Mealey's Native American Law

  • April 21, 2017

    D.C. Circuit Upholds Bureau Of Indian Affairs’ Cancellation Of Lease

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court correctly affirmed the government’s cancellation of a family’s 50-year lease for residential and business use of 98 acres of tribal land in California, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 18 after finding that the government properly consulted with Indian tribes before canceling the lease (William C. Tuttle v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-5095, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6658).

  • April 20, 2017

    Wisconsin Tribe Sues Over 2nd Tribe’s Nearby Gambling Facility

    MADISON, Wis. — The Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin sued the state, the governor and another Indian tribe April 19 in federal court, alleging that the state violated its gaming compact with the tribe when it allowed the other tribe to operate a casino within 70 miles of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community’s only gaming facility (The Stockbridge-Munsee Community v. State of Wisconsin, et al., No. 17-cv-249, W.D. Wis.).

  • April 20, 2017

    Judge Dismisses Landowner’s Case Alleging Wrongful Approval Of Fracking Permits

    TULSA, Okla. — A federal judge in Oklahoma on April 18 ruled that a landowner who sued the federal government for alleged wrongful approval of hydraulic fracturing permits that were issued for mineral estates underneath land he owned failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted (Merrill Chance v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-549, N.D. Okla.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58884).

  • April 19, 2017

    Fish Hatchery Operations By State, Tribe Properly Approved, 9th Circuit Says

    SEATTLE — Claims by environmental and sport fishing groups that federal agencies violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in approving the use of fish hatcheries operated by a state and an Indian tribe to restore fish populations in a river were correctly dismissed by a federal court, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 18 (Wild Fish Conservancy, et al. v. National Park Service, et al., No. 14-35791, 9th Cir.).

  • April 18, 2017

    Judge Orders Response From Blue Cross To Tribe’s ERISA Document Request

    BAY CITY, Mich. — A Michigan federal judge on April 13 directed an Indian tribe’s health care plan administrator to respond to the tribe’s request to file four sealed summary judgment documents on the public record in the tribe’s lawsuit alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (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).

  • April 17, 2017

    Gamblers Lose Bid To Have Court Review Civil Rights Claims Against Foxwoods Casino

    NEW YORK — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 17 declined to review a case in which three gamblers say they were robbed of their due process rights when the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals summarily dismissed their civil rights claims against Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut for lack of service (Cheung Yin Sun, et al. v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, et al., No. 16-1008, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 14, 2017

    Fracking Case Remanded Over Lack Of Federal Indian Lands In Class

    TULSA, Okla. — An Oklahoma property owner who filed a class action against two oil companies over earthquake damage allegedly caused by hydraulic fracturing did not intend to include owners of Indian federal trust land in the class membership, so federal law will not apply to any class claims, a federal judge held April 12 in remanding the dispute to state court (James Adams v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al., No. 16-cv-0757, N.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55804).

  • April 13, 2017

    Nooksack Members Can Intervene In Suit Over Funding Denial, Judge Rules

    SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on April 11 allowed 271 Native Americans to intervene as defendants in a case brought by their tribe’s council against the Department of the Interior (DOI) over the government’s refusal to acknowledge any action taken by the council in the past year due to lack of a quorum (The Nooksack Indian Tribe v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-0219, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55459).

  • April 12, 2017

    Police Defendants Seek Dismissal Of Protestors’ Appeal Of Injunction Denial

    ST. LOUIS — An appeal by Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protestors of the denial of an injunction against the use of excessive police force during pipeline protests should be dismissed because no one is left at the protestors’ camps in North Dakota, and oil should now be flowing through the disputed section of pipeline, county and city police assert in a March 6 motion in the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Vanessa Dundon, et al. v. Kyle Kirchmeier, et al., No. 17-1306, 8th Cir.).

