Mealey's Native American Law

  • October 02, 2023

    Oregon Water Department Won’t Respond To Water District’s High Court Petition

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) has waived its right to respond to a petition for a writ of certiorari in which the Klamath Irrigation District seeks review of an appeals court’s application of the doctrine of prior exclusion jurisdiction in an ongoing water adjudication under the McCarren Amendment.

  • October 02, 2023

    Magistrate Judge Recommends Summary Judgment Against Klamath Tribes’ ESA Case

    MEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon federal magistrate judge has recommended that a judge grant summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and against the Klamath Tribes, finding that the agency has “equal obligations” to three species of fish in the Upper Klamath Lake and in the Klamath River under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and did not prioritize river salmon over suckers in the lake.

  • September 29, 2023

    Virginia Federal Judge Awards $43 Million In Tribal Lending RICO Suit

    RICHMOND, Va. — In light of several stipulations regarding damages and defenses, a Virginia federal judge ordered a nontribal member of a tribally owned payday lending business to pay more than $43 million to a class of customers who signed usurious loan agreements with the business for claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

  • September 27, 2023

    Inmate’s Religious Claims Now Moot As Grooming Policy Changed, Federal Judge Says

    VICTORIA, Texas — Whether the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) grooming policy violates the First Amendment and federal law by failing to permit inmates to wear their hair in accordance with Native American religious beliefs is now moot because the TDCJ changed its policy during the pendency of an inmate’s case, a Texas federal judge found in dismissing the inmate’s claims without prejudice.

  • September 25, 2023

    Tribal Health Care Funding Question Raised In 2 Supreme Court Petitions

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In two petitions for a writ of certiorari presenting the same question, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asks the U.S. Supreme Court to consider 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 self-determination contracts.

  • September 21, 2023

    9th Circuit Affirms Findings In Dispute Over Puget Sound Tribal Fishing Rights

    SEATTLE — A federal trial court did not err in finding that the Lummi Nation does not have fishing rights in the waters east of Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island because no evidence shows that the tribe historically fished there, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in affirming the trial court’s decision.

  • September 21, 2023

    Officers Appeal Grant Of Preliminary Injunction Over Tribe’s Cigarette Business

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A group of tribal officers and a tribal tobacco corporation have appealed to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals an order from a California federal judge granting a preliminary injunction in favor of California against one of the officers who is alleged to have illegally distributed cigarettes within the state.

  • September 18, 2023

    Government Urges High Court To Uphold ‘Bedrock Principle’ Of Chevron Deference

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. secretary of Commerce, two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the government) urge the U.S. Supreme Court in a Sept. 15 brief to not overrule the doctrine of Chevron deference in a challenge to fishery regulations that were upheld by the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, writing that doing so could “cause disruption” to complex federal regulatory schemes.

  • September 18, 2023

    In Affirming Conviction, 11th Circuit Says It’s Irrelevant If Man Is Cherokee

    ATLANTA — It is irrelevant whether a man is a member of the Cherokee Nation because he violated federal firearms laws and his crimes did not occur in Indian country, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in affirming the man’s conviction by a federal jury.

  • September 15, 2023

    Fla. Panel:  Unclear If Gaming Compact Bars Tort Claims Against The Seminole Tribe

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It is unclear whether a man’s tort claims against the Seminole Tribe of Florida are barred by the compact governing the tribe’s gaming operations because nothing in the record shows that the tribe responded within 30 days to the man’s notice, as required by the compact, a Florida appellate panel found in reversing a trial court’s decision to deny the tribe’s motion to dismiss.

  • September 12, 2023

    United States And Tribe Granted Summary Judgment On Clean Water Act Claims

    SEATTLE — In disposing of three motions for summary judgment, a Washington federal judge granted the United States and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians summary judgment on several alleged Clean Water Act (CWA) violations arising from the rupture of a diversion channel during construction at a power plant that caused pollutants to enter the Puyallup River.

  • September 12, 2023

    Oregon District Asks High Court To Rule On Jurisdiction In Water Adjudication

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Klamath Irrigation District has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on whether the federal government can avoid the doctrine of prior exclusive jurisdiction in an ongoing water adjudication under the McCarren Amendment by asserting defenses based on federal law and removing cases to federal courts.

  • September 11, 2023

    Native American Man Failed To Allege Discriminatory Intent In Housing Dispute

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Native American man who says he was evicted from a housing unit because of his identity failed to allege that his landlord acted with any kind of discriminatory intent in his original complaint or his motion to amend, a New York federal magistrate judge held in recommending that the landlord’s motion for judgment on the pleadings be granted (Michael R. Paladino v. Jason Beaumont, et al., No. 20-65, W.D. N.Y., 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155608).

