funds.

Poarch Band of Creek Indians v. Hildreth
2015 WL 4469479
Civil Action No. 1:15–0277–CG–C
United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
Signed July 22, 2015.

Legal Topics: Property Tax, Trust Property

Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians v. Crosby
2015 WL 4231596
No. 2:15–cv–00538–GEB–CMK
United States District Court, E.D. California
Signed July 13, 2015.

Legal Topics: Signature Forgery, Employment Termination

South Fork Livestock Partnership v. United States
2015 WL 4232687
No. 3:15–CV–0066–LRH–VPC
United States District Court, D. Nevada
Signed July 13, 2015.

Legal Topics: Grazing Permits, Federal Land and Water Rights

United States v. Washington
129 F.Supp.3d 1069
No. C70–9213
Subproceeding No. 09–01
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, At Seattle.
Signed July 9, 2015.

*Synopsis: Makah Indian Tribe commenced subproceeding to determine usual and accustomed (U & A) fishing grounds of two other tribes, Quileute Indian Tribe and Quinault Indian Nation, specifically as to both tribes' western boundaries in the Pacific Ocean and Quileute tribe's northern boundary, pursuant to 40-year-old permanent injunction allowing tribes to invoke continuing jurisdiction for further determination of their right of taking fish, secured under Treaty of Olympia of 1855.

*Holdings: The District Court, Ricardo S. Martinez, J., held that:
(1) treaty term "fish" encompassed sea mammals;
(2) tribes' U & As included locations where they customarily harvested marine mammals at and before treaty time;
(3) Quinault's western boundary of U & A in Pacific Ocean was 30 miles from shore;
(4) Quileute's western boundary of U & A in Pacific Ocean was 40 miles from shore; and
(5) Quileute's northern boundary of U & A fishing ground was line drawn westerly from Cape Alava.

Ordered accordingly.

Williams v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians
2015 WL 4104611
Civil Action No. 14–594–CG–M
United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
Signed July 8, 2015.

Legal Topics: Employment Age Descrimination

Pro-Football, INC. v. Blackhorse
112 F.Supp.3d 439
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 1:14–cv–01043–GBL–IDD
United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Signed July 8, 2015.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Owner and operator of professional football team brought action against five Native Americans, seeking review of decision of Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), Kuhlke, Administrative Trademark Judge, 2014 WL 2757516, canceling registration of "REDSKINS" trademarks under Lanham Act's "may disparage" provision. The District Court, Gerald Bruce Lee, J., 62 F.Supp.3d 498, denied Native Americans' motion to dismiss. Parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Gerald Bruce Lee, J., held that:
(1) cancellation of trademark registrations did not violate team's free speech rights;
(2) federal trademark registration program is government speech that is exempt from First Amendment scrutiny;
(3) Lanham Act's "may disparage" provision was not facially void for vagueness under due process principles;
(4) Lanham Act's "may disparage" provision, as applied, was not void for vagueness;
(5) trademark registrations were not property interests protected by due process or Takings Clause;
(6) evidence established that registered "REDSKINS" marks may disparage Native Americans; and
(7) unreasonably delay, as required for team's laches defense, was not shown.

Doe v. Jesson
2015 WL 4067170
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Civil No. 15–2639 (JRT/SER)
United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Signed July 2, 2015.

Legal Topics: Adoption, Indian Child Welfare Act - Notice, Tribal Enrollment

Northern Arapaho Tribe v. Burwell
2015 WL 4639324
Case No. 14–CV–247–SWS
United States District Court, D. Wyoming
Signed July 2, 2015.

*Synopsis: Native-American tribe brought action seeking exemption from large employer mandate in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which required a large employer to sponsor a health insurance plan meeting certain minimum requirements for its full-time employees or face an assessable payment if it failed to do so. Government moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, Scott W. Skavdahl, J., held that:
1) both Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) and Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA) barred tribe's claims;
2) tribe could not bring suit under parens patriae doctrine;
3) tribe's waiver by failing to participate in notice-and-comment process was not excused;
4) Congress's intent to Include tribes as large employers was clear;
5) large employer mandate was provision of general applicability; and
6) Treasury regulations were consistent with congressional intent in enacting large employer mandate.
Motion granted.

