2017 Tribal Courts Cases


Older Cases:

December

 

November

Gabriel v. Cox
14 Am. Tribal Law 171
Case No. AP17-001
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals
November 20, 2017

*Synopsis: Former employee filed a civil complaint action challenging an ALJ's decision dismissing a challenge to a determination by the Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) that Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation (CTEC) Risk Management Office's reduction in force that resulted in employee's position being eliminated did not violate applicable law. CTEC and Tribes moved to dismiss. The Tribal Court, No. CV-OC-2006-26452, granted the motion. Employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) TERO's denial of former employee's employment claim without informing him of a right to appeal the decision or how to present the appeal did not violate due process, and
2) any waiver of Tribes' sovereign immunity was required to be explicit and unequivocal.
Affirmed.

 

October

GTB Anishinaabek Family Services
NO.: 2017-24-AP
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Apellate Court
October 12, 2017

Legal Topics: Child Custody; Traditional Law

In re Donn
NO.: 2017-22-AP
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Apellate Court
October 12, 2017

Legal Topics: Child Custody; Traditional Law

Arnold v. Cherokee Nation Entertainment
2017 WL 8180613
No. SC-2016-11
Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.
October 10, 2017

*Synopsis: Claimant sought disability benefits for work related injury. Following arbitration, the District Court of the Cherokee Nation, CV–12–212, Bart Fite, J., determined that employer had an absolute right to select claimant's treating physician after arbitrator found the claim compensable and she was in need of medical treating. Claimant appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation, Mark L. Dobbins, J., held that employer was permitted to choose claimant's treating physician after arbitrator found disability claim compensable..
Affirmed.

Frank and Risling v. Jackson
NO. A-17-002
Hoopa Valley Tribal Court of Appeals
October 4, 2017

Legal Topics: Employment - Wrongful Termination

Frank v. Jackson
NO. A-17-002
Hoopa Valley Court of Appeals
October 4, 2017

Legal Topics: Employment Law - Wrongful Termination

 

September

Johns v. Travelers
NO. PUY-CV-AP-2016-0144
Puyallup Tribal Court of Appeals
September 21, 2017

Legal Topics: Employment - Worker's Compensation

Southern Ute Tribe v. Henry
NO. 17-APP-0065
Southern Ute Tribal Court of Appeals
September 8, 2017

Legal Topics: Self-Incrimination; Right to Counsel

August

Diaz v. Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority
14 Am. Tribal Law 403
GDTC-T-16-122-FAM
Mohegan Gaming Dispute Trial Court.
August 14, 2017

*Synopsis: After casino patron allegedly tripped and fell over the feet of a person who was fixing a slot machine, she brought personal injury action against Gaming Authority. Gaming Authority filed apportionment complaint against third-party, which Gaming Authority claimed was the actual employer of the person who was fixing the slot machine. Patron filed amended complaint including the third-party as a defendant, and third-party filed motions to dismiss the apportionment complaint and the second count of patron's amended complaint.

*Holdings: The Mohegan Gaming Disputes Trial Court, Manfredi, J., held that apportionment complaint against third-party was proper.
Motion denied.

 

July

Northern Edge Casino v. Window Rock District Court
14 Am. Tribal Law 157
No. SC-CV-67-16
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
July 31, 2017

*Synopsis: After casino's motion to dismiss personal injury action was denied in the Window Rock District Court, Carol Perry, J., casino filed petition for writ of mandamus against district court, asserting that district court was required to dismiss complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation held that issuance of writ of prohibition dismissing personal injury suit was warranted.
Writ issued.

Pablo v. Ak-Chin Indian Community
CV2015-00024
Ak-Chin Comunity Court
July 24, 2017

Legal Topics: Same Sex Marriage

Related News Stories: Court orders Ak-Chin tribe to recognize marriages of same-sex couples (AZ Central.) 10/25/17

Taylor v. Taylor
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court of Appeals
July 20, 2017

Legal Topics: Exhaustion of Tribal Remedies

Hoopa Valley Tribe v. Bernardo
NO. A-17-001
Hoopa Valley Tribal Court of Appeals
July 19, 2017

Legal Topics: Tribal Sovereign Immunity

Grandma Gebhard Co. v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
6 Mash.Rep. 434
MPTC–CV–GC–2013–174.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
July 17, 2017

*Synopsis: Provider of frozen yogurt machines and supplies brought breach of contract action against Gaming Enterprise. Following denial of provider's summary judgment motion, Gaming Enterprise cross-moved for summary judgment and for judgment on the pleadings as to two counts.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court, Edward B. O'Connell, J., held that:
1) genuine dispute of material fact existed as to whether Gaming Enterprise's failures to make the minimum purchases of yogurt were material breaches;
2) plaintiff's allegation was sufficient to support claim for breach of the implied convent of good faith and fair dealing; but
3) allegations were insufficient to state claim for fraud and/or negligent misrepresentation.
Motions denied in part and granted in part.