  • September 11, 2023

    Arizona Federal Judge: Farmers Violated River Decree With 4 Wells

    TUCSON, Ariz. — An Arizona federal judge has ruled that three farmers are pumping water from the Gila River in violation of a 1935 water decree and granted summary judgment in favor of two Native American tribes.

  • September 11, 2023

    In Tribal Contract Dispute, Utah Federal Judge Refuses To Sanction Businessman

    SALT LAKE CITY — A business development contractor who has a long-running breach of contract dispute with the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation did not act in bad faith when he responded to the tribe’s motion to dismiss in state court despite being enjoined from taking any action in the case, a Utah federal judge found in refusing to sanction the man with attorney fees.

  • September 11, 2023

    Federal Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Tribe Member’s Land And Trust Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A member of the Blackfeet Tribe who alleged that the United States violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and breached its trust relationship by not maintaining land subject to a federal conservation program failed to show that the Court of Federal Claims had subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute, a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found Sept. 8 in affirming the Claims Court’s order dismissing the case.

  • September 11, 2023

    Federal Magistrate: Oregon Properly Denied Stays Of Klamath Lake Regulation

    MEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon federal magistrate judge has affirmed orders by the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) denying stays in five related cases involving tribal water rights in the Upper Klamath Lake pending appeals.

  • September 08, 2023

    Kroger Agrees To Pay $1.2 Billion To Settle Nationwide Opioid Claims

    CINCINNATI — Supermarket chain Kroger Co. has agreed to pay up to $1.2 billion to states and $36 million to Native American tribes to fund abatement efforts to settle the majority of pending or potential claims that the company failed to monitor suspicious opioid orders and created a public nuisance from the opioid addiction epidemic, according to the company’s Sept. 8 press release.

  • September 07, 2023

    Employees Owed No Duty To Patron Who Died After Dispute In Tribal Casino Lot

    TACOMA, Wash. — Employees of a tribal casino are not liable for negligence allegedly arising from the death of a casino patron who was thrown out of a moving car by her boyfriend in the casino’s parking lot because the employees were sued in their individual capacities and owed no duty to the patron, a Washington appellate panel found in affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the case.

  • September 06, 2023

    Fracking Company To Relinquish Lease At Center Of Dispute With Federal Agency

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 5 entered an order approving the joint motion of a hydraulic fracturing company and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) for an abeyance pending approval of a settlement agreement in a long-running dispute over a lease the fracking company has agreed to surrender.

  • September 01, 2023

    Calif. Federal Judge Dismisses Citizen Groups’ Claims Challenging Tribal Casino

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A citizen groups’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) claim is moot and its other claims challenging the Jamul Indian Village’s casino operations are futile because the village enjoys sovereign immunity, a California federal judge found in dismissing the groups’ claims without leave to amend.

  • September 01, 2023

    Tribal Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal Of Drug Possession Charges

    POPLAR, Mont. — If the Fort Peck Tribal Court erred in finding that drug residue was not a sufficient enough quantity to support a charge for unlawful possession of dangerous drugs, the error was irrelevant because the finding was one of two independent grounds for dismissal identified by the trial court, a Fort Peck Tribal Court of Appeals panel found in denying the Fort Peck Tribes’ appeal.

  • September 01, 2023

    Virginia Federal Judge Decides Tribal Lending Dispute Won’t Be Arbitrated

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A class of individuals who claim that they were issued usurious loans by lenders affiliated with the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (the tribe) cannot be compelled to arbitrate because the contracts governing the loans violated public policy by waiving all state substantive remedies, a Virginia federal judge found in denying two motions to compel arbitration.

  • August 30, 2023

    Suit Challenging Corps’ Reversion To 2020 WOTUS Rule Transferred To Georgia

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted a motion by a mining company to transfer to the Southern District of Georgia a lawsuit by four environmental groups challenging a settlement that reinstated approval jurisdictional determinations (AJDs) for a Clean Water Act permit application based on the now-replaced 2020 waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition.

  • August 30, 2023

    Federal Claims Court Judge Dismisses Tribal Leadership Recognition Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge granted the United States’ motion to dismiss claims brought against it by the Winnemucca Indian Colony, which alleges that it was monetarily damaged by the government’s failure to recognize its properly elected council, because the court lacks jurisdiction over the tribe’s claims for various reasons .

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