Mealey's Native American Law

  • May 26, 2017

    Protesters Tell 8th Circuit Denial Of Injunction Against Excessive Force Was Wrong

    ST. LOUIS — Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protestors sufficiently state claims for unreasonable use of force by law enforcement officers during violent clashes with protesters at the pipeline site last year, so the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should overturn denial of an injunction prohibiting such force, the protesters argue in a May 25 brief (Vanessa Dundon, et al. v. Kyle Kirchmeier, et al., No. 17-1306, 8th Cir.).

  • May 26, 2017

    Federal Judge Orders UPS To Pay More Than $240M For Shipping Untaxed Cigarettes

    NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on May 25 ordered United Parcel Service Inc. to pay a total of $246,975,614 after finding in March that UPS knowingly shipped cigarettes to unauthorized sellers and on behalf of those sellers to residents in New York (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43495).

  • May 26, 2017

    Judge: Tribes Must Follow Cigarette Trafficking Act’s Record-Keeping Regulations

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The record-keeping provisions of the Contraband Cigarettes Trafficking Act (CCTA) applies to tribal entities for tobacco sales on as well as off the reservation, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled May 24 (Ho-Chunk, Inc., et al. v. Jeff Sessions, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, et al., No. 16-cv-01652, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79397).

  • May 22, 2017

    Full 9th Circuit Splits, But Rejects Rehearing In Fishing Rights Dispute

    SEATTLE — The full Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in a divided order May 19, declined to rehear a decision under which Washington state must reconstruct or replace 817 culverts under roads that are blocking the passage of fish in violation of Indian treaties from the 1800s that guarantee off-reservation fishing rights for several tribes (United States of America, et al. v. State of Washington, No. 13-35474, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8804).

  • May 18, 2017

    Government: Fracking Lease Lawsuit Brought By Pawnee Nation Should Be Dismissed

    TULSA, Okla. — The federal government on May 15 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court contending that a lawsuit brought by a Native American tribe related to oil and gas leases, as well a hydraulic fracturing drilling permits on Indian land, should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla.).

  • May 18, 2017

    Judge Declines To Strike Expert’s Interest Analysis For Tribe’s ERISA Claims

    BAY CITY, Mich. — If an Indian tribe prevails on its claim that its health care plan administrator violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by charging hidden fees and pursues prejudgment interest, its expert on calculating the interest amount can offer his analysis at trial, a Michigan federal judge ruled May 16, while also blocking the tribe’s request for discovery in the interest rate dispute (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56562).

  • May 17, 2017

    D.C. Circuit Upholds Legality Of Deal Settling Indian Farmers’ Bias Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 16 affirmed in a divided decision that an amendment to a class settlement of discrimination claims by Native American farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under which money left over after a second round of payments to claimants will go to cy pres nonprofits, is fair and reasonable, despite objections by two claimants (Marilyn Keepseagle, et al. v. Sonny Perdue, et al., Nos. 16-5189 and 16-5190, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8559).

  • May 16, 2017

    Blackfeet Nation Approves Water Compact With United States, Montana

    BILLINGS, Mont. — The members of the Blackfeet Nation have approved a water compact with the United States and Montana that details the tribe’s rights to the water in streams, rivers and lakes on its reservation, provides $471 million in federal and state funding for water-related projects on the reservation and settles several decades old lawsuits filed over those rights, the tribe announced May 11 (Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation v. Tongue River Water Users Association, et al., United States of America v. Tongue River Water Users Association, et al., United States of America v. Big Horn Low Line Canal, et al., United States of America v. Velva Aasheim, et al., United States of America v. Arvin S. Aageson, et al., United States of America v. AMS Ranch, Inc., et al., United States of America v. Annette A. Abell, et al., Nos. CV-75-6-BLG, CV-75-20-BLG, CV-75-34-BLG, CV-79-40-BLG, CV-79-21-GF, CV-79-22-GF, CV-79-33-M, D. Mont.).

  • May 15, 2017

    Judge: No Need To Revisit Injunction Denial In Tribe’s Case Against Ex-Officials

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge on May 11 declined to revisit his decision to deny an Indian tribe’s request for an injunction to freeze the assets of four former tribal executives accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the tribe (Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, et al. v. Ines Crosby, et al., No. 2:15-cv-00538, E.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72385).