Sebastian v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
6 Mash.Rep. 429
MPTC–CV–PI–2015–157.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
July 17, 2017

*Synopsis: Hotel guest brought personal injury action against Gaming Enterprise and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, alleging that she sustained injuries when she was struck on the head by a large picture that fell off the wall in her room.

*Holdings: The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, Thomas J. Londregan, J., held that hotel guest failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that her injuries were caused by defendant's negligence.
Judgment for defendant.

Apachito v. Navajo Election Administration
349 Ed. Law Rep. 327
No. SC-CV-32-17
Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.
July 14, 2017

*Synopsis: School board member filed complaint alleging that he was wrongfully disqualified as member of board. The Office of Hearings and Appeals, No. OHA-NEA-014-17, Richie Nez, Hearing Officer, dismissed complaint. Board member appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation held that board member's complaint to Office of Hearing Appeals (OHA) was sufficient to challenge disqualification from school board.
Reversed.

 

June

Mother H v. Father H
2017 WL 3039105
MPTC–CV–FR–2017–131.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
June 28, 2017.

*Synopsis: After mother left State of Indiana while divorce action was pending in the Kosciusko County Superior Court in that State, and moved to the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation with the parties' daughter, filing a divorce action in the Tribal Court, the Indiana Court granted father's motion for emergency custody pending further order of that Court, asserting that it was the only State entitled to exercise jurisdiction during pendency of the custody proceeding. Mother moved for jurisdictional hearing.

*Holdings:The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, Thomas J. Londregan, J., held that:
1) Tribal Court had jurisdiction over custody proceeding, and
2) tribal court would not defer to Indiana Court's jurisdiction.
Ordered accordingly.

Quileute Nation v. Jamie
NO. 16-C-0044
Quileute Tribal Court of Appeals
June 6, 2017

Legal Topics: Legislative Immunity

 

May

Tupling v. Kruse
2017 WL 2443081
No. MPTC–CV–PI–2014–174.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
May 30, 2017.

*Synopsis:Father filed for custody of minor in Tribal Court. A few days later, mother filed for custody in Snohomish County Superior Court. After a discussion with the judge in Snohomish County, the Tribal Court, No. CV-CU-2013-36210, concluded that the courts had concurrent jurisdiction, that it would decline jurisdiction, and dismissed the case. Father appealed.

*Holdings:The Court of Appeals, Dupris, C.J., held that:
1) statute prohibiting a spouse from removing a child from Tribes' jurisdiction without a court order did not prohibit mother, a non-Indian, from removing child; and
2) evidence supported judge's decision to decline jurisdiction over child-custody dispute in favor of state court.
Affirmed.

Colebut v. Colebut
2017 WL 2351325
MPTC–CV–PI–2015–149
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
May 12, 2017.

*Synopsis: After allegedly tripping and falling in driveway of her uncle's home, plaintiff brought negligence action against her uncle and tribe. Tribe moved for summary judgment.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court, Edward B. O'Connell, J., held that:
1) issues of fact existed as to whether Tribe lacked any control over defendant's premises, and
2) issues of fact existed as to whether Tribe had constructive notice of alleged dangerous condition.
Motion denied.

Contereras v. Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority
14 Am. Tribal Law 441
GDTC-T-16-112-FAM
Mohegan Gaming Disputes Trial Court.
May 8, 2017

*Synopsis: Plaintiff, an employee of Gaming Authority, brought personal injury action alleging that she was injured while attempting to exit an employee shuttle bus that was being operated by another Gaming Authority employee. Defendants moved to dismiss as to the bus operator, claiming that he was entitled to sovereign immunity.

*Holdings: The Mohegan Gaming Disputes Trial Court, Manfredi, J., held that operator of employee shuttle bus was not entitled to sovereign immunity.
Motion denied.

