2017 Federal Courts Cases

Last updated: March 24, 2017

Next Update Should be Ready by:
April 5, 2017

Recently Added Cases:

Yazzie v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2017 WL 1046117
No. 14-73100, No. 14-73101, No. 14-73102
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed March 20, 2017

Legal Topics: Clean Air Act - Federal Implementation Plan

Related News Stories: Ninth Circuit rejects challenges to dirty power plant (Courthouse News Service) 3/21/17, Hopi Tribe and Native activists lose cases over aging power plant (Indianz) 3/20/17

Hopi Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2017 WL 1046116
No. 14-73055
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed March 20, 2017

Legal Topics: Clean Air Act - Federal Implementation Plan

Related News Stories: Ninth Circuit rejects challenges to dirty power plant (Courthouse News Service) 3/21/17, Hopi Tribe and Native activists lose cases over aging power plant (Indianz) 3/20/17

A.D. v. Washburn
2017 WL 1019685
No. CV-15-01259-PHX-NVW
United States District Court, D. Arizona.
Signed 03/16/2017

Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act - Unconstitutional

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


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March

Tavares v. Whitehouse
2017 WL 971799
No. 14-15814
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed March 14, 2017

Legal Topics: Indian Civil Rights Act - Exclusion of Members

Related News Stories: Federal appeals court rejects tribal land access lawsuit (Jurist Twenty) 3/15/17, Court rules for California tribe in suit over land access (Columbia Missourian) 3/14/17

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District
2017 WL 894471
No. 15-55896
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed March 7, 2017

Legal Topics: Tribal Water Rights - Groundwater

Related News Stories: Tribes' federal water rights include groundwater—but how much? (JD Supra) 3/22/17, Ninth Circuit confirms tribe's water rights (Courthouse News Service) 3/8/17, Water agency dealt setback in challenge to Bureau of Indian Affairs rule (Indianz) 3/7/17

Desert Water Agency v. U.S. Department of the Interior
Briefs from Turtle Talk
2017 WL 894462
No. 14-55461
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Filed March 7, 2017

Legal Topics: Standing; Indian Lands - Taxation

Related News Stories: No standing to challenge BIA's Native American land lease tax reg (Constitutional Law Prof Blog) 3/9/17, Water agency dealt setback in challenge to Bureau of Indian Affairs rule (Indianz) 3/7/17

Frank's Landing Indian Community v. National Indian Gaming Commission
2017 WL 1003166
CASE NO. C15-5828BHS
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Tacoma.
Signed 03/15/2017

Legal Topics: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act - Indian Tribe

Round Valley Indian Tribes of California v. United States Department of Transportation
2017 WL 950956
Case No. 15-cv-04987-JSW
United States District Court, N.D. California.
Signed 03/10/2017

Legal Topics: Public Transportation Project - Sacred Places

Related News Stories: Feds must face claims over dozered sacred sites (Courthouse News Service) 3/15/17

Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Runyon
2017 WL 923915
Case No. 3:17–cv–00038–AA
United States District Court, D. Oregon,
Portland Division.
Signed 03/08/2017

Legal Topics: Necessary Party; Fishing Rights

United States v. Marwan Sadekni
2017 WL 807024
3:16-CR-30164-MAM
United States District Court,
D. South Dakota, Central Division.
03/01/2017

Legal Topics: Indian Health Service Hospital; Jurisdiction

February

State of Wyoming v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
849 F.3d 861
Nos. 14-9512 and 14-9514
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
02/22/2017

*Synopsis: State of Wyoming and Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation petitioned for review of Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) determination of Wind River Indian Reservation boundaries for purpose of Indian tribes' application for authority to administer portions of Clean Air Act on Reservation.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Tymkovich, Chief Judge, held that Congress diminished boundaries of Wind River Indian Reservation through 1905 legislative Act.
Petition granted.

Related News Stories: Northern Arapaho, feds move to settle in Wind River lawsuit (Casper Star Tribune) 3/21/17, Feds fear Wind River injunction that requires them to negotiate with both tribes, appeal states (Casper Star-Tribune) 3/5/17, Appellate Court rules against EPA in reservation dispute; split decision highlights poor treatment of Indians (K2 Radio) 2/22/17, Court rules Riverton not part of Indian Country (U.S. News) 2/22/17, Wyoming tribes lose major ruling in reservation boundary case (Indianz) 2/22/17

In re Money Center of America, Inc.
2017 WL 775780
Case No. 14–10603 (CSS) Jointly Administered
Adv. Proc. Case No.: 14–50437 (CSS)
Adv. Proc. Case No.: 16–50410 (CSS)
United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Delaware.
Signed February 28, 2017

*Synopsis: Chapter 11 trustee brought adversary proceeding to recover allegedly preferential transfers made to tribal entity the operated casino for benefit of Indian tribe. In separate proceeding, another tribal entity brought adversary proceeding for determination that sums owed to it under its financial services agreement with debtor were not included in property of the estate, and trustee counterclaimed for recovery of prepetition preferential transfers. Tribal entities moved to dismiss trustee's complaint or counterclaims based on their alleged tribal sovereign immunity.