June

Crow Allottees Association v. United States Bureau of Indian Affairs
2015 WL 4041303
No. CV 14–62–BLG–SPW
United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
Signed June 30, 2015.

Legal Topics: Rights to Water for Irrigation

Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. U.S. Department of the Interior
2015 WL 3862534
Civil Action No. 15–cv–01303–MSK
United States District Court, D. Colorado
Signed June 22, 2015.

Legal Topics: Oil and Gas, Fracking, Indian Lands

United Planners Financial Services of America v. Sac and Fox Nation
2015 WL 3756181
No. CIV–14–1278–HE
United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
Signed June 16, 2015.

Legal Topics: Broker Agreements, Sovereign Immunity

In re Womelsdorf
2015 WL 3643477
Bankruptcy Case No. 12–62075–fra7
United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Oregon
Filed June 11, 2015.

Legal Topics: Bankruptcy

Cayuga Nation v. Tanner
108 F.Supp.3d 29
No. 5:14–CV–1317.
United States District Court, N.D. New York
June 11, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and unnamed tribal officers, employees, and/or representatives brought action alleging that Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) preempted village from enforcing its local anti-gambling laws against tribe and its establishment. After court dismissed complaint, 2015 WL 2381301, tribe moved for reconsideration and for injunction pending appeal.

*Holdings: The District Court, David N. Hurd, J., held that:
1) individual plaintiffs lacked standing to bring action, and
2) tribe was entitled to stay pending appeal.
Motion for reconsideration denied; motion for injunction granted.

Borrichio v. Casino
2015 WL 3648698
Nos. 1:14–CV–818 AWI SMS, 1:14–CV–819 AWI SMS, 1:14–CV–820 AWI SMS, 1:14–CV–821 AWI SMS, 1:14–CV–822 AWI SMS
United States District Court, E.D. California
Filed June 10, 2015.

Legal Topics: Employment Discrimination, Casinos

Patchak v. Jewell and Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
109 F.Supp.3d 152
No. 08-1331
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Filed: June 7, 2015.

Legal Topics: Land into Trust

National Labor Relations Board Chickasaw Nation D/B/A Winstar World Casino and International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 886, Affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
2015 WL 3526096
Cases 17-CA-025031 and 17-CA-025121
June 4, 2015.

Legal Topics: National Labor Relations Act

Native American Arts Inc. v. Peter Stone Co.
2015 WL 3561439
No. 08 C 3908
United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Signed June 9, 2015.

Legal Topics: Indian Arts and Crafts Act

May

United States v. Washington
2015 WL 3451316
No. C70-9213.
Subproceeding No. 89-3-09
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Tacoma
Signed May 29, 2015.

Legal Topics: Treaty Fishing Rights

Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians v. United States
2015 WL 2393651
No. 14–1051L
United States Court of Federal Claims
Filed: May 20, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that grant of patent to another tribe by Interior Department interfered with its property rights and effected taking, in contravention of Fifth Amendment, and breached government's fiduciary duty to hold land in trust for its exclusive use and possession. United States moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Lettow, J., held that:
(1) tribe's claim was timely;
(2) fact issues remained whether Congress intended to bestow beneficial interest in tract on tribe; and
(3) other tribe was not indispensable party.

Griffith v. Caney Valley Public Schools
2015 WL 2451226
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
Case No. 15-CV-273-GKF-FHM
United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Filed: May 20, 2015.

Legal Topics: Freedom of Religion; Education Policy

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. United States Department of Interior
No. CV-14-44-M-DLC
United States District Court, District of Montana Missoula Division
Filed May 18, 2015.

Legal Topics: Indian Water Rights

Blue Lake Rancheria v. Lanier
106 F.Supp.3d 1134
No. 2:11–cv–01124–JAM–JFM
United States District Court, E.D. California
Filed May 13, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against officers of California Employment Development Department, alleging that department violated tribal sovereign immunity by attaching liens on tribal assets, and seeking to enjoin collection actions and cancel liens, and declaratory judgment that department's actions violated tribe's sovereign immunity. Tribe moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, John A. Mendez, J., held that:
1) district court was not required to grant continuance to conduct additional discovery before ruling on tribe's summary judgment motion;
2) as an issue of first impression, tribal sovereign immunity barred tax enforcement action to place lien on tribal property under California law; and
3) there was no evidence that tribe waived sovereign immunity.
Motion granted.

