2016 Federal Courts Cases

Last updated: January 6, 2017


December

United States v. Bear
844 F.3d 981
No. 15-3671
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
December 28, 2016

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Ralph R. Erickson, J., of aggravated sexual abuse of child under 12 years of age and abusive sexual contact with child under 12 years of age, and he appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Riley, Chief Judge, held that federal criminal jurisdiction existed over case.
Affirmed.

Mullally v. Gordon
2016 WL 7336618
No. 13-55152
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
December 19, 2016

Legal Topics: Comity - Tribal Judgments

Miranda v. Jewell
2016 WL 7336629
15–555245
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
12/19/2016

Legal Topics: Tribal Enrollment

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation v. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
2016 WL 7210129
No. 14-35165
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
December 13, 2016

Legal Topics: Tobacco - Federal Excise Tax

Related News Stories: Appeals court rules Yakama Nation can't sue over tobacco tax (610 KONA) 12/13/16

Central New York Fair Business Association v. Jewell
2016 WL 7177757
No. 16-53-cv
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
December 9, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Civic associations, state assemblyman, and county government representatives brought action against the Department of Interior, challenging Department's decision to accept into trust approximately 13,000 acres for the benefit of the Oneida Indian Nation. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, Lawrence E. Kahn, J., 2010 WL 786526, granted Department's motions to dismiss and, 2015 WL 1400384, for summary judgment, and, 2015 WL 6694117, denied motion by associations and lawmakers for reconsideration. Associations and lawmakers appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) principles of state sovereignty did not impair Department from accepting land into trust;
2) associations and lawmakers failed to sufficiently allege that individual tribal defendant engaged in unlawful conduct; and
3) challenge to Department's action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) was meritless.
Affirmed.

Native American Arts, Inc. v. Peter Stone Co., U.S.A., Inc.
2016 WL 7034072
No. 08 C 3908
United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
12/2/2016

*Synopsis: Indian arts and crafts organization brought action against jewelry seller alleging violations of Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA). After entry of summary judgment in defendant's favor, 2015 WL 3561439, defendant moved for sanctions.

*Holdings: The District Court, Jeffrey Cole, United States Magistrate Judge, held that imposition of sanctions was not warranted.
Motion denied.

November

Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States
2016 WL 6608942
Docket Nos. 15-1688, 15-1726
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
November 9, 2016

*Synopsis: Towns, civic organization, and local residents commenced action to challenge record of decision (ROD) issued by Department of the Interior (DOI) taking over 13,000 acres of land in central New York into trust for benefit of Oneida Indian Nation. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, Lawrence E. Kahn, J., granted government's motion for partial dismissal, 2009 WL 3165556, and its motion for summary judgment on remaining claims, 2015 WL 1399366. Plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Susan L. Carney, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) organization had standing to bring action;
2) Congress's authority to legislate with respect to Indian tribes was not limited to regulation of trading activities that crossed state borders;
3) federal government's acquisition of land for Indian use pursuant to Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) was "regulation of commerce" within meaning of Indian Commerce Clause;
4) principles of state sovereignty did not impair federal government's power to acquire land on tribe's behalf;
5) Enclave Clause did not require Congress to obtain state legislature's express consent before it could take state land into trust;
6) IRA permitted United States to take land into trust for benefit of Oneida Indian Nation; and
7) Oneida Indian Nation was "tribe" within meaning of Indian Land Consolidation Act (ILCA).
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: 2nd Circuit affirms Oneida fee into trust judgment (Turtle Talk) 11/10/16

Navajo Health Foundation v. Burwell
2016 WL 7257245
No. CIV 14-0958 JB/GBW
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
11/23/2016

Legal Topics: Indian Health Service Contracts

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida
2016 WL 6637706
CONSOLIDATED CASE NO. 4:15cv516-RH/CAS
United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
11/09/2016

Legal Topics: Tribal-State Gaming Compacts - Good Faith Negotiations

Related News Stories: Seminole Tribe of Florida wins battle to keep blackjack (Gaming Today) 11/10/16

Schlemm v. Wall
2016 WL 6603269
11-cv-272-wmc
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
11/08/2016

Legal Topics: Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - Prisoner Rights

October

Williams v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians
839 F.3d 1312
No. 15-13552
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
Filed October 18, 2016

*Synopsis: Former employee of federally-recognized Native-American tribe's health department brought action against tribe, alleging discrimination under Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, No. 1:14–cv–00594–CG–M, Callie V.S. Granade, J., 2015 WL 4104611, adopting report and recommendation of Bert W. Milling, Jr., United States Magistrate Judge, granted tribe's motion to dismiss. Employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, C. Lynwood Smith, Jr., District Judge, sitting by designation, held that:
1) Congress's failure to include phrase "an Indian tribe" in list of entities excluded from ADEA's definition of "employers" did not demonstrate intent to abrogate tribal sovereign immunity as bar to suit under ADEA, and
2) even though ADEA was statute of general applicability, and tribe was generally subject to its terms, doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity protected tribe from ADEA suits.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Indian tribe has sovereign immunity from employee's ADEA claim (CCH's Employment Law Daily) 10/21/16, Tribe immune from age-discrimination suit (Courthouse News) 10/20/16, Poarch Band of Creek Indians can't be sued for firing employee (Indianz) 10/20/16, Eleventh Circuit holds ADEA does not abrogate tribal immunity (Turtle Talk) 10/19/16

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. United States Army Corps of Engineers
No. 16-5259
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
October 9, 2016

Legal Topics: Sacred Places; Dakota Access Pipeline - Injunctions

Related News Stories: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees setback as court lifts injunction in #NoDAPL case (Indianz) 10/10/16

Cheung Yin Sun v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
663 Fed.Appx. 57
15–2148–cv
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
October 5, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Gamblers filed § 1983 action against Indian casino, its employees, and state police officer asserting claims for fraud, conversion, false imprisonment, false arrest, and governmental taking of their private property without due process of law. The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, Janet C. Hall, Chief Judge, granted motion of casino, employees and police officer to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and, 309 F.R.D. 157, denied gamblers' motion to reopen. Gamblers appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that gamblers failed to establish that district court had personal jurisdiction over Indian casino, its employees, and state police officer.
Affirmed.

United States v. State of Washington
2016 WL 6267797
CASE NO. C 70-9213
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Tacoma
10/26/2016

Legal Topics: Treaty Right to Take Shellfish

California Valley Miwok Tribe v. Jewell
2016 WL 6217057
CIV. NO.: 2:16-01345 WBS CKD
United States District Court, E.D. California
10/24/2016

Legal Topics: Official Tribal Government

Sanchez v. Cegavske
2016 WL 5936918
Case No. 3:16-cv-00523-MMD-WGC
United States District Court, D. Nevada
10/07/2016

*Synopsis: Prospective voters who were members of one of two Native-American tribes brought action against Nevada's Secretary of State and other state and county officials, alleging an abridgement of the right to vote, and in particular to have equal access to early in-person voting and election day in-person polling, as protected by § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Voters made emergency motion for preliminary injunction requiring defendants to open additional in-person registration sites, additional early polling locations, and additional election day polling location.

*Holdings: The District Court, Miranda M. Du, J., held that:
1) qualifying putative expert was not necessary at preliminary injunction stage;
2) considering surveys presented by voters was appropriate, though only in conjunction with other evidence;
3) voters failed to demonstrate injury-in-fact, and thus they lacked constitutional standing to assert claims for additional in-person registration sites;
4) voters showed likelihood of success on merits of their claims, as required to merit preliminary injunction with respect to additional in-person early voting polling locations and election day polling location;
5) balance of hardships was neutral in analysis of preliminary injunction motion; and
6) public interest was served by preliminary injunction with respect to additional in-person voter registration and early voting locations in two counties.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Related News Stories: Nevada Indians settle voting rights lawsuit (Courthouse News Service) 1/12/17, County complies with federal ruling, adds tribal polling site (Reno-Gazette Journal) 10/12/16, Judge rules partially in favor of tribes in federal suit (Reno-Gazette Journal) 10/7/16, Ruling expected in tribal voter disenfranchisement lawsuit by Friday (Reno-Gazette Journal) 10/4/16, Court date set for Native American voter disenfranchisement suit (Reno-Gazette Journal) 9/21/16, Paiutes sue State over voting rights (The Nevada Sagebrush) 9/20/16, Nevada tribes: Polls access violates voting rights (Post Register) 9/8/16

September

Alto v. Jewell
661 Fed.Appx. 502
No. 15-56527, No. 15-56679
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed September 20, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Plaintiffs sought judicial review of decision to disenroll named plaintiffs from Indian band's membership roll. The United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Cynthia A. Bashant, J., 2015 WL 5734093, granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs had authority to review prior enrollment decision, where former assistant secretary predicated her decision on inaccurate assumption; and
2) Assistant Secretary's decision approving plaintiffs' disenrollment was not arbitrary, capricious, or abuse of discretion.
Affirmed.