*Holdings: The Bankruptcy Court, Sontchi, J., held that:
1) Entities which operated casinos for benefit of Indian tribes had sufficiently close relationship to tribes to share in tribes' sovereign immunity;
2) Congress did not unequivocally express its intent to abrogate sovereign immunity of Indian tribes, such that Indian tribes, or closely-affiliated entities that operated casinos on tribes' behalf, could not be object of preference avoidance proceedings absent a waiver of their tribal sovereign immunity;
3) waiver issue could not be determined on motion to dismiss;
4) bankruptcy statute that barred creditor that was recipient of avoidable transfer from recovering on its claim until transfer was repaid was not operative as to tribal entity; and
5) tribes and tribal entities were not "governmental units," under statute providing that "governmental unit" that had filed a proof of claim was deemed to have waived its sovereign immunity with respect to a claim against that governmental unit which was property of the estate, and which arose out of the same transaction or occurrence.
Motion granted in part and denied in part.

Related News Stories: Courts continue trend of recognizing tribal immunity in bankruptcy proceedings (Holland & Knight) 3/21/17

Bruguier v. Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
2017 WL 684230
16-cv-604-jdp
16-cv-605-jdp
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin.
02/21/2017

Legal Topics: Employment - Wrongful Termination

Related News Stories: Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reaches settlement (Gaming Today) 2/20/17

Fort Sill Apache Tribe v. National Indian Gaming Commission
2017 WL 664016
Civil Action No. 14–958 (RMC)
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
02/17/2017

Legal Topics: Gaming - Tribal Lands

Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians
2017 WL 616465
Case No. 16-cv-02438-WHO
United States District Court, E.D. California.
02/15/2017

Legal Topics: Tribal Court Jurisdiction; Tribal Government - Fraud

United States v. Cooley
2017 WL 499896
CR 16–42–BLG–SPW
United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division.
Signed 02/07/2017

Legal Topics: Indian Civil Rights Act; Tribal Criminal Jursidiction

January

Jones v. United States
2017 WL 382373
2015-5148
United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.
January 27, 2017

Legal Topics: Bad Men Treaty Provision

Related News Stories: Ute tribe proceeds with suit against U.S. for tribal member's death (UBMedia) 2/6/17, Appeals court reinstates Ute Tribe's wrongful death lawsuit (McClatchyDC) 2/6/17, Court reinstates Ute Tribe's wrongful death suit in 2007 reservation shooting (Salt Lake Tribune)2/4/17

United States v. Barnes
2017 WL 375629
Case No. 16-1188
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.
January 26, 2017

Legal Topics: Oklevueha Native American Church; Marijuana Manufacturing

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Great Plains Lending, LLC
2017 WL 242560
No. 14-55900
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
01/20/2017

*Synopsis: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) brought action against several for-profit tribal lending entities, seeking enforcement of investigative demands it served on entities. After issuing order to show cause as to why entities should not comply with demands, the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Michael W. Fitzgerald, J., denied entities' petition to set aside demands. Entities appealed.

*Holding: The Court of Appeals, Rawlinson, Circuit Judge, held that CFPB did not plainly lack jurisdiction to issue demands against entities.

Related News Stories: Court enforces CFPB civil investigative demand against tribal lending entity; rejects argument that tribal sovereignty precludes such demands (JD Supra) 2/2/17, Ninth Circuit affirms CFPB authority to investigate tribal lenders (Consumer Financial Services Review) 1/26/17

Hackford v. State of Utah
2017 WL 217963
No. 15-4120
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
01/19/2017

Legal Topics: Criminal Jurisdiction

Round Valley Indian Tribes of California v. United States Department of Transportation
2017 WL 282890
Case No. 15-cv-04987-JSW
United States District Court, N.D. California.
Signed 01/23/2017

Legal Topics: Public Transportation Project - Sacred Places

Related News Stories: Feds must face claims over dozered sacred sites (Courthouse News Service) 3/15/17

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. BNSF Railway Company
2017 WL 132448
No. C15-543RSL
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Seattle.
01/13/2017

Legal Topics: Easement Agreement

Related News Stories: Court says tribe's suit against BNSF can proceed (Goanacortes) 1/18/17

Scudero v. Moran
2017 WL 68612
5:16-CV-00005 JWS
United States District Court, D. Alaska.
01/06/2017

Legal Topics: Indian Civil Rights Act - Exhaustion of Tribal Remedies

The Tulalip Tribes v. United States
2017 WL 58836
No. 2:15-cv-00940-BJR
United States District Court, W.D. Washington.
01/05/2017

Legal Topics: Indian Commerce Clause

Related News Stories: Native Americans and taxes: Tulalip Tribes challenge state taxation on tribal lands (Indian Country Today) 1/09/17

Whiteagle v. United States
2017 WL 53294
15-cv-449-wmc
15-cv-390-wmc
11-cr-65-wmc
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin.
01/04/2017

Legal Topics: Tribal Exhaustion Doctrine

 

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