Fort Sill Apache Tribe v. National Indian Gaming Commission and Chaudhuri
2015 WL 2203497
Civil Action No. 14–958 (RMC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
Signed May 12, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tribe brought action under Administrative Procedure Act (ADA) to compel National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to issue decision on tribe's appeal of notice of violation issued by NISC's chairman alleging that tribe had violated Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by gaming on Indian lands ineligible for gaming. NIGC moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, J., held that:
(1) action fell within scope of Administrative Procedure Act's (ADA) waiver of sovereign immunity;
(2) court had subject matter jurisdiction over action; and
(3) notice of violation was not final agency action.

Team Systems International, LLC v. Haozous
2015 WL 2131479
No. CIV–14–1018–D
United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
Signed May 7, 2015.

Legal Topics: Second Amendment; Sovereign Immunity

Bear v. The County of Jackson
2015 WL 1969760
No. 5:14–CV–5059–KES
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division.
Signed May 1, 2015.

Legal Topics: Voting Discrimination; Equal Opportunity

April

Chickasaw Nation v. Department of Interior
161 F.Supp.3d 1094
No. CIV-05-1524-W
United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
Signed April 22, 2015.

*Synopsis: Two Indian Nations brought action against United States and Department of the Interior, seeking to challenge sale of Nations' unallotted lands, principally valuable for timber, under Five Tribes Act. Parties cross-moved for partial summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Leer R. West, J., J., held that Act's plain text permitted Department to sell subject lands.
Defendants' motion granted..

Jamul Action Committee v. Chaudhuri
2015 WL 1802813
No. 2:13–cv–01920–KJM–KJN
United States District Court, E.D. California
Filed April 17, 2015.

Legal Topics: Indian Gaming, Repatriation

Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States
120 Fed.Cl. 612
No. 12–592L
United States Court of Federal Claims
Filed: April 16, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought claim against federal government, seeking money damages arising from government's alleged breach of fiduciary and trust obligations owed to tribe. Parties cross-moved for partial summary judgment.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Wheeler, J., held that:
(1) Indian Claims Commission (ICC) judgment was made in favor of tribe;
(2) tribe was the proper recipient of any unclaimed per capita payments from ICC judgment trust; and
(3) genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether funds ICC judgment were actually and fully paid to the proper recipients.
Motions denied.

Corabi v. ENIPC Inc.
2015 WL 5042828
No. 14–CV–01081–MV–LAM
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
Signed April 10, 2015.

*Synopsis: Former tribal council employee brought action against the council alleging breach of contract and wrongful termination. Council moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, Martha Vazquez, J., held that court lacked jurisdiction because the parties were not diverse.

Navajo Health Foundation-Sage Memorial Hospital, INC. v. Burwell
2015 WL 1906107
No. CIV 14–0958 JB/GBW
United States District Court, D. New Mexico.
Filed April 9, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tribal hospital brought action against Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, among others, alleging that decision of Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) not to renew its contract with hospital violated Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Hospital moved for immediate injunctive relief.

*Holdings: The District Court, James O. Browning, J., held that:
(1) permanent injunctive relief was not warranted prior to summary judgment;
(2) hospital would likely suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction;
(3) NAIHS violated ISDEAA by relying on information beyond four corners of hospital's proposals;
(4) balance of harms weighed in favor of granting a preliminary injunction; and
(5) public interest supported granting a preliminary injunction.

March

Auga Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District
2015 WL 1600065
No. EDCV 13–883–JGB
United States District Court, C.D. California
Signed March 20, 2015.

Legal Topics: Indian Water Rights - Groundwater

City of Duluth v. National Indian Gaming Commission
2015 WL 1447548 (D.D.C.)
No. 13-246(CKK)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
Signed March 31, 2015.

*Synopsis: Municipality brought suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), challenging notice of violation that the National Indian Gaming Commission issued to Indian tribe with respect to its gaming establishment in municipality. Parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Colleen Kollar–Kotelly, J., held that:
(1) Commission did not exceed scope of its authority under enforcement provision of the IGRA;
(2) Commission's interpretation of provision of the IGRA requiring that "an Indian tribe have the 'sole proprietary interest' in any Indian gaming activity authorized by the act," was entitled to Chevron, and not just Skidmore, deference;
(3) Commission did not act in arbitrary and capricious manner; and
(4) frustrated expectations on part of municipality did not transform the prospective relief granted in notice of violation into impermissible retrospective relief.

