WASHINGTON, D.C. — A split among federal circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court on interpreting the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) has allowed one Indian tribe to open a gambling operation while preventing another tribe from doing the same, a Texas tribe tells the high court in its Sept. 23 bid for review of an injunction barring it from running a gambling business (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Sept. 9 granted summary judgment against a Washington state Native American tribe, finding that the tribe’s collection and expenditure of third-party revenues cannot be counted as part of the federal government’s reimbursement for Native American health care programs (Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Alex M. Azar, No. 18-1156, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152928).
PASADENA, Calif. — Federal agencies did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act when approving an 85-unit wind farm in southern California on federal and Indian land, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Sept. 23 in affirming a summary judgment win for the government, a Native American tribe and a wind energy company (Protect Our Communities Foundation, et al. v. Darryl LaCounte, et al., No. 17-55647, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 28632).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — A hydraulic fracturing company on Sept. 20 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court as an intervenor in a federal lease dispute, contending that a Native American tribe and environmental advocacy groups have not established the requirements for a preliminary injunction to prevent fracking in the Mancos Shale Play (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a California Indian tribe’s challenge to geothermal leases for the production of steam for power plants, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 19 held that the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 allows leases to be renewed for 40-year terms only on a lease-by-lease basis, and not as a unit (Pit River Tribe, et al. v. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-15616, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 28296).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court review is necessary to resolve a split among the federal circuit courts about whether a trial court must first interpret a delegation provision in an arbitration agreement before deciding the validity of the agreement itself, two companies argue in their Sept. 11 certiorari petition in a payday lending row involving a Montana Indian tribe (Sequoia Capital Operations, LLC v. Jessica Gingras, et al., No. 19-331, U.S. Sup.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A divided Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 6 affirmed that South Dakota does not have the authority to impose a use tax on Indian reservation land against casino patrons who are not tribal members but reversed a finding that the state could not condition the renewal of the tribe’s alcoholic beverage licenses on payment of the use tax (Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Kristi Noem, et al., No. 18-1271, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26966).
DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa magistrate judge erred in sua sponte dismissing misdemeanor charges against a woman for incidents that happened on an Indian reservation for lack of state court jurisdiction, the Iowa Supreme Court held Sept. 13 in reversing and remanding (Iowa v. Jessica Rae Stanton, No. 19–0177, Iowa Sup., 2019 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 91).
NEW YORK — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma L.P. on Sept. 15 announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to settle its opioid litigation for more than $10 billion and filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (In Re: Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., No. 19-23649, U.S. Bkcy. S.D. N.Y.).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — An Arizona federal court judge on Aug. 23 said the Navajo Nation cannot establish that the federal government has a trust responsibility to determine the quantities and sources of water required for the tribe’s reservation or to secure an adequate water supply for the reservation (Navajo Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 03-507, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143801).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on Aug. 14 denied a motion by the United States to reconsider his ruling that a Native American tribe lacks standing to assert a claim for how much groundwater it is entitled to, saying the motion is a “thinly veiled attempt to relitigate the summary judgment motions” (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-00833, C.D. Calif.).
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Sept. 5 affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court’s ruling on a Native American tribe’s water rights in a water adjudication proceeding (In Re: Coeur d’Alene-Spokane River Basin Adjudication, [United States and Coeur d’Alene Tribe v. Idaho, et al.], Nos. 45381, 45382, 45383, 45384, Idaho Sup., 2019 Ida. LEXIS 147).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Native American tribal group and advocates for the environment on Sept. 5 filed a brief in New Mexico federal court, arguing that a hydraulic fracturing trade group “failed to establish” that it should be allowed to intervene in a dispute over drilling permits issued by the Trump administration because its interests are already “adequately represented” by other parties (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-703, D. N.M.).
DENVER — A piece of land in New Mexico where a fatal drunken-driving crash happened is Indian country because the land was a grant from a prior sovereign and the exterior boundaries of the disputed land were confirmed by Congress as Indian land, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Sept. 4 in affirming the drunken driver’s murder conviction (United States v. Jeffrey Antonio, No. 18-2118, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26657).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Removing state water quality reviews from the federal licensing process for hydroelectric dams threatens the nation’s waterways and creates confusion among the circuit courts on when states waive their authority to conduct the water studies, two fishing groups battling a ruling in favor of an Indian tribe tell the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 26 petition for certiorari (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3572).
PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court on Aug. 27 declined to review a state appellate panel’s decision affirming a state court’s recognition of a tribal court’s award of attorney fees to a tribe in a former casino worker’s losing suit against casino management over his firing (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al. v. Gregory F. Mullally, No. CV-19-0053-PR, Ariz. Sup., 2019 Ariz. LEXIS 233).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Aug. 31 quieted title to a national preserve to the United States, rejecting an Indian tribe’s claim that it held aboriginal title to the preserve lands (Pueblo of Jemez v. United States, et al., No. 12-0800, D. N.M.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A tribal police officer did not arrest a nontribal member for drunken driving but merely detained him briefly so he could be transported to the reservation border for transfer to a county officer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found Sept. 3 in affirming a state trial court’s denial of the suspect’s suppression motion (Minnesota v. Scott Lawrance Ziegler, No. A18-1825, Minn. App.).
SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on Aug. 13 ruled that four people who were unsuccessful in their attempts to get elected to the council for the Nooksack Indian Tribe did not show that the federal government changed the policy for how elections to the council were conducted (Robert Doucette, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-859, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136494).
SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on Aug. 29 awarded summary judgment to the remaining individual defendants on a former employee’s qui tam false claims lawsuit against tribal health clinic officials and then slapped the ex-worker with sanctions and directed his attorney to show cause why he should not be sanctioned as well for the suit’s “scurrilous and unsupported statements” (United States, ex rel. Raju Dahlstrom v. Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe of Washington, et al., No. 2:16-cv-52, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147714).