Meyers v. Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
2016 WL 4698949
No. 15-3127
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Decided September 8, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Consumer brought putative class action against Indian tribe, alleging violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA). Tribe moved to dismiss. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge, granted motion. Consumer appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Rovner, Circuit Judge, held that tribe was immune from consumer's suit alleging violation of FACTA.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Oneida Nation prevails as Supreme Court declines immunity case (Indianz) 3/20/17, Seventh Circuit affirms denial of class certification on Spokeo grounds in FACTA class action (JD Supra) 12/14/16, Seventh Circuit holds Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act does not abrogate tribal immunity (Turtle Talk) 9/9/16

United States v. PMB
660 Fed.Appx. 521
No. 11-10405
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed September 06, 2016

*Synopsis: Juvenile defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, John A. Jarvey, J., of aggravated sexual abuse committed within Indian country, and he appealed. The Court of Appeals, 526 Fed.Appx. 722, vacated and remanded. On remand, juvenile was again convicted, and appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that admission, through testimony of FBI agent, of certificate of tribal enrollment purporting to show that juvenile had some quantum of Indian blood and was affiliated with Navajo Nation was plain error.
Reversed and remanded.

Pueblo of Pojoaque v. State of New Mexico
2016 WL 6405927
No. CIV 15-0625 JB/GBW
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
9/30/2016

Legal Topics: Tribal-State Gaming Compact - Negotiations

Goodeagle v. United States
128 Fed.Cl. 642
Nos. 12-431L, 12-592L, 13-51X
United States Court of Federal Claims.
Filed: September 12, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and its members brought actions against United States for, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty and trust obligations owed to tribe and its members. Actions were consolidated and parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Wheeler, J., held that:
1) factual findings of non-profit tribal entity's analysis of government management of tribal assets were binding upon the Government under law of the case doctrine;
2) results of valuation, extrapolation, and calculation models in non-profit tribal entity's analysis of government management of tribal assets were not binding upon the Government under law of the case doctrine;
3) Government would not be permitted to introduce expert testimony to impeach factual record;
4) genuine issues of material fact existed as to validity of valuation, extrapolation, and calculation models in non-profit tribal entity's analysis of government management of tribal assets;
5) citation to array of substantive law plausibly grounding a money-mandating duty, and Government's failure to address each citation, sufficiently enabled exercise of jurisdiction under Indian Tucker Act;
6) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the Government had a duty of care to tribe that it breached;
7)prior suit brought by tribe members against mining companies for failure to pay mineral royalties was not res judicata.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

In re: Greektown Holdings, LLC v. Papas
2016 WL 5724765
Case No. 08-53104
United States Bankruptcy Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
09/29/2016

*Synopsis: Litigation trustee brought strong-arm proceeding to avoid allegedly fraudulent transfers, and Indian tribe named as defendant moved to dismiss on sovereign immunity grounds. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Walter Shapero, J., 516 B.R. 462, denied the motion, and indian tribe appealed. The District Court, Close Paul D. Borman See Full Profile Paul D. Borman, J., 532 B.R. 680, reversed and remanded.

*Holdings: On remand, the Bankruptcy Court, Shapero, J., held that:
1) Indian tribe's participation in claims allowance and Chapter 11 plan confirmation processes did not, as matter of law, constitute a waiver of tribe's sovereign immunity that was broad enough to encompass strong-arm proceeding commenced against them;
2) even assuming that Chapter 11 debtors could show that Indian tribe exercised such dominion and control over them that tribe could be regarded as having filed bankruptcy petitions on debtors' behalf, this would not result in waiver of tribe's own sovereign immunity; and
3) trustee of litigation trust established under debtors' confirmed Chapter 11 plan, by relying on fact-intensive alter ego, veil-piercing, and agency theories, could not make the required showing of express, unequivocal, unmistakable and unambiguous waiver of Indian tribe's sovereign immunity as to fraudulent transfer claims asserted by trustee in strong-arm capacity.
Motion to dismiss granted.

A.D. v. Washburn
2016 WL 5464582
No. CV-15-01259-PHX-NVW
United States District Court, D. Arizona
09/29/2016

Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act

Related News Stories: Indian Child Welfare Act survives attack from conservative groups (Indianz) 3/21/17, ICWA: Goldwater case thrown out of federal court (Indian Country Today) 3/21/17

Sisseton-Washington Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation v. U.S. Corps of Engineers
2016 WL 5478428
No. CV-15-01259-PHX-NVW
United States District Court, S. Dakota
09/29/2016

Legal Topics: Sacred Places; National Historic Preservation Act; Clean Water Act

Littlefield v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior
2016 WL 5346940
CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-10184-WGY
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
09/23/2016

Legal Topics: Land into Trust

Related News Stories: Federal judge declines to reconsider Massachusetts casino ruling (World Casino News) 10/17/16, Mashpee Tribe wins approval to join lawsuit threatening casino project (Cape Cod) 9/28/16

Pueblo of Jemez v. United States
2016 WL 8136015
No. 1:12-cv-0800 RB/WPL
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
09/20/2016

Legal Topics: Quiet Title; Aboriginal Title

Navajo Nation v. Urban Outfitters, Inc.
2016 WL 5339684
CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-10184-WGY
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
09/19/2016

Legal Topics: Trademarks

Related News Stories: Federal Court denies Navajo summary judgment on trademark infringement claim (Turtle Talk) 9/26/16

Efrain Hildalgo v. PA Department of Corrections
2016 WL 4803920
Civil Action No. 15-203ERIE
United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
09/14/2016

Legal Topics: Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - Prisoner Rights

Poarch Band of Creek Indians v. Moore
2016 WL 4803920
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-0277-CG-C
United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
9/12/2016
See Poarch Band of Creek Indians v. Moore 8/10/16 for original posting.

Legal Topics: Trust Lands - Real Property Taxation

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
2016 WL 4734356
Civil Action No. 16-1534 (JEB)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
9/9/2016

Legal Topics: Dakota Access Pipeline

Related News Stories: Feds deny approval of construction of the DAPL on lands that border Lake Oahe (Turtle Talk) 9/9/16, North Dakota tribe's request to stop work on pipeline denied (ABC News) 9/9/16 (Opinion PDF), Judge temporarily halts DAPL construction on select land but not on desecrated area (Indian Country Today) 9/6/16, Hearing ordered after Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reports destruction of sacred sites (Indianz) 9/5/16 Judge to rule on tribe's oil pipeline request by Sept. 9 (Des Moines Regsiter) 8/24/16, Backers challenge Sioux stand against Dakota Access oil pipeline (The Village Suntimes) 8/22/16, Corps approves river crossings for Dakota Access Pipeline (Young Herald) 7/29/16

Stand Up for California! v. U.S. Department of the Interior
2016 WL 4621065
Civil Action No. 12-2039 (BAH)
Consolidated with: Civil Action No. 12-2071 (BAH)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
9/6/2016

Legal Topics: Land into Trust; Gaming

August

Alvarez v. Lopez
835 F.3d 1024
No. 12-15788
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed August 30, 2016

*Synopsis: Member of Indian tribe filed petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his convictions and sentences by tribal court violated Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA). The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, David G. Campbell, J., 2012 WL 1038746, denied petition, and petitioner appealed. After affirmance, 773 F.3d 1011, petition for panel rehearing was granted

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Kozinski, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) tribe deliberately waived any non-exhaustion defense, and
2) tribe violated petitioner's right to jury trial under Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA).
Reversed and remanded.

Related News Stories: Ninth Circuit reverses tribal conviction on failure to guarantee a jury trial (Turtle Talk) 8/30/16 , Feds reverse conviction, citing ‘rat’s nest’ of tribal court problems (Cronkite News) 8/30/16

Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah v. Myton
835 F.3d 1255
No. 15-4080
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
August 29, 2016
See Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation v. Myton 8/9/16 for original posting
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Ute Indian Tribe filed suit against cities, counties, and state officials, seeking injunctive relief halting criminal prosecution of tribal member for alleged traffic offenses on land judicially recognized as Indian country. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, Bruce S. Jenkins, Senior Judge, granted city's motion to dismiss, and tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Gorsuch, Circuit Judge, held that:
1 issue preclusion barred relitigation of whether parcel of land within city was Indian country;
2 equitable principles did not warrant eliminating checkerboard jurisdiction; and
3 doctrine of laches did not apply.
Reversed.

Keli'i Akina, et al. v. State of Hawaii, et al.
2016 WL 4501686
No. 15-17453, No. 15-17134
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed August 29, 2016

Legal Topics: Elections; Native Hawaiians

Related News Stories: Court denies appeal in election case (The Maui News) 8/30/16

Jamul Action Committee v. Chaudhuri
2016 WL 4414683
No. 15-16021
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Amended August 19, 2016

Legal Topics: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act - NEPA Review

United States v. Lasley
2016 WL 4254387
No. 15-1738
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
August 12, 2016

Legal Topics: Sentencing - Guidelines to Major Crimes Act

Related News Stories: Court decision highlights sentencing disparities in Indian Country (Indianz) 8/15/16

Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation v. Myton
832 F.3d 1220
No. 15-4080
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
August 9, 2016
Altered August 29, 2016. See Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah v. Myton

*Synopsis: Ute Indian Tribe filed suit against cities, counties, and state officials, seeking injunctive relief halting criminal prosecution of tribal member for alleged traffic offenses on land judicially recognized as Indian country. The United States District Court for the District of Utah granted city's motion to dismiss for failure to state claim. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Gorsuch, Circuit Judge, held that:
1 issue preclusion barred relitigation of whether parcel of land within city was Indian country;
2 equitable principles did not warrant eliminating checkerboard jurisdiction; and
3 doctrine of laches did not apply.
Reversed.