Mackinac Tribe v. Sally Jewell
2015 WL 1517514
No. 14–cv–0456 (KBJ)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
Signed March 31, 2015.

*Synopsis: Tribe filed suit against Secretary of Interior, seeking declaration that it was federally recognized tribe and for order directing Secretary to hold constitutional election so that tribe could form government. Secretary filed motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction for failure to state claim.

*Holdings: The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Ketanji Brown Jackson, J., held that:
(1) provision of Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) that action to enforce IRA may be brought in appropriate federal district court was not express waiver of United States' sovereign immunity from suit;
(2) United States' waiver of sovereign immunity under Administrative Procedure Act (APA) extended to tribe's claim; and
(3) tribe's exhaustion of administrative remedies for federal recognition as tribe under Part 83 Process was prerequisite to suit.

Oglala Sioux v. Van Hunnik
2015 WL 1466067
No. CIV. 13–5020–JLV
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division.
Signed March 30, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and tribe members brought action against state court judge, county attorney, secretary of state department of social services, and department employees, alleging that defendants' policies, practices, and procedures relating to the removal of Indian children from their homes during state court 48–hour hearings violated Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Tribe and members moved for partial summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief Judge, held that:
(1) judicial and prosecutorial immunity did not extend to county attorney, secretary of state department of social services, and social services employees;
(2) policies and practices of state court judge did not comply with requirement of ICWA; and
(3) process developed by state court judge for 48–hour hearings on removal of Indian children from homes violated due process.

Unite Here Local 19 v. Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians
2015 WL 1498847
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 1:14–cv–01136–MCE–SAB
United States District Court, E.D. California
Signed March 27, 2015.

*Synopsis: Labor union petitioned for confirmation and enforcement of labor arbitration award ordering Indian tribe to reinstate and pay monetary compensation to terminated employees. Union moved for judgment on the pleadings.

*Holdings: The District Court, Morrison C. England, Jr., Chief Judge, held that:
(1) arbitrator's decision was a plausible interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and
(2) labor union was entitled to confirmation and enforcement of labor arbitration award.

Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. Jewell
2015 WL 1399366
Briefs and other Materials from Turtle Talk
No. 5:08-cv-0633 (LEK/DEP)
United States District Court, N.D. New York
Signed March 26, 2015.

Legal Topics: The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, Land Rights

Mishewal Wappo v. Jewell
2015 WL 1306930
No. 5:09-CV-02502-EJD
United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
March 23, 2015.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe filed complaint against the federal government for alleged illegal termination and distribution of rancheria property. Parties filed motions for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Edward J. Davila, J., held that:
(1) action was subject to catchall statute of limitations provision requiring that every civil action against United States be brought within six years after right of action first accrues;
(2) action accrued, for limitations purposes, no later than date when notice of the rancheria's final termination was published in Federal Register; and
(3) equitable tolling of limitations period was not warranted.

Yakama and Umatilla v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service
2015 WL 1276811
No. CV-3052-TOR.
United States District Court, E.D. Washington
March 20, 2015.

Legal Topics: National Historic Preservation Act; Sacred Sites

Texas v. Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo
2015 WL 1003879
No. EP-99-CV-320-KC.
United States District Court, W.D. Texas
March 6, 2015

Legal Topics: Indian Gaming; Sweepstakes

February

Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head
2015 WL 854850
Civil Action No. 13-13286-FDS.
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
February 27, 2015.

*Synopsis: State filed state court action alleging that federally recognized Indian tribe's failure to obtain state license for its commercial gaming operations on tribal lands violated parties' settlement agreement. After removal, town and community association intervened. Tribe filed counterclaim and third party claims against state and state officials. Tribe moved to dismiss, and state and officials moved to dismiss counterclaims.