Hendricks v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
CV-17-004
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Court
May 1, 2017

Legal Topics: Elections

 

April

Santander Bank, N.A. v. Colebut
2017 WL 1787561 (Mash. Pequot Tribal Ct.)
No. MPTC–HS–2014–142.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
April 26, 2017.

*Synopsis: In foreclosure action, bank sought permission to hold auction of debtor's property.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court, Thomas J. Londregan, J., held that ordering auction was consistent with purpose and intent of Tribal law.
Ordered accordingly.

Rave v. Rave
No.15P055
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court of Appeals
April 24, 2017

Legal Topics: Estates

Zephier v. Walters
No.15A06
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court of Appeals
April 17, 2017

Legal Topics: Child Custody; Due Process

DiMartino v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
2017 WL 2497063
Case No. AP16–018, 7 CTCR 16
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
April 12, 2017

*Synopsis: Patron of Gaming Enterprise brought personal injury action against tribal police officer and tribe, alleging injuries resulting from officer's negligent use of excessive force.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court, Thomas J. Londregan, J., held that force used by tribal police officer in pulling plaintiff away from altercation was not excessive and unreasonable.
Judgment for defendant.

Jerred v. Colville Confederated Tribes
14 Am. Tribal Law 168
Case No. AP16–018, 7 CTCR 16
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
April 12, 2017

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the Tribal Court, No. CR–2016–39092, of theft with an enhanced domestic violence sentence. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings:The Court of Appeals, Bonga, P.J., held that the fact that victim was defendant's nephew-in-law was insufficient to support finding that victim was a member of defendant's extended family, as required to support domestic-violence sentence enhancement.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Arviso v. Muskett
No. SC-CV-18-17
Navajo Nation Supreme Court
April 5, 2017.

Legal Topics: Elections

March

Weeks v. Combs
14 Am. Tribal Law 16 
NO. AP #730
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
March 27, 2017

Legal Topics: Child Custody

In re: Challenge to the Eligibility of Randy Junior White, Candidate for Council
NO. SC-2017-01
Supreme Court of The Cherokee Nation.
March 24, 2017

*Synopsis: Tribal member filed challenge to candidate's eligibility to run for Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. The Cherokee Nation Election Commission determined that candidate was ineligible to run for office as he had no Cherokee blood. Candidate appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation, James G. Wilcoxen, J., held that candidate who was a Cherokee (Adopted Shawnee) was ineligible for election.
Affirmed.

Big Leggins v. Fort Peck Tribe
14 Am. Tribal Law 12
CAUSE NO. AP #732
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
March 13, 2017

*Synopsis: After she failed to appear for trial, defendant was convicted in absentia, in a bench trial before the Fort Peck Tribal Court, Michael Headdress, J., of one count of misdemeanor neglect of a child and two counts of felony neglect of a child. She appealed.

*Holdings: The Fort Peck Court of Appeals held that Tribal Court erred in conducting trial in absentia.
Reversed and remanded.

Matter of T. F.
14 Am. Tribal Law 15
CAUSE NO. AP #737
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
March 13, 2017

*Synopsis: Father appealed judgment of the Fort Peck Tribal Court, Michael Headdress, J., which convicted his son, upon his plea of guilty, of disorderly conduct.

*Holdings: The Fort Peck Court of Appeals held that failure to appoint counsel for juvenile did not render his plea involuntary.
Appeal denied.

Licciardello v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
2017 WL 1208587 (Mash. Pequot Tribal Ct.)
No. MPTC–CV–PI–2014–173.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
March 10, 2017

*Synopsis: Widow of casino patron brought negligence action against Gaming Enterprise, alleging that patron was injured when he tipped over in his motorized scooter while riding shuttle bus.

*Holdings: Following bench trial, the Tribal Court, Jean M. Lucasey, J., held that:
1) Gaming Enterprise has a duty to exercise reasonable care with regard to passengers that use its shuttles;
2) Gaming Enterprise did not act negligently when driver positioned motorized scooter at angle;
3) Gaming Enterprise was negligent in not having in place policy or procedure for securing and transporting passengers with mobility vehicles;
4) Gaming Enterprise did not act negligently when driver of shuttle applied brakes suddenly;
5) patron was not contributorily negligent;
6) aggravation of patron's pleural effusion was directly and proximately caused by accident; and
7) appropriate award of damages for pain and suffering was $4,800.
Judgment entered for widow.

