Mealey's Native American Law

  • April 18, 2024

    Tribal Court Says Council Did Not Violate Constitution By Managing Corporation

    PETOSKEY, Mich. — The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians Tribal Council did not violate the tribe’s constitution by changing the corporate charter of a tribal corporation because the constitution grants the council powers to manage such corporations, a tribal court judge found in granting the council’s motion to dismiss constitutional claims brought against it by a member of the tribe.

  • April 15, 2024

    Tribal Panel: Trace Amounts Of Illegal Drugs Do Not Constitute Criminal Possession

    POPLAR, Mont. — A tribal trial court erred in finding that a trace amount of methamphetamine was enough to find a woman guilty of the crime of possession of dangerous drugs because there was no evidence that the amount of drugs was enough to use, a Fort Peck Court of Appeals panel found in remanding a criminal case to the trial court.

  • April 15, 2024

    U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Consider Challenge To Approval Of Tribal Casino

    SAN FRANCISCO —  The U.S. Supreme Court on April 15 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a citizen group that asked whether the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in affirming a trial court judgment dismissing the group’s challenge to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) decision to approve the construction of a casino on land held in trust for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in California.

  • April 12, 2024

    9th Circuit Partially Remands Order Regarding Termination Of Tribal Whistleblower

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) failed to adequately explain how it reached its conclusion that a former tribal employee who raised concerns about the Pit River Tribe’s use of certain federal funds was not protected from retaliation as a whistleblower, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in partly granting the employee’s petition for review.

  • April 12, 2024

    California Federal Court Has No Jurisdiction Over Tribal Land Leasehold Dispute

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Federal courts do not have jurisdiction over state law property claims simply because the property at issue is on Indian land and the defendant is a member of a tribe, a California federal judge found in granting a man’s motion to dismiss claims arising from a leasehold dispute on tribal trust land.

  • April 10, 2024

    Tribes Sue Social Media Platforms Over Teen Mental Health Crisis

    LOS ANGELES — In parallel complaints filed April 9 in the California Superior Court, two Native American tribes bring claims against the operators of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube for creating a mental health crisis among their adolescents by designing their social media platforms in such a way that they are addictive, especially to younger users, which they claim leads to a plethora of emotional and psychological problems.

  • April 10, 2024

    N.M. Federal Judge Stays Gold Mine Litigation Between Navajo Nation And Contractor

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge stayed litigation between a government contractor and the Navajo Nation after the parties announced in a joint motion that they had reached a settlement in principle to resolve the tribe’s claims arising from the contractor’s alleged involvement in the Gold King Mine release, which contaminated large portions of tribal land.

  • April 10, 2024

    Tribe Allowed To Supplement Federal Administrative Record In Water Rights Case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah federal magistrate judge has allowed a Native American tribe to supplement the federal government’s administrative record about how it reached a water contract and how it considered the contract’s effect on the tribe’s water rights.

  • April 09, 2024

    McKinsey MDL Judge OKs $39.5M Settlement Agreement With Tribal Plaintiffs

    SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge presiding over the McKinsey & Co. opioid promotion multidistrict litigation has signed off on a $39.5 million settlement reached between the consulting company and a group of Native American tribes.

  • April 09, 2024

    Okla. Criminal Appeals Panel Says Osage Reservation Was Disestablished By Congress

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A state trial court had proper criminal jurisdiction to convict and sentence a citizen of the Osage Nation for manslaughter that occurred on the tribe’s reservation because the reservation was disestablished by Congress, the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals found in affirming precedent from the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

  • April 08, 2024

    Ill. Federal Judge: City Had ‘Rational Bases’ To Deny Tribal Casino Application

    CHICAGO — The Waukegan City Council did not violate the Forest County Potawatomi Community of Wisconsin’s equal protections rights by declining to certify its application to open a casino in the city because the City Council had several rational bases to deny the application, an Illinois federal judge found in granting the city’s motion for summary judgment.

  • April 08, 2024

    Minn. Federal Judge Grants Summary Judgment Against Tribes In Water Quality Dispute

    MINNEAPOLIS — Two federally recognized Indian tribes in Minnesota are not entitled to summary judgment on their claims that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by approving revisions to Minnesota’s water quality standards because the agency’s decisions were based on scientific data and analysis.

  • April 04, 2024

    N.D. Federal Judge Dismisses Claims Brought By Indian Group Against NFL Team

    GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota does not have personal jurisdiction to hear claims of defamation and conspiracy brought by a Native American interest group against the National Football League’s Washington Commanders, its operating manager and one of its employees because the defendants have no significant contacts to the state, a North Dakota federal judge found in granting two motions to dismiss the case.

  • April 04, 2024

    U.S. High Court Will Not Consider Challenge To Tribal Trust Land Decision

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a group of Massachusetts residents who asked whether the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in finding that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) decision to take into trust land owned by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe was not arbitrary or capricious or not in accordance with the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA).

