SAN FRANCISCO — In what it deemed a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 12 affirmed 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., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22369).
OMAHA, Neb. — Efforts by the federal government to wade into a dispute between the Winnebago Tribe and Nebraska state officials over regulation of tribal cigarette sales were unsuccessful on Aug. 2, when a Nebraska federal magistrate judge rejected a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in and stay the case based upon an ongoing criminal investigation of the tribe’s tobacco operations (HCI Distribution Inc., et al., v. Douglas Peterson, et al., No. 18, D. Neb.).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 9 declined to revisit its decision that a Florida Indian tribe must pay federal taxes on millions of dollars in gaming revenue that it distributes per capita to tribal members (United States v. Sally Jim, et al., No. 16-17109, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22201).
ALEXANDRIA, La. — A lending company owned by a Louisiana Indian tribe is protected by the tribe’s sovereign immunity from a subpoena served by another loan company battling predatory lending practice allegations leveled by Pennsylvania, a federal magistrate judge held Aug. 8 in quashing the subpoena (Pennsylvania v. Think Finance, Inc., et al., No. 1:18-mc-0024, W.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133990).
HAGATNA, Guam — A Colorado resident seeking Indian status for himself and approval of the United Cherokee Nation as a federally recognized Indian tribe does not present a case or controversy, so his declaratory judgment request fails, a federal judge in Guam ruled Aug. 7 (In re: Robert Scott Gray Wolf Pokras, No. 1:16-mc-00016, D. Guam, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133088).
PASADENA, Calif. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that the National Labor Relations Board reasonably found that an Indian tribe violated the law by disciplining workers for handing out union flyers stands after the court on Aug. 7 denied the tribe’s petition for rehearing en banc (Casino Pauma v. National Labor Relations Board, et al., National Labor Relations Board v. Casino Pauma, Nos. 16-70397, 16-70756, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21974).
LINCOLN, Neb. — A national law firm specializing in Native American law did not breach a contract with a former equity partner, and a trial court correctly determined that the former partner’s interest in the firm was $590,000 when he left, about 12 percent of what he sought, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Aug. 3 (Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP v. Fred Assam, No. S-16-855, Neb. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Parents of Native American children whose parental rights have been terminated can no longer challenge the legality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) because the adoptions of all children involved in the parents’ class action have been finalized, rendering the dispute moot, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 6 (Carol Coghlan Carter, et al. v. John Tahsuda, et al., No. 17-15839, 9th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 2 agreed with California and the United States that an Indian tribe’s online bingo operation violates the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) because such gaming is illegal in California, where the bingo customers were located (State of California, et al. v. Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, et al., No. 17-55150, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21446).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court need not review a finding that two Washington Indian tribes have the right to hunt whales and seals on their traditional hunting grounds in the Pacific Ocean because this “fact-specific” decision does “not satisfy the criteria for certiorari,” the tribes argue in a July 25 response brief (Makah Indian Tribe, et al. v. Quileute Indian Tribe, et al., No. 17-1592, U.S. Sup.).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The Federal Trade Commission sued four related car dealerships July 31 in Arizona federal court, accusing them of targeting members of the Navajo Nation for deceptive sales practices that included lying about customers’ income to obtain vehicle financing (Federal Trade Commission v. Tate’s Auto Center Of Winslow, Inc., et al., No. 3:18-cv-08176, D. Ariz.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals got it wrong when it found that Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction over a murder because it occurred on a present-day Indian reservation, demanding reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. government tells the high court justices in a July 30 amicus curiae brief (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on July 31 left it to an Indian tribe to decide if its leaders illegally tried to disenroll hundreds of members from the tribe, saying that with the federal government’s recognition of the newly elected tribal council, he no longer has jurisdiction to hear the dispute (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 17-0088, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128056).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two rulings by different federal appeals courts create a conflict about the repayment of federal housing money to Indian tribes that must be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, tribes and their housing agencies tell the high court in a July 31 reply brief supporting their bid for certiorari (Fort Peck Housing Authority, et al. v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, et al., No. 17-1353, Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, et al. v. United States, No. 17-1419, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An appellate court ruling that Congress never reduced the size of an Indian reservation must be vacated because affirmance “would plunge eastern Oklahoma into civil, criminal, and regulatory turmoil,” a prison warden in a convicted murderer’s habeas action told the U.S. Supreme Court July 23 in the opening salvo of merits briefing (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal court, rather than a tribal court, is the proper venue for a woman’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act suit against a tribal health care center over her firing by the center, a U.S. judge in Montana found July 26 in rebuffing the tribal defendants’ motion to dismiss (Tammy Wilhite v. Awe Kualawaache Care Center, et al., No. 1:18-cv-80, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125383).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Efforts by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to enforce various state laws implementing the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) on a federally chartered corporation owned by the Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians were challenged by the tribe in a July 13 complaint (Big Sandy Rancheria Enterprises v. Xavier Becerra., No. 18-1188, E.D. Calif.).
DENVER — A couple’s slip-and-fall action against an Indian casino must be heard in tribal court because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not authorize the transfer of jurisdiction to state courts for such tort claims, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 24 (Navajo Nation, et al. v. The Honorable Bradford J. Dalley, et al., No. 16-2205, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20493).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Allegations by a Native American inmate that a Connecticut prison denied him proper winter attire for outdoor “smudging” ceremonies were partly dismissed July 5 by a Connecticut federal judge (Edison Vidro v. Scott Erfe, et al., No. 18-567, D. Conn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111750).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 20 ruled that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it approved a license for a uranium mine, and it remanded the matter to the NRC for further proceedings consistent with NEPA in response to an Indian tribe’s concerns over groundwater contamination (Oglala Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, et al., No. 17-1059, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20215).