*Holdings: The District Court, Saylor, J., held that:
(1) tribe was barred by doctrine of issue preclusion from asserting that it had not waived its sovereign immunity;
(2) United States was not required party;
(3) state did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court;
(4) tribe's counterclaim to enjoin state from interfering with gaming activities on tribal land did not fall within exception to sovereign immunity;
(5) tribe's counterclaims to enjoin state officials from interfering with its gaming activities on tribal land were cognizable under Ex parte Young doctrine; and
(6) tribe had standing to assert counterclaim for injunctive relief.

U.S. v. Washington
2015 WL 687339
No. C70-9213RSM. Subproceeding No. 09-01.
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Seattle.
February 18, 2015.

*Synopsis: In action brought against state of Washington by the United States for declaratory and injunctive relief concerning off-reservation treaty right fishing, Indian tribe commenced subproceeding requesting a determination of other tribes' Pacific Ocean customary fishing grounds. Tribes cross-moved for summary judgment as to issue of availability of equitable defenses in the subproceeding.

*Holdings: The District Court, Ricardo S. Martinez, J., held that:
(1) plaintiff was not judicially estopped from bringing subproceeding for adjudication of defendants' usual and accustomed treaty fishing grounds;
(2) plaintiff did not unreasonably delay in bringing subproceeding, and, thus, laches defense did not apply; and
(3) defense of acquiescence did nor preclude tribe from bringing subproceeding.

Two Shields v. United States
2015 WL 513315
No. 13-90 L
United States Court of Federal Claims.
February 6, 2015.

*Synopsis: Native Americans filed putative class action against United States, claiming Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) breached fiduciary duty to prudently manage their mineral rights held in trust by United States, by allegedly mismanaging their allotments due to "rubber stamping" oil and gas lease agreements with below-market bonuses, failing to secure royalty interest rate
above 18%, and allowing "flipping" or reassignment of leases on allotments without allottee consent or compensation, claiming breach of separate fiduciary duty to disclose to Native Americans that their same Indian reservation was involved in prior breach of trust litigation by class of Native Americans that eventually reached $3.4 billion settlement agreement on claims against government for mismanaging Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts and failing to account for billions of dollars relating to lease of allotments for oil extraction and logging, and finally, claiming that Claims Resolution Act amounted to legislative taking in violation of Fifth Amendment. Government moved for summary judgment, moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and moved to dismiss for failure to state claim.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Block, J., held that:
(1) breach of fiduciary duty claim based on alleged mismanagement of allotments was barred by release clause in settlement agreement of prior class action;
(2) jurisdiction was lacking over breach of fiduciary duty claim based on failure to disclose; and
(3) complaint failed to state legislative takings claim.

Rusty Coal Blackwater v. Secretary of Interior
2015 WL 506475
No. 3:14–cv–00244–LRH–VPC
United States District Court, D. Nevada
February 5, 2015.

Legal Topics: Western Shoshone Judgment Roll

January

Hayes v. Delbert Services Corp.
2015 WL 269483
Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-258.
United States District Court, E.D. Virginia.
Signed Jan. 21, 2015.

Legal Topics: Loan Agreement; Arbitration

Housing Authority of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
85 F.Supp.3d 1213
Case No. 3:08-CV-0626-LRH-VPC
United States District Court, D. Nevada.
Signed Jan. 13, 2015. Filed Jan. 14, 2015.

*Synopsis: Housing authority for Indian tribe commenced action alleging that Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) promulgated funding regulations that violated Native American Housing Assistance and Self–Determination Act (NAHASDA). Parties moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Larry R. Hicks, J., held that:
(1) funding regulations under NAHASDA did not have to be interpreted in manner that favored plaintiff;
(2) NAHASDA block-grant formula was required to be related to the need of all tribal housing entities;
(3) HUD regulation, which disqualified funding for housing units which were no longer owned or operated by a tribal housing entity, was consistent with mandate of NAHASDA, and was not arbitrary or capricious;
(4) post-audit interpretation of regulation was arbitrary and capricious as applied to tribe; and
(5) HUD had authority pursuant to payment by mistake doctrine to recoup funds paid to Indian tribe to operate its housing program without complying with statute's notice and opportunity for hearing requirements.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma v. Occidental Fire and Casualty Company of North Carolina
2015 WL 154013
Case No. CIV-14-182-KEW.
United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma.
Signed Jan. 13, 2015.

Legal Topics: Sovereign Immunity, Insurance

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