Bodi v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians
832 F.3d 1011
No. 14-16121
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
August 8, 2016

*Synopsis: Member of federally recognized Indian tribe brought California state-court action against tribe and tribal health board, alleging, inter alia, that she was wrongfully terminated from her position as executive director of clinic due to her illness in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state law. Following removal, tribe moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Lawrence K. Karlton, Senior District Judge, 19 F.Supp.3d 978, denied motion, and defendants appealed.

*Holdings:The Court of Appeals, Friedland, Circuit Judge, held that as a matter of first impression for the court, a federally recognized Indian tribe does not waive its sovereign immunity from suit by exercising its right to remove to federal court a case filed against it in state court, abrogating State Engineer of State of Nevada v. South Fork Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada, 66 F.Supp.2d 1163.
Reversed and remanded.

Related News Stories: Indian tribe did not waive sovereign immunity by removing lawsuit to federal court (National Law Review) 9/13/16, Ninth Circuit addresses effect of removal on tribal sovereign immunity (JD Dsupra) 8/17/16, Tribe didn't waive sovereign immunity in FMLA lawsuit (Bloomberg) 8/9/16

Drury v. BNSF Railway Company
657 Fed.Appx. 785
15–503021
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
8/06/2016

*Synopsis: Native American employee brought action against his former employer, alleging that his demotion and termination was the product of race and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII and retaliation in violation of Kansas public policy. The United States District Court for the District of Kansas, J. Thomas Marten, J., 2015 WL 78178, granted employer's motion for summary judgment. Employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Timothy M. Tymkovich, Chief Judge, held that:
1) employee failed to present direct evidence of race or national origin discrimination;
2) there was no evidence that employer's proffered reason for demoting and subsequently terminating employee was pretextual; and
3) employee was not wrongfully discharged in violation of Kansas public policy.
Affirmed.

United States v. Lamott
2016 WL 4088752
No. 15-30012
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
August 2, 2016

Legal Topics: Violence Against Women Act

United States v. Alvirez
831 F.3d 1115
No. 11-10244
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
August 1, 2016

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, David G. Campbell, J., of assault resulting in serious bodily injury on an Indian reservation, and was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Rawlinson, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) defendant did not waive right to challenge on appeal district court's admission of certificate of Indian blood;
2) admission of certificate of Indian blood was an abuse of discretion;
3) error in admitting certificate of Indian blood was not harmless;
4) denial of defendant's motion to exclude references to his polygraph examination did not deprive him of his right to a fair trial; and
5) enhancement of sentence based on infliction of permanent injury was warranted.

Reversed and remanded.

Related News Stories: Appeals court reverses conviction due to tribal certificate dispute (Indianz) 8/3/16

Gingras v. Rosette
2016 WL 4442792
Case No. 5:15-cv-101
United States District Court, D. Vermont.
8/22/2016

Legal Topics: Payday Loans

United States v. Jim
2016 WL 6995455
CASE NO. 14-22441-CIV-ALTONAGA/O'Sullivan
United States District Court, S.D. Florida
8/19/2016

Legal Topics: Federal Taxation - Individual Tribal Gaming Payments

Enable Oklahoma Intrastate Transmission, LLC v. A 25 Foot Wide Easement
2016 WL 4402061
Case No. CIV-15-1250-M
United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
8/18/2016

Legal Topics: Tribal Sovereign Immunity; Easements

Dakota Access, LLC v. Archambault
2016 WL 4734334
Case No.: 1:16-cv-296
United States District Court, D. North Dakota
8/16/2016

Legal Topics: Temporary Restraining Order; Oil Pipeline Construction

Frank's Landing Indian Community v. National Indian Gaming Commission
2016 WL 4363276
CASE NO. C15-5828BHS
United States District Court, W.D. Washington
8/15/2016

Legal Topics: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act - Indian Tribes Eligible for Gaming

Poarch Band of Creek Indians v. Moore
2016 WL 4778788
CA 15-00277-CG-C
United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
Filed 8/10/2016
Altered 9/12/16. See Poarch Band of Creek Indians v. Moore

Legal Topics: Trust Lands - Real Property Taxation

North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California v. State of California
2016 WL 4208452
1:15-cv-00419-AWI-SAB
United States District Court, E.D. California
8/10/2016

Legal Topics: Gaming Compacts - Good Faith Negotiations

James Raymond Acres v. Blue Lake Rancheria Tribal Court
2016 WL 4208328
Case No. 16-cv-02622-WHO
United States District Court, N.D. California
8/10/2016

Legal Topics: Jurisdiction - Exhaustion of Tribal Court Remedies

Jamul Action Committee v. Jonodev Chaudhuri
2016 WL 4192407
No. 2:13-cv-01920-KJM-KJN
United States District Court, E.D. California
8/08/2016

Legal Topics: Indian Lands Eligible for Gaming

Brakebill v. Jaeger
Case No. 1:16-cv-008
United States District Court, District of North Dakota
8/01/2016

Legal Topics: Voting Rights - ID Requirements

Related News Stories: Huge victory for tribes: federal courts overturn voter ID laws (Indian Country Today) 8/4/16, Spirit Lake Nation celebrates voter ID ruling (Grand Forks Herald) 8/3/16

July

Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell
2016 WL 4056092
No. 14-5326
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
July 29, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Operator of tribal casino, along with county, city, and local businesses, brought consolidated actions against Secretary of the Interior, bringing challenge under Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with respect to her decision to take into trust 152 acres of land for Cowlitz Indian Tribe and to allow gaming there, and tribe intervened as defendant. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Barbara J. Rothstein, J., 75 F.Supp.3d 387, granted defendants' summary judgment motion. Plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wilkins, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) term "recognized," as used in larger phrase "recognized Indian tribe now under Federal jurisdiction" in IRA's definition of "Indian," was ambiguous under Chevron analysis;
2) Secretary reasonably interpreted term "recognized," as used in IRA section defining "Indian," so that there was no temporal limitation on when recognition occurred;
3) term "under federal jurisdiction," as used in larger phrase "recognized Indian tribe now under Federal jurisdiction" in IRA's definition of "Indian," was ambiguous under Chevron analysis;
4) Secretary reasonably interpreted term "under federal jurisdiction," as used in IRA"s definition of "Indian," so as to require two-part inquiry;
5) Secretary reasonably applied its two-part inquiry as to whether tribe was "under federal jurisdiction"; and
6) Secretary reasonably found that land parcel was within broader area of historical significance to tribe, and thus met initial-reservation exception under IGRA.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Mashpee, Cowlitz rulings could have national impact on casino law (Taunton Gazette) 8/3/16, Two tribes see conflicting rulings in long-running quests for casinos (Indianz) 8/2/16, Federal court upholds Cowlitz Tribe's right to reservation (The Daily News) 7/29/16, Cowlitz Tribe wins major court ruling on land-into-trust application (Indianz) 7/29/16

Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, LTD.
2016 WL 4011196
No. 15-35228
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
July 27, 2016

*Synopsis: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) action was brought against the operator of a smelter located in Canada, and plaintiffs amended their complaints to add claims for cost recovery and natural resource damages resulting from the smelter's aerial emissions. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, Lonny R. Suko, Senior District Judge, 2014 WL 7408399, denied the operator's motion to strike or dismiss the added claims and denied its motion for reconsideration. Operator was granted permission to bring interlocutory appeal.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Hawkins, Circuit Judge, held that operator did not arrange for "disposal" of hazardous substances within meaning of CERCLA by allowing smelter's airborne emissions to contaminate land and water downwind.

Reversed and remanded.

Related News Stories: State, tribes to challenge ruling on emissions (Register-Guard) 8/14/16, Decision reversed: Teck Metals no longer liable for air pollution, ruling states (Tribal Tribune) 8/8/16, Ninth Circuit holds air emissions not covered by CERCLA (Morgan Lewis) 7/29/16

Mackinac Tribe v. Jewell
829 F.3d 754
No. 15-5118
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
July 19, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action to compel Secretary of the Interior to declare it a federally recognized Indian tribe and to convene an election allowing the tribe to organize under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). Secretary moved to dismiss. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Ketanji Brown Jackson, J., 87 F.Supp.3d 127, converted motion into motion for summary judgment and granted motion. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that tribe was required to exhaust administrative remedies by first seeking acknowledgment through Part 83 Process.

Affirmed.

