NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 29 summarily affirmed dismissal of civil rights claims leveled by a vendor against a Native American casino, agreeing that the casino is protected by tribal sovereign immunity (John Laake v. Turning Stone Resort Casino, No. 17-3588, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 30452).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Whether Washington state’s tax on gasoline haulers is a legal tax on fuel possession or an impermissible tax on an Indian tribe’s treaty-protected right to travel was the subject of U.S. Supreme Court oral argument on Oct. 30, with the justices voicing support for both sides of the dispute (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., No. 16-1498, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Two men arrested for bei``ng part of an armed takeover of an Indian casino in a battle of rival tribal factions can pursue legal malpractice claims against an attorney who advised them before the raid, after a California appellate panel held Oct. 26 that their suit is not barred by the state’s law protecting “public participation” from suit (Shawn Fernandez, et al. v. Lester Marston, et al., No. A149995, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7312).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was Congress’ clear intent in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) to exempt waterways in Alaska national parks from federal regulation, so an appellate court’s ruling holding otherwise should be vacated, a petitioner tells the U.S. Supreme Court in an Oct. 11 reply brief on the merits (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup.).
SEATTLE — Three couples who own homes on a Washington Indian reservation cannot seek to quiet title against the tribe because it is protected by sovereign immunity, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 25 (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 17-35959, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 30130).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — New York can continue to seek taxes from tribal retailers on cigarettes sold to non-Indians after the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 29 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a Seneca Nation outlet store operator (Eric White, et al. v. Barbara D. Underwood, et al., No. 18-297, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 26 allowed an Oklahoma Indian tribe to take part in oral argument in a case the tribe says presents “an issue of paramount importance to it” — the size of the tribe’s reservation (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
OMAHA, Neb. — After finding that the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska is not a required party in a lawsuit over natural gas pipeline easements across Indian land, a federal judge on Oct. 23 awarded summary judgment to the gas company and condemned the last remaining two parcels in dispute for the easements (Northern Natural Gas Company v. 80 Acres of Land in Thurston County, Nebraska, et al., No. 8:17-cv-328, D. Neb., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181616).
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Montana federal judge who put the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear back on the Endangered Species List after several Native American tribes and others challenged the government’s delisting of the population held Oct. 23 that an individual plaintiff cannot continue to litigate his claims because they are now moot (Crow Indian Tribe, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 9:17-cv-89, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181852).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 22 denied rehearing en banc of its affirmance of a Washington federal judge’s determination that a tribal manufacturer of tobacco products located on land held in trust by the United States is not entitled to an exemption from the federal tobacco excise tax (United States v. King Mountain Tobacco Co., Nos. 14-36055, 16-35607, 9th Cir.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Native American nursing home is protected by tribal sovereign immunity from a former employee’s claim that she was fired in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a Montana federal judge held Oct. 22 in dismissing her suit (Tammy Wilhite v. Awe Kualawaache Care Center, et al., No. 1:18-cv-80, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180905).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should do what it did in first rejecting a convicted killer’s request to affirm that the scene of his crime was in “Indian country” and find that the vast reservation at issue has not existed since Oklahoma became a state, the warden of the prison where the man is being held tells the justices in an Oct. 19 brief on the merits (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
TACOMA, Wash. — Tribal-related payday lenders cannot force a customer to arbitrate her unlawful usury class claims because the arbitration provision in their loan contract waives a party’s right to pursue federal statutory remedies, making the provision “invalid and unenforceable,” a Washington federal judge decided Oct. 18 (Teresa Titus v. ZestFinance, Inc., et al., No. 18-5373, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179380).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Oct. 3 granted a motion by the United States to compel a native American tribe to produce documents that the tribe claims are subject to the “legislative process privilege” (Pueblo of Jemez v. United States, No. 12-0800, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171747).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A medical officer candidate at an Indian hospital failed to show that he was fired because he is Native American or that the reasons for his firing were merely pretext for racial discrimination, a New Mexico federal judge held Oct. 15 in awarding summary judgment to the candidate’s employer (Calbert Lee v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, No. 16-366, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176719).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Native American tribes in New York asked the U.S. Supreme Court Oct. 9 to grant certiorari to decide how the New York Indian Law applies to the state’s attempt to collect taxes on cigarettes sold on an Indian reservation to nontribal members (Eric White, et al. v. Barbara D. Underwood, et al., No. 18-297, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation on Oct. 15 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court arguing that a hydraulic fracturing company and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) should not be permitted to transfer a fracking permit dispute to North Dakota because the tribe’s preference for venue is “entitled to substantial deference” (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. The United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 15 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by parents of Native American children whose parental rights have been terminated and whose class claims challenging the legality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) were deemed moot in a recent Ninth Circuit decision (Carol Coghlan Carter, et al. v. John Tahsuda, et al., No. 17-15839, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28964).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 15 denied certiorari for a ruling vacating an arbitration award in favor of an Oklahoma Indian tribe in a dispute with the state over a casino drink tax on the ground that a gaming compact’s arbitration section is unenforceable (Citizen Potawatomi Nation v. Oklahoma, No. 17-1624, U.S. Sup.).
EUREKA, Calif. — A California Indian tribe sued the U.S. government Oct. 10 in federal court to protect a threatened salmon species that has always been “the mainstay of the life and culture of the Tribe” (Hoopa Valley Tribe v. Wilbur Ross, et al., No. 1:18-cv-06191, N.D. Calif.).