Massachusetts Gaming Claims against Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Survive Motions to Dismiss; Counterclaims Do, Too

Here are the updated materials in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) (D. Mass.):

65 Massachusetts Opposition to Rule 19 Motion

67 Aquinnah-Gay Head Community Opposition to 11th Amendment Motion to Dismiss

71 Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Reply in Support of Rule 19 Motion

72 Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss on Immunity Grounds

77 Massachusetts Motion to Dismiss

86 Massachusetts Officials Motion to Dismiss

87 Wampanoag Tribe Opposition to Massachusetts Immunity Motion

88 Massachusetts Reply

95 DCT Order Denying Motions to Dismiss

An excerpt:

This lawsuit involves a dispute between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a federally recognized Indian tribe concerning regulatory jurisdiction over civil gaming on Indian lands on Martha’s Vineyard. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and related entities have taken steps to commence commercial gaming operations on tribal lands without a license from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth contends that operating gaming facilities without such a license would violate a 1983 settlement agreement that subjects the lands in question to state civil and criminal jurisdiction (and thus subjects them to state laws regulating gaming). Count 1 of the complaint alleges breach of contract, and Count 2 seeks a declaratory judgment.

The Commonwealth filed suit in state court on December 2, 2013. On December 30, 2013, the Tribe removed the action to this Court on the basis of federal-question and supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367. On August 6, 2014, the Court granted motions to intervene by the Town of Aquinnah and the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association (“AGHCA”). The Tribe has moved to dismiss the AGHCA complaint on the basis of sovereign immunity and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; it has further moved to dismiss all three complaints (with leave to amend) for failure to join the United States as a required party.

On October 24, 2014, the Tribe filed an amended answer that included a counterclaim against the Commonwealth and counterclaims against three third-party defendants (all of whom are officials of the Commonwealth). Plaintiff and third-party defendants have moved to dismiss the counterclaims on the grounds of sovereign immunity (as to the counterclaims against the Commonwealth) and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

For the reasons stated below, the motions of the Tribe will be denied and the motion of counterclaim-defendants will be granted in part and denied in part.

We posted motions to dismiss here. Materials on the state court removal and remand motions here. Complaint here.