Patchak v. Jewell
2016 WL 3854056
No. 15–5200
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
July 15, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Resident of rural community brought action challenging Secretary of the Interior's decision to take a parcel of land into trust on behalf of the Gun Lake Indian Tribe for casino use pursuant to Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). Tribe intervened as defendant. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Richard J. Leon, J., 646 F.Supp.2d 72, dismissed action. Resident appealed. The Court of Appeals, Randolph, Senior Circuit Judge, 632 F.3d 702, reversed and remanded. On remand, resident and tribe cross-moved for summary judgment. The District Court, 109 F.Supp.3d 152, granted intervenor defendant's motion and denied resident's motion based on Congress's enactment of the Gun Lake Act, which reaffirmed the Department of the Interior's decision to take the land into trust for the tribe and removed jurisdiction from the federal courts over any actions relating to such property. Appeal was taken.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wilkins, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) the Gun Lake Act did not encroach upon Article III judicial power of the courts to decide cases and controversies in violation of separation of powers doctrine;
2) the Act did not violate resident's First Amendment right to petition;
3) the Act did not violate resident's right to due process, even if he had a protected property right in his cause of action; and
4) the Act was not an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Federal appeals court backs Gun Lake Tribe land-into-trust law (Indianz) 7/15/16

Poarch Band of Creek Indians v. James Hildreth, Jr.
2016 WL 3668021
No. 15-13400
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
July 11, 2016

Legal Topics: Indian Lands - Taxation

Related News Stories: Poarch Creeks win ruling in dispute over taxation of trust lands (Indianz) 7/12/16

United States v. Barnett
2016 WL 3670022
No. 15–5055
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
July 11, 2016

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, upon guilty plea, of embezzling funds from Indian tribe by appropriating to his own use money withdrawn from automated teller machines (ATM). Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Hartz, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) district court could properly rely on presentence report (PSR) and an addendum to that report in calculating defendant's offense level, as well as the amount he owed the tribe in restitution, and
2) district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant embezzled all, not just some, of the money that he withdrew from ATMs, for purposes of determining amount of loss in calculating offense level and the amount he owed the tribe in restitution.

Affirmed.

Aguayo v. Jewell
827 F.3d 1213
No. 14-56909
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
July 8, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Disenrolled members of Indian tribe brought action under Administrative Procedure Act (APA) against Secretary of Interior, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Regional Director of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and other federal officials, alleging Assistant Secretary’s decision affirming that Regional Director only had advisory authority, under tribe’s enrollment ordinance that was adopted pursuant to tribe’s constitution, over enrollment disputes was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, and seeking declaratory relief. The United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Cynthia A. Bashant, J., 2014 WL 6473111, entered summary judgment in favor or defendants. Members appealed.

*Holdings: The Court Of Appeals, M. Smith, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] BIA’s determination that it would decline to intervene in enrollment dispute on behalf of disenrolled members was final agency action subject to judicial review;
[2] any procedural protections in Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) for adoption of governing documents by an Indian tribe did not apply;
[3] exception to judicial review under APA for actions that were committed to agency discretion by law did not apply;
[4] cause of action accrued, and six-year limitations period began to run, when BIA’s approval of tribe’s constitution was final;
[5] Assistant Secretary did not abuse his discretion;
[6] general trust relationship between United States and Indian tribes did not compel a finding by Court of Appeals that BIA acted arbitrarily or capriciously; and
[7] res judicata and collateral estoppel principles did not apply.
Affirmed.

United States v. Drapeau
827 F.3d 100
No. 14-3890
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
July 1, 2016

*Synopsis: After denial of defendant's motion in limine to exclude testimony regarding his prior tribal-court convictions for domestic abuse, defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Roberto A. Lange, J., 73 F.Supp.3d 1086, of assault and domestic assault by a habitual offender, and he appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wollman, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) testimony was relevant, and thus admissible;
2) probative value of testimony was not substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect; and
3) use of defendant's uncounseled prior tribal-court convictions as predicate offenses did not violate Constitution.

Affirmed.

Akiachak Native Community v. United States Department of Interior
2016 WL 3568092
No. 13-5360
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
Decided July 1, 2016

*Synopsis: Alaska Native tribes brought action challenging Secretary of Interior's decision to leave in place regulation precluding Alaskan tribes from acquiring land in trust pursuant to Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). State of Alaska intervened, and cross-motions for summary judgment were filed. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Rudolph Contreras, J., 935 F.Supp.2d 195, granted plaintiffs' summary judgment motions, denied Secretary's and Alaska's cross-motions for summary judgment, but withheld ruling on appropriate remedy. Parties briefed appropriate remedy issue and Secretary and Alaska moved for reconsideration of earlier opinion. The District Court, 995 F.Supp.2d 1, severed and vacated the portion of regulation, and, 995 F.Supp.2d 7, granted Alaska's motion to enjoin Interior from taking any land into trust pending appeal. Alaska appealed, and tribes and Secretary moved to dismiss appeal.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Tatel, Circuit Judge, held that federal court lacked jurisdiction to review appeal by State of Alaska seeking to prohibit Interior from acquiring trust land in Alaska.
Appeal dismissed.
Brown, Circuit Judge, filed dissenting opinion.

Related News Stories: Akiachak prepares to inventory land for trust status (KYUK) 7/8/16, Controversy over Interior's trust authority in Alaska remains unresolved (JD Supra) 7/8/16, Tribes in Alaska celebrate long-awaited victory in trust land case (Indianz) 7/4/16

Kenyon v. United States
127 Fed.Cl. 767
No. 16–CV–223
United States Court of Federal Claims.
FILED July 28, 2016

*Synopsis: Federal inmate brought action against government, alleging wrongful imprisonment, as well as violations of Constitution and "bad men" clause of Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

*Holdings: The Court of Federal Claims, Braden, J., held that:
1) it lacked jurisdiction under Tucker Act to adjudicate federal prisoner's claims alleging violations of Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, as well as Due Process Clauses of Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;
2) it lacked jurisdiction under Tucker Act to adjudicate federal prisoner's claim alleging his imprisonment for aggravated sexual abuse of a child violated "bad men" clause of Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868; and
3) it lacked jurisdiction under Tucker Act to adjudicate federal prisoner's claim alleging he was wrongfully imprisoned.
Motion granted.

Littlefield v. Department of Interior
NO. 16-10184-WGY
United States District Court, District of Massachusetts
7/28/2016

Legal Topics: Land into Trust - Federal Acquisition

Related News Stories: Mashpee, Cowlitz rulings could have national impact on casino law (Taunton Gazette) 8/3/16, Our View: With Taunton casino in limbo, time for Congress to pass 'Carcieri fix' (Taunton Gazette) 8/3/16, Two tribes see conflicting rulings in long-running quests for casinos (Indianz) 8/2/16, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sees setback in land-into-trust dispute (Indianz) 7/29/16, Federal judge: Wampanoag land into trust designation flawed (Cape Cod) 7/29/16, Obama administration backs Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino bid (Indianz) 7/8/16

Renteria v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians
2016 WL 4000984
No. 2:16-cv-1685-MCE-AC
United States District Court, E.D. California
7/26/2016

Legal Topics: Child Custory - Tribal Court Jurisdiction

United States of America vs. Tawnya Bearcomesout
2016 WL 3982455
CR 16-13-BLG-SPW
United States District Court, D. Montana
7/22/2016

Legal Topics: Double Jeapordy  

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians v. Snyder
No. 1:15-cv-850
United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division
7/06/2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against State of Michigan, seeking declaration that its reservation existed and that all lands within reservation were Indian country under federal law, and seeking permanent injunction enjoining state and state officials from asserting jurisdiction over tribe or its citizens. Tribe moved for summary judgment and to strike.

*Holdings: The District Court, Paul L. Maloney, J., held that district court would bifurcate lawsuit into two phases, first addressing declaratory relief.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

June

United States v. Washington
827 F.3d 836
No. 13-35474
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed June 27, 2016

*Synopsis: United States, on behalf of numerous Native-American tribes, brought action against State of Washington, alleging that State violated fishing clause of Stevens Treaties by building and maintaining barrier culverts that prevented mature salmon from returning from sea to their spawning grounds, prevented smolt from moving downstream and out to sea, and prevented very young salmon from moving freely to seek food and escape predators. The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Ricardo S. Martinez, Chief District Judge, 2013 WL 1334391, issued injunction ordering state to correct offending culverts. State appealed.

*Holding:The Court of Appeals, W. Fletcher, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) fishing clause guaranteed Native-Americans' right to engage in off-reservation fishing, and included promise that there would be fish to harvest;
2) State violated fishing clause by building and maintaining barrier culverts under roadways within relevant area;
3) State's cross-request for injunction to require United States to fix its culverts was barred by sovereign immunity;
4) breadth of injunction requiring state to redesign or replace numerous culverts was appropriate;
5) injunction imposed appropriate obligation, even though injunction focused only on culverts and did not order other remedies; and
6) in imposing injunction, district court appropriately assessed equitable principles.

Affirmed.

Jamul Action Committee v. Chaudhuri
2016 WL 3201335
No. 15-16021
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed June 9, 2016

Legal Topics: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act - NEPA Review

Cayuga Nation v. Tanner
2016 WL 3093259
Docket No. 15–1667–cv; 15–1937–cv
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
June 2, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe, and individual officers, employees, and representatives of tribe brought action against village, village board, and individual village officials, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, and alleging that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) preempted village's efforts to enforce a local anti-gambling ordinance against a gaming facility located on land owned by tribe. Village moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, David N. Hurd, J., granted motion. Tribe and representatives appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Gerard E. Lynch, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) decision of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) recognizing individual as tribe's federal representative on an interim basis was sufficient to provide individual authority to initiate lawsuit on behalf of tribe, and
2) individual officers of tribe had standing to challenge application of a village anti-gambling ordinance.

Vacated and remanded.