  • April 03, 2024

    Connecticut Panel Affirms Ruling In Insurer’s Favor In Tribe’s Coronavirus Suit

    HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut appeals court on April 2 affirmed a lower court’s judgment in favor of an insurer in an Indian tribe’s declaratory judgment lawsuit arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, rejecting the tribe’s contention that the lower court improperly determined that the policy’s contamination exclusion applied to bar the majority of its coverage.

  • April 02, 2024

    Judge Grants Final Approval To $12.5B PFAS Settlement Between 3M, Water Providers

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal judge in South Carolina has given final approval to a $12.5 billion class action settlement between 3M Co. and water providers who sued the company alleging that it was liable for contamination of drinking water with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  In the order, the judge said that objections to the deal raised by the Ojibwe Tribe of Native Americans had been addressed.

  • April 01, 2024

    First Nations’ Cigarette Maker Says New Oregon ‘Equity’ Law Violates Due Process

    EUGENE, Ore. — A Canadian First Nations-owned cigarette manufacturer filed a suit in Oregon federal court against the state, accusing it of violating due process and the commerce clause by imposing a new nonrefundable payment requirement based on cigarette sales that replaces a decades-old law whereby such payments by cigarette manufacturers went into escrow and were eventually refunded.

  • March 29, 2024

    Montana Supreme Court: Time In Tribal Custody Should Be Credited As Time Served

    HELENA, Mont. — A trial court erred in failing to credit time served by a woman who was issued a search warrant while being held in detention by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe because the trial court erroneously held that it lacked jurisdiction over the woman until she was served with the warrant six months after it was issued, the Montana Supreme Court held in reversing the trial court’s judgment.

  • March 27, 2024

    Power Plant On Tribal Land Is Not Exempt From State Taxes, Arizona Panel Finds

    PHOENIX — State ad valorem property taxes imposed on a power plant that sits on tribal trust land leased from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe are not implicitly preempted under U.S. Supreme Court precedent because the tribe does not own any part of the plant and the taxes do not burden the tribe, an Arizona panel held on remand from the Arizona Supreme Court.

  • March 25, 2024

    U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments Regarding Tribal Health Care Funding

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 25 on whether the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) requires the Indian Health Service (IHS) to pay “contract support costs” for expenditures of income collected by Indian tribes from third parties under federal self-determination contracts.

  • March 22, 2024

    Fla. High Court: Casinos Can’t Use ‘Extraordinary’ Writ To Challenge Gaming Compact

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two casinos are not entitled to a writ of quo warranto because their petition essentially challenges the substantive constitutionality of a state statute implementing a gaming compact signed between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida that allows the tribe to operate sports gambling because the writ cannot be used for such substantive challenges, the Florida Supreme Court found in denying the casinos’ petition on March 21.

  • March 22, 2024

    Illinois Federal Judge: Tribal Lending Agreements Violate State Public Policy

    CHICAGO — Short-term loan agreements issued by a lender affiliated with the Native Village of Minto are unconscionable and violate Illinois public policy because their exclusive application of tribal law forecloses borrowers’ rights to pursue claims under Illinois law that protect residents from usurious loans, an Illinois federal judge found in denying a motion to compel arbitration of class claims arising from the loan agreements filed by the lender and several affiliated parties that were sued by Illinois borrowers.

  • March 21, 2024

    Tribal Gaming Court Dismisses Wrongful Death Claims Arising From Casino Overdose

    UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The father of a man who died after ingesting drugs at a casino operated by the Mohegan Tribe lacks legal standing to bring a claim for wrongful death before the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Trial Court because the man was not legally authorized to bring such claims when he was appointed voluntary administrator of his son’s estate by a New York court, a tribal judge found in granting the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority’s motion to dismiss.

  • March 19, 2024

    Insurers Challenge Ruling That Tribal Court Has Jurisdiction Over Coronavirus Suit

    SEATTLE — Insurers asked the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider its Feb. 29 opinion that affirmed a lower federal court’s finding that a tribal court has subject matter jurisdiction over a coronavirus coverage suit involving tribal properties on tribal land that the Suquamish Tribe brought against “nonmember, off-reservation” insurers that participate in a program that is tailored to and offered exclusively to tribes, arguing that the panel’s “unprecedented expansion of tribal-court jurisdiction warrants rehearing.”

  • March 15, 2024

    In Tribal Land Dispute, 2nd Circuit Refuses To Vacate Trial Court Order

    NEW YORK — A federal court did not err in denying a man’s motion to vacate an order in which the trial court found that a disputed piece of land claimed by the man was a part of the Oneida Indian Nation’s reservation in upstate New York because the man’s motion primarily relied on issues already decided in the case, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in affirming the trial court’s judgment on March 14.

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