  • April 12, 2017

    Lawyer Gets Interest Award In Indian Case Alleging Mismanagement Of Lands

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal magistrate judge in the District of Columbia added more than $700,000 in interest April 10 to an attorney’s $2.8 million fee award for work he did for hundreds of thousands of Native American plaintiffs in a class action alleging mismanagement by the government of Indian lands that resulted in a $3.4 billion settlement for the plaintiffs (Elouise Pepion Cobell, et al. v. Sally Jewell, et al., No. 1:96-cv-01285, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54281).

  • April 12, 2017

    Felony Sentences Proper For Bird-Trafficking Conspiracy, Split 9th Circuit Rules

    SAN FRANCISCO — A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 11 affirmed the felony convictions and sentences of two men for conspiring to traffic in migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles (United States of America v. Douglas Vance Crooked Arm, No. 15-30277, United States of America v. Kenneth G. Shane, No. 15-30280, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6202).

  • April 11, 2017

    Klamath River Water Users Will Appeal Injunction Releasing More Water For Fish

    SAN FRANCISCO — Three California water districts and two water users on April 10 filed a notice that they will appeal summary judgment and a preliminary injunction granted Feb. 8 to two Native American tribes that require the federal government to release enough water from the Klamath Project to reduce the risk of infection downstream to fish in the Klamath River (Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Services, et al., No. 16-4294, and Yurok Tribe v. Bureau of Reclamation, No. 16-6863, N.D. Calif.).

  • April 11, 2017

    9th Circuit Stays Tribal Groundwater Mandate Pending U.S. High Court Petition

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 10 granted a motion by two California water agencies to stay a mandate in a case involving tribal groundwater rights pending the districts’ petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 15-55896, 9th Cir.).

  • April 11, 2017

    1st Circuit Reverses, Says Tribe Can Conduct Gaming On Martha’s Vineyard

    BOSTON — An Indian tribe on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., can conduct gaming on its land because the tribe exercises sufficient government power under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and the IGRA repealed a statute that granted control over gaming to the commonwealth, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined April 10 in reversing a trial court ruling against the tribe (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al. v. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head [Aquinnah], et al., No. 16-1137, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6148).

  • April 10, 2017

    Water Agencies Plan High Court Appeal Of Groundwater Ruling; Tribe Opposes Delay

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Two California water agencies on April 6 asked the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to stay its mandate in a case involving tribal groundwater rights because they plan to file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 15-55896, 9th Cir.).

  • April 10, 2017

    Public Need Not Know Some Details In Pipeline Record, Federal Judge Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on April 7 granted a protective order for five of 11 documents in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ administrative record of its permitting decisions for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), finding that there was good cause to redact certain information in the five documents based on public safety concerns (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53357).

  • April 10, 2017

    Court: IRS Must Disclose Tax Returns Of Tribal Workers In Classification Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe can seek through discovery tax return information from the Internal Revenue Service for people who worked for the tribe in an effort to avoid paying withholding taxes for workers the IRS reclassified from contractors to employees, the U.S. Tax Court held April 5 (Mescalero Apache Tribe v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 28120-14, U.S. Tax, 2017 U.S. Tax Ct. LEXIS 12).

  • April 10, 2017

    Judge Won’t Lift Stay Of California Water Case; Settlement Expected Soon

    SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on April 6 denied a motion by a landowner to lift a nine-year-old stay of a Native American water rights lawsuit, saying that to do so could undo years of settlement negotiations about to come to fruition for about 3,000 parties (United States of America, et al. v. Fallbrook Public Utility District, et al., No. 51-cv-1247, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53782).

  • April 7, 2017

    D.C. Circuit: Estoppel Ruling In Self-Determination Funding Dispute Was Error

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge erred in awarding the U.S. government summary judgment in a suit by the Navajo Nation to enforce a proposed funding agreement because the government was bound by an employee’s acceptance of the tribe’s hand-delivered proposal and had sufficient time to respond to the proposal, despite a temporary government shutdown, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 4 (Navajo Nation v. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-5117, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5759).

  • April 7, 2017

    President Trump Orders Review Of Government Fracking Rule Based On Energy Policy

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 28, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order directing the secretary of the Interior to review the final rule pertaining to hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands for “consistency” with the president’s policy that “it is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”