Wolfchild v. Redwood County
824 F.3d 761
No. 15–1580, No. 15–2375, No. 15–3225, No. 15–3277
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
June 1, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Lineal descendants of Mdewakanton Sioux tribe who were loyal to United States during 1862 Sioux uprising in Minnesota brought putative class action against property owners and municipalities, seeking declaration that they owned exclusive title to certain land in Minnesota and alleging claims of ejectment and trespass. The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Michael J. Davis, J., dismissed complaint, 91 F.Supp.3d 1093, imposed sanctions, 112 F.Supp.3d 866, denied municipalities' motion for costs, and denied plaintiffs' motion to stay requirement for appellate cost bond, 2015 WL 5672718. Plaintiffs appealed, and municipalities cross-appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Bright, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) plaintiffs did not have cause of action under federal common law for violation of possessory rights to aboriginal land;
2) federal statute that authorized Interior Secretary to set apart land for loyal Mdewakanton did not create private remedy; and
3) district court abused its discretion in awarding sanctions.

Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

Wyoming, et al v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al
2016 WL 3509415
Case No. 2:15-CV-043-SWS, Case No. 2:15-CV-041-SWS
United States District Court, D. Wyoming.
06/21/2016

Legal Topics:  Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands

Tohono O'odham Nation v. Douglas A Ducey, et al
2016 WL 3402391
No. CV-15-01135-PHX-DGC
United States District Court, D. Arizona.
06/21/2016

Legal Topics: Motion to Compell - Closed Tribal Government Sessions

Green v. Director/Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
2016 WL 3647182
Case No.: 14cv965-LAB-BGS
United States District Court, S.D. California
06/10/2016

Legal Topics: Prisoners - Religious Freedom

May

Timbisha Shoshone Tribe v. U.S. Department of Interior
2016 WL 3034671
No. 13-16182
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed May 27, 2016

*Synopsis: Members of Indian tribe brought action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against Department of the Interior (DOI) and others, alleging injuries suffered as result of two decisions of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs with regard to ongoing tribal leadership dispute. Following dismissal, 282 F.R.D. 588, plaintiffs filed second amended complaint, realleging their five previous claims and adding sixth claim alleging an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) violation. Defendants moved to dismiss. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Morrison C. England, Jr., Chief Judge, 290 F.R.D. 589, granted defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wallace, Senior Circuit Judge, held that no actual controversy remained following tribe's adoption of new constitution, and thus appeal was moot.

Appeal dismissed.

Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria v. Jewell
650 Fed.Appx. 497
No. 14–15541
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed May 24, 2016
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe and its individual members brought action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) against Secretary of the Interior, seeking review of removal of lands from trust status and distribution of lands to individual tribe members. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Jeremy D. Fogel, J., 2014 WL 1006576, dismissed the complaint as time-barred. Plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) District Court had jurisdiction to grant plaintiffs' motion to correct clerical error in stipulation for entry of judgment in earlier action nunc pro tunc, and
2) government did not waive statute of limitations as affirmative defense.

Affirmed.

Caddo Nation of Oklahoma v. Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
2016 WL 3080971
NO. CIV-16-0559-HE
United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma.
Signed 05/31/2016

Legal Topics:  Trust Lands; National Historic Preservation Act

State of Texas v. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
2016 WL 3039991
EP-99-CV-320-KC
United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division.
Signed 05/27/2016

Legal Topics:  Restoration Act - Gaming Activities

Banks v. Cashcall, Inc.
2016 WL 3021749
Case No. 6:14-cv-488-Orl-37TBS
United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division.
Signed May 26, 2016

*Synopsis: Borrower filed state court action against lender's assignee and loan servicer challenging terms of high-interest loan agreement. After removal, defendants moved to dismiss or, alternatively, to compel arbitration.

*Holdings: The District Court, Roy B. Dalton Jr., J., held that:
1) Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) governed loan agreement, and
2) borrower's claims were subject to arbitration.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Greybuffalo v. Litscher
2016 WL 3024175
15-cv-8-bbc
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin.
Filed: 05/25/2016

Legal Topics: Constitutional Rights of Prison Inmate - Religious Practices and Materials

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsion v. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Dept. of Justice
2016 WL 2997499
Case No. 15-CV-1378
United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin.
Filed 05/23/2016

Legal Topics: Farm Bill - Industrial Hemp Cultivation

Related News Stories: Judge rejects Menominee's hemp arguments (Washington Times) 5/24/16, Menominee Nation set for court hearing in industrial hemp lawsuit (Indianz) 4/20/16, Menominee want summary judgement in hemp case (Wisconsin Radio News) 2/25/16

In the Matter of the Will of Phyllis J. Campbell
63 IBIA 68
Docket No. IBIA 15-011
United States Department of the Interior
Interior Board of Indian Appeals
May 20, 2016

Legal Topics:  Wills and Trusts - Osage Headright

Navajo Nation v. Urban Outfitters, Inc.
2016 WL 7427157
Civ. No. 12–195 BB/LAM
United States District Court, D. New Mexico.
Signed 05/19/2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against clothing and accessory retailer, alleging violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) for retailer's deceptive marketing of their products to suggest that they were Indian made, when in fact they were not. Retailer moved for summary judgment on issue of damages.

*Holdings: The District Court, Bruce D. Black, Senior District Judge, held that under IACA, damages were imposed at rate of $1,000 per day, per good, rather than $1,000 per day, per offender.

Motion denied.

Feller v. Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office
2016 WL 2733410
Case No. 5:16-cv-61
United States District Court, D. Vermont.
Filed 05/10/2016

Legal Topics: Tribal Sovereign Immunity

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. BNSF Railway Company
2016 WL 2610247
No. C15-0543RSL
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Seattle.
Signed 05/06/2016

Legal Topics: Indian Right-of-Way Act

National Wildlife Federation v. National Marine Fisheries Service
2016 WL 2353647
Case No. 3:01-cv-00640-SI
United States District Court, D. Oregon.
Signed 05/04/2016

*Synopsis: Environmental groups brought action challenging decision of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries that operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) did not violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and asserting that United States Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to prepare an environmental impact statement in connection with their records of decision implementing NOAA's biological opinion (BiOp). Parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Michael H. Simon, J., held that:
1) biological opinion concluding that FCRPS did not jeopardize species listed under ESA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA);
2) biological opinion concluding that FCRPS would not adversely modify critical habitat pursuant to ESA was not arbitrary and capricious under APA;
3) environmental groups did not waive their right to raise NEPA claim;
4) decision by Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation not to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA was not reasonable;
5) biological opinion concluding that FCRPS was not likely to affect endangered Southern Resident killer whales pursuant to ESA was not arbitrary and capricious under APA.
Ordered accordingly.

April

Ramona Two Shields v. U.S.
820 F.3d 1324
No. 2015–5069
United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
April 27, 2016

*Synopsis: Native Americans, who held interests in allotment land located on reservation which was also located on part of one of the country's largest contiguous deposits of oil and natural gas, brought putative class action against United States for allegedly violating its obligations relating to approval of oil-and-gas leases on allotment lands, and asserting claims for breach of fiduciary duties and legislative taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The United States Court of Federal Claims, Lawrence J. Block, J., 119 Fed.Cl. 762, granted the government's motion for summary judgment and to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Prost, Chief Judge, held that:
1) settlement agreement resolving prior class action against Secretary of Interior released plaintiff's claim that government breached fiduciary duty by approving oil and gas leases that were below market value;
2) government did not have fiduciary duty to disclose all information related to the administration of Indian trusts in connection with the settlement; and
3) Act passed by Congress that ratified the settlement was not a legislative taking.
Affirmed.

Oklevueha Native American Church Of Hawaii, Inc. v. Lynch
2016 WL 1359239
No. 14–15143
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
April 6, 2016.

*Synopsis: Native American Oklevueha Church and its spiritual leader brought action against government officials, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), the Free Exercise Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause, in order to prevent the government from prosecuting them under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), for possessing, obtaining, and cultivating or distributing cannabis. The Court of Appeals, Murguia, Circuit Judge, 676 F.3d 829, reversed the district court's dismissal of church's claims. On remand, and following dismissal of all other claims, the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, Susan Oki Mollway, Chief District Judge, 2013 WL 6892914, granted summary judgment in favor of government on RFRA claim. Church appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, O'Scannlain, Circuit Judge, held that prohibition of cannabis use did not substantially burden church members' free exercise of their religion, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Native American Church resists pot enthusiasts (Courthouse News) 4/19/16, Self-proclaimed 'Native' church loses decision on marijuana use (Indianz) 4/7/16, Court: Native American church not excused from cannabis laws (KSWO) 4/6/16

Navajo Nation v. U.S. Dept. of Interior
2016 WL 1359869
Nos. 13–16517, 13–16519, 13–16520.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
April 6, 2016.

*Synopsis:  Tribe filed suit against United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and government officials, seeking immediate return of human remains and associated funerary objects taken from its reservation during inventory of remains and objects pursuant to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Paul G. Rosenblatt, Senior District Judge, 2013 WL 530302, dismissed action as barred by sovereign immunity. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Christen, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) decision to apply NAGPRA to inventory remains from sacred site on reservation constituted final agency action, and
2) tribe's claims were ripe for review.

Reversed and remanded.