Desautel v. Colville Confederated Tribes
14 Am. Tribal Law 3
No. AP10–003
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
March 10, 2017

*Synopsis: In dependency proceeding, the Tribal Court found children to be minors-in-need-of-care as to mother and not minors-in-need-of-care as to father and placed children in care of father. Mother appealed.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court of Appeals held that:
1) tribal court's decision not to hold a competency hearing regarding minor children testifying was not clear error, and
2) determination that children were not minors-in-need-of-care as to father and were minors-in-need-of-care as to mother was not clearly erroneous.
Affirmed.

C.W. v. Tulalip Tribe
14 Am. Tribal Law 35
APPEAL NO. TUL-CV-AP-2016-0023
NO. TUL-CV-ET-2015-0031
Tulalip Tribal Court of Appeals.
March 9, 2017

*Synopsis: Following ruling on the merits in favor of employee in employment case, employee moved for award of attorney's fees and costs. The Tulalip Employment Court, Whitener, C.J., denied motion. Employee appealed.

*Holdings: The Tulalip Tribal Court of Appeals, Raas, C.J., held that:
1) Tribal Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to examine whether Tribes waived sovereign immunity when creating Employment Court, and
2) when creating Employment Court, Tribes did not waive immunity from suit to allow consideration of attorneys fees.
Appeal dismissed; Remanded.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians v. Martin
14 Am. Tribal Law 32
CSC 15-03
Cherokee Court of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
March 3, 2017

*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the Cherokee Court, James Baker, J., of violating terms of deferred judgment agreement and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment and two years' supervised probation. Defendant appealed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Hunter, J., held that variance in time alleged in tribe's motion to enter judgment and evidence presented at hearing prejudiced defendant, warranting new hearing.
Reversed and remanded.

Sharp v. Red Elk
14 Am. Tribal Law 9
CAUSE NO. AP # 639
Fort Peck Court of Appeals.
March 2, 2017

*Synopsis: In contract dispute over sale of car, car buyer filed motion to show cause why sellers should not be held in contempt for failing to abide by order requiring sellers to deliver clear title and pay costs of $2500. The Fort Peck Tribal Court, Danna Runs Above, J., issued order requiring sellers to comply with previous orders to deliver title and pay costs, or be held in contempt of court. Sellers appealed.

*Holdings:The Fort Peck Court of Appeals held that two tribal court orders requiring car sellers to deliver clear title and pay costs of $2500 effectively renewed judgment.
Affirmed and remanded.

February

January

Escalante and Lopez v. Sells District Council
Ref: 20 14-0236AV
20 15-0 140AV
Appellate Court of the Tohono O'Odham Nation
Jan. 27, 2017

Legal Topics: Sovereign Immunity; Due Process

Fryberg v. Tulalip Tribes Housing Department
14 Am. Tribal Law 18
NO. TUL-CV-AP-2016-0088
Tulalip Tribal Court of Appeals.
January 26, 2017

*Synopsis: Housing Department brought eviction action against tenant. The Tribal Court entered order of default, and denied tenant's motions for reconsideration,intervention/joinder, and recusal of Tribal Court judge. Tenant appealed.

*Holdings: The Tribal Court of Appeals held that:
1) Tribal Court did not err in denying reconsideration;
2) Tribal Court did not err in entering default order on damages;
3) recusal of Tribal Court judge was not warranted;
4) Housing Department was not required to join tenant's siblings; and
5) Tribal Court properly denied intervention to tenant's siblings.
Affirmed.

Josellis v. Field
14 Am. Tribal Law 17
No. SU 16–06.
Ho–Chunk Nation Supreme Court.
January 23, 2017

*Synopsis: Following decision of the Ho–Chunk Nation Trial Court which affirmed decision of the Grievance Review Board (GRB), notice of appeal was filed.

*Holdings: The Supreme Court held that Notice of Appeal failed to include required short statement articulating exactly how Trial Court erred.
Appeal denied.

Stone v. Colville Business Council
14 Am. Tribal Law 162
No. AP16–017, 7 CTCR 18
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
January 19, 2017.

*Synopsis: Plaintiff brought action against Colville Business Council (CBC) and former executive director of tribe. CBC moved to dismiss. The Tribal Court, No. CV–OC–2014–27145, granted the motion. Plaintiff appealed.

*Holdings:The Court of Appeals, Bass, J., held that:
1) plaintiff's action against CBC was barred by sovereign immunity, and
2) dismissal of action against executive director was proper.
Affirmed and remanded.


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