WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity cannot shield a drug company from inter partes review (IPR) of patents should be vacated because it conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, a tribe and drugmaker argue in their petition for a writ of certiorari, docketed Jan. 11 with the high court (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, et al. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 18-899, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A convicted killer and his Native American tribe are wrong in asserting that Oklahoma’s admission to the union granted criminal jurisdiction over Indians in the state to the federal government, the United States argues in a Jan. 11 supplemental reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court justices, who requested additional briefing after oral arguments were heard (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe is trying to litigate an issue already resolved in the “long-running battle” between Indian tribes and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a District of Columbia federal judge ruled Jan. 10 in denying the tribe’s bid to amend its complaint (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4420).
DENVER — Indian property owners deserve summary judgment that pipeline companies are liable for trespass, but they are not entitled to an order forcing the companies to remove the offending pipeline without an analysis of the equities under federal law, a slightly divided 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Jan. 10 (Marcia W. Davilla, et al. v. Enable Midstream Partners, L.P., et al., No. 17-6088, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 877).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The question of whether the National Labor Relations Board has jurisdiction over Native American casinos and their tribal operators heads to the U.S. Supreme Court, with a petition for a writ of certiorari from a California Indian casino docketed Jan. 8 (Casino Pauma v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 18-873, U.S. Sup.).
OMAHA, Neb. — Although rejecting claims by the Winnebago Tribe that the State of Nebraska violates equal protection laws through regulation of tribal cigarette sales, a Nebraska federal judge on Dec. 19 refused to dismiss the tribe’s related allegation that the escrow requirements of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) violate the Indian commerce clause (HCI Distribution Inc., et al. v. Douglas Peterson, et al., No. 18-173, D. Neb., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213531).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of Utah on Dec. 31 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia arguing that it has a right to file a brief in the lawsuit brought by Native American tribes and environmental groups that oppose the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments, which the plaintiffs say was done to open the land for hydraulic fracturing activities (Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, D. D.C., Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald Trump, et al., No. 17-2590, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A South Dakota federal judge did not err in increasing the prison sentence for a Native American who pleaded guilty to domestic assault by a habitual offender, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Jan. 7, finding that the sentence is not “substantively unreasonable” for a man with 101 prior tribal court convictions (United States of America v. Charles Eagle Pipe, No. 17-3039, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 367).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The question of whether the Crow Indian tribe’s treaty hunting rights in Wyoming survived the establishment of the state hinges on the doctrine of issue preclusion and whether the mere granting of statehood rendered the tribe’s hunting grounds occupied, the parties argued to the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Jan. 8 (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Opponents of an Indian tribe’s California casino failed to persuade the nation’s top court to review the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ resounding affirmance that no federal statutes were violated in the casino’s approval, as the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Jan. 7 denied certiorari for the case (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-61, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Utah Supreme Court ruling that a businessman involved in a dispute with an Indian tribe must first exhaust his tribal remedies before suing in state court will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7 took the United States’ recommendation and declined to review the case (Ryan Harvey, et al. v. Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation, et al., No. 17-1301, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7 took the advice of the United States, from which it requested an amicus curiae brief, and denied certiorari for a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finding that construction of a wind farm interfered with an Indian tribe’s reserved mineral rights because excavation work for turbine foundations for the project constituted “mineral development” (Osage Wind, LLC, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 17-1237, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 2 issued an order refusing to hear the appeal filed by a landowner seeking rehearing of its ruling in which a panel ruled he could not establish entitlement to equitable tolling because he had not taken any action to pursue his rights regarding a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute before filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The one-sentence order did not elaborate on the reason for the panel’s denial (Merrill Chance v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-5057, 10th Cir.).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A tribal organization that provides health care services to Alaska Natives and American Indians meets all the criteria as a tribal entity that enjoys sovereign immunity from suit, an Alaskan federal judge ruled Jan. 2 in dismissing a former Native Alaskan employee’s race discrimination claims against the organization (Elena Barron v. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, No. 3:18-cv-00118, D. Alaska, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There are several federal statutes on the books granting Oklahoma jurisdiction over crimes committed by Indians on their traditional reservation, the United States and a state prison warden tell the U.S. Supreme Court in Dec. 28 supplemental briefs requested by the court after oral argument in a capital case (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — An Indian tribe’s latest challenge to a 1954 easement across its reservation for the New York State Thruway is barred by collateral estoppel based on a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that the state holds a valid permanent easement, a federal magistrate judge decided Dec. 19 in recommending dismissal of the tribe’s suit (Seneca Nation v. Andrew Cuomo, et al., No. 1:18-cv-429, W.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214028).
PHILADELPHIA — A Native American couple in Pennsylvania failed to present sufficient evidence that a township and its officials discriminated against them based on their race, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Dec. 28 in affirming summary judgment to the township and officials (Dale W. Thorpe, et al. v. Upper Makefield Township, et al., No. 17-3228, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 36663).
UTICA, N.Y. — Two police officers for a Native American tribe did not use excessive force when subduing and arresting a casino patron who was running away from them, a New York federal judge ruled Dec. 18 in awarding the officers summary judgment on the patron’s civil rights claims (Craig Alexander v. Robert Nolan, et al., No. 6:17-cv-0725, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212595).
SEATTLE — The faction of the Nooksack Indian Tribe battling disenrollment from the tribe deserves more than $90,000 in attorney fees for its defense of an appeal by the rival faction that was voluntarily dismissed, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Dec. 13 (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 17-35427, 9th Cir.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 declined to rehear its decision that a natural gas company cannot condemn a piece of land in Oklahoma for a pipeline easement because an Indian tribe’s undivided ownership interest in the property makes it tribal land protected by sovereign immunity. The next day, the court said the tribal landowners are entitled to an award of attorney fees for winning the appeal (Enable Oklahoma Intrastate Transmission, LLC v. 25 Foot Wide Easement, et al., No. 17-6188, 10th Cir.).