Related News Stories: Navajo Nation wins ruling for remains removed from reservation (Indianz) 4/7/16

Ninilchik Traditional Council vs. Tim Towarak
2016 WL 1559122
3:15-cv-00205 JWS
United States District Court, D. Alaska.
Filed 04/17/2016

Legal Topics: Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act - Title VII; Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6) - Dismissal

Greybuffalo v. Wall
2016 WL 1559179
15-cv-8-bbc
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin.
Filed: 04/15/2016

Legal Topics: Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act; U.S. Constitution - Free Excercise Clause; Native American Church - Religious Ceremonies

Forest County Potawatomi Community v. United States
2016 WL 1465324
Civil Action No. 15-105 (CKK)
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
Signed April 14, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against United States of America, United States Department of the Interior, Secretary of the Interior, and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, challenging defendants' decision to disapprove an amendment to a gaming compact between the tribe and the state under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). A second tribe filed motion for leave to intervene.

*Holdings: The District Court, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, J., held that:
1) tribe had standing to intervene as defendant, and
2) tribe's interests were not adequately represented by federal government, thereby supporting tribe's entitlement to intervene as a matter of right.
Motion granted.

March

Arizona v. Tohono O'odham Nation
2016 WL 1211834
Nos. 13–16517, 13–16519, 13–16520.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
March 29, 2016.

*Synopsis:  State of Arizona and two Indian communities brought action, seeking to enjoin Indian tribe from constructing and operating major casino on unincorporated land within outer boundaries of city on grounds that proposed casino violated Gaming Compact between state and tribe. Following dismissal of claims in part, 2011 WL 2357833, parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, David G. Campbell, J., 944 F.Supp.2d 748, granted tribe's motion. State appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Bea, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) did not bar tribe from gaming on parcel;
2) it was within district court's discretion to determine that tribe was not judicially estopped from asserting that it had a right to conduct gaming on parcel under IGRA;
3) tribe was authorized under Gaming Compact with State of Arizona to conduct gaming on parcel; and
4) tribal sovereign immunity barred State of Arizona's claims against tribe for promissory estoppel, fraudulent inducement, and material misrepresentation.
Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Tohono O'Odham prevails in gaming compact dispute before Ninth Circuit (Turtle Talk) 3/29/16

Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources v. U.S.
2016 WL 946917
No. 14–35051.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed March 14, 2016.

*Synopsis: State of Alaska brought action against landowners, who were Alaska natives, to quiet title to rights-of-way for four public trails that crossed their land, and seeking a declaratory judgment and a claim seeking to condemn for public use whatever portions of the rights-of-way the State did not already own. The United States District Court for the District of Alaska, Ralph R. Beistline, Senior Judge, dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. State appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Watford, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over action to quiet title to rights-of-way, and
[2] federal court had jurisdiction over state's condemnation action.

Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

U.S. v. Reza-Ramos
2016 WL 890777
No. 11–10029.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
March 9, 2016.

Legal Topics: Major Crimes Act; Jurisdiction Over Non-Indian

Brenda Turunen v. Keith Creagh, Director, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Jamie Clover Adams, Director, Michigan Dept. of Agriculture
2016 WL 1253043
Case No. 2:13-CV-106
United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division.
Mar. 31, 2016.

Legal Topics: Treaty Rights - Hunting

Tohono O'odham Nation v. Ducey
2016 WL 1241888
No. CV-15-01135-PHX-DGC
United States District Court, D. Arizona.
Mar. 30, 2016.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against Arizona's governor, attorney general, and director of Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) alleging that Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) preempted state's policy of refusing to certify vendors and employees to work at tribe's casino. Director filed counterclaims alleging promissory estoppel, fraudulent inducement, and material misrepresentation. Tribe moved to dismiss counterclaims.

*Holdings: The District Court, David G. Campbell, J., held that:
1) Arizona law did not limit director's ability to assert counterclaims;
2) doctrine of equitable recoupment did not overcome tribe's assertion of sovereign immunity;
3) tribe waived its sovereign immunity to director's counterclaim for declaration that ADG was not obligated to certify or authorize tribe's proposed facility;
4) tribe waived its sovereign immunity to director's counterclaim for declaration that tribe was prohibited from conducting Class III gaming at facility;
5) tribe's sovereign immunity barred Adirector's counterclaims for declaration that ADG was not obligated to certify or authorize any additional facilities, declaration or injunction prohibiting tribe from conducting Class III gaming activities at other locations, and reformation of tribal-state compact;
6) director could not assert promissory estoppel claim; and
7) dismissal of state's fraudulent inducement and material misrepresentation counterclaims was not warranted.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Navajo Nation v. Department of the Interior
2016 WL 1273182
Civil Action No. 14-cv-1909 (TSC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
Mar. 30, 2016.

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action alleging that Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), an agency within Department of the Interior (DOI), violated Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) by failing to disperse certain funding. Parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Tanya S. Chutkan, J., held that tribe was equitably estopped from asserting that BIA failed to approve or decline funding proposal within 90-day window.
Tribe's motion denied and DOI's motion granted.

United States v. White Plume
2016 WL 1228585
CIV. 02-5071-JLV
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division.
Filed 03/28/2016

Legal Topics: Controlled Substances Act - Marijuana/Hemp

Maniilaq Association v. Burwell
170 F.Supp.3d 243
Civil Action No. 15-152 (JDB)
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
Signed March 22, 2016.

*Synopsis: Regional health corporation that owned and operated medical clinic in Native American village commenced action under Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to require Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to rent its clinic space and pay it compensation based on clinic's operating costs. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, John D. Bates, J., held that amount of lease compensation was not commended to discretion of HHS, constrained only by funding floor.
Motion granted.

New Mexico ex rel. State Engineer v. Aamodt
171 F.Supp.3d 1171
No. 66cv06639 WJ/WPL
United States District Court, D. New Mexico.
Signed March 21, 2016

*Synopsis: New Mexico brought action against various property owners pursuant to its water adjudication statutes, seeking determination of rights to use water of particular river system. United States, on behalf of itself and several affected Native-American tribes, intervened. Proposed settlement was reached with respect to tribal water rights, and, following enactment of Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act, settlement parties revised their agreement to conform with Act and court entered order to show cause why it should not approve settlement agreement.

*Holdings: The District Court, William P. Johnson, J., held that:
1) objections related to approval procedure did not merit rejection of agreement;
2) objections about implementation of agreement did not merit rejection of agreement; and
3) objections as to disagreements about application of state and federal laws did not merit rejection of agreement.
Objections overruled and settlement approved.

Amador County v. S.M.R. Jewell
170 F.Supp.3d 135
Civil Action No. 05-00658 (BJR)
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
Signed March 16, 2016

*Synopsis: County brought action challenging decision of Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior to approve amended gaming compact between Indian tribe and State of California pursuant to Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The District Court, Richard W. Roberts, J., 592 F.Supp.2d 101, dismissed action and denied county's motion for reconsideration, 723 F.Supp.2d 67. The Court of Appeals, Tatel, Circuit Judge, 640 F.3d 373, reversed and remanded. Secretary moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, J., held that:
1) county agreed to treat Indian tribe's rancheria as reservation when it entered into stipulated judgment with Indian tribe, under which parties agreed that rancheria was not lawfully terminated under California Rancheria Act;
2) county and Indian tribe intended stipulated judgment to bind them in future actions, and thus county was precluded from arguing that rancheria was not reservation within meaning of IGRA; and
3) Secretary had authority to determine whether Indian tribe's rancheria was reservation within meaning of IGRA.
Motion granted.

In re Montoya
547 B.R. 439
no. 7–15–12528 JA
United States Bankruptcy Court, D. New Mexico.
March 14, 2016

*Synopsis: Chapter 7 debtor, proceeding pro se, filed motion to enforce automatic stay and for award of monetary sanctions, asserting that Indian tribe and tribal court willfully violated the stay when court entered tax lien and stay order in connection with certain unpaid cigarette taxes. 

*Holdings: The Bankruptcy Court, Robert H. Jacobvitz, J., held that:
1) entry of tax lien and stay order in the tribal court action constituted a continuation of a judicial action against debtor in violation of the automatic stay;
2) tax lien and stay order were void ab initio and could be recognized as such regardless of whether tribe was immune from suit;
3) debtor's claims against tribal court and tribal court judge for willful violation of the automatic stay were barred on grounds of immunity;
4) debtor failed to show that he suffered any actual damages from tribe's willful stay violation; and
5) the imposition of punitive damages was not warranted.

Motion granted in part.

Tuttle v. Jewell
168 F.Supp.3d 299
Civil Action No. 13-365 (RMC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
Signed March 11, 2016.

*Synopsis: Lessee of land from Colorado River Indian Tribes brought action against Secretary of the Interior and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to challenge termination of his lease. His family trust was substituted as plaintiff after his death. Defendants moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, J., held that:
1) lessee's interests were arguably within ambit of Indian Long-Term Leasing Act;
2) cancellation of lease did not violate lease or regulations;
3) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) did not delegate authority to Tribes; and
4) lease did not require BIA or tribe to accept lessee's long-overdue cure.
Motion granted.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, LLC v. Cieslak
2016 WL 890921
Case No.: 2:15-cv-00663-JAD-GWF consolidated with 2:15-cv-1189-JAD-GWF
United States District Court, D. Nevada.
Signed March 7, 2016

Legal Topics: Tribal Land; Tribal Sovereign Immunity

Smith v. Western Sky Financial, LLC
2016 WL 1212697
CIVIL ACTION No. 15–3639
United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.
Signed March 4, 2016

*Synopsis: Borrower, who received high-interest payday loan from lender owned by member of Native American tribe, brought action against lender and its successors-in-interest, which purchased the debt, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, and state usury laws. Defendants moved to dismiss or to compel arbitration.