  • May 15, 2017

    1st Circuit Stands By Ruling That Tribe Can Conduct Gaming On Martha’s Vineyard

    BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 10 declined to reconsider its decision allowing an Indian tribe on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to conduct a bingo operation on its land under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al. v. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head [Aquinnah], et al., No. 16-1137, 1st Cir.).

  • May 15, 2017

    Review Denied For Failed Challenge To Government’s Land Taking For New York Oneidas

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 15 denied a petition for certiorari filed by groups and individuals in New York who sued the federal government in 2008 over its decision to take about 13,000 acres of land into trust for the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and lost (Central New York Fair Business Association, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, et al., No. 16-1135, U.S. Sup.).

  • May 12, 2017

    Judge Dismisses Holdover Council’s Suit Seeking To Restore Federal Funding

    SEATTLE — The “holdover” Nooksack Indian Tribal Council cannot sue the U.S. government to force it to provide federal funding because the government’s decision last year not to recognize the council due to lack of a quorum strips it of the authority to file suit, a Washington federal judge held May 11 in dismissing the council’s complaint (The Nooksack Indian Tribe v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-0219, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55459).

  • May 11, 2017

    1 Winnebago Council Member Pleads Guilty To Taking Casino Funds

    OMAHA, Neb. — A former member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska Tribal Council pleaded guilty May 8 in federal court to willful misapplication of casino funds for his part in an alleged scheme by the entire council to take more than $300,000 from the tribe’s casino revenue for their own personal use (United States of America v. John Blackhawk, et al., No. 8:16-cr-216, D. Neb.).

  • May 11, 2017

    Fired Tribal Employee Says Constitution Trumps Tribal Sovereign Immunity

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dismissal of a woman’s age discrimination claim against an Alabama Indian tribe based on the tribe’s sovereign immunity should be reversed because the ruling deprives her of rights guaranteed to her by the U.S. Constitution, the woman argues in a March 1 U.S. Supreme Court petition for certiorari (Christine J. Williams v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians, No. 16-1324, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1541).

  • May 11, 2017

    2nd Petition Filed Over Government’s Land Taking For New York Oneidas

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court received another petition for a writ of certiorari April 26 challenging the federal government’s decision to take approximately 13,000 acres of land in central New York into trust for the Oneida Indian Nation of New York (Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc., et al. v. The United States of America, et al., No. 16-1320, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1531).

  • May 10, 2017

    Magistrate: Conviction Should Be Reversed For Lack Of Tribal Code Rights

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge should grant a prisoner’s writ of habeas corpus, reverse his tribal court battery conviction and release him from jail because the tribe that prosecuted him denied him the right to a jury trial, a federal magistrate judge in New Mexico ruled May 8 (Alan Fragua v. Al Casamento, Director, Sandoval County Detention Center, No. 16-1404, D. N.M., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69534).

  • May 10, 2017

    Many Claims In Dam Release Suit Mooted By Circuit Court Ruling In Similar Case

    FRESNO, Calif. — A recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals resulted in a California federal judge on April 17 dismissing five water release claims as moot and prompted him to ask the parties to brief standing to bring the remaining three claims (San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, et al. v. Sally Jewell, et al., No. 15-1290, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58365).

  • May 10, 2017

    Tribe’s Groundwater Suit Dismissed Unless United States Agrees To Become A Party

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Saying the United States is an indispensable party, an Arizona federal judge on April 18 dismissed a Native American tribe’s groundwater lawsuit against several parties with leave to amend in 90 days if the United States agrees to become a party (Havasupai Tribe v. Anasazi Water Company LLC, et al., No. 16-8290, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59046).

  • May 8, 2017

    Tribe, Government Get Discovery Delay In Row Over Planned Restructuring

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A South Dakota Indian tribe and the federal government received more time May 5 to decide whether to pursue discovery on the tribe’s federal court challenge to a planned restructuring of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 15-3018, D. S.D.).

  • May 8, 2017

    8th Circuit Agrees To Hear Appeal By Protestors Of Police Injunction Denial

    ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 24 refused to dismiss an appeal by Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protestors of the denial of an injunction against the use of excessive police force during pipeline protests (Vanessa Dundon, et al. v. Kyle Kirchmeier, et al., No. 17-1306, 8th Cir.).