Mealey's Native American Law

  • May 07, 2019

    Disability Claimant Says LTD Benefits Were Wrongfully Terminated Under ERISA

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In a May 6 complaint filed in Rhode Island federal court, a disability claimant who was employed by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as a casino dealer in Connecticut alleges that the Tribal Nation and its disability insurer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when they terminated her long-term disability (LTD) benefits (Nubia Mazzarese v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, et al., No. 19-260, D. R.I.).

  • May 07, 2019

    Black Freedmen Relatives Must Take Citizenship Row To Tribe For Resolution

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tribe’s Citizenship Board must have the first shot at deciding whether several ancestors of former black slaves of the Indians should be members of the tribe, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled May 6 in dismissing the ancestors’ claims against the U.S. government for failure to exhaust tribal remedies (Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band, Inc., et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-1705, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75790).

  • May 06, 2019

    Intervention Bid By 4 Indians Seeking Water Rights Falls Short

    SALT LAKE CITY — Four Native Americans cannot intervene in a suit by the Ute Indian Tribe to enforce a tribal court’s monetary judgment in a water rights dispute because they failed to show they have an interest in the action or that there are common questions of law or fact, a Utah federal judge held May 1 (Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation v. Gregory D. McKee, et al., No. 2:18-cv-314, D. Utah, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75033).

  • May 03, 2019

    Tribes Cite Unique History, Discovery Needs In Equifax Data Breach Lawsuit

    ATLANTA — In an April 30 reply brief, three Native American tribes defend their motion to establish a separate track for tribal governments in the multidistrict litigation against Equifax Inc. over its 2017 data breach, arguing to a Georgia federal court that a history of financial discrimination has caused heightened harm to them that necessitates separate class representation and unique discovery (In Re:  Equifax Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, No. 1:17-md-2800, N.D. Ga.).

  • May 02, 2019

    U.S. Says Federal Taxation Of Tribal Tobacco Company Does Not Violate Treaty

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  — The U.S. government on May 1 urged the U.S. Supreme Court justices to deny a petition for certiorari because the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals correctly held that a Washington state Indian tobacco company must pay federal excise taxes on its products, despite the language of an 1855 treaty (King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc. v. United States, No. 18-984, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1622).

  • May 02, 2019

    Groups Seek Fees, Costs Related To Methane Case Against Trump Administration

    SAN FRANCISCO — Environmental groups on April 30 filed a petition for fees and costs in a California federal court related to their lawsuit against the Trump administration with regard to its decision to suspend most of the requirements of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Waste Prevention rule that governs methane flaring at hydraulic fracturing sites, including sites on Native American lands (Sierra Club, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).

  • May 01, 2019

    Government Admits Conflict Exists Over NLRB’s Reach, Indian Casino Tells Justices

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 30 distributed for conference a dispute over whether the National Labor Relations Board has jurisdiction over Native American casinos and their tribal operators, after an Indian casino told the justices in an April 26 reply brief that the agency admitted in a similar case that the issue has produced several conflicting rulings that warrant resolution (Casino Pauma v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 18-873, U.S. Sup.).

  • May 01, 2019

    Wisconsin Tribe Loses Challenge To Competing Casino In 7th Circuit

    CHICAGO — A Wisconsin Indian tribe waited too long to challenge another tribe’s competing casino operations, a slightly divided Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held April 30 in affirming dismissal of an Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) suit on statute of limitations grounds (The Stockbridge-Munsee Community v. Wisconsin, et al., No. 18-1449, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13049).

  • May 01, 2019

    Validity Of Challenge To Indian Child Welfare Act Debated In High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals correctly held that foster parents in Arizona cannot challenge the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in a class action because the adoption of the children in question mooted their claims, U.S. government respondents tell the U.S. Supreme Court in an April 17 brief in opposition to certiorari (Carol Coghlan Carter, et al. v. Tara Katuk Mac Lean Sweeney, et al., No. 18-923, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1479).

  • April 30, 2019

    Judge Says More Facts Needed On Tribe’s ERISA Claims Against Blue Cross

    BAY CITY, Mich. — A federal judge in Michigan on April 26 turned down an insurer’s request to dismiss on remand an Indian tribe’s claims that the insurer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to pay Medicare-like rates for hospital services under two health care plans, saying more factual development is needed at this stage of the litigation (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70688).

