WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on March 16 granted the solicitor general’s motion to participate in oral argument and for divided argument in a case in which it will determine whether the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity protects a Washington state Indian tribe from an in rem adverse possession action to quiet title filed by a couple seeking to keep land that the tribe says it owns (Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Sharline Lundgren, et vir, No. 17-387, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Yurok Tribe of Native Americans on March 12 filed an opioid RICO complaint against eight drug manufacturers, alleging that the companies misrepresented the addictive nature of their drugs and are causing a financial and social burden on the tribe (The Yurok Tribe v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., No. 18-1566, N.D. Calif., San Francisco Div.).
BROWNING, Mont. — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on March 9 signed the first authorization of funds for the Blackfeet tribe’s expenditure plan under the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, according to a department press release.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Utah Indian tribe sued the U.S. government March 8 in an attempt to have ownership of land that was taken from its reservation over the years restored to tribal trust ownership and to stop the government from mismanaging the land and profiting on it at the tribe’s expense (Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation v. United States, et al., No. 1:18-cv-00546, D. D.C.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 5 allowed two attorneys and their law firm to withdraw as counsel for a Native American tribe that sued to force the federal government to recognize it and restore ownership of its native lands (Mission Creek Band of Mission Indians, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 5:16-cv-00569, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36709).
POLSON, Mont. — A Montana trial court judge on Jan. 30 ordered that the Flathead Joint Board of Control be dissolved because its members never conducted an election according to state law (Mission Valley Irrigators United, Inc., et al. v. Flathead Joint Board of Control, et al., No. DV-16-106, Mont. Dist., Lake Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A congressman from Oklahoma who is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation announced March 5 that he introduced a bill that would allow Native American tribes direct access to federal opioid grants and open up the grants to treat all substance abuse disorders.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Alabama Supreme Court holding that a tribe is not protected by sovereign immunity from tort claims in a car crash negligence case cannot stand because it goes against years of U.S. Supreme Court guidance, the tribe and its casino authority tell the high court justices in a Feb. 16 petition for a writ of certiorari (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al. v. Casey Marie Wilkes, et al., No. 17-1175, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 680).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Tax Court on March 1 awarded the Internal Revenue Service summary judgment on a New York couple’s claims that they do not owe federal tax on their gravel-mining income because the gravel was taken from Indian lands, finding that two treaties do not exempt the couple from paying income taxes (Alice Perkins, et al. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 028215-14, U.S. Tax, 2018 U.S. Tax Ct. LEXIS 6).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court needs to review a divided 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision that the size of an Indian reservation in Wyoming was diminished in 1905 by an act of Congress to resolve a conflict among the nation’s top courts over the language needed to clearly show that an Indian reservation has been diminished, a tribe tells the high court in a Feb. 16 petition for a writ of certiorari (Eastern Shoshone Tribe v. Wyoming, et al., No. 17-1164, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 657).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navajo Nation’s bid to receive all of the $23 million plus in school Head Start funding it requested from the federal government for 2018 hit a snag Feb. 28 when a District of Columbia federal judge denied the tribe’s request for a preliminary injunction in favor of deciding the dispute on the merits (The Navajo Nation v. Alex M. Azar II, No. 18-0253, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32700).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal court did not err in denying a bid by a payday lending company associated with an Indian tribe to compel arbitration of a customer’s class action racketeering claims because the tribe has no arbitral forum or consumer protection laws, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 27 (John S. MacDonald v. CashCall, Inc., et al., No. 17-2161, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4795).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Whether an alleged victim of an assault is considered an Indian under federal law is a question to be determined at trial, not through a motion to dismiss, a Montana federal judge ruled Feb. 28 (United States of America v. Edward Anthony Torres, No. 4:18-cr-04, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32719).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress did not violate the Constitution in enacting a law barring any federal lawsuit relating to a Native American casino property because lawmakers were properly exercising their legislative power, not infringing the judicial power, when they passed the statute, the U.S. Supreme Court held Feb. 27 in affirming a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling (David Patchak v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-498, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 1515).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A drugmaker cannot shield its patents from federal review by using an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board held Feb. 23 (Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al. v. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Nos. IPR2016-01127, IPR2016-01128, IPR2016-01129, IPR2016-01130, IPR2016-01131 and IPR2016-01132, U.S. PTAB).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court does not need to review challenges to a cy pres provision of a $680 million settlement between Native American farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) because the federal government has adopted a new policy that bars cy pres provisions in settlements with the United States, the secretary of Agriculture says in a Feb. 21 brief in opposition (Marilyn Keepseagle, et al. v. Sonny Perdue, et al., No. 17-807, Keith Mandan v. Sonny Perdue, et al., No. 17-897, U.S. Sup.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington state Indian tribe cannot yet use sovereign immunity to avoid facing negligent medical care and treatment claims because jurisdictional discovery needs to be conducted to determine whether the tribe waived immunity through its business relationships with private party medical care providers, a federal judge ruled Feb. 21 in denying the tribe’s dismissal bid (The Estate of Jolene Lovelett v. State of Washington, et al., No. 16-5922, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27959).
CHILOQUIN, Ore. — The Klamath Tribes on Feb. 6 said they sent a 60-day notice of their intent to sue the federal government to prevent the extinction of two fish species in Upper Klamath Lake.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California couple’s race-based challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court after the justices on Feb. 20 denied the petition for a writ of certiorari without comment (Efrim Renteria, et al. v. Superior Court of Tulare County, California, et al., No. 17-789, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 ordered Wyoming to pay Montana $20,340 plus interest for taking 1,356 acre-feet of water from the Tongue River in 2004 and 2006, ending a nearly 11-year-old interstate water dispute before the high court (Montana v. Wyoming, et al., No. 137 Original, U.S. Sup.).