*Holdings: The District Court, McHugh, J., held that:
1) forum selection clause, providing that borrower consented to subject matter jurisdiction of tribe, was unenforceable;
2) exhaustion of claims in tribal court was not required; and
3) arbitration clause in loan agreement was unenforceable.
Motion denied.

Ramah Navajo Chapter v. Jewell
167 F.Supp.3d 1217
No. 90 CV 957 JAP/KBM
United States District Court, D. New Mexico.
Filed 03/02/2016

Synopsis: Indian tribes and tribal organizations brought class action against Secretary of the Interior, seeking to collect contract support costs (CSC) for activities that had to be carried on by tribal contractors to ensure compliance with terms of self-determination contracts under Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA). Parties jointly moved for approval of final class settlement.

Holdings: The District Court, James A. Parker, J., held that:
1) class settlement amount of $940,000,000 was fair, reasonable, and adequate;
2) percentage-of-the-fund method, without applying lodestar analysis, was appropriate means to determine reasonable attorneys' fees;
3) requested attorneys' fee award of 8.5% of mega fund amount was appropriate; and
4) award to class counsel of $1,205,989 as reimbursement for costs was appropriate.
Motion granted.

February

Alaska Oil and Gas Ass'n v. Jewell
2016 WL 766855
Nos. 13–35619, 13–35666, 13–35662, 13–35667, 13–35669
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Feb. 29, 2016.

*Synopsis: State of Alaska, oil and gas trade associations, and Alaska Native corporations and villages brought actions against Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), seeking invalidation of final rule in which FWS designated critical habitat for polar bears under Endangered Species Act (ESA). Environmental groups intervened. The United States District Court for the District of Alaska, Ralph R. Beistline, Chief Judge, 916 F.Supp.2d 974, granted summary judgment to plaintiffs on some of their claims, and vacated the final rule. FWS and environmental groups appealed, and plaintiffs cross-appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Schroeder, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] FWS was not required to identify where each component part of each primary constituent element (PCE) was located within each habitat by using scientific data establishing current use by existing polar bears;
[2] five–mile increment measurement inland from the coast, to define the area of designation, was not arbitrary and capricious;
[3] inclusion of area that was primarily an industrial staging area for oil and gas operations was not arbitrary and capricious;
[4] as a matter of first impression for the circuit, compliance with procedural requirements for providing written justification to State was judicially reviewable; and
[5] FWS complied with procedural requirements for written justification.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Longo v. Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee
2016 WL 722526
No. 15–12460
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
Feb. 24, 2016.

*Synopsis: Former employee of tribe-owned casino brought action against casino, alleging claims under Title VII and Florida Civil Rights Act. Casino moved to dismiss. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Docket No. 2:14–cv–00334–SPC–CM, Sheri Polster Chappell, J., 110 F.Supp.3d 1252, granted motion. Former employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
[1] in a matter of first impression, Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owned and operated casino, was federally recognized Indian tribe, and thus it was entitled to sovereign immunity, and
[2] sanctions and double costs were not warranted against former employee for frivolous appeal.

Affirmed.

Related News Stories: Federal list is final word on Indian tribe's immunity from suit - 11th Circuit (Reuters) 2/25/16

U.S. v. Rainbow
813 F.3d 1097
Nos. 15–1936, 15–1937.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
Feb. 19, 2016.

*Synopsis:  Following jury trial, defendants were convicted in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Daniel L. Hovland, J., of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury within Indian country. Defendants appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wollman, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) admission of certificates of degree of Indian blood did not violate Confrontation Clause;
2) instruction on lesser-included offense of simple assault was unwarranted;
3) instruction on lesser-included offense of assault by beating, striking, or wounding was unwarranted;
4) jury could not rationally find that defendant assaulted victim, but that he did not aid or abet co-defendant in committing more serious crimes, as would warrant lesser-included offense instruction;
5) testimony of emergency room doctor was admissible; and
6) conviction was supported by sufficient evidence.

Affirmed.

New Mexico v. Trujillo
2016 WL 683831
No. 15–2047
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
Feb. 19, 2016.

*Synopsis: New Mexico filed suit regarding water rights. The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico entered order that adjudicated individual's water rights based on special master's summary judgment order. Individual property owner appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Matheson, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] district court's certification of order as final appealable judgment did not clearly articulate "finality" or "no just reason for delay," and therefore order fell short of proper certification;
[2] order addressing individual's water rights could not be considered final, as required to be certified as final appealable order;
[3]danger of injustice did not outweigh inconvenience and costs of piecemeal review, and thus order could not be reviewed under pragmatic finality doctrine;
[4] order describing individual's water rights expressly granted States's request for injunction, and thus Court of Appeals could exercise jurisdiction to review it; and
[5] individual inadequately presented argument on appeal that she was entitled to irrigate her land, and thus Court of Appeals declined to address it.
Affirmed.

U.S. v. Harlan
815 F.3d 1100
No. 15–1552.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
Feb. 16, 2016.

*Synopsis:  Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, Lyle E. Strom, J., of domestic assault in Indian country by habitual offender. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Riley, Chief Judge, held that:
1) defendant's prior tribal court simple-assault conviction could be used as predicate offense in subsequent federal prosecution for domestic assault in Indian country by habitual offender;
2) sufficient evidence supported conviction; and
3) defendant's sentence, which was at the bottom of the advisory Guidelines range, was substantively reasonable.

Affirmed.

In re Tam
808 F.3d 1321
No. 2014–1203.
United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.
Feb. 11, 2016.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis:  Trademark applicant sought review of the decision of the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, 2013 WL 5498164, which affirmed an examining attorney's refusal to register the trademark "THE SLANTS" for a musical band, on grounds that the mark was disparaging to people of Asian descent. The Court of Appeals, Moore, Circuit Judge, 785 F.3d 567, affirmed. The Court of Appeals sua sponte ordered rehearing en banc.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, en banc, Moore, Circuit Judge, held that:
1) the prohibition on the registration of disparaging trademarks was subject to strict scrutiny under the First Amendment, abrogating In re McGinley, 660 F.2d 481;
2) the prohibition on the registration of disparaging trademarks was not a regulation of commercial speech;
3) the prohibition on the registration of disparaging trademarks significantly chilled private speech;
4) the registration of trademarks did not constitute government speech;
5) the registration of trademarks was not part of a government subsidy program; and
6) even assuming that the prohibition on the registration of disparaging trademarks was a regulation of commercial speech, the government lacked a substantial government interest for prohibiting disparaging marks.

Vacated and remanded.

Hayes v. Delbert Services Corp.
2016 WL 386016
Nos. 15–1170, 15–1217
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Feb. 2, 2016.

*Synopsis: Borrower, who received payday loan from lender owned by member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, brought putative class action against loan servicing agent, alleging that agent's debt collection practices violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, John A. Gibney, Jr., J., 2015 WL 269483, granted agent's motion to compel arbitration. Borrowers appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Wilkinson, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] arbitration agreement between lender, loan servicer, and borrowers, which purported to renounce any application of federal law to borrowers' claims, was unenforceable, and
[2] district court abused its discretion when it instructed jury that victim was federal officer; and
Reversed and remanded.

Related News Stories: Fourth Circuit rejects motion to compel arbitration in FDCPA putative class action (JD Supra) 4/22/16

Doe v. Piper
2016 WL 755619
Civil No. 15-2639 (JRT/SER)
United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Signed February 25, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian parents brought action on behalf of child, who was subject of pending state adoption proceeding to non-Indian adoptive parents, against Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Attorney General, and tribal officer, alleging that notice and intervention provisions of Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) infringed on their rights to equal protection and due process. Defendants moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, John R. Tunheim, Chief Judge, held that:
1) notice-related injuries were imminent;
2) intervention-related injuries were imminent;
3) Attorney General and Commissioner were proper defendants;
4) tribal officer was not proper defendant;
5) Younger abstention did not apply to claims; and
6) capable-of-repetition exception applied such that parents' action was not moot.
Motion of tribal officer granted, and motions of Attorney General and Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services denied.

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water Dist.
2016 WL 2621301
EDCV 13-883 JGB (SPx)
United States District Court, C.D. California.
Signed 02/23/2016

Legal Topics: Reserved Water Rights - Groundwater

Related News Stories: Does the Agua Caliente tribe have rights to groundwater? (Desert Sun) 10/20/16, Agua Caliente Band back in federal court to defend water rights (Indianz) 10/20/16 (Turtle Talk Material)

Navajo Nation v. San Juan County
2016 WL 697120
Case No. 2:12-cv-00039-RJS-DPB
United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
Signed February 19, 2016

*Synopsis: Navajo Nation and individual tribal members brought action against county, alleging that the redistricting of county commission election districts was racially discriminatory in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Both parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Robert J. Shelby, J., held that:
1) strict scrutiny applied to Navajo Nation's traditional Equal Protection Clause claim, and
2) one election district was unconstitutional under Equal Protection Clause warranting redrawing of district boundary lines.
Plaintiffs' motion granted, and county's motion denied.

