Mealey's Native American Law

  • March 28, 2019

    Excessive Force Suit Against Tribal Police Dismissed Because Of Wrong Forum

    TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal magistrate judge on July 25 dismissed a couple’s excessive force claims against tribal police officers at the request of the couple, who agreed that they should pursue their claims in tribal court (Robert Lewis, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 3:18-cv-05196, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49937).

  • March 27, 2019

    Ruling Barring Jurisdiction Swap Under IGRA Is Not Cert Worthy, Tribe Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court need not 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 because of the limited nature of the ruling, a tribe and its casino business argue in a March 13 response brief (Harold McNeal, et ux. v. Navajo Nation, et al., 18-894, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1010).

  • March 26, 2019

    Justices Limit National Park Service’s Authority Over Public Land In Alaska Units

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alaska’s Nation River is not public land under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and is exempt, as is all other nonpublic land in the state’s national parks, from the usual regulatory authority of the National Park Service (NPS), a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held March 26 (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 2294).

  • March 25, 2019

    Petition Asks If Indian Tribes Have Sovereign Immunity In Bankruptcy Code

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether Congress clearly abrogated tribal sovereign immunity in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in a petition for a writ of certiorari docketed March 20 from creditors asserting fraudulent transfer claims against a Michigan Indian tribe and its gaming business (Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, et al., No. 18-1218, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 21, 2019

    9th Circuit: Time Limits Allowed In California Tribal-State Gaming Compacts

    PASADENA, Calif. — In an issue of first impression, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 21 that the language of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) allows time limits to be placed on tribal-state gaming compacts (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al., No. 17-55604, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8343).

  • March 20, 2019

    DOJ: New Jersey Tribes’ Claims Of Religious Persecution By Township Should Proceed

    NEWARK, N.J. — Two Indian tribes in New Jersey should be allowed to amend their complaint against a township because they state valid and ripe claims that the township discriminated against them by forcing them to stop holding religious ceremonies on their land, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says in a March 18 statement of interest filed in New Jersey federal court (Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc., et al. v. Mahwah Township, et al., No. 2:18-cv-9228, D. N.J.).

  • March 19, 2019

    Divided Justices Uphold Ban On Washington State’s Gasoline Tax On Tribe

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington Indian tribe does not have to pay the state’s fuel tax on gasoline it hauls into the state to its reservation because subjecting the tribe to the tax would violate its treaty right to travel unburdened on public roads, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 19 in a 5-4 decision (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., No. 16-1498, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 2086 ).

  • March 18, 2019

    Citing Appeal In Similar Case, Cigarette Companies Request Stay In New York

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — On the heels of a February determination that the state of New York may proceed with allegations that two Indian enterprises violated federal and state law by running a contraband cigarette ring, defendants in the case moved March 12 for a stay (New York v. Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, Ltd., et al., No. 14-cv-910, W.D. N.Y.).

  • March 18, 2019

    5th Circuit Again Rejects Texas Tribe’s Attempt To Operate Gambling Facility

    NEW ORLEANS — A Texas Indian tribe suffered another defeat in its battle to conduct gaming on its land when the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed March 14 that a 1987 statute barring gambling on the tribe’s land takes precedent over a 2015 National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) opinion that gaming is allowed on the land under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (Texas v. Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, No. 18-40116, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7559).

  • March 15, 2019

    9th Circuit Upholds Tribe’s Right To Pursue Tribal Court Claims Against Nonmember

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California tribal court has jurisdiction to hear fraud claims against the former tribal administrator, who is not a member of the tribe, due to the tribe’s “inherent sovereign power” and its regulatory authority, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 13 (Duanna Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians, et al., No. 17-15515, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7366).

  • March 13, 2019

    Government Awarded Judgment On California Tribe’s Failed Bid For Recognition

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) denial of federal recognition to a California tribe was neither arbitrary nor an abuse of discretion, a federal judge in that state ruled March 12 in awarding the agency summary judgment on the tribe’s bid for declaratory relief (Tolowa Nation v. United States, et al., No. 3:17-cv-6478, N.D. Calif.).

  • March 13, 2019

    9th Circuit Affirms Denial Of Gaming Request By Washington Tribe

    SEATTLE — The Department of the Interior (DOI) correctly determined that a Washington Indian tribe is not eligible to run a gambling operation under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 12 in affirming summary judgment for the federal government (Frank’s Landing Indian Community v. National Indian Gaming Commission, et al., No. 17-35368, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7216).

  • March 12, 2019

    Generic Drugmakers Back Ruling Against Tribal Immunity For Patent Reviews

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A case in which a drugmaker is trying to use an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity to shield it from inter partes review (IPR) of its patents is a poor vehicle for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the issue of tribal immunity for IPRs, respondent generic drugmakers tell the high court in a March 6 brief in opposition to a certiorari petition (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, et al. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 18-899, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 837).

  • March 11, 2019

    High Court Review Sought For $8.25 Million Award To Tribes For CERCLA Costs

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reverse a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finding that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a Canadian industrial polluter of the Columbia River for enforcement actions taken under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the company liable for the pollution says in a petition for certiorari docketed March 6 (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 11, 2019

    Tribes: TransCanada’s Motion To Stay Pipeline Injunction Should Be Denied

    SAN FRANCISCO — Two Native American tribes on March 6 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that it should deny a motion to stay an injunction filed by a pipeline company that wants to proceed with construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which the tribes say would threaten their land and water because it would transport hydraulically fractured oil (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. United States Department of State, et al., No. 18-36068, 9th Cir.).

  • March 07, 2019

    9th Circuit Stands By Affirmance Of California’s Tax On Leased Indian Trust Lands

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 6 declined to review its affirmance of a California county’s collection of a state tax on U.S. trust lands leased by an Indian tribe and finding that the tax is not preempted by federal law (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Riverside County, et al., No. 17-56003, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6767).

  • March 07, 2019

    Native American Tribes Request Separate Track In Equifax Data Breach Suit

    ATLANTA — Three Native American tribes that saw their claims against Equifax Inc. transferred and centralized in Georgia federal court along with hundreds of other similar suits filed a motion March 1 asking the court to establish a separate track in the litigation for tribal governments’ claims against the company, citing unique issues of law and sovereignty (In Re:  Equifax Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, No. 1:17-md-2800, N.D. Ga.).

  • March 06, 2019

    Supplementation Of Record Not Needed In Casino Row, California Federal Judge Says

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Four businesses that operate casinos in California lost their bid to supplement the administrative record March 4 in their federal lawsuit against the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) authorization to an Indian tribe to conduct gaming on land held in trust for the tribe by the United States (Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova, LLC, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 2:16-cv-2982, E.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34216).

  • March 05, 2019

    Native Alaskans, Environmental Groups Sue To Stop Oil Company’s Winter Exploration

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Native Alaskan village and several environmental groups sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on March 1 in federal court, alleging that the agency violated the law in approving an oil company’s winter exploration activities in a designated “Special Area” of the Western Arctic (Native Village of Nuiqsut, Alaska v. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 3:19-cv-00056, D. Alaska).

  • March 05, 2019

    Prior Acquittal In Tribal Court Admissible, South Dakota Federal Judge Rules

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A South Dakota federal judge on March 1 denied a request by federal prosecutors to exclude from an Indian’s sexual assault trial any reference to the accused’s acquittal in tribal court of attempted rape, saying any confusion caused by allowing the evidence can be cured with a jury instruction (United States v. Xavier Zephier, No. 4:18-CR-40023, D. S.D., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32977).

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