  • April 29, 2019

    Tribal Police Officers Say Their Civil Rights Claims Warrant Certiorari

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three tribal police officers who were arrested by a California county over a tribal faction dispute at the tribe’s casino asked the U.S. Supreme Court on April 18 to provide much-needed guidance on what facts must be pleaded to maintain a malicious prosecution case against the county and its sheriff (Ronald Jones, at al. v. Michael Keitz, et al., No. 18-1333, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1542).

  • April 25, 2019

    Native American Tribes: District Court Should Settle Pipeline Case Mootness Issue

    SAN FRANCISCO — Two Native American tribes on April 23 filed a joint brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that a district court is “properly situated to consider mootness” as well as vacatur and, therefore, a lawsuit against the Trump administration concerning the Keystone XL pipeline should be remanded for further consideration (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., No. 18-36068, 9th Cir.).

  • April 24, 2019

    Judge: Tribe Has Rights To Groundwater Pores, But Not Quantity, Quality Of Water

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on April 19 said a Native American tribe has standing to seek declaratory relief for pore space under its reservation, but said the tribe lacks standing to assert a claim for quantification of how much groundwater it has a right to or to assert that the water must be of a certain quality (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-00883, C.D. Calif.).

  • April 24, 2019

    Attorney’s Work Claims Against Tribe Properly Dismissed, 9th Circuit Says

    SAN FRANCISCO — A federal court correctly found that an attorney’s employment bias claims against his former employer, an Arizona Indian tribe, fail due to issue and claim preclusion because the tribe’s courts already found that the claims are barred by sovereign immunity, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 19 (John T. Hestand v. Gila River Indian Community, et al., No. 17-16583, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11470).

  • April 24, 2019

    Taxing Of Tribe’s Gaming Payments Correct, Cert Not Needed, U.S. Government Argues

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Petitions for writs of certiorari filed by a Florida Indian tribe and one of its members challenging the federal government’s attempt to collect income taxes on gaming revenue distributions should be denied because there is no conflict among the courts and the issue is not of national importance, the government says in an April 22 U.S. Supreme Court response brief (Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. United States, No. 18-895, Sally Jim v. United States, No. 18-891, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1534).

  • April 23, 2019

    Opioid MDL Judge Denies Deadline Extension, Says Defendants Seek Trial Delay

    CLEVELAND — The Ohio federal judge overseeing the opioid multidistrict litigation on April 18 denied a defense emergency motion to extend expert discovery, saying he “can only conclude that Defendants are proposing an indefinite postponement of the [first] trial.  No Court would take such a proposal seriously” (In Re:  National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2804, No. 17-md-2804, N.D. Ohio).

  • April 22, 2019

    High Court Review Of 9th Circuit’s Tribal Court Jurisdiction Ruling Denied

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A patron of an Indian casino whose vehicle was confiscated by the tribe after marijuana was found inside must pursue his conversion claims against a tribal police officer and a towing company in tribal court after the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22 denied the patron’s petition for a writ of certiorari (Curtiss Wilson v. Horton’s Towing, et al., No. 18-1081, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 22, 2019

    Justices Decline To Hear Case Involving Jurisdiction For Tribal Tort Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 22 agreed with an Indian tribe and its casino business and declined to review a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not authorize the transfer of jurisdiction from tribal courts to state courts for tort claims arising from a gaming operation (Harold McNeal, et ux. v. Navajo Nation, et al., 18-894, U.S. Sup.).

  • April 19, 2019

    U.S. Government: Tribes’ Pipeline Lawsuit ‘Moot,’ Should Be Dismissed

    SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Government on April 8 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that it should remand for dismissal as moot a lawsuit brought by Native American tribes who contend that the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would threaten their land and water because it would transport hydraulically fractured oil (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., No. 18-36068, 9th Cir.).

  • April 19, 2019

    Authority To Modify National Monuments Supported By Law, Trump Administration Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on April 17 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, contending that President Donald J. Trump had authority under the Antiquities Act to reduce the size of two national monuments because the plain language of the act is “consistent with presidential modification authority” (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C.).

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