*Related News Stories: Navajos ask federal judge to restore polling places in Utah (WGEM) 9/21/16, How a Utah county silenced Native American voters (Durango Herald) 7/4/16, How a Utah county silenced Native American voters — and how Navajos are fighting back (High Country News) 6/13/16, Utah county defends mail-in voting against Navajo lawsuit (Albuquerque Journal) 4/18/16, Will Natives get a fair chance to vote in 2016? Not according to many lawsuits (New America Media) 3/11/16, Navajo Nation wins decision over voting districts in Utah county (Indianz) 2/26/16

Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of the Enterprise Rancheria of California v. State of California
2016 WL 632782
No. 2:14-cv-01939-TLN-CKD
United States District Court, E.D. California
Signed February 16, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against California, seeking relief under Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) based on California legislature's failure to ratify casino-style gaming compact negotiated between California's governor and the tribe, resulting in expiration of the compact. Tribe moved for judgment on the pleadings.

*Holdings: The District Court, Troy L. Nunley, J., held that:
1) California legislature's failure to ratify compact fell within California's waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity for actions brought by Indian tribes arising from state's refusal to enter into compact negotiations or to negotiate in good faith pursuant to IGRA;
2) subjecting California's legislature to IGRA's negotiation mandate for casino-style gaming compacts would not invade fundamental aspect of California's Tenth Amendment sovereignty;
3) IGRA did not require Indian tribe before bringing action to make additional request that California enter into negotiations for gaming compact after California's legislature failed to ratify the compact; and
4) California legislature's failure to ratify casino-style gaming compact for nearly two years before compact expired on its own terms and failure to take any additional activity since that time constituted breach of IGRA's mandate that California negotiate in good faith to conclude compact with Indian tribe.
Motion granted.

Related News Stories: Judge sides with Enterprise Rancheria on casino compact suit (AppealDemocrat) 2/18/16

Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Gerlach
2016 WL 589864
CIV 14-4171
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
Signed February 11, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action seeking a declaratory judgment that, under federal law, the state did not have authority to impose a use tax on goods and services purchased by nonmembers at the tribe's casino, which was operated pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and that the state did not have authority to regulate the tribe's sale of alcoholic beverages at the casino. Tribe moved for declaration that IGRA was broad enough in scope to cover sales of goods and services beyond game-play on the casino floor and to dismiss State's counterclaims.

*Holdings: The District Court, Lawrence L. Piersol, J., held that:
1) scope of IGRA covered activity beyond pure game-play at the casino;
2) counterclaim seeking monetary relief in the form of further payments by tribe into escrow account was not an action in recoupment; and
3) deposit agreement between state and tribe did not waive tribe's sovereign immunity from suit.
Motions granted.

Casey v. Stephens
2016 WL 543233
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14-CV-13
United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
Signed February 9, 2016

*Synopsis: State prisoner brought action for declaratory and injunctive relief under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and Free Exercise Clause, challenging policies of Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division (TDCJ-CID) that burdened his right to practice his Native American faith. Department's Director filed motion for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The District Court, Nelva Gonzalez Ramos, J., held that:
1) Department's hair grooming policy, which prevented prisoner from growing his hair long and/or wearing a kouplock, was least restrictive means;
2) policy restricting medicine bags was least restrictive means; and
3) prohibition of personal or communal prayer pipes was least restrictive means.
Motion granted; dismissed with prejudice.

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Riverside County
181 F.Supp.3d 725
Case No. ED CV 14-0007 DMG (DTBx)
United States District Court, C.D. California.
Signed February 8, 2016

*Synopsis: Indian tribe brought action against county and county tax officials, in their official capacity, alleging unlawful taxation by county on lessees using and occupying Indian trust land within tribe's reservation, and seeking declaration that taxes on lessees' possessory interest in lands and permanent improvements on lands were unlawful, and seeking injunction against county's future assessment or collection of such taxes. County moved for judgment on the pleadings.

*Holdings: The District Court, Dolly M. Gee, J., held that:
1) exception in Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regulation governing which taxes applied to leased Indian land did not apply;
2) strong federal interest weighed in favor of preemption of tax;
3) strong tribal interest weighed in favor of preemption of tax;
4) county's general interest in raising revenue, and lack of connection between services provided to tribe and activity being taxed, weighed in favor of preemption of tax; and
5) tax was preempted, for purposes of county's motion.
Motion denied.

Dillon v. BMO Harris Bank, N.A.
2016 WL 447502
Case No. 16-mc-5-CVE-TLW
United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
Signed February 4, 2016

Legal Topics: Tribal Sovereign Immunity

January

Bettor Racing, Inc. v. National Indian Gaming Com'n
812 F.3d 648
No. 15–1335.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
Filed Jan. 29, 2016.

*Synopsis: A parimutuel betting business and its president brought action against the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), claiming that the NIGC's imposition of a $5 million fine for violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Eighth Amendment, and procedural due process protections. An Indian Tribe intervened. The United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Karen E. Schreier, J., 47 F.Supp.3d 912, granted summary judgment in favor of NIGC and tribe. Business appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Benton, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] scienter was not required to establish violation of Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or to impose fines for such violations;
[2] the NIGC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in finding that parimutuel betting business violated the IGRA;
[3] fine imposed did not violate Eighth Amendment; and
[4] business was not deprived of due process.

Affirmed.

U.S. v. Janis
2016 WL 191934
No. 14–3888
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Jan. 15, 2016.

*Synopsis: Following denial of his motion to dismiss indictment, 40 F.Supp.3d 1133, and of his motion for reconsideration, 2014 WL 4384373, defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief Judge, of assault of federal officer, and he appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Gruender, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] tribal public safety officer was "federal officer";
[2] district court abused its discretion when it instructed jury that victim was federal officer; and
[3] erroneous instruction was harmless.
Affirmed.

Kelsey v. Pope
809 F.3d 849
Briefs and other materials from Turtle Talk
No. 14–1537
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Jan. 5, 2016.
This Case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court Bulletin for more information.

*Synopsis: Member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians petitioned for writ of habeas corpus after he had been convicted in tribal court of misdemeanor sexual assault for inappropriately touching tribal employee at Band's community center, 2008 WL 6928233, and his sentence was affirmed on appeal. The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Gordon J. Quist, J., 2014 WL 1338170, granted the petition. Tribe appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, McKeague, Circuit Judge, held that:
[1] tribe had inherent authority to prosecute tribal member for offense substantially affecting tribal self-governance interests, even when such offenses took place outside of Indian country;
[2] Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) extended due process protections to member;
[3] federal constitutional standards applied; and
[4] decision of tribal Court of Appeals to recognize jurisdiction over conduct of member of Indian tribe in touching victim's breasts through her clothing at tribe's off-reservation community center did not violate due process as extended through ICRA.
Reversed and vacated.

Steward v. Mescalero Apache Tribal Court
2016 WL 546840
No. CIV 15–1178 JB/SCY
United States District Court, D. New Mexico
Signed January 30, 2016

Legal Topics: Domestic Violence; Tribal Jurisdiction

Meyer v. Accredited Collection Agency Inc.
2016 WL 379742
CAUSE NO. 1:13CV444-LG-JCG
United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
Signed January 29, 2016

Legal Topics: Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Tanner-Brown v. Jewell
153 F.Supp.3d 102
Civil Action No.: 14-1065 (RC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia
01/27/2016

*Synopsis: Descendant of former slave held by a Native American tribe and legal advocacy group brought putative class action against Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at DOI, in their official capacities seeking an accounting relating to alleged breaches of fiduciary duties concerning land allotted to the minor children of former slaves of Native American tribes. Defendants moved to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, Rudolph Contreras, J., held that:
1) descendant lacked Article III standing, and
2) advocacy group lacked Article III standing.

Motion granted.

Wright v. Langdeau
2016 WL 323620
No. CIV 15-4097
United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
Signed January 25, 2016

*Synopsis: After action was brought in tribal court seeking to remove three members of Indian tribe from their positions as tribal council members, allegedly in an effort to stop their inquiry into the whereabouts of approximately $24 million in federal funding, the three brought an action in federal court against two tribal council members and three United States government officials, seeking an accounting and other relief. Defendants filed motions to dismiss.

*Holdings: The District Court, Lawrence L. Piersol, J., held that:
1) the federal question jurisdictional statute did not properly serve as plaintiffs' basis for subject matter jurisdiction;
2) the United States had not waived its sovereign immunity under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in this case and the APA, therefore, did not form a basis of subject matter jurisdiction;
3) plaintiffs failed to show an exhaustion of tribal remedies, as required to maintain their federal action against tribal defendants; and
4) alternatively, this action was one centering primarily on internal tribal affairs and, as such, could not proceed.
Motion granted.

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida
2016 WL 3128383
CASE NO. 4:15cv516-RH/CAS
United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division.
Signed 01/06/2016

Legal Topics:  Indian Gaming Regulatory Act - Good Faith Negotiations

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