WASHINGTON, D.C. — A malicious prosecution case filed by three tribal police officers who were arrested by a California county over a tribal faction dispute at the tribe’s casino will not get U.S. Supreme Court review after the high court justices denied their petition for certiorari June 17 (Ronald Jones, at al. v. Michael Keitz, et al., No. 18-1333, U.S. Sup.).
CLEVELAND — The Ohio federal judge overseeing the opioid multidistrict litigation on June 13 adopted almost all of a magistrate judge’s recommendations preserving the right of two Native American tribes to sue manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies (In Re: National Prescription Opioid Litigation, [Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., No. 18-op-45749, and The Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, et al., No. 18-op-45749], MDL Docket No. 2804, No. 17-md-2804, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a hydraulic fracturing industry trade group on June 12 filed separate amicus curiae briefs in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, each contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease issued to Solenex LLC was “arbitrary and capricious” (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court misinterpreted the law when it dismissed claims by an Arizona tribal council that the United States breached its fiduciary and trust duties by failing to collect $30.4 million from a property owner that is owed to the council’s trust under the Arizona-Florida Land Exchange Act of 1988, the council says in its June 10 opening brief on appeal in the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. v. United States, No. 19-01758, Fed. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 6 dismissed appeals of a judge’s decision to halt work on the Keystone XL Pipeline due in part to threats to Native Americans’ land and water, ruling that the challenges are now moot because President Donald Trump issued a new permit allowing pipeline construction to continue (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., Nos. 18-36068, 18-36069, 19-35036, 19-35064, 19-35099, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17095).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that an Indian tribe is entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a Canadian industrial polluter stands after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 declined to review the case (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tobacco company must pay federal excise taxes on its products, despite the language of an 1855 treaty, after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 denied the company’s petition for certiorari, letting stand a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision (King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc. v. United States, No. 18-984, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 declined to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that sovereign immunity protects Washington Indian tribes from three couples’ quiet title injunction lawsuit challenging the tribes’ land use and excise tax laws (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 18-970, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should decline the federal government’s suggestion to grant review, vacate and remand an Alabama Supreme Court decision that an Indian tribe is not protected by tribal sovereign immunity from tort claims in a car crash negligence suit, but should grant certiorari instead to reverse the state court’s ruling, the tribe and its casino business argue in a June 5 supplemental brief (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al. v. Casey Marie Wilkes, et al., No. 17-1175, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A hydraulic fracturing company on June 5 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) cancellation of a fracking lease was “built upon false premises and dangerously wide-sweeping assertions of ‘inherent’ agency authority” (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 3 dismissed an appeal at the request of the federal government after the Department of the Interior (DOI) vacated decisions to take 1,400 acres into trust for a California Indian tribe, mooting a challenge to the trust rulings by three California residents (Lewis P. Geyser, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-56288, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16722).
SEATTLE — The United States, the state of Washington and Native American tribes filed a consent decree on June 3 in federal court to settle claims they brought in a complaint filed the same day for damages to natural resources from the release of oil and other hazardous substances into the Port Gardner Bay area in Everett, Wash. (United States, et al. v. Port of Everett, No. 2:19-cv-843, W.D. Wash.).
TULSA, Okla. — The Pawnee Nation on May 30 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court contending that when the Trump administration approved permits for hydraulic fracturing on tribal land, it violated federal law by failing to address the impact of drilling on water pollution and did not assess the risk of earthquakes (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Michigan Indian tribe filed a motion for summary judgment May 28 seeking an order in District of Columbia federal court directing the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to approve the tribe’s request to take two parcels of land into trust so it can build casinos on the properties (The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. David L. Bernhardt, et al., No. 1:18-cv-2035, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native American and conservation groups on May 17 filed a brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that, in a case regarding a federal agency’s decision to reinstate hydraulic fracturing leases on tribal land in Montana, the Trump administration’s argument opposing the groups’ appeal fails (W.A. Moncrief, Jr. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-5340, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) issued a legal opinion May 28 to address questions about several provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that affect states’ and Indian tribes’ regulation of hemp production.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on May 29 awarded summary judgment to a tribal school nonprofit business on a former employee’s pregnancy discrimination claims after finding that the business meets the definition of “Indian tribe” for purposes of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Kim R. Jim v. Shiprock Associated Schools, Inc., No. 17-1114, D. N.M., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89703).
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Assimilative Crimes Act (ACA) applies to “Indian country” subject to the three exceptions outlined in the Indian Country Crimes Act (ICCA), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 28 in affirming a Native American’s conviction for fleeing from police twice (United States v. Johnny Ellery Smith, No. 17-30248, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15676).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indian tribes should not be able to use sovereign immunity when it leaves non-Indians no recourse against the tribes for valid state law claims, three couples tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a May 23 reply brief, adding that the dispute presents “special justification” for high court review (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 18-970, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1912).
SAN DIEGO — A California Native American tribe on May 24 removed a state court personal injury action to federal court based on subject matter jurisdiction and the tribe’s Patron Tort Claims Ordinance, under which the tribe waives its sovereign immunity to tort claims, but only so they can be decided in tribal court (Georgia Micheau v. Harrah’s Resort Southern California, et al., No. 3:19-cv-00